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Hi all,

I'm interested in casting puppets with rubber latex, but I have never used such a material before. I was recently at Hobby Lobby and saw that they have it there (in the dioramas section) for $19 a bottle. Is such rubber latex okay to use? If not, what are the best sources to get paint-on rubber latex from? 

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There are two different kinds of latex - This sounds like the first kind, but may be very expensive for the small quantity you get:  

Liquid latex, used for brushing on, spraying on, or filling a plaster mould.  If casting in a mould, you pour it back out of the mould after  around 10 to 30 minutes, and a layer of latex on the plaster clings because the plaster has absorbed some of the water, making it thicker.  You leave it to dry, and that forms a hollow skin.  It is good for hand puppets and masks.  I also use it to paint onto my wire armature to build up hands in solid latex.  It takes many coats, letting each coat dry before adding the next one.  Or you can cast hollow skins and glue them on top of a padded armature.  It works best for skinny puppets, because it is strong, like a rubber band, and wants to pull the puppet back into the original pose.   A latex skin over a thicker body with softer urethane foam underneath will tend to fold in half like a rubber boot when you bend it.

What country do you live in?  I will assume the USA, since you didn't say, so here a place that stocks liquid latex, and other materials:

http://www.sculpt.com/catalog_98/CastingMaterials/LATEX/latex.htm

Looks like there may be some filler in this latex, to make it a little stiffer.  That is great for masks and props, but not always so good for animation puppets.  I'm not finding the thinner Spraying Latex that I use in US links,  Google keeps being helpful and giving me Australian suppliers (which I already know).

Burman might have something...  http://www.burmanindustries.com   I can't seem to go to the latex page at the moment, it just keeps on spinning...  you can try.

The other one is Foam Latex, which comes in a kit with latex base, curing agent, foaming agent, and gelling agent.  It is only used for casting in a mould.  You whip it up in a mixer so it's like whipped cream, then brush or inject it into a plaster mould with the armature inside.  It is baked in an oven and sets like foam rubber.  It is far more flexible and stretchable than solid latex, and is the best way to get a puppet that reproduces your sculpture, and can be animated.

Here is a source for foam latex:   http://www.monstermakers.com/category/The-Monster-Makers-Foam-Latex...

They also sell mask making latex, but I think that would have some filler in it to stiffen it a little.  

I never could get my latex to lay down as smooth as you do on your hands.  I use balloon latex which is supposed to be thin and nice for that kind of work but it's not working for me.  Any idea why?  Sorry to hijack your post Lauren but I thought it might helpful!


StopmoNick said:

There are two different kinds of latex - This sounds like the first kind, but may be very expensive for the small quantity you get:  

Liquid latex, used for brushing on, spraying on, or filling a plaster mould.  If casting in a mould, you pour it back out of the mould after  around 10 to 30 minutes, and a layer of latex on the plaster clings because the plaster has absorbed some of the water, making it thicker.  You leave it to dry, and that forms a hollow skin.  It is good for hand puppets and masks.  I also use it to paint onto my wire armature to build up hands in solid latex.  It takes many coats, letting each coat dry before adding the next one.  Or you can cast hollow skins and glue them on top of a padded armature.  It works best for skinny puppets, because it is strong, like a rubber band, and wants to pull the puppet back into the original pose.   A latex skin over a thicker body with softer urethane foam underneath will tend to fold in half like a rubber boot when you bend it.

What country do you live in?  I will assume the USA, since you didn't say, so here a place that stocks liquid latex, and other materials:

http://www.sculpt.com/catalog_98/CastingMaterials/LATEX/latex.htm

Looks like there may be some filler in this latex, to make it a little stiffer.  That is great for masks and props, but not always so good for animation puppets.  I'm not finding the thinner Spraying Latex that I use in US links,  Google keeps being helpful and giving me Australian suppliers (which I already know).

Burman might have something...  http://www.burmanindustries.com   I can't seem to go to the latex page at the moment, it just keeps on spinning...  you can try.

The other one is Foam Latex, which comes in a kit with latex base, curing agent, foaming agent, and gelling agent.  It is only used for casting in a mould.  You whip it up in a mixer so it's like whipped cream, then brush or inject it into a plaster mould with the armature inside.  It is baked in an oven and sets like foam rubber.  It is far more flexible and stretchable than solid latex, and is the best way to get a puppet that reproduces your sculpture, and can be animated.

Here is a source for foam latex:   http://www.monstermakers.com/category/The-Monster-Makers-Foam-Latex...

They also sell mask making latex, but I think that would have some filler in it to stiffen it a little.  

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