Wednesday, July 8, 2009

First Layup

As promised, I have started to lay up my very first full cape.

I started by peeling off the layers of latex that I had put on in order to clean up the mold. This process pulled up all the dust and gunk that had accumulated on it over time.

Despite earlier experimentation, I decided to go with the foam brush for the actual application of the latex. Because the mold is so big, and my arms are only so long, I added an extension to a brush to reach the parts in the middle. I figured this would save me from putting any weight on the mold as I stretched out to reach those hard-to-get places.

This is how much I got done before I ran out of steam on the first try.

Got a little bit more done later on in the day.

And finally go the first coat is done.

I have since finished up a tiny section that I removed to use as material in the cape clips. Not shown here.

Things are going nicely, but it's really hard to tell how it will turn out until it's actually done. I THINK the latex is seeping into the diamonds and capturing all the details, but it's impossible to say. I will know more within the next few days.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Getting Ready To Run My First Cape

Conditions are perfect! I've gotten a very good match for the red used on the outer shell, and I'm ready to pour up my first cape.

The only thing that remains is to finish cleaning the mold. I poured in some left over latex from a test batch to cover the remaining surface. Once that is dry, I will peel the whole thing up, and start laying in the correctly pigmented rubber.

That's the next step. I will probably get started on the rubber tomorrow. Too late tonight to do much more work on it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fabric Update

Last week, a couple of pieces of fabric arrived, but they stayed in my car for a few days. I finally had a chance to unload them and take a look.

These are the two pieces of cotton interlock I ordered from Good news and bad news. Bad news is that the "red orange jersey knit" is too orange. Good news is that the "Red Jersey Knit" is really nice. The extra good news is that both fabrics are a little wider than advertised, and will cover the entire mold quite nicely.

In other news, work continues on mixing up the perfect batch of latex. Color is just right, but it's a little dark. So I'm mixing in a little bit of fresh latex, and then testing. Testing takes a little time, as it requires three coats, with dry time in between. And I usually get distracted after two coats. So it takes time.

BUT, I am getting there. The pieces are really all in place right now for me to produce my first full test cape. Well, I still need to source material for the stabilizer flap, but that's the least of my worries right now. The big thing at the moment is getting that color match.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Lunatic-Like Persistence

Sometimes, I wonder to myself if I spend too much time obsessing about the details. I go round and round, doing trial after trial, experimenting until I either get it perfect, or until I run out of steam. It looks a whole lot like this project is going to be no different... but I REALLY think it paid off today.

I've been spending loads of time lately experimenting with color and consistency of the latex that will form the outer shell of the cape.

I ordered a big supply of pigments from Burman foam, along with two different types of latex. I went through a variety of brushes and rollers to see which one produced the best results. After weeks of never quite getting the color right, I switched gears and started to explore latex paints. I got some from Aaron Brothers, but the pigment was too faint. I recently got a couple of colors from Michael's, which actually turned out very nicely.

I don't recall the exact time line, but I think the same day I got the paints from Michael's, I ordered these pigments online:

They just arrived yesterday.

In my head, I had pretty much committed to using the balloon rubber with the Michael's pigments. I was getting good results, though the color match was not perfect. Still, I was willing to sacrifice "perfect" in the name of finishing the project.

But then these pigments showed up.

They mix VERY easily into the rubber, and they are very bold in color. My first test involved the use of some red, and a couple of drops of black.

I don't know how much more clearly I can state this, but the color match was PERFECT. And I mean perfect.

All of the subtle tones of the original were there. It's like a deep, dark red with traces of blue and burgandy. I suspect that these may have been the exact same pigments that were used to make the screen used cape. It's just that good.

So I am VERY very very excited today to have gotten such great results. I know I posted before that I had "Nailed It", but that was kind of a "Good enough" nailed it, not a "perfect match" nailed it.

The other funny news is that while I was experimenting, I think I've really decided to switch gears and go with the slip casting latex.

It goes down a little nicer, and tends to fill in the diamonds better. I didn't notice until later how many bubbles I was getting at the tips of the diamonds with the balloon rubber until I really got a close look at it.

So in short, my final recipe for the outer shell of the cape is the Burman Foam Slip Casting rubber, and a mix of red and black pigments from GMFoam inc.

Here's a link to GMFoam. They do not sell directly from that website. I will post the link to the site I ordered from in my next post.

In other news, a shipment arrived from Smooth-on yesterday. It contained some more urethane that I will use for the belt and chest emblem. I'm not in a big rush to get to those right now, as I really want to finish up a working cape. As of this moment, everything is in place to generate a cape. I have a good match for the fabric on hand, and I feel that I've really locked down the techniques and materials for doing the outer shell. So all is good!