Sunday, August 16, 2015

It's ALIVE (lil' George Orson)

Orson is well on his way to being a real boy, in spite of some considerable setbacks.
I won't bore you with every detail of my month-long series of unfortunate events (not the book, of course) – so a brief summary would go like this:
The second week of July, I sliced the index finger on my dominant hand at work and got four stitches.
This inhibited my puppet making for about a week and a half.
Then, when I was all healed, I had a silicone casting fiasco, followed by clean-up.
And finally, I've been battling some weird batches of foam latex that have caused me to recast Orson's body and head EIGHT TIMES now – due to an unknown contaminant in the gelling agent, the foam has come out the wrong density/consistency....
Till now --

It's worth mentioning that I never actually got the right consistency from the bottle, as it were.
What I ended up having to do was run the foam at a lower volume (whipped for less time than normal) in order to achieve proper density.
All this could've been avoided, I do believe, if the gelling agent I was supplied was properly formulated.
The company I purchase foam from shall remain unnamed, as I don't want to give them a bad wrap.
I called them a week ago and told the very polite - no sarcasm inferred - quality control guy about the problems I was having and after an hourlong conversation, neither he nor I could figure out what the issue could possibly be.
I explained my theory: that perhaps one of the components had been formulated wrong.
He said that sort of thing only happened once or twice in the past and he was "quite sure nothing was wrong" with this current batch.
I however, disagree. I've been buying from them for seven years and have never run into anything like this. Making puppets with their foam has always been easy, even a joy to work with -- but this last experience has left a bad taste in my mouth.
As of this week, I have yet to speak again with the representative and tell of my findings. Nor have I attempted to get a refund for either kit (the sum of both came to $102 approximately).
In all, I'm just glad to finally have a puppet! And in the future, I may switch to a different brand of latex... maybe.

ANYWAY, back to the good stuff.
Here's the hair getting glued to the head with Pros-Aide.

 Some pics of the moulding process -- the clay sculpt in the water-based clay bed.

The rarely seen burlap and Ultra Cal 30 build-up -- the first few layers are just runny plaster to capture all the detail in the sculpt. From there, I start to add more layers of plaster and burlap (soaked in plaster) for support. After about two layers of burlap strips, I go back to plaster only -- this being a mid-size mould, I'm working toward a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch. For smaller moulds, I've been able to get away with a 1/2 inch -- any thinner and you risk instability and cracking.

The finished mould halves. I let them dry out in the convection oven for a few hours at 150˚F. This way I can be sure the mould won't retain any excess moisture that could potentially ruin the foam.

The armature in the mould. Cored out with upholstery foam.

And now a quick look at the head. The mould is made the same as the last. But what's really cool about this is the facial armature that allows him to speak. This pic was taken about 3/4 of the way through, as some of the lip wires are still to be attached.
The head is mostly wire and epoxy putty, thus, to make him less top heavy, I built the head around a ping-pong ball.

That's all for now.
Barring any further difficulties, I should have some set-building pics for you before the month is out.