I'm looking to use the foam latex build up technique for the skin on a puppet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uG-ZIOXZ7w&list=WL&index=13...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=MbF6m3BeGUQ

However, I'm not sure what materials to order from Monster Makers. The three products I'm thinking could work are:

1. Dipping Latex: https://www.monstermakers.com/dipping-latex/

2. Mask Making Latex: https://www.monstermakers.com/rd-407-mask-making-latex/

3. Foam Latex System Kit: https://www.monstermakers.com/the-monster-makers-theatrical-foam-la...

From what I've read from other posts the dipping latex would be the best because it is thin and can be sponged on, dried, and applied again and again until it is built up. However, I'm not 100% sure. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

 

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I believe in the videos you referenced Nick used mask latex. Thats also what I use. I have no experience with dipping latex, so I can’t really say too much about it. As for foam latex, you can’t really use it for the buildup technique. Usually you would make a mold, put and armature inside and bake it (do your own research because its toxic!) I forget his name but the guy that makes the armatures that has an ad on this site of his hydra armature uses foam latex for the buildup technique occasionally, however I wouldn’t recommend it. So, I would recommend mask latex. If you’re going to follow Nick’s tutorial lay it on thin and use a hair dryer to dry it. Good luck in your endeavors!

if you want foam latex for building up puppets do a search for foam latex pillows as a source or buy a small kit from Monster Makers and cast up a block of your own foam to cut up 
You can add foam latex to a puppet armature and as it gells it can be manipulate when it gells and then you can cure it with heat

Or use polyurethane foam and do a build up like Nick's Videos

 

Thank you for the suggestions. I was planning on using polyurethane foam and bandage wrap on a ball and socket armature and trimming it to get the shape I want and then applying latex for the skin.

The difference between the dipping latex and the latex foam is that the dipping latex is pre-vulcanised, meaning it will go off when exposed to air at room temperature. The foam latex requires mixing and then cooking in an oven to drive off the moisture and set the foam. Dipping latex and mask latex differ only in thickness - so you can build up a thicker layer with the mask latex.

Have you looked at bluworm's YouTube videos? These show a method of creating a detailed latex skin in a simple mould and then applying it to the puppet. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hZw0CeO_w_8&list=PLwplD2haq8lyWzR...

That video is interesting and may be something I try down the line. However, I'm looking to do the build up method because I'm new to making puppets and it seems simpler. I think what I'm going to do is to buy the dipping latex (because it is thinner and I feel I'd have more control over how thick I want certain parts based on how many layers I apply) and sponge it onto the foam.

Thank you for clarifying the differences between the products. That was what I was most confused about. 

I usually build up the bulk with polyurethane cushion foam, then dab liquid latex on to form a skin.  I add little drops of latex to form bumps and ridges. When I need a better looking textured skin, the kind you get from sculpting the skin and casting sheets of latex in a plaster mould, I am more likely to just sculpt the whole puppet, make a 2 or 3 piece mould, and cast it in foam latex.  Just because I am set up for that, and have done a few.  But that requires scales, an oven, and a mixer, and takes some practice to get used to timing the latex mix so it doesn't set too quickly (before you can get it into the mould) but doesn't fail to gel or cure.  Also with foam latex casts you have seam lines to patch up.  So Richard Svensson's method of making simple 1 piece moulds to cast sections of skin, and sticking that over the cushion foam build-up, makes a lot of sense.  latex skin sections can have tapered edges so they overlap and can be blended in, so you get the look of sculpted skin in the areas where it matters most, and not such prominent seam lines.

I bought some thicker latex and some thinner "spraying" latex, and found I liked a mix of the two, about 2/3rds thin and 1/3rd thick.  I might use just the thin stuff if I wanted a very thin skin, like for pterodactyl wing membranes.

Really, with build-up, you tend to use a few methods all mixed together, wherever they get the look you need.  Richard is more advanced at getting the best results from buildup, since I tend to do it without casting a skin.  

 

Would it make sense to use both the thicker mask making latex and the thinner dipping latex? Maybe use the thicker latex for the first layer dabbed on the polyurethane cushion foam and then use the thinner latex for more detail on the next layer. Or would it be simpler to just use one of the products? The puppet I'm making is a regular man and not a monster and will have clothes covering most of the body. I'm also planning on having a moveable jaw like in your tutorial videos. Also, for the Monster Maker products would you recommend using a little bit of ammonia mixed with the paint?

StopmoNick said:

I usually build up the bulk with polyurethane cushion foam, then dab liquid latex on to form a skin.  I add little drops of latex to form bumps and ridges. When I need a better looking textured skin, the kind you get from sculpting the skin and casting sheets of latex in a plaster mould, I am more likely to just sculpt the whole puppet, make a 2 or 3 piece mould, and cast it in foam latex.  Just because I am set up for that, and have done a few.  But that requires scales, an oven, and a mixer, and takes some practice to get used to timing the latex mix so it doesn't set too quickly (before you can get it into the mould) but doesn't fail to gel or cure.  Also with foam latex casts you have seam lines to patch up.  So Richard Svensson's method of making simple 1 piece moulds to cast sections of skin, and sticking that over the cushion foam build-up, makes a lot of sense.  latex skin sections can have tapered edges so they overlap and can be blended in, so you get the look of sculpted skin in the areas where it matters most, and not such prominent seam lines.

I bought some thicker latex and some thinner "spraying" latex, and found I liked a mix of the two, about 2/3rds thin and 1/3rd thick.  I might use just the thin stuff if I wanted a very thin skin, like for pterodactyl wing membranes.

Really, with build-up, you tend to use a few methods all mixed together, wherever they get the look you need.  Richard is more advanced at getting the best results from buildup, since I tend to do it without casting a skin.  

 

It is also possible to buy some 'latex thickener' which would give you some control over the gloopiness of the latex. But if you use the dipping latex which produces thinner coats, they set off quicker, so you just dip more times. It's much as Nick says, a sort of feel for what works.

And over time I find the latex gets thicker anyway, probably as the volatile elements are progressively lost.

One tip: when you have coated your piece, sometimes you need to flick off excess latex. I do this over an old washing up bowl part-filled with water. The latex floats on the water and can be scooped up for disposal later. Better than getting latex over solid surfaces - and it does not come out of clothes!

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