Putty in my Hands
This article was originally published in the April edition of the JoeCanuck Newsletter.
Sculpting Materials: Putty in my Hands
I learned how to sculpt, add details and bits here and there, on action figures with Sculpey, Sculpey III, and Fimo clays. They were cheap and readily available where ever craft supplies were sold. They were pretty easy to work with for actually sculpting but had to be boiled onto the figure or baked separately to harden and then glued on. A couple of years later I noticed a few older customs had cracks or chips of the sculpt gone. Apparently the clay continued to air dry and kept shrinking over time.
That is when I moved to Kneadtite, aka Greenstuff. It is a two part epoxy that when mixed together and air dried over 24 hours or less, has a hard plastic like quality, but also a little bit of give to it. It was this last quality I liked the most since it made hair and holsters easier to create. Having worked with clay for so long, it is comparatively like sculpting with bubble gum. It is more elasticity than pastey. But it also rarely cracks due to this quality. This link sells a 3 foot roll for $12.50 US which is a heck of a lot cheaper than what hobby stores will charge you.
I've tried a few other putties, epoxies, and pastes since then; Magic Sculpt, Mighty Putty, Miliput, plumbers putty, etc. They have all had their uses but I've never been pleased with them as a fine detail sculpting material.
With any two part epoxy you have to keep your tools and fingers wet to keep it from sticking to them. Water or vegetable oil work best. For tools I use an Xacto knife, dentist pick, retractable pen, tweezers, or whatever else might indent a cool shape into the surface of it. I've even used a rubber ball to help create moon like craters. Also, the colder the temperature, the longer you have to work with it.
Green Stuff and other epoxies dry on the outer surfaces over time. So I ended up having to cut bits out or the ends off because they created clumps when I combined the two parts and rolled them into a ball.
After seeing the sculpting being done by other people I decided to give Aves Apoxie Sculpt a try. This is another two part epoxy in two separate jars. Like Green Stuff you have to keep your tools and hands wet when working with it. Unlike Green Stuff, Apoxie Sculpt has the texture and softness of clay. When really wet it spreads almost like a paste for outstanding coverage into all the nooks and crannies of the plastic underneath. Within a few minutes it is dry enough to hold shaping and sculpt detailing.
In this particular instance I am making a space suit for a dog that requires multiple ridges. I figured out how I want the suit to function in my head and then started sculpting using a dentist pick. I rolled the pick along its side so the line remains relatively straight across. In this case the lines don't need to be perfect because it is on a figure in motion. You can also see where I've used Green Stuff to hold the helmet on as well as attaching the helmet base on the dog. I still want those connection points to have some give.
Here it is with the sculpting finished and some paint started. Considering this was my first time using this product I was very happy with it. I paid $26 for these jars medium jars. It is expensive compared to other materials, but you have a lot more control over how much you use. You can't take just a pinch of green stuff. Working with it was a lot more like working with clay too which I found easier.
As for durability, I used some as a spacer for my wedding ring which has become too big. It is made of tungsten-carbide which can't be resized. The spacer has been there for almost 5 months. That is close to a 150 days worth of constant friction, daily hand washing, and general wear and tear. In comparison, green stuff lasted two months as a spacer. While that isn't relevant to customizing it passed my real life strength test. Check out http://www.avesstudio.com for different amounts and even different colors.
Sometimes, having one sculpting material isn't the answer. You saw I used two types for their different advantages. SamuRon on The Fwoosh discovered if you mix Part B of Apoxie Sculpt with the Yellow from Green Stuff you end up with a strong super flexible material perfect for hair or capes.