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Been looking at options of what material to cast my Cyclops stop motion puppet in. My initial idea was to go with silicone, but I have just recently found this on 4D Model Shops website. Has anyone used it before for this purpose? Thanks :)

http://modelshop.co.uk/Shop/Cast-Mould/Foams/Item/Foam-Flex-iT-V-me...

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I've used a Smooth-On urethane foam that is very similar to their Foam Flex-it for casting stunt weapons for film, but would not use it for casting a puppet in. Urethane foams are quite airy (resulting partly from the significant expansion while it cures) and wont flex as easily as say silicone or foam latex. Flexible urethane foams are vaguely similar in a few ways to foam latex, but will be a bit stiffer and generally less dense (depending on the density of urethane you purchase. Smooth-On has a couple other Foam Flex-it that are less dense the V and a bunch that are more dense.) but will be more easily torn when it's cast in thin thicknesses. Since urethane foam doesn't move very easily and will constantly try to snap back to its original shape it'll be pretty ineffective for animation. I'd go for silicone or foam latex for casting puppets in.

Ah I see, just as well I didn't go for it. Silicone it is then! Thanks :)

Ethan Bartholomae said:

I've used a Smooth-On urethane foam that is very similar to their Foam Flex-it for casting stunt weapons for film, but would not use it for casting a puppet in. Urethane foams are quite airy (resulting partly from the significant expansion while it cures) and wont flex as easily as say silicone or foam latex. Flexible urethane foams are vaguely similar in a few ways to foam latex, but will be a bit stiffer and generally less dense (depending on the density of urethane you purchase. Smooth-On has a couple other Foam Flex-it that are less dense the V and a bunch that are more dense.) but will be more easily torn when it's cast in thin thicknesses. Since urethane foam doesn't move very easily and will constantly try to snap back to its original shape it'll be pretty ineffective for animation. I'd go for silicone or foam latex for casting puppets in.

The expanding urethane foam will compress and bend, but doesn't stretch as well as foam latex.  It is't as good as the sheet foam that you can use to build up a puppet body, either, though it is basically the same sort of stuff. I guess the blocks of foam are made in very controlled conditions, so they are finer grained and more consistent that you get when pouring some into a mold.   I have one female body that I cast in this kind of foam, but I knew I would be covering it except for the head and hands.  The mould was a fibreglass one I made for casting silicone, but I didn't like the hands - too big with the size head I was using.  And silicone is heavy. So I cast in urethane foam, except for the hands which I built up with liquid latex, and a removable silicone head.  It gives me a lightweight body using the shape I'd already made a mould of.  It seemed quicker than building up a sheet foam body.  It's slender, so it bends ok, it just doesn't look so good on the surface with the way it folds.  The Cyclops has his whole upper body exposed, so I would go with foam latex or with silicone.  

Always start with Amazon for supplies - they'll have much of what you need, including armature wire and the silicone kits like Dragonskin and Ecoflex. Other sites to check for rubber supplies include Burmanfoam, SmoothOn and MonsterMakers. Also be sure to check the Resources section in the sidebar of my Darkmatters blog, it has listings for many suppliers. 

Here's a nice writeup about wire, what qualities to look for, what sizes to get etc plus a handy conversion chart for all the confusing terminology:

Armature Wire Tutorial @ StopMoShorts

In fact, be sure to add this link to your stopmotion bookmarks - the site no longer exists but I've pulled it up on Archive.Org where you can still see all the tutorials and articles even though it doesn't preserve the films themselves. Here's the tutorials page:

StopMoShorts Tutorials @ Archive.Org

As far as the differences between various rubber kits, that falls into the realm of long term research and will become clear to you as you work your way through old posts in the puppetmaking forum. Since you've already mentioned you have a tendency to get confused by too much information and that you want to concentrate on simple puppet making methods now I won't make this post any longer or more dense with unnecessary information. 

Here's a link to Whimsie, which also sells the smaller sizes of armature wire. They have nicer smoother wire than Mcmaster/Carr does:

Soft Round Aluminum Wire @ Whimsie

They have all the wire on the one page - you're going to have to make sure you get Soft Round Aluminum and get the sizes recommended on the tutorial at StopMoShorts. I don't know of an equivalent UK source, maybe somebody else does but I've never known anyone to post such a thing. There are good UK sites for wire, one is called Screenface and there's - something else I can't remember offhand. If I remember right they carry square wire (that might spark somebody's memory).

I did a quick search and turned up an old thread about UK suppliers:

where do i find UK clay / newclay / armature / rigging

That link goes to the 2nd answer, which is one of mine, but be sure to scroll up and see Nick's answer above it as well. I can't seem to get it to go to the whole thread, only to that post. 

I just wanted to say urethane foams are used a lot in the industry now. Usually for more build up things or for bulky characters. Sometimes somafoma is used, but you have to cut the skin off and cast with dragon skin over it. Somafoma is a bit hard to work with too.

I've cast some small puppets with Flex Foam It 3 and Flex Foam It 7. It's not that easy to work with and lots of wrinkles when you bend it. It takes acrylic paint nicely but that cracks pretty fast. I made it work somehow but I wouldn't use it for something that is going to be manipulated a lot.

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