Thursday, September 16, 2010

Working with Hirst Arts Molds

I will be working more on the Stalingrad battlefield later today. The roads have all been laid down, but I made the mistake of not pre-coloring the medium I used. It came in a medium gray, so I thought that would suffice, but it gets fairly translucent when dry. Fortunately, the net result is that I will have to add a step to the process of finishing the roads - no big deal.

Right now I want to share my first experience in working with the wonderful molds made by Bruce Hirst of Hirst Arts. But before I go into details, I will start with a short story, one very similar to so many others in my life...

At Harrypalooza I (about a decade ago?) Darryl Empey brought some little "bricks" he had cast up. They were 28mm scale, and he had done enough to cast up maybe 6" of garden wall. When I asked him how long it had taken him to cast up those little bricks, he said an hour or two, and then stated he would be building scenery with them. I told him he was showing signs of early dementia as the time-versus-result calculation was not coming out well for this endeavor. I figured the whole buying-molds-to-cast-your-own-stuff thing would never take off, and regardless it was certainly nothing I would ever be interested in. Keep in mind that we were in the resin-casting business at the time, so I wasn't speaking without any knowledge of the process.

Go back three months and I'm looking for scenery for my suddenly-humongous Star Wars figure collection. I stumble across Bruce's website and what does he have on his home page? How to make Star Wars scenery with his molds! A few days later, after quite some time delving into his how-to's and tips, I ordered a half dozen molds and some Merlin's Magic dental plaster.

Last weekend I took my first shot at casting up some blocks. Here is a photo my first pour.

For the mold on the right, I remembered to spray the agent that helps the plaster to flow and reduces bubbles. For the mold on the left, I forgot, as I only poured into that mold after I realized that the one batch of plaster I had mixed would actually fill two molds. You can really see the difference. The plaster on the left has obvious surface tension issues, while the plaster on the left has almost flowed like water. I will admit that I mixed this batch (and several to follow) a tad thin, and did have a bit of breakage when extracting as a result. Live and learn I guess.

I will be using the blocks I cast to make some modular starship and high-tech building interiors. I'll use them for CGC events, such as our Star Wars games and in creating the lab for Raccoon City, an upcoming mega-event that John Sanchez and I are working on.

I will conclude this post by giving kudos to Bruce Hirst and his website. There is hardly a more helpful site on the internet. He is meticulous about providing instructions, tips, tricks, etc. He is also extremely resourceful in his solutions and obviously is a genius at planning before proceeding. I am looking forward to using many of his products over the coming years to help me on a wide variety of projects.


- Rod

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