It’s been a busy past few weeks, so let me catch you up on what I’ve been doing! A while back I was commissioned to make a replica of a badass helmet from an upcoming summer movie. Well the time has come and the project is underway! To get things started though I had to make a life cast of my own head so that I would have something to sculpt on. After that fun adventure I was ready to start slapping clay on my head (the plaster one!).
I used Monster clay, a popular brand of chavant clay. I was able to get the whole sculpt out of a 5 lb container, but there was very little left to spare, so for a larger more detailed helmet, you’ll want 2 containers of the stuff. Once I got a shape I was happy with, I got it roughly symmetrical and then refined one side. After the guide lines and shapes were more refined on the one side, I used aluminum foil and duct tape to get a pattern off of that side. I got the idea from my friend Evil Ted. Check out his awesome video on making foam helmets!
I pressed the foil on, it stayed pretty well, where it didn’t I just heated up the clay to act like an adhesive. After the foil was covering the good side, I used a sculpting tool to mark out my detail lines before adding the duct tape. Like a moron, I used black tape, so it made it harder to see my lines, but in the end it all worked out. Then I peeled it off carefully with my sculpting tool.
Those patterns were a little too flimsy, so I transferred those to poster board. making sure to label them, what part and side they belonged to.
As I went on, I modified these patterns until I was happier with them. I transferred these back to the opposite side of the sculpt, working one piece at a time until both sides were even. At this point, I am not concerned about the finish, my goal with this sculpt is merely to have a symmetrical piece to work off of. After I mold this up, I can further body shop it, smooth it out, and add the other details. Before I started pouring silicone, I needed to make a barrier to catch the silicone, or at least most of it. I also didn’t want a lot of edges for this first run, so I filled it the top. To make the wall and fill in the top, I used regular old water clay, it’s dirt cheap…get it…..
Now he’s got a sweet Victorian collar look going on! Then I started sling’n pink goo all over, also called “smooth-on :rebound 25”. most of my time was spent fighting gravity and brushing it back up, making sure to keep it as round and uniform as possible. Less edges the better, you don’t want your fiber glass jacket to get caught on anything and lock your mold in. In the case of this helmet, there was not much to worry about. After about 3-4 coats, and a few touch up spots, I added some keys to the silicone. Keys help hold the silicone in place while in the jacket, that way it stays the shape it’s supposed to and doesn’t shift around while molding. To make these I simply poured a little silicone into small cups. You can cut them off an re use them once your done with a mold. I usually keep a box of these keys around. Where ever you plan to cut a mold, be sure to make that area thicker. For helmet, I planned on cutting it up the back, so I added an extra layer or two in a 2 inch wide strip down the back.
To help keep the keys in place while the silicone was setting, I used bobby pins. By this point the first couple of layers have set and already gotten the detail, so jabbing the bobby pin into the clay shouldn’t hurt it. After the rebound 25 had set up, I gave the helmet a mohawk, because all badasses need mohawks! Also it helps to form a wall for making the first half of the fiber glass jacket. Again, I used the water clay, but I didn’t really take the time to make this one look that pretty, I only have to get one pull out of it. I gave myself about a 2 inch height, plenty of room for drilling holes so I can bolt it back together.
Next it was on to the fiber glassing! If you have never worked with it before, please be safe, work in a well ventilated area, wear a respirator, gloves, and eye protection. I also would recommend to wear long sleeves! You don’t want to get any on you. Basically, it’s paper mache, but instead of glue and paper, it’s resin and fiber glass cloth. Before you even get started, cut up your fiber glass into small workable pieces. around 4×4 inches works fine. Then use the resin to stick it on. The resin I used was just the simple auto body stuff that you can get at any hardware store, not the kind you cast with. After getting good coverage with one layer and making sure it was completely saturated with the resin, I mixed up another batch of resin and applied the next layer. You want to keep going until you’ve reached a good thickness. Normally I would have gone thicker, but this mold is only for one pull, so it’s about 3-4 layers thick.
This layer had to set up before I could move on. After it set, I came back and removed the clay-hawk. Before starting the fiber glassing, I added a generous coat of vaseline to the wall of the other side of the jacket where the two sides would meet. These do need to come apart after all. Wash, rinse, and repeat for the other side. Then I let it set up over night before coming back to finish the rest.
Before I split the two in half, I trimmed and sanded down the rough edges. When cutting and sanding please wear safety gear, fiber glass dust is all around bad news! Before I pulled it apart, I drilled a few holes in the jacket so that i could bolt it back together and make sure it lined up. Using some screw drivers I pried it apart and carefully popped off both sides. I cut up the back, and then very slowly and carefully peeled off the silicone.