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Silicone Architectural Models

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Silicone rubber is a great material for making architectural models, especially ones with unusual shapes, like domes.  Models can be colorized with clear silicone and powdered pigments, since paints do not stick to silicone.   The models are waterproof, light-weight, and pretty much unbreakable.  

This is a very useful material for architectural model making and should be taught to all architecture students.  
 
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Step 1: Tools and Techniques

100% RTV silicone rubber comes in grease gun cartridges from the hardware store.  Some standard colors are clear, black, white, aluminum, and bronze.   You can mix custom colors by extruding clear silicone onto a palette and mixing in powdered pigments with a palette knife.  The colorized silicone can then be spread on with a palette knife, gloved hand, or sacrificial paint brush.  You can also pack it into plastic-tipped syringes available at pet stores for finer details.  They come with curved, conical tips that can be cut   at different locations to change the size of the extrusion.  

Be careful not to injure your thumb from pushing too hard to extrude silicone through small syringe tip openings.  I usually put a big washer around the syringe to give better purchase for my fingers and then push the plunger with the heel of my hand, if the pressure needed is too much for my thumb.  If worst comes to worst cut your extrusion opening larger with a knife so there is less pressure needed.  You will sacrifice some details from fine extrusions, perhaps, but your thumb will survive to work another day.  

Polyethylene plastic makes a good non-stick surface if you want to spread out flat layers, or draw designs, and then peel them off to work with them.  You can stretch and tape plastic trash bags over cardboard or masonite to work on, but my favorite work surface is a rigid polyethylene kitchen cutting board I got from Sam's Club.  

You can draw with silicone in the air, to some extent, sticking it to hardened silicone already in place.  You can also make shapes out of styrofoam and cover them with a layer of silicone.  
Nice way to use silicone caulk. :)
Very cool!
-MasterfulChef
mikey772 years ago
Nice.



You might consider using Oogoo.



It is much easier to hand smooth and cast and sets up way faster than pure silicone caulk.
Thinkenstein (author)  mikey772 years ago
Although I like the idea of Oogoo for various reasons, I tried it for some tootophone reeds and had problems with it. Spots of fungus grew on the surfacet, corresponding I imagine to pockets of the corn starch used in making it. Some of them eventually even had holes appear in them, either because the corn starch rotted away (it is organic material), or because insects ate it.

I don't have those problems with pure silicone reeds, or those that I did using Cab-o-sil as a filler. (Cab-o-sil is an expanded silica, like almost weightless micro-spheres. It is used in making epoxy clay.)

If the reason for using cornstarch is just to introduce humidity associated with it, I imagine the same benefits could be attained by using damp Cab-o-sil, without the biodegrading disadvantages of corn starch.
poofrabbit2 years ago
Very cool I may have to give this a try!
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