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The Easy Cast Head

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by wolfgang, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    As most of you who know me, know I just hate waiting for layers of anything to dry before moving on to the next step.
    According to the rules of competition you can't use a commercial cast head unless you make major alterations to it. I don't know what qualifies as major so I set out to cast my own. I started with the tube silicone and acrylic paint method. Took to long and I didn't like the results not to mention the smell. I was at Hobby Lobby looking for other mold making ideas and found this product on the shelf next to Alginate.
    Cost for the kit and release agent $25

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    I liked the idea of just mixing the two products together and pouring over the head instead of brushing on coats of silicone.
    The first step was to position the head and inject the eyes with water and freeze solid. Once the head was froze I found a bottle that was just large enough to fit the head inside with about a 1/2inch of space between it and the bottle.

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    I drilled a small hole in the bottom of the bottle so I could run a drywall screw through it and into the frozen head making sure it was centered inside the bottle.
    Next I mixed up the entire container of the mold building compound. There is just enough material to cast one head, this happens to be a Canvasback.

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    Once it is mixed thouroughly I pour the mixture, very slowly into the container around the head, very slowly. Reduces air bubbles!!

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    That's it now you just set the whole thing aside in a warm place to cure. This particular mold took about 5 hours to cure enough to demold the head.

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    I cut the plastic bottle on both sides with a exacto knife and removed the screw and mold. Next I cut the mold with the exacto knife starting at the underside of the head and continue all the way out to the end of the bill. Carefull not to cut into the head. You can see that the head is separating nicely from the mold and the only place you will need to cut the mold is the nostrils. Pull the mold away from the nose holes and snip the mold leaving just enough detail inside the nostrils. I couldn't take pictures and do this at the same time, Sorry! The head should now pull out pretty easily and all you have left to do is snip any extra mold material away from the mold that will just cause hang ups when removing the cast head. Once that is done clean up the mold with soap and water, dry with compressed air and you are ready to spray release agent and pour your cast.

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    I used the old standby 50/50 mixture of bondo and fiberglass resin. Not my favorite casting compound but does work pretty well. Heavy for one thing but I couldn't find an alternative at the store.

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    After the mixture has cured I removed the head from the mold. Also I should mention I stuck a neck wire into the bondo.

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    As you can see there are some defects in the cast which are easy fixes. I clean the head with lacquer thinner and paint a heavy coat of Acrylic Gesso over the entire bill. You can see any defects at this point and are filled with regular old wall spackle. Allowed to dry and painted one more time with the gesso.

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    Once you are satisfied with the repairs paint as you would normally do, and that part is done.

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    As a final disclaimer to anyone using the silicone tube and paint method, while this may work for you I sucked at it, LOL!! It took me longer to put this tutorial together than it did to make the actual mold and cast.
     
  2. Could you use the mold to cast several canvasback heads out of it? Has anyone taken the cast head, fixed all the imperfections, and made a second mold to cast smoother heads? Many years ago in high school, we did sand casted aluminum molds. The master was full of imperfections. I took plaster and filled the pitting, and ground down the bumps, and made a second pour from my now improved master. When I turned in my project (flying eagle), the shop teacher wanted me to pour a new master for the classroom to use in the future....along with the three other masters we had.

    I just wonder if making a second canvasback mold that was without flaws, if it would pour with less imperfections? I have never made my own cast, so I am clueless.
     

  3. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    You are exactly right!! If you want to make your own heads then you would fix this one to perfection and pour a second mold of it. Since I wanted to compete and adhere to there rules then this would be a one time cast. I am not trying to put my cast head guy out of business. I am by no means an expert in this field either but like the idea that I can buy everything I need right over the counter and not have to order it in.
     
  4. dmac1175

    dmac1175 Active Member

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    Very nice tutorial.
    I don't care to much for bondo either. Hobby Lobby sales a product called Amazing Casting Resin. It is made by the same company that made the mold material in the purple box in your pictures. It is of course a two part kit. It has the consistency of cough syrup maybe a little thinner even. Causes way less bubbles and imperfections than bondo. It cost about $15 per kit before the weekly 40% coupon and I usually get about 8-10 average size duck heads pet kit.
     
  5. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    You know I saw that stuff there but for some reason I thought it was clear. I take it that is not the case? What color is it? I will definitely get that the next time I am in town.
    Thanks!!
     
  6. dmac1175

    dmac1175 Active Member

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    It cures white just like a head you would buy from a taxidermy supply co. It kicks in less than 30 minutes usually.
     
  7. I have access to a sonicator (here at work), which is a water bath that has high frequency sound that vibrates the water to a crazy vibration. The water will dance as this thing is humming. We use it to sonicate air bubbles to the surface of liquid chemical solutions to test turbidity, color and clarity. I am now intrigued, and want to try a cast myself. I have a couple duck heads that just don't match the original, and instead of grinding and modifying the artificial head, I would love to try my own. I think the sonicator could work wonders in making a flawless head.
     
  8. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    We have a Tap Plastics about 45 minutes away. They have all types of casting and mold making materials. They so have a website with helpful tutorials.
    I used silicone with a catalyst. One thing that I found was that the silicone was sticky on he outside even 24 hours latter. I decided to dust on some corn starch on the outside and stickiness was gone.
    The problem with going into tap plastics is you get a ton of ideas and buy way to much stuff.
     
  9. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

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    Here's some of there products.
     
  10. What temp can you use that stuff down to? I wonder what would happen if I put it in my vacuum chamber on my freeze dryer (I can put it at room temp) to purge all the bubbles?? Been itching to mold something and use the chamber to see what it does. Water boils in there at any temp!!
     
  11. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    Try out your ideas and let us know how it works. I always like doing things faster and easier as long as quality does not suffer.
     
  12. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    As I said at the beginning I have never had a problem with the cost of buying a commercial head and using them. But since this was my first competition and the rules are as such I had to find a way to do it myself. Others have told me I should just cast my own as well and save on the cost of buying them.
    Maybe in the future I will do my own, LOL!!
     
  13. 2wbdft

    2wbdft Member

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    Great tutorial Wolfgang, thanks for taking the time to post it up!

    Having had great results in the past getting fine detail out my silicone molds, how did the alginate do with pulling interior detail in the nostrils (nasal posts), and around the Lamellae?
     
  14. Brian W

    Brian W Active Member

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    If this is your first comp, you would probably enter Novice or Professional, neither one of those in our States comp stating you can't use a purchased repro head. Unless your State comp is very different, you would only have to do your own mold/casting in Masters or Master of Masters. Might want to get a clarification before you enter but indeed learning to mold/cast is a whole new world I'm just breaking the surface of presently myself. Very cool what you can create....good luck
     
  15. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    LOL!! I jumped right into the Masters.
     
  16. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    I didn't use the alginate as I figured for a few dollars more I could make a reusable mold.
     
  17. Brian W

    Brian W Active Member

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    You have to earn 2 blues in Pro as a prerequisite for Masters in Michigan.
     
  18. wolfgang

    wolfgang New Member

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    What if you get two Blues in the Masters in another State?
     
  19. Brian W

    Brian W Active Member

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    then you wouldnt be asking questions you already know the answer to right?
     
  20. Jkostella

    Jkostella New Member

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    What is th casting product? Photobucket isn't allowing the photos anymore and it wasn't mentioned