Someone on Facebook brought up a good point about sharing knowlege. He said that if you share all your secrets at the beginning, you won't have any unique value to bring to the table when it comes to trying to make a career out of it.
This rings a bell with me, because the most useful knowledge I've ever gotten, I had to pay and work hard for. The most punished I've gotten, was for sharing something that was supposed to be a secret (I'm more careful now).
Stop motion is no longer in danger, which was the reason a lot of people opened up about how they do things. Now we have casual lurkers who read the articles but contribute nothing to them- not even a "thank you". I've even seen knowledge one of us has shared passed off as someone else's knowledge without attribution.
What are your thoughts on sharing or not sharing your techniques? Do you think it's good to grow the community while possibly endangering your bottom line? I'm opening the floor to debate.
It sounds like what you're looking for is epoxy putty. It's a 2 part compound that you mix together and knead vigorously by twisting and mashing it together for a minute or so, beginning the chemical reaction. It begins to turn warm and then it's ready to sculpt. It comes in different 'open' times, ranging from 5 minutes to an hour I think, depending on what kind you get, and when cured it's hard as a rock. You can get the 5 minute or 20 minute kind at hardware stores, and the hour kind from art/craft stores with names like Aves Apoxy Putty or Magic Sculpt. I like to keep some of the cheap 5 minute stuff on hand for roughing out internal structures quickly and then the slower-curing art variety for finishing so I can put some time into the outer skin.
Sorry if you're already aware of epoxy putty and were looking for something different!
Epoxy putty is nice, but how would you go about painting it? I could never get acrylics to stick to it once it was cured. if it could be painted, it would be nice for replacement eyeballs. :)
Really? Hmmm… I'm trying to remember if I've ever painted something made of epoxy putty - oh yeah, my stool cushions. No problem whatsoever painting them. I'm sure I've used it for a lot of stuff that I painted, and I don't remember ever having a problem. What kind have you used? Maybe you just need to wash it first - some of the chemicals might be on the surface same as with resin (though I don't usually wash either and haven't had any problems, using both acrylic and oil-based paint). Try Simple Green followed with dish detergent and then rinse thoroughly and let dry. On puppets generally I only use epoxy putty for internal parts - shoulder and pelvis blocks, the core of a head etc, and then cover with latex or cloth.
The quick-setting putty I use is usually Duro from a hardware or auto supply store, and that's no problem to paint, as well as the art supply varieties I already mentioned. Oh, I also like - what's it called, the dark grey steel-filled kind that comes in a long tube with the core being part B, so you just tear off a piece and knead it? Something-steel or steel-something. Can't find any of that just now, but I did find a similar one made by a company apparently called PC - it just says "metal-filled hand-moldable epoxy putty stick". Same stuff basically.
Ok, I guess it was Quicksteel. Plus there's another good brand called Devcon. And lately I really like an ultra-light version made by Smooth-On called Free-
Form Air. It's like the art store kind, with a long open working time and takes overnight to fully cure, but is very hard and super-light. A bit hard to work with though, not good for detailed sculpting - it's sort of like trying to sculpt with mashed potatoes. Would be good for cores and then a thin coat of regular epoxy putty on top for detail.
Interesting materials, I'll try them.
Although I do not like having to paint; I would like the final aspect was like normal plasticine. The idea is that all look like plasticine but only use real plasticine for moving parts, avoiding time of remodeling. I need about one hour to rebuilt my puppet after each shot!
Anyway, I like having several resources for resolving any situation. I'll buy a bit of it.
I paint epoxy putty with no problems, both the quick-setting stuff from the hardware store (Selley's Knead-it, but that is an Australian brand so you wouldn't find it) and the slower setting Aves Apoxie Sculpt. The quicksetting one is in a tube, with one part as the core, the other around the outside, like the one Strider mentioned. The Apoxie Sculpt comes in two containers and you mix equal parts. I also mix pigments into the white Apoxie Sculpt so I can get a coloured putty.
I haven't seen the lightweight putty but I like the sound of it! Instead of simply sculpting a head for a puppet with a big rigid head, I sculpted, made a mould, then cast a hollow fibreglass shell, just to keep the weight down. A light putty would have saved a couple of days. Almost worth the cost of getting some shipped here.
Yeah, it's really useful in certain situations. Like with other slow-setting epoxy putties, it's a good idea to let it sit for a while after kneading it, and it will firm up and get a lot easier to work with. At first it droops and sags too much and wants to stick too hard to your gloves or hands, but give it 10 minutes or so and it's much better.
Oh, I should add - I always wear nitrile gloves when kneading epoxy putty (much better for it than latex), and I keep a cup of water at hand. After I've kneaded the putty and maybe roughed in the form, I take off the gloves and work with wet fingers instead, plus a paper towel to wipe them off on. Also wet any tools you want to use, and steel tools are much better than wood, as the putty might stick to wood a lot more.
Didn't it hurt when you sat on them? Hehehehehe.
Really? Hmmm… I'm trying to remember if I've ever painted something made of epoxy putty - oh yeah, my stool cushions. \
Argh!! Looks like it already has some blood on it. From a previous sitting attempt. You speak from experience? j/k
Lol - I originally painted them orange/red, didn't like it, and went with a mottled yellow/beige/brown sort of look. That's traces of the original coat of paint.
Don, this is quite the thought-provoking question. Here's my 2 cents:
The answer depends on what your motivation is during the process, but...
In general, I think sharing knowledge and techniques is a net gain to the SM Community. As stated by others in previous posts, just having the knowledge doesn't equate to much unless you can also properly execute a project. The skill and technique comes with experience. The more knowledge available to the community pool, the higher quality StopMo stuff we'll all be seeing in the future. I think it's safe to say we all want this.
For a crowd like this, we're mostly working with limited budgets, doing these in our spare time and basements, and don't necessarily have access to all the whiz bang stuff that a professional studio has. But that doesn't mean we can't still create something wonderful and artistic using the tools, materials, etc. we have on hand or something we can purchase relatively inexpensively - and the amount of info we can access is a huge boon to us hobbyists. When people share what they learn along the way, others can build from that and apply it to their own projects, hopefully creating some pretty neat stuff along the way and inspiring others to join in, or at least allow them enjoy the fruits of our labor.
With the amount of info available, we can build on previous ideas, refining along the way, and even innovating new processes based on what's right at our fingertips. Hoarding that info would stifle innovation and restrict the amount of projects/films/other that we are interested in seeing.
Everybody wins when the knowledge is free.
In my experience, every stop motion project is such a unique thing, comprising so many techniques and processes - especially fabrication of puppets and sets and props that you couldn't necessarily know where your own original ideas came from. You find yourself drawing upon inspiration from thousands of sources from every stage of your experience. And from every field of your life. One expert might tell you everything that they know and it still would not give you all the resources you need to make a good film.
I always try and credit where I can but the list would be endless. In turn, I am happy to share anything I've learned. I agree with Aaron, when such a vast knowledge base leverages good ideas and perpetuates itself, everyone wins.