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Opening jaw in silicone head to stay open-> tips?

Hi friends,

Resolved one problem and now onto another. Grateful to say, thanks to the help in my last post my newest silicone casts don't show air bubbles on the surface. However I am still struggling with one final flaw, getting the jaw to stay open. My hunch is that the issue lies in my construction of the armature. Please let me know if you agree or suspect something else. I have switched to Eco Flex 00-30 at the suggestion of Nick H., which is significantly stretchier and more flexible allowing the mouth to open wider than needed when I stick my finger in and pull the lower jaw down. The problem is getting the jaw to stay open on it's own, which it's hardly doing at all. I don't have a picture of what the armature looked like right before I put it in the mold but I can attach an image of it before I adhesive-wrapped it in thin sheet foam.

I think the problems include:

1. I don't have access to wood shop tools so have been using aluminum foil and wire for armature. When I remove the silicone from the mold, it gets stuck the most right at that mouth opening and I have to really pull hard - creating tension on the armature as I pull. I think the wire is getting dislocated from the base of my armature head. Maybe I should use two part epoxy putty?

2. Is the wire thick enough to support the opening of the mouth? 

The character is supposed to take a bite of food during my animation so really hoping to be able to widely open mouth and remain open on its own. Any help would be so very appreciated! Thank you.

P.S.- there's two spots under right eye that haven't appeared before. Hopefully just an issue of cleaning my mold better before next cast. Hoping to see if I can scratch the mold to fix the dent on the lower right lip as well before recasting.

While troubleshooting for the correct head cast, starting to develop other details for the character with a test head:

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I like the look of your character with wig and glasses!

Problems - 

1. If you can't cut and drill wood, don't worry, use epoxy putty to anchor the wires firmly.  I show both methods, wood block and epoxy putty, in this video about making rough build-up heads.  The only difference with making the armature fora  build-up head is the I make a socket to locate the eyeballs - with the cast head, the eyes are located in the mould so the armature doesn't need so much of a socket.   The mouth wires are the same.

The foil you use is a good way to fill volume, but won't hold the wires firmly forever if they are a little bit loose.  Just twisting the wires together can also allow a little looseness, so squish some epoxy in there. The wire and putty head appears at 01:09:

2. 1.5mm (1/16th") wire should be fine to hold the mouth open.  If using 1mm wire, it needs to be 3 strands twisted together.  I tend to use 1.5mm for the upper jaw, which does not move much, and 3 strands of 1mm for the lower jaw, so it is easier to move, but still strong enough to hold the mouth open with the Ecoflex silicone.

Thank you immensely.  I've watched that tutorial of yours previously (one of my favorites, the intro with all the heads being animated as you describe the materials/process for each is incredible) but I didn't connect the dots that I could use the epoxy putty + wire armature for this. Will work in this direction.

I wonder if I can make the armature from twisted wire, add the epoxy putty so it is solid and secures mouth jaw wires, and then put foil on the outside (avoiding jaw area) for the purpose of filling volume and keeping the head less heavy? Might give that a try, lastly covering in thin foam. I'm not sure how many mm the wire I've been using is so I'm going to make a run to the store today to pickup 1mm for the lower jaw. 

Thank you, hoping the next one is an improvement. Will share progress.

StopmoNick said:

I like the look of your character with wig and glasses!

Problems - 

1. If you can't cut and drill wood, don't worry, use epoxy putty to anchor the wires firmly.  I show both methods, wood block and epoxy putty, in this video about making rough build-up heads.  The only difference with making the armature fora  build-up head is the I make a socket to locate the eyeballs - with the cast head, the eyes are located in the mould so the armature doesn't need so much of a socket.   The mouth wires are the same.

The foil you use is a good way to fill volume, but won't hold the wires firmly forever if they are a little bit loose.  Just twisting the wires together can also allow a little looseness, so squish some epoxy in there. The wire and putty head appears at 01:09:

2. 1.5mm (1/16th") wire should be fine to hold the mouth open.  If using 1mm wire, it needs to be 3 strands twisted together.  I tend to use 1.5mm for the upper jaw, which does not move much, and 3 strands of 1mm for the lower jaw, so it is easier to move, but still strong enough to hold the mouth open with the Ecoflex silicone.

I think I would have let the wire continue so that the upper part of the mouth and the jaw was connected, joining ends and fastening on the head part of the body/head attachment. I preferre using heatgunned polymorph thermoplastic for that, epoxie putty will do as well.

I would slit open the head from the sides in the back. And see if it is possible to get enough of the silver paper an hot glue out to connect the upper and lower sides with and new and larger shot of hotglue. I don't know if hotglue can bound to cold hotglue, but I doubt that epoxie will make a sufficient bond, with the lack of space.

You should be able to close the slits in the silicone with a little dab of super glue.

For the little holes beneath the eye, mix up a tiny amount of your base silicone and place it in there with a cocktail stick or similar. You can dab a little icing sugar on the surface to make sure it is flush and matt like the rest of the face.

Definitely coming along!

For techniques using polymorph plastic, have a look at bluworm's  YT channel, which show some very interesting methods.

Followed your steps exactly and had success! Used epoxy putty in the armature and 3 strands of 1mm wire. Thank you!!!

Following this, I attempted to create a duplicate. In my animation I am planning to have the main character (pictured above) have a scene with their self at a young-adult age so I want to make two heads from the same mold for both characters. In repeating the silicone casting steps for head #2, I accidentally had poured a little bit more silicone at the front of the lips before the wire. When I put my finger on head #2 I can feel the jaw wire is a bit deeper in the silicone vs. in head #1 in which the wire is more closely just behind the silicone. I noticed that this led to the mouth of head #2 not being able to open as wide as #1 (although it is still staying open on it's own). Thought I'd share this.



Wondering if I should attempt to smooth out the mouth opening or leave it as it to prevent worsening it. I have a few mess up silicone heads that led up to this one so perhaps I'll test it first on those. Thinking I'll try a dremel.

Now I'm onto the hands! I love your tutorial on latex build up hands, but am going to see if I can have success making a sculpt in NSP chavant, molding in ultra cal 30, and casting with the little bit of silicone pigmented with the same color as these heads. I'm also trying to follow your tutorial for the latex shoes. So many steps still ahead, but very grateful for your guidance with my many questions surrounding my silicone head troubleshooting- thank you again! Without your help I don't know that I would have made it this far.

StopmoNick said:

I like the look of your character with wig and glasses!

Problems - 

1. If you can't cut and drill wood, don't worry, use epoxy putty to anchor the wires firmly.  I show both methods, wood block and epoxy putty, in this video about making rough build-up heads.  The only difference with making the armature fora  build-up head is the I make a socket to locate the eyeballs - with the cast head, the eyes are located in the mould so the armature doesn't need so much of a socket.   The mouth wires are the same.

The foil you use is a good way to fill volume, but won't hold the wires firmly forever if they are a little bit loose.  Just twisting the wires together can also allow a little looseness, so squish some epoxy in there. The wire and putty head appears at 01:09:

2. 1.5mm (1/16th") wire should be fine to hold the mouth open.  If using 1mm wire, it needs to be 3 strands twisted together.  I tend to use 1.5mm for the upper jaw, which does not move much, and 3 strands of 1mm for the lower jaw, so it is easier to move, but still strong enough to hold the mouth open with the Ecoflex silicone.

Thank you! In my next armature I connected the wire jaws and I believe that helped greatly.

Hans Jacob Wagner said:

I think I would have let the wire continue so that the upper part of the mouth and the jaw was connected, joining ends and fastening on the head part of the body/head attachment. I preferre using heatgunned polymorph thermoplastic for that, epoxie putty will do as well.

I would slit open the head from the sides in the back. And see if it is possible to get enough of the silver paper an hot glue out to connect the upper and lower sides with and new and larger shot of hotglue. I don't know if hotglue can bound to cold hotglue, but I doubt that epoxie will make a sufficient bond, with the lack of space.

You should be able to close the slits in the silicone with a little dab of super glue.

This is so helpful to hear, I was afraid there wasn't anything I could do since I noticed if I painted silicone on top it was noticeably glossier. I will give this a try now using icing sugar to matte. I very much appreciate all of your guidance and support along my way, thank you so much.

Simon Tytherleigh said:

For the little holes beneath the eye, mix up a tiny amount of your base silicone and place it in there with a cocktail stick or similar. You can dab a little icing sugar on the surface to make sure it is flush and matt like the rest of the face.

Definitely coming along!

For techniques using polymorph plastic, have a look at bluworm's  YT channel, which show some very interesting methods.

Here's a little tip for getting the mouth edges smoother, which I doubt will respond to a Dremel, even with lots of Vaseline.

It is possible to use the sort of silicone builders use, a one-part thickened silicone, which comes in a clear version. I have had success by adding a little colour to a blob of this then putting it onto my silicone piece. I can then shape it by coating my finger in icing sugar powder and gently pressing into shape. The silicone does need to be clean and not already covered with e.g. Vaseline, or it will not stick. I once built up a whole neck using this method.

This type of silicone can also be useful for e.g. sticking hair on. It is incredibly cheap compared to the Dragon Skin/Platsil types!

Thank you for these tips. This is good to know, I don't have a dremel yet and they're a bit pricey so might try this option first. Where would I find this silicone, what is it called? Are you referring to a hardware store silicone? I have two "mess up" silicone heads that I can practice this on first to see if I can make it work and if so move onto my final head with it. I also made a wig cap (elmers glue stiffened fabric that I first shaped to the puppet head and then attached a wool material to for hair) the for the puppet so maybe this would be something I could use to attach that as well.

Thank you!



Simon Tytherleigh said:

Here's a little tip for getting the mouth edges smoother, which I doubt will respond to a Dremel, even with lots of Vaseline.

It is possible to use the sort of silicone builders use, a one-part thickened silicone, which comes in a clear version. I have had success by adding a little colour to a blob of this then putting it onto my silicone piece. I can then shape it by coating my finger in icing sugar powder and gently pressing into shape. The silicone does need to be clean and not already covered with e.g. Vaseline, or it will not stick. I once built up a whole neck using this method.

This type of silicone can also be useful for e.g. sticking hair on. It is incredibly cheap compared to the Dragon Skin/Platsil types!

Yes, it is hardware store silicone, it comes in big tubes and only sets off when exposed to air. Good idea to experiment on the spare pieces first!

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