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Casting with molds made with papercraft models

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Picture of Casting with molds made with papercraft models

You dont't have to use paper. Cardboard, plastic sheets, even metal would work.

Any cast starts with a mold. You need something to pour your material into, be it concrete, plaster, resin, wax, whatever. You can user everyday objects like bowls, packaging or make molds from existing objects.

But what if you want cast something completely different? Something you can't make casts of?

Paper to the rescue. Everyone has some lying around, has scissors and glue. And paper can take pretty much any form you want.
It does have it's limitations though. It's not waterproof and will lose it's strength when getting wet. So before you can use it as a mold, you'll have to make it waterproof. I'll just use spraypaint. Also it's strength is limited. So making huge casts doesn't work. The "Venus de Milo" is 36cm (14 inch) high - and it worked out just fine.

Paper is great to work with, it's easy to cut, fold and glue. But if you want to make more than one cast of your mold you might want to try sheets of plastic. While it is a lot harder to work with it is reusable. You can make many casts with the same mold over and over.

Here are two different routes I took

 
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Step 1: The "gothic" Vase

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This is the last one I made and it's the one I documented best.

It's a cast made from David Huffmans "Hexagonal column with cusps". I took the blueprint from the following paper by Erik and Martin Demain and Duks Koschitz.

There is a tutorial on youtube on how to fold it:

Step 2: Printing and folding David Huffmans vase

Picture of Printing and folding David Huffmans vase
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The paper I mentioned before includes the template seen above. You'll need to print it out the size you want your vase to be. I used A4 the resulting vase will be 13 cm (5 inches) high. If you want a bigger one adjust your print size.

I knew that I wanted to try out many different materials, so I used a sheet of translucent plastic I got from my local craft department. I then scored the lines using a tool to pinch holes. Just make sure you don't punch through the plastic. If you do, you can just cover the hole with scotch-tape.

Now comes the tricky part, folding it. If you have trouble here, take a look at the video in the previous step.

Step 3: Making it watertight

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3D-modelers know the term watertight. On the screen it's just a virtual term. This is real life. It actually has to be watertight or else whatever you will pour into the mold will splatter all over your workplace.

Start with the back. tape the two sides together.

Then trace the resulting top and bottom and cut out the parts. Make sure you leave a hole in the top. We need an opening to pour the casting material into.

I used a glue-gun to seal the top and tape for the bottom.

The cardboard I used worked surprisingly well. It does get soaked but it strong enough to hold it's shape.

Step 4: Prepare the casting material

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The first material I used was Acrystal (in german). A water based mineral resin. I like it because it doesn't smell. You can actually use it indoor. It cures reasonably fast making it ideal for roto-casting.
After it has cured it is not totally waterproof. More like terracotta. It holds liquids and won't dissolve, but over time water gets soaked up. I just pour in a layer of paint at the end. that seals it off.

I successfully made casts with plaster and resin-plaster.

Concrete should work if you build a second inner form. Rotation-casting doesn't work with concrete. After all, that what the concrete mixers do to prevent the concrete from getting hard. Maybe there is a form of concrete that can be roto-casted. Does anyone know?

The images above show what I've done. I wanted the cast to have a color, so I mixed the mineral part of the resin with petrol colored pigments. The pigments you'd use to make your own acrylic paint for example.

Shake to get an even distribution of the mineral and pigments.

Add the liquid part of the resin and stir until all is well mixed.

Pour into the mold.

Step 5: Rotation Casting

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Now roll and rock ;) your form. the resind has to flow into all parts of your mold. Just make sure it doesn't drip out of the hole on the top. If you want to make sure that it doesn't cover it up with tape.

It will take a few minutes. Don't be hasty with your movements, the resin will become less and less fluid and will stop to move after about 5-10 minutes.

Yeah! Almost done...

The wall thickness of your vase will be too thin by now. So you will have to repeat this step a few times to build up a stable wall. I used a second colored layer. Then a layer where I mixed in sand as a filler. and a fourth plain layer.

Step 6: Cleaning up

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Not your workspace, the vase. ;) Removing the cast from the mold is easy. Only the top and bottom made of cardboard stick to it. The can be removed with water.

I left mine out overnight to cure and dry.

The next day I applied the inner layer of paint to seal it.

After the paint dried I used rasps and files to trim the hole at the top.

Step 7: The first vase - done

Picture of The first vase - done

This was part one. It actually took me longer to take the pictures and write this up, than to make the vase. So while it might seem a little intimidating at first, believe me - it's not that hard. And you'll be amazed how a flat sheet can turn into such a complex vase.

On to the next one - Venus:

Step 8: Start - Venus de Milo

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Some of you have seen my first instructables. It explains how you can turn a virtual 3D-model into a real paper model. The deer is the example it took back then, check it out.

I used a model of the Venus de Milo this time using the same technique as with the deer. So again, if you want to see how the cast ist made, look at how I made the deer. The only difference is, that I spray-painted the paper model to make the paper watertight.

Then I used the same resin as with the "gothic" vase in the steps before.

Step 9: Birth of a venus

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I didn't get the model really watertight. So I made quite a mess with drops of resin coming out all over the model. Need to be more careful the next time.

After it cured I started to peel back the paper on her back. It came off surprisingly easy. The paper mold gets destroyed though. I don't think there is a way to save it.

A great feeling to see it emerge from the mold.

Step 10: Failure

Picture of Failure

Whenever you experiment or you are trying something new - be prepared to fail.

Not all models make good molds. Some are just too delicate as the one above.

And yes, sometimes the color is just too tacky. ;)

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AlexM511 month ago

Hi there!

I've just got a pro memebership just to be able to make the Venus of Milo, but your PDF doesn´t include the blueprint of it. Can you send it to me please?

mi email bratt20elf@gmail.com

krummrey (author)  AlexM511 month ago

Sorry, I don'r have the PDF for the venus anymore.
But I have an instructable that shows you how you can make it yourself:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Create-faceted-paper-objects/

seasonkat3 months ago

Beautiful work. I am curious, have you ever tried to cast an origami crane?

krummrey (author)  seasonkat2 months ago

No, I always used paper as the outside mold, not the inside object to be molded.

krummrey (author) 5 months ago

Sorry, I misplaced the pepakura files. I didn't know that I would make an instructable out of it. Sorry.

Hi there!

I've just got a pro memebership just to be able to make the Venus of Milo, but your PDF doesn´t include the blueprint of it. Can you send it to me please? aleida.reveles@gmail.com

Best regards

makingbrad6 months ago
Really neat instructable! Thanks!
poofrabbit12 months ago

Congratulations on being a finalist in the Concrete and
casting contest! Best of luck to you!

krummrey (author)  poofrabbit12 months ago

Thanks, I'd love to try them out in concrete... Let's see what the judges think about that :D

krummrey (author)  krummrey11 months ago

First prize! A whole range of concrete in different colors. AWESOME!!!
Can't wait to see how they'll ship the stuff, kinda heavy :D

This is an awesome project. I especially like the use of curvature in the gothic vase.

zipacz1 year ago

Thank You. This instructable motivated me to try rotocasting for the first time in my life (I am not that much of an artist).

Just because of my curiosity: How many faces does Your Venus have? And did You simplified it somehow specifically? I have seen Your instructable about 3D model simplifying, but I am curious about this one. I tried few moves in meshlab and I am not able to have such a beautiful outcome as You have.

krummrey (author)  zipacz1 year ago
I can't say how many faces the venus has. It is one of the things that I've misplace or deleted on my cluttered computer.
Try again and again. It is trial and error for me too. I just keep modifying the settings until I'm satisfied.
Good luck with your first rotocast!
MeltemiX1 year ago

Great work! Really inspiring! So much so that I want to do a life-sized version of Venus de Milo. Do you think this is doable? I know you said you can enlarge your settings for a larger model but one that is life-sized...how would that work?

Thank you, in advance...

krummrey (author)  MeltemiX1 year ago
If you want it "just in paper" shouldn't be a problem. Use card stock. Haven't tried it that big, but I would assume that it should work.
Casting it, I doubt it. You would need a lot of material with a lot of weight. I doubt that a life-sized cast with cardboard or the plastic sheets would work. You'd have to use metal sheets I guess.
newb krummrey1 year ago

I used Krummrey's other ible to design and build this, and really if worst comes to worst you can use PVC pipe to build a skeleton to support the weight. This one didn't really need it since it's still small (only 3 feet at the top of antlers) but I did have to use it to keep the legs spaced correctly.

Also, Krummrey you never stop stunning me lol, it seems like every 'ible you do just gets cooler and cooler.

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krummrey (author)  newb1 year ago

That is amazing!!! And it looks HUGE. I'm stunned by how many people have built the deer and moose. And even more amazed by those who took it further and have made their own designs.

Thanks for the compliments. I'm standing on the shoulders of giants here. Picking up what others have done before.

PAWZ1 year ago

The Venus De Milo one is terrific!

spunk1 year ago

Nice work!

I never heard of this Acrystal material before. Where did you purchase it? The site you linked to doesn't seem to sell to private persons... The material looks extremely interesting and versatile :) (do you know by chance if it is food safe?)

And another question: Maybe I'm just blind, but I don't realize what's the third route you mention in step1...

krummrey (author)  spunk1 year ago

If you'll having trouble finding it I can put a test-pack on ebay or etsy. I'm trying to get the distributor to sponsor a few packs... ;)

Opps, no you're not blind. I had planned to show how I made the other vases. Truth is, I'm having trouble finding the pictures. Below is what I have.

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spunk krummrey1 year ago

Thanks for your offer! I realized there's a shop in berlin selling acrystal, so I may stop by there at one of my visits.

But I keep my fingers crossed for the sponsoring as well ;)

Hope you'll find the other missing pics - these look awesome!

krummrey (author)  spunk1 year ago

Yes I bought a batch from modulor in Berlin too.

http://www.modulor.de/Formen-Abformen-Giessen/Gips...

Still hoping that the distributor answers...

cabbageman1 year ago

how did u get the moose desine i love this idea

krummrey (author)  cabbageman1 year ago

There are plenty of animals on http://thingiverse.com/ That's where I got the "raw" data from. Turning it into a paper model is described in the tutorial with the deer.

JeDi RuLeS1 year ago

Awesome work...

I was a little curious on how you came up with the inner hole (cavity) for putting the flowers. Did you drill it up after casting??

krummrey (author)  JeDi RuLeS1 year ago

No I didn't drill a hole. I used a technique called rotocasting. Usually you have a rig that will rotate the mold. Here is a video of a DIY version:


You can rotate your mold by hand if the casting material solidifies fast enough. That's what I do. Turn it around and around so that the casting material covers all parts of the mold. And then keep turning and turning until the material os hard enough that it doesn't drip anymore.
The fastest I've tried was plaster which took about a minute to harden to a point where it wouldn't drip anymore. Almost too quick.
I've bought a resin-plaster that took about 4 minutes.
The Acrystal takes the longest but solidifies at a pretty stable rate.
I haven't tried other materials yet.

MeltemiX1 year ago

Not sure where my comment went.

dswaim1 year ago

Fantastic! very beautiful work, thank you for sharing.

foobear1 year ago

one million percent nifty, thank you

DaveB131 year ago

Super beautiful objects, thanks for doing this Ible. I have only just briefly scanned your article, will have to read it later. At a home center, or online, look for information on cement patching compounds and cement anchoring compounds, I think they will have the short setting times you need for rotocasting, I don't have any hands-on experience with the materials. You absolutely should look into the wide range of products from Smooth-On. Be sure to read & understand the Shore Hardness scaleS & information on pourability and working times. They have several videos on youtube also. The cost of Smooth-On materials is likely to be more than the cement products. You may want to make simple modeks just for learning the working properties of the less expensive materials. It occurs to me there is property of your mold fabrication technique that will be easy to take advantage of. There are inexpensive small electronic scales that weigh to a resolution of 1/10 gram ( about 1/300 ounce ) up ti a limit of 1 Lb. Weigh a known number of square inches of your material, compare the weight of your model to acess surface area, then multiply by desired thickness to determine quantity of material you need to mix for your casting.

krummrey (author)  DaveB131 year ago

Thanks for your input on cement. I have to dig deeper into that. Our local hardware store has just a limited selection of cement. also only in bags of 25kg minimum - not exactly a testing batch ;)
Smooth-On has a ton of interesting materials. I wish I was back in school and had the time to try them all out.

do you think it's possible to laminate the paper with a water proof glue say rubber cement and light muslin or gauze for you laminate and then it would be stronger and maybe get a few more casts out of it????

krummrey (author)  daxxvondrachen1 year ago

I guess that would work. But laminating the paper will take some time. I'd probably switch over to using a plastic sheet then. I had a lot of success reusing them.

FireCGun1 year ago

really nice. Did the concert distorted the shape in any way because of its wight.

krummrey (author)  FireCGun1 year ago

All the molds had only very little distortions. Office paper would be to light, but card stock worked surprisingly well. The plastic is very strong.

I wouldn't try to cast anything that has very little tolerances. It's not a replacement for a CNC-machine ;)

beautiful art

So cool. Next free weekend I have I'm doing this. Thanks!

Wow, these are super impressive! I love the juxtaposition of concrete and intricate shapes! Super super cool--this I need to try! :)

I liked that you included extra step for documenting your failure , which actually is very helping. Awesome work :)

krummrey (author)  Tarun Upadhyaya1 year ago

I find it intimidating sometimes to see all these great projects. It seems that everybody else makes no mistakes and creates all these awesome projects.

The truth is that I have many failures. It is part of the process. I think it is essential to cope with it. Don't be disappointed if your first (or even second and third) try doesn't work out. Keep on trying.

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