Saturday, June 20, 2009

Feelin' like Gold!

Well first off I want to thank Mike ( and Justin ( and everyone even reading this for the continued support! Here's the story:

After what one would call a "valley" in the stop motion rollercoaster life, I decided to take some time away from it all and recover from the battles that my immune system had fought. Actually my immune system just took off their undies and waved it on a stick in surrender because I was sick for days. During which my niece had a little zoo stage play at school and my brother snapped some pictures. I'm a big fan of candid closed-eyed pictures. Always gives me a chuckle. This is Trinity the Panda Zookeeper:

After a few days of rest my sister started to pack her apartment belongings to get ready for her move to Colorado. She had a few pieces of furniture that I couldn't resist grabbing. Most notably, THE BED.

King sized mattress of heaven. My old bed was a queen size and had been around for years. It started giving me problems with sleep and man was I happy when my sis said she was giving me this bed. It alone has changed a big part of my life haha. Friggin' awesome.On top of that she had this really nifty coffee table. When I first saw this I kept thinking how perfect it was to manipulate specs of gravel / salt / sugar/ powder / what have you for things like water scenes. But to be honest it's nice having a coffee table in my room. I had cleared everything other than a bed and a computer desk to make the maximum available space for stop motion stuff. Whenever people wanted to bring food up here to eat / watch a movie they wouldnt have a place to do so. Problem solved! I'm going to give up my computer desk though and sacrifice it to give that short table in the picture above much more height. My sister also gave us her newer, much nicer computer desk - which is in my brother's room at the moment... buuut I may steal that while he's away at the gym - WUhahah.

So this is the first "successful" foaming that my sis and I did about 2 weeks ago. It looks so promising!

Handy dandy mixer which turned out to work surprisingly well considering how cheap it was (10 bucks)
Moe's mold + really really crappy armature complete with really crappy pro-poxy wannabe putty. Kind of fitting that his mold looks sort of like a tombstone. This thing is gigantic by the way. Thats about 14-15 inches from the bottom to the top.

My clean workspace. This is the sculpt of Vanni's body, the hands always take me the longest so it hurts to see them fall apart afterwards.
Moe's gruesome mutilated sculpt after taking it out of the mold. From the start it had pocket problems haha... poor poor Moe. You shall live again one day!

This was the first baking (2 weeks ago). The problem with this one was that it didn't cook all the way. I wasn't sure what to expect, didn't know how long to cook and at what temp. This was my first time trying to low-temp cook it. I put it at 130F for 4 hours. That was the plan at least. It went on until 1AM though and I had fallen asleep. I didn't wake up until 2:20AM and even then the puppet wasn't fully cooked. I only realized it wasn't fully cooked when I took it out in excitement and basically destroyed it before seeing that I could have put it back and cooked it longer. It was alright though because the armature in this thing wasn't anything to be proud of. It was a definite learning experience though. Cook it at a higher temp!

This was my very own trial. I was sick and didn't want to continue with it... but I had to keep trying. I knew going in that it wasn't going to come out right because the bulk inside the armature was too loppy for the mold to fit in place. I know I should have checked it first and all but my mind was kind of a mess. But one thing I did right was mixing the foam by feel and not by a timer. Either way I wanted to try cooking it at 150 this time just to see how it would come out. 150F at 3.5 hours and it STILL wasn't cooked enough. Came out way better than I thought... but still not right. It dented just slightly. I was going to use this as practice for painting and stuff but because it smelled I left it outside. After I had recovered from my illness it had already been 4 days left out in the yard and it started discoloring and stuff. I got a little practice out of it but no color tests.

Here is the mixing table with a very Kathi Zung-looking armature. As you can see the foam kit is almost depleted, gotta order another one real soon.
A close up of Vanni's bottom-half of the mold.
So first batch gels as we're pouring in the foam into the mold. We tried to go by using a timer again. Suggested gelling agent 14g per 150 foam latex base batch. I used 75g of foam latex so 7g of gelling agent should be the recommended. I used 4 grams of gelling agent here and it gelled EXTREMELY quick. Foam is fustrating.
Here is our dog Jay, trying to console me. And on that note we tried again. 2.5-3 grams of gelling agent this time and going by feel now instead of a timer.
Success, here it is in the oven. While that's baking I'll show you a few other designs I tried.

This is my nephew Thomas. Spending days of the week with him I have to look at this face constantly. One of my short scripts called for a baby so I thought why not. This is what I came up with.

He actually has a shirt like that... haha.

Here's the original sketch of Vanni.
And here is the head made out of baked sculpey. Screw-head in the mouth as a soft-key for the replacement mouths.

And here are sketches of two of my old friends from elementary days:

So with the mold finished baking - 175F at 2 hours 22 minutes.

PRESTO MODESTO! It actually looks use-able! Booyeah!

Blurry backshot!
Here it is after my crude cut of the flashing.
Here is my oven mit. I got this at a thrift store and I was quite mislead. I still say it's the container's fault and not mine. It was on the wall so I couldn't see behind the glove... but I could see that it had something with the same pattern behind it. I figured it was another glove! The label says: "2 Pc. mit set". I opened it up to see it was a little teapot mit + base. It looks awesome and manly to boot.

After cutting the flashing I realized I didn't have a wood burning tool. I almost used an old hot-glue gun to do the job, but I figured I would need something specficially to burn foam and just went out and bought one. First time I ever went to home depot looking for something, going there, finding it, purchasing what I intended to buy, and leaving there a happy customer.

Another shot of it after some slight detailing. I was afraid to go too deep haha... even though Kathi says it's better to go deep and recover what was lost with the cabosil paste. I just couldn't hurt this one.
After I finished (besides the things under her foot).

I'm really happy with this wood burning tool. It's pretty thin at the tip which lets me make the burns more accurately. Also it wasn't tooooo hot allowing me to actually touch parts accidently without making a scratch.

My dog expresses my feelings. *sighhh* time to relax. I'm letting the foam cool for just a tiny bit before I wash the mold release off and let it dry till tomorrow.

Above it all I've been getting back into being more active and healthy. I've realized how taxing stop motion can be and it doesn't help to be a giant flubbering mass of procrastination. I kind of missed the old days of just hanging at the courts till the lights shut off at midnight, camping, swimming, just enjoying the world. It's not for everyone but I think it'll actually help me maintain my momentum in this crazy stop motion world.

Hope to post more soon. Thanks again for the support guys... it means much more than you know! See ya next time!


  1. Glad to hear you recovered Tony!

    And you may have waited a long time between posts, but it was worth the wait!!! A good meaty post, filled with trials, tribulations and triumphs (as well as a few tragedies).

    Great looking puppet!!! And the other puppet... the one that drools all over.... did you have to do much trimming and patching for that one? I suppose the parents did that... mostly around the diaper area....


  2. Thanks Mike,

    Feels good to hop over that foam hurdle.

    As for the doodoo monster I get the pleasure of changing those diapers four days a week while his parents party and take worldwide vacations / trips. Look at that face though, can't be upset even for a sec :)

  3. Yeah man!

    you did it!!!

    you got a working foam latex puppet there.

    cute kid and lots of great ideas for fun animation.


  4. thanks justin

    and I can't wait for august 8 john, celebrating the departure of you.

    cheers :)