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Latex/silicone moulding


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Don't use latex, it has a shorter life-span and is more of a ###### to work with as it can shrink away from a plaster moldif it were me I would cast the head in either flex-foam or soma-foamer which are both smooth-on products which are self skinning. Self-skinning means that where the product touches the mold it forms a smooth, paintable skin but inside that expands as a soft foam allowing movement. They come in a range of densities so your best bet is to contact Bentley advanced materials (www.benam.co.uk) for advice on their products, they have always proven to be very helpful and full of advice about the right product to use, especially as they create a lot of props in-house as well as sell the products so they know what they are talking about.

In terms of making the mold, you will need to have an object (either a sculpted pig head or a real one) which you can cover with a few layers of a silicone rubber, and then a 'mother-mold' of plasti-paste which creates a a hard shell which can hold the softer inner mold in place while you create the cast. a demo of such a technique can be found here:


That is of course if you want an -ultra realistic looking pig head, failing that you could create the head from soft foam pieces held together with contact adhesive, sanded and sculpted and primered to give you a paintable surface.

good luck!

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Thanks Will! That's really helpful!


I think I've got my head around the basic moulding process thanks to that video and a load of other ones I've watched and articles I've read. It's the intricacies of moulding the specific pig head shape that I need to suss now. For instance I think I'm going to have to mould the ears separately as they stick out at right angles to the rest of the body and I think they're a bit long for the flexibility in the mould to allow me to peel it off around them. I think I'll have to cast them as a separate item and then stick the 2 halves together.


I'm also pretty settled on leaving the body as a solid object (If I buy a fibreglass pig then I'll just behead it and then stick the flexible head on to the fibreglass body) which means I'll have to find a nice way of blending the 2 together. Then the whole thing'll need a coat of flexible paint to make sure it has a similar finish.


It's that or I cast the whole pig, but that means working around legs and tails, all of which will make removing the mould harder and will mean it has to be done in several sections, which'll then need joining. Once that's done I've then got to give the whole thing back its' rigidity, be it by a skeleton or filling it with foam. Either way it's a problem that I don't have with a solid body.


PS what happened to the remote typewriter project?


Sadly I don't know if it'd be a particularly widely used prop. Certainly the one that came up as being required was too short notice to allow me to build it, and it's not a play I know of too many groups doing.


I do however see a market for a Betty animatronic!




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You could certainly cast the ears seperately and then join them on afterwards. as for joining head to body, is it possible to disguise the join with either a collar or a big flabby wrinkle? That way the puppet would be two seperate pieces the head and the body which could be 'joined' by means of velcro or toggle clips and webbing such as you find on rucksacks etc, )inside the body obviously) If it needs a permanent join then consider a cloth tube which is glued to each part (like a collar) which can then be treated with silicone and painted with acrylic (mixed with pros-aide) or dragon-skin (a brand of flexi paint) to blend the head and body.
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The original sculpt that take the mould from can be anything, insulation board , kingspan, is easy to get offcuts of.


If your using plasticene for any bits, it needs to be sulphur free plasticene, sulphur inhibits silicone curing.


Coat whole plot in release agent before taking silicone mould and backing the silicone with possibly plaster mother mould in a box, generally cast flexible things in a rigid mould and rigid things in a flexi mould.


Expanding foams put a bit of pressure on the mould so want a good firm support.


In addition to BenAM mentioned above, Flints carry some stuff and worth looking at Margaon and Tiranti

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Well, I've found my pig!!!!!




This is the one I intend to use. It's the right pose and is a heck of a lot cheaper than the first one I found.


I've been in touch with Tiranti and have asked for their advice on the best materials to produce the mold. They're going to offer me assistance in sourcing the right quantities of materials and using them correctly. I'm hoping to make a couple of these once I get final go ahead from the society in question. Being such a key part of the show I think I should probably have a spare pig, and whilst I'm building and casting one, I may as well make a second. No idea where I'm going to put them yet mind you!


Thank you everyone for your help and advice. I'll as ever keep you up to speed on how I'm progressing!




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Don't show that pig fan to my fiancée!!!!!


I got in touch with Jolly Roger as soon as I found them to ask about the possibility of using their mould (paid of course) but so far have had nothing back from them. From what I can gather they aren't the manufacturer, though they seem to have close ties to whoever they are. I'll make another attempt to make contact and if I hear nothing then I'll look elsewhere for inspiration.

I've just sent some projected costs over to the society for servo's, motors, actuators etc (rc car servo's won't hack it moving a head of that size!).

My usual model for work of this type is to say "I'll build you it for this much (price including labour and parts) or you can hire it from me for this much (price of major components that I don't have in stock) but I get to keep it afterwards". We'll see if either option is viable for them, otherwise they might end up taking a different route with something more stylised and puppet-like.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My usual model for work of this type is to say "I'll build you it for this much (price including labour and parts) or you can hire it from me for this much (price of major components that I don't have in stock) but I get to keep it afterwards".

If you are doing 'make to hire' make sure you have a proper hire agreement with them, you don't want to get it back in bits.


Make to hire happens a lot in costume and generally I would expect to pay for the materials plus the standard weekly hire fee for the amount of time I have the costume. They would supply the labour for free, which is the largest part of the cost, but get to keep the garment.

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  • 2 months later...

Bit of an update....


The project is go! We have a local college who've agreed to build the pig skin, based loosely on the Jolly Roger pig "look". They're loving having a real world project for their kids to get involved with, and are going to get a bit of press out of it too.


I've started buying parts. I'm still debating if I try and build a "one size fits all" pig that can do everything needed, or if I build two. There's one pig that sits and is animated, and another that "runs" across the stage. It looks like the West End pig was on the end of an arm so it ran in a circle (entered upstage through a door, and exited stage left). Our director isn't too bothered about seeing the thing actually moving its' legs, so I could simply buy a Jolly Roger statue and put it on a very low motorised truck. Alternatively I put the flexible, animated Betty on the truck. Another option would be to lose the truck and drive it through wheels in the feet (actually, timing belts around pulleys which run up the legs, with the motors in the body - so they act like wheels but are also their own drive train). The motorised truck sounds easiest though!


I'll keep you up to speed with my progress as things move along.




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  • 5 months later...

Hello everybody!


So it's been a while since I started this project, but Betty is now finished!

In the end I realised that very little of her actually needed to move - ears, eyes, jaw and kneck. With that in mind I bought a fibreglass pig and then simply cut out the sections I needed to articulate these elements, then lined the gaps between with foam and covered them with stretchy swimsuit material.


I've posted a video and also some more detail over in the "show your latest project" thread here in post number 57.

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