I was very worried as my latex thickener took a while to arrive and my molds wound up soaking too long. But it’s all good 🙂 But the latex I had was certainly bad. Not so bad that it couldn’t be rescued but rescuing requires a lot of work 🙂
Thickener and coloidal silica 🙂 I probably should have grabbed microballoons, explained later 🙂
I used up as much of my latex as I could- two bottles of thickener will turn 2.5L of latex into a very thick consistancy, but it does still run, not immediately but over a few hours.
What have I done here you may ask. Well here is the answer 🙂
Self supporting latex
In order to have self supporting horns but an adjustable thickness tentacle latex layer I first lay up a thick layer of the thickened latex (for this also with some added silica to limit warping) then a layer of peeled foam in 5mm or 10mm thicknesses soaked in a latex and water mix. I push the foam into the latex just enough to adhere but leave a layer of just latex to create a skin to the foam.
This is tricky! If the environment is too warm the latex well turn tacky while working with it causing deformities. This has been my fifth run and it’s the first time this hasn’t happened because it was much cooler yesterday than any other day this summer.
The peeled foam is very soft, very soft and not at all self supporting alone. In fact its use is to pad and create a soft layer.
But once soaked in latex and left to cure it becomes fairly rigid. The cells become rigid but the air pockets remain.
The foam also tends to not pull away from the walls of the mold while the latex is curing. This makes it much easier to be able to control warping of large pieces like this. It also reduces weight and can be stitched then glued/latexed to hide the join. It is also possible to pare back the foam with a knife to thin it out for the tentacles.
This is sort of a reverse industry standard method of skinning foam for creature effects. Having a mold means I control the skin texture a lot more but means working a bit blind in terms of being able to know exactly how thick that skin is.
This standard method is how I make my lekku in general. And as I work to finish this piece I’ll be able to share tips on how to do that- it still requires skill to avoid limiting stretch of the foam and adding weight! I also want to update my Rachi Lekku and Talon lekku 🙂