Molding & Casting Materials

Thanks for the input, Mike. Smooth On is thrown around here a lot, but they definitely like their name a little too much (Pricey as hell), IMHO. Always good to have another recommendation.
I'd likely go somewhere other than smooth-on if the quality, quantity, and price were right. I've researched several suppliers but the differences seem negligible. I'll definitely give MPK a look. Thanks man!
No worries. In reality, a lot of SmoothOn products are cheaper than those of their competitors. The reason is they really cut corners. Silpak is usually cheaper still, and the quality is worse. I once got a new bucket of tin silicone from Silpak and it had lumps in it. I tried their polyester resin, and it was hard to work with, probably not enough styrene monomer in it.

I think MPK is like $385 or so for a 5 gallon bucket with your choice of catalyst. I usually order by phone. You can tell Mike Knott I referred you. His 2125 mold silicone is the only one I use. It is worth every penny. He has gallon kits too, as far as I know. Obviously the major price break is at 5 gallons though.
I guess this is a case of to each their own. Ha ..I on the other hand really like Silpack's current product line. Mike they make many different polyester resins to chose from fact Art, Casey and I use them primarily for our castings. I used some MPK resin I was given from buddies at sideshow collectibles and it delaminated between layers. Something that I have never had happen with either siltool or burman 808. As for silicone's Im actually liking the new silpack mix with the firmer orange catalyst ( cant remember the name...but Dan refers to it as carrot juice)

we buy on bulk for many big shows. Usually we supply from Burman's but some of the other places in the North Hollywood area are getting slick too ...Nigel's has actually really beefed up their FX dept ..they are even carrying fiberglassing supply.

in reality, all of this comes downto trial and error me ..even good suppliers go bad at times ..I've gotten bad latex from every reputable supplier at least once. it is your job as a customer to tell them how their product is ..if they improve it, replace it, or refund it..they are good in my book .
Preference of the artist always plays a role for sure. I have not played with Mike's resins.

In all honesty, the best resin I ever saw was this stuff from AP Products in Pacoima. It has the legal limit of styrene monomer in it and it is just bad ass. If forget the model number, but if you call up and ask for the stuff Paul Barnes from FX Masters, not Masters FX, uses they will give it to you. Best polyester in the world. You ought to try it out for Vince's.

I go to MPK for one thing, and that is their silicone. Its just really awesome. It is a Shore A 25, and it pours great, which is key when you do matrix molds. My favorite thing is the 2 hour cure with no bad side effects like other silicones with fast cure. He also has this great skin stuff.

I get my polyfoam from Motion Picture FX usually. Burman has always been so expensive, or had lousy customer service, or both. I have heard that if I go to Sam at Naimies he will resolve my customer service issues, but having to do that just seems silly. As for Nigel, I have know him since his days at Frend's. His staff dicked me over on some stuff that I ordered, giving me the wrong material, and I did not realize until I got back to China with the product. When I emailed him or Facebooked him, I got no response. I ended up having to throw the product out and go to Hong Kong and pay like 3 times as much for smaller amounts. I will be hesitant to buy there again. Every other supplier in LA that I have dealt with bent over backwards to help me out when there were issues. Motion Picture FX even next day airshipped something when it went missing, and they paid the cost. I trust you know jeff and Richard. Great guys.
Really? I am shocked. They were like the only guys in town I never heard anyone complain about. Well, I knew one guy that complained, but he was a total douche so I kinda disregarded anything he said. Sorry to hear that. Its kinda funny about the others. Frend's, if you deal with Paul or Brian, are great. They always take care of me. Everyone else I know says the same, but you need to deal with those guys because many of the others in the store lack knowledge. Naimies, well I get very specific things there and that's it. After a few bad experiences and some crazy expensive pricing, I stopped dealing with Burman like 8 years ago. I have been there since then, but it was with other people, at their request, spending their money. I know many people who rave about Nigel's and he personally is usually a great guy, but his people definitely dropped the ball last time I was there, and I was a bit miffed he never got back to me about it. I was in a major time crunch on that show. As for Silpak and SmoothOn, their stuff left me disappointed, and the last time I was in Silpak the guy tried to sell me the whole damn store, and that kinda pissed me off. As you know, when you have a show, you have a very specific shopping list of stuff, and you go in and ask for those items. I was there because someone referred me to their resin and he took his sweet time getting that, and used the interim time to really try get me to buy like 10 other things that I just did not need. SmoothOn makes a few products that I did like, but for whatever reason I have never needed them for any of my projects. I guess, like all of the other guys in the biz, I have sort of figured out what things I want to buy from where.

When I got to China it became crazy because obviously I want to get as much locally as I can. You cannot get anything here as good as a PPI product, so I import them. Hong Kong shops stock small amounts, but its just not cost effective so I bring it in myself. Same with Prosaide. I bring in Alcote, but am looking from something domestic. I desperately wished someone here made something like Minute Stains. I bring in my silicone, and foam latex. I occasionally fly in some 1630 urethane. I cannot find RMG here, but I use so little that it has not been a big deal. I have had the same small kit for like 4 years here. I bring in baldies. I think we actually get everything else here. The difference is here, you need to buy so much because you are mostly buying from factories. I got like a 55 gallon drum of 99% alcohol, same for corn syrup and sorbitol. I get polyester resin in like 10 gallon quantities. Its pretty nuts. We found a company to custom formulate a Chavant like clay, and a company to custom formulate alginate that is really really nice. It is definitely a wacky situation though. Some stuff it took us over 3 years to locate. I am going to see if anyone here can make me slip latex, though I use so little of it, it is not a big deal.

What foam latex are you using at Vince's shop? I have been trying to get feed back from people on GM ever sinse they got purchased.
Still using GM foam for the most part....and its still good. Nigel started stocking MonsterMakers foam , and they are using the old formula that everyone on the East coast raved about back in the day .. we picked up a small kit to run some zombie prosthetics for the Dead Island campaign. Took a little getting used to in the mix, but it really is a good foam. But as you know foam is organic and any good foam runner has their superstitions about it ..Ha ... if Vinny is running ..I leave him alone.
Oh? Does he have top secret methods? Maybe some burnt animal sacrifices to ensure a good run?

Just kidding.

He and I chatted a bit via email a few years back, and now a bit via Facebook. Seems like a fantastic guy, and he scores points with me because he is from New Jersey. At one point, he was going to hire me to do molds, but the timing just never worked. Most of my work in other shops or subcontracted work in LA was in molds. If you see my mold pics, it will be obvious why. I got lucky getting hired as a sculptor for Lazarini, who is a wonderful wonderful guy by the way. I did some sculpting on HHN, along with painting and seaming, but still mostly molds.

Have you asked Monster Makers for their KNB mix? The formulated a special mix for KNB, and if you call them, and ask specifically for that, they will sell it to you and it is the same price as their regular foam. I used their foam in college, but it gave us all kinds of issues. Arnold told me though that a lot of reformulation has been done with it since then. What major differences have you noticed? Do they make any additives like a flow enhancer or refining agents or pigments?
ha ..the KNB mix ..its like a secret menu at a fast food joint. Ya .. i know about it know ..we really havent been working much with it yet I said just a small kit to see what was up ..but it was nice and light ..very marshmellowy. ..but GM is old faithfull and we will probably stick with that.

While Vinney has no special ritual other then wanting to be left alone in the foam room, one of our runners, Alex Bytner ( when he's not touring with his band in Seattle) wears a special necklace and only listens to classical music in the foam room ( keep in mind he is in a black metal band) he says the foam reacts better to it...ha I said ..superstitions. Hey .whatever works!

Ah ..youre a Jersey boy too .huh.? and Vin have our East Coast West coast thing going ...but he is slowly becoming Hollywood
I love GM, sooooooooooo much. Also, there is Alcone, basically Paramount Foam from the UK. It is supposed to be super awesome but it is like over 50% more than everyone else so I have not tried it. There are a few shops that use it exclusively though.
Did you just back it with polyfoam? How did it hold up? I think silicone is great, but definitely has its place. I think it is not going to be the way to go across the board.
nope ..straight silicone ..It worked great for the type of suit we did ..still very humanoid. It was heavy, but mostly for us getting it on the actor. He loved it..weight distributed nicely ..he found it much more comfortable then earlier foam suits. The great thing was the maintenance..barely any. Lighting fast actor turn around time ..I think we could fully suit him from street clothes to set in about 35 minutes. And clean up was a piece of cake ( we slimed him on set) ..stuck the actor in full suit in the shower ..then patted it dry. It was an expensive suit ..and of course like you said ..has its special place, but definitely worth it if its in the budget
Oddly enough, I in the minority here. Almost all of my use of the resins are for making molds. The little bit of time I cast with them, I leave them unpainted. If I do have to paint, wash the polyester with a bit of 99% alcohol, and urethane with acetone. Then use a bit of resin primer.
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