THE SMA FORUM ARCHIVE
Posted by teabgs, on 2003-10-05 09:46:19
Major set building help needed - a few different things
Hey everyone, it's time to build my thesis' set. I haven't really dealt too much with building sets for myself...the most experience I have is when I was interning and told exactly what to make and what to make it out of.
Now I need to do it alone and have a few questions.
I built tables, they have plywood on them, so I am ready to build my set. I need to make a cliff that my characters climb up. I was thinking of making a chicken wire frame and using paper mache (is that how you spell it?), but I'm afraid to drill holes in that for the tie-downs. WIll it work? should I use a different material?
also, Balsa...is this a good thing to use for anythign that a character will be walking on? I mean as a bridge where it's kind of thin and the characters are made of metal.
Also, if I use balsa, how do I fill in the holes? Actually I've never had to fill in holes since I never used a real set; do I just fill it up with paint, or do I also put some material down in the hole?
As for painting: I need to make a lot of stuff look rusty. I know if you mix saw dust with paint it'll look right.....but what colors do I use to make the proper color?
Also, cliff sides that wont get climbed on I am thinking Styrofoam....is this a good or bad idea?
I think those are all the questions I have right now, sorry if some are kind of weird and whatnot, but I just am on a tight schedule and want this to come out right.
Thank you so much!
Posted by Strider, on 2003-10-05 23:00:57
Here's a few ideas for you:
For the part where characters have to climb, I would use something like plywood. Then for the rest, I would think the chickenwire/paper mache or styrofoam should work, built over a sturdy framework of wood or something. A good way to do the surface texturing for something rocky is to use durham's water putty, which is like plaster, but IMO much easier to use and work with. You can get it at just about any hardware store. Another good surfacing agent is tile mastic (which means the adhesive, NOT tile grout). I piocked some up at Ace hardware and used it over foam for a brick wall. It takes overnight to dry, and has a faint mineral spirits odor, and if you put it on too thick it will shrink up and maybe crack, so it's really only good for the surface treatment itself, no building form with it. One technique that works nicely for areas where nobody needs to walk is to use full sheets of newspaper of paper bags. Crumple them up and immerse them in a big shallow pan full of the Durham's putty (or plaster) and them drape them right onto your cliff forms of chicken wire or whatever. Then, when you've got it built up pretty well, use a putty knife or trowel to start slapping the remaining putty onto it.
I wouldn't use it where it needs to support weight. You should use something stronger for the basic form, them you could build over that with balsa. There's a kind of wood called MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) that apparently can be soaked and then bent, and will harden in the shape you bend it into. I haven't tried this, but it's something I definitely plan on doing soon. I'm not sure if it's what's also known as particleboard or not, but I think it might be.
Actually, balsa might work if you build over a metal framework. But I wouldn't trust it to support any weight.
I find black and burnt sienna works really well, but you need to make it really spotty and irregular. I'll put it on and let it sit for a few minuites (using acrylic paint) and them just pick it up and tap it all over with my fingers or a sponge or paper towel or something. The messier the better.
Hope this helps, and good luck!
Posted by Boy Oyng, on 2003-10-05 23:07:59
I can answer some of your questions from reverse experience... That is, I built scenery NOT intended for stopmo out of some of the materials you're wondering about. I'd say: Don't use papier mache for the cliff and don't use balsa for the bridge. I'd suggest making the basic mountain shapes out of wood, cardboard, and chicken wire, then dipping strips of packaging paper (not newspaper) into plaster and building up a rigid shell. Or, if you have money and ventilation, you could use fiberglass and resin. Do a few layers--enough so it's good and strong--and then texture the final layers appropriately. And make sure you leave the back open and clear and easily reachable so you can get access to the tie-downs!
For the non-climbed-on parts, foam will work. Use both open cell and closed cell foams (that is, ones with minute air bubbles in them and those made up of little beads). A cheap source is foam insulation used in housing construction. You can buy 4X8 foot sheets of both types. Also, you can use spray-can foam (such as Great Stuff), but you'll have to texture it (by hacking at it with a knife or somethiung) because it expands into rather identifiable globs. Just be careful that you won't have to climb or lean over any of this lighter weight scenery to get to your hero set, because it will move easily if you bump it.
For the bridge, I'd use a more durable wood that won't compress much when you tighten your tie-downs. Very thin plywood, for example. Or just pine or spruce.
For rust colors, I'd suggest using various mixes of burnt sienna and burnt umber. Again, texture and variations will be very important. Find or take a few pictures of rusty things to have on hand as you mix colors.
For hole-filling, you can use appropriately colored bits of clay.
Check out model railroading books or websites. Here's a start:
Hope it helps.
Posted by chantel, on 2006-07-14 12:05:37
I stumbled accross this website and I thought it might be useful because even though it is for a vivarium hide, the hide has been made to look like rock, with the use of sprayed foam insulation, varnish and sand.
I hope it helps.
Posted by Boy Oyng, on 2003-10-05 23:09:54
Mike, you're fast! I checked just seconds before I posted to see if someone else had already replied! Anyway, I hadn't seen yours until after I posted mine.
Posted by Strider, on 2003-10-05 23:18:18
Yeah, we must have been typing at the same time. Nice to see we agree on so many points. But I have to admit you're right about not using newspaper... it's better to use the thicker stuff.
Posted by Nick H, on 2003-10-06 01:22:34
I agree with both, and Boy Oyng has said pretty exactly what I would have said. I make cliffs and rocks for puppets to climb or walk on by first jigsawing a couple of profiles out of particle board (made of lots of chips and chunks of wood formed into a sheet, not the same as mdf which is made of sawdust in layers). Then I staple some chicken wire over that, and cover with fibreglass chopped strand mat dipped in plaster. You need a firm material for the tiedowns to tighten up against. The plaster soaks through the fibreglass mat, and bonds with it, it would flake off the surface of newspaper. Once set, the plaster will support itself. An alternate method is to build up a shape in clay, then do the fibreglass and plaster over that, then remove the clay. I've also done rocks by taking a latex mould of a 12" x 18 section of real rock, then casting plaster with fibreglass reinforcing in that mould, so I got a nice rock texture on the surface.
For the same reason, I use pine or plywood, not balsa, for bridges to be walked on.
Fill holes with a little plasticine of the same colour as the object.
Posted by teabgs, on 2003-10-06 10:21:37
thanks for the suggestions guys!
Fiberglass it not an option, though it'd be nice. So, let's just pretend that the only tools I have that are electric is a Drill gun. All other tools are analog...hammer, wrenches, file, sandpaper, etc.
so, here's a question. I build a frame with wood and chicken wire. Should I get chicken wire from a hardware store, or the stuff they sell in art stores? And when I drill hole for tie downs it wont matter that the wire is there right? Also, should I get the chicken wire with big holes in it, or little holes in it?
Posted by Nick H, on 2003-10-06 16:05:41
Chicken wire from hardware stores should be fine, small holes is probably better. If you use plaster reinforced with fibreglass matte, (or strips of burlap/hessian will work too) once it's set the chicken wire isn't really needed anymore. Sometimes it gets in the way of the tiedowns a bit, and I have to snip some of it away. Especially if the tiedown hole is right where the wire is, instead of where the hole in the wire is. It didn't cause any problems drilling the holes.There is another material, expanded aluminum mesh, that you could use instead of chicken wire, but it would cost more and isn't really necesary.
Posted by teabgs, on 2003-10-06 16:15:30
>Chicken wire from hardware stores should be fine, small
>holes is probably better. If you use plaster reinforced
>with fibreglass matte, (or strips of burlap/hessian will
>work too) once it's set the chicken wire isn't really needed
>anymore. Sometimes it gets in the way of the tiedowns a
>bit, and I have to snip some of it away. Especially if the
>tiedown hole is right where the wire is, instead of where
>the hole in the wire is. It didn't cause any problems
>drilling the holes.There is another material, expanded
>aluminum mesh, that you could use instead of chicken wire,
>but it would cost more and isn't really necesary.
well, I'm glad I asked. I was thinking Big holes instead of small because of surface area when drilling holes.
So, you're saying put burlap down on top of the chicken wire and THEN plaster?
Also, I was at a hardware store earlier and asked about Durham's putty...and they had no idea what I was talking about. Should ANY hardware store carry it or not?
Do I need to buy it online?
Thanks so much!
Posted by Marc Spess, on 2003-10-06 18:07:04
I looked at your site and recognized the monkey stop motion. I thought - I've seen that before. Well I remember where, it was on Tech TV on the Screensavers site of the night. I used to watch that show up until we got rid of all the cable channels - too expensive. Did you know you were famous?
http://www.animateclay.com/signature.jpg Visit: http://www.animateclay.com/new.htm
Posted by teabgs, on 2003-10-06 18:20:02
> I looked at your site and recognized the monkey stop
>motion. I thought - I've seen that before. Well I remember
>where, it was on Tech TV on the Screensavers site of the
>night. I used to watch that show up until we got rid of all
>the cable channels - too expensive. Did you know you were
:-) I wouldn't say I'm "famous". I'm just known by the geek community ;-)
Yes, I know about screensavers (I have that clip on the webpage). It also made Macworld Magazine, some German Mac Magazine, The NY Times, This entertainment DVD in Detroit, some papers in CA and Alabama, etc.....there is a list on the webpage with links if possible. Once it started getting everywhere I wished that I had done it with a higher production value, since it was just a little thing I did over the weekend at work when I had a free minute (I had quite a few).
funny thing about it too...I got an email about a year ago from someone who saw it and the entire message said (I'm searching for it now)..... found it "I almost crapped my pants from laughing so hard at your monkey video!!!!!"
I swear I just copy and pasted I did NOT doctor that at all...it's a quote. That's the entire email.
Posted by Strider, on 2003-10-06 23:32:50
Well, maybe not ANY hardware store then. It's available at my local Ace Hardware, so I thought it might be pretty universal, but maybe only Ace carries it. Here it is where I found it.... um, make that Lio found it (;-) ) at Ace online: www.acehardware.com/searchHandler/index.jsp?searchId=10321212842&keywords=Durham%27s+Rock+Hard+Water+Putty&y=7&x=18
I hope you're able to get ahold of some, it's a great product. I made a rocky set using it with full sheets of newspaper over forms of crumpled newspaper taped onto a crdboard surface probably ten years ago, and it's still looking good. It's been stored upright in a stack of lumber, and still no chipping or cracking. I can't promise you'll get the same results though :D
Posted by Antony, on 2003-10-07 10:00:22
You could also try Aqua Resin for something that needss to be really hard. It's great to work with, without the toxic chemicals. It also has a very stone-like quality when dry. You can get a thixotropic additive to paste it vertically over chicken wire or cloth. You can even pour it straight into alginate moulds if you found some nice real rocks to mould. Worth checking out at http://www.aquaresin.com/
Posted by TempestGiovanni, on 2003-10-14 10:12:24
I have a question about MDF. you said that you can soak it and then form it. How thick can it be? how long do you soak it? is it soaked in HOT water? does it crack easly?
the system is down:7
Posted by Antony, on 2003-10-14 19:46:46
I forgot to mention that AquaResin also sticks really well to polystyrene foams, making a light yet very strong surface. See a picture of the resin stuck on a blue builders foam here http://www.shoalhaven.net.au/~bunyanfilms/aquaresin/aquapic05.html
And here are some cast rocks http://www.shoalhaven.net.au/~bunyanfilms/aquaresin/aquapic04.html
Posted by Strider, on 2003-10-14 20:49:52
>I have a question about MDF. you said that you can soak it
>and then form it. How thick can it be? how long do you soak
>it? is it soaked in HOT water? does it crack easly?
I wish I knew. Hopefully Nick sees this, or someone who knows the answer.
Posted by Nick H, on 2003-10-15 04:02:47
MDF tends to swell up in water, and doesn't really fully recover, but I did discover I could bend it a bit aftr a few minutes in hot water. I was making some warped bookcases for Sockpuppet, and instead of starting with really thick mdf then cutting the curves in a bandsaw, I tried bending some curves into thinner stuff. It does tend to split along the layers a bit, so I'm not all that enthusiastic about the technique. I'd noticed how both mdf and particle board left leaning against a wall will warp and swell a lot if they get wet, so that gave me the idea of trying it deliberately.