Saturday, June 2, 2012

Will it be: door #1, door #2, or door #3?

I can't seem to decide how I want my little 6mm guard house to look like, I turned to making doors for my 15mm sci-fi world. The only 15mm building that I made so far was a sort of outpost structure made from an upside down yogurt container. I need to make some small dwellings.  Doors take a lot of work to make.  Here is a fairly simple-looking one that I made from styrene plastic:

"For Sale" signs from Walmart.are a very cheap source of styrene plastic. They come in two thicknesses: thin and very thin. I cut out the various pieces and glued them together with liquid glue. The box sitting on the right frame of the door is supposed to be an entry keypad with screen.

There was no way I was going to make the same door over and over, so I decided to use this as the prototype and make some copies. Enter Instant Mold:

It came out about a year ago. Some folks complained about the price. I can't remember how much I paid for it, but I didn't think it was that awfully expensive. Besides, it is reusable. Some people claim that its the same thing as what is called Friendly Plastic.  Nope, not true. Many years ago, I used Friendly Plastic extensively on a craft project for a school organization, this is NOT Friendly Plastic! Yes, it does soften up in hot water, but that is where the similarity ends. Friendly Plastic hardens into a fairly tough, brittle material, Instant Mold is more flexible. Unless they've reformulated the stuff, I cannot see using Friendly Plastic to make molds with.

So, I made a nice mold using the Instant Mold. The next step was to decide what to cast the door in. I used three materials. The first I did in Super Sculpey Firm. This is a new product by the folks at Polyform. Its an improved version of their Super Sculpey. Its rather expensive, but I think that it will live up to what they advertise.

The second casting was using Liquitex thick artist's acrylic. In this case Raw Umber. I'm not sure what possessed me to use that; I thought I'd give that a try.

The third casing medium used was Durham's Water Putty. This is the same material that the Solipsist Gamer uses regularly for his projects. I am no stranger to Durham's. It is often used to mold and add to fossil specimens. Many years ago, I made a large hill using this stuff.  However, his use of Durham's for making relatively finely detailed casts made me consider it. 

Here is the results of the three. All three were made using the same mold:

And the winner is.....Durham's Water Putty!  The Super Sulpey gave better detail, and had the advantage of being able to go in and score out the buttons on the keypad before sticking it in the oven, but lost out because it warped when I pulled it out of the mold. There is no way to reshape it back to the way its supposed to look. The acrylic paint did not fill the mold very well and left a lot of voids, plus I had to add several layers, waiting over night for the previous one to dry. The water putty cast came out with no bubbles. It also reproduced detail well and there was no warping. The fast drying time was also a bonus.

I'll probably use the Sculpey one on a building, but I will start cranking out the Durham's Water Putty ones for most of my buildings.


  1. Looks good! Another benefit of Durham's is that it carves like soapstone for 6 to 8 hours after initial cure. So you can carve all sorts of details like panel lines.

  2. Pahoota,
    Thanks for the tip. I will try that on the next door I cast. I am working on some windows and I think Durham's is the way to go.