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Unread 01-18-2013, 11:37 PM   #1
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question about resin and fiber glass!

hello all!
newbie costume maker here
i've been toying with the idea of doing a cosplay of the Rocketeer. and ive been trying to think of how to make the helmet:

of the ones that i believe im capable of making ive seen a motorcycle helmet spray painted gold, ive seen one made of something called celluclay (i believe it's like paper mache?), and one of resin and fiber glass on instructables. the one on instructables looks the best in my opinion but ive never worked with resin or fiber glass before

so my question would be how workable are these materials for someone who has never used them?? any hints or tips?? any advice is appreciated!!

Last edited by firecrackthis : 01-19-2013 at 09:56 PM.
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Unread 01-20-2013, 11:41 AM   #2
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Working with resin and fiberglass is exactly like working with paper mache, just the components are corrosive or toxic (or both.)

Flour = catalyst
water = resin
newspaper = fiberglass cloth/mat

Once you figure that out it just becomes a matter of getting safety equipment i.e gloves, and respirator.

Here is a picture of the brand I use which is easily purchased at Home Depot or Lowe's. It's the cheapest kind on the market, so you can only go up from this stuff, but I have found that it is unnecessary.

This is the stuff I use for mold making. It's the same kind of polyester resin but it's....better somehow....because the cosgods told me so.

Here is some of my work using resin + fiberglass, admittidely I haven't really documented the actual process well since, well, I'm covered in resin during the process haha.
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Unread 01-20-2013, 04:09 PM   #3
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Heh heh I know that pep file that guy was using in that insrtuctables link. Just adding a little to StabbityBlkMage what he said already specifically with pep you gotta be careful when you fiberglass. It's cardstock but it's still just paper so if you gotta be careful when you fiberglass or you could end up with a giant heap of paper and resin and those maybe 3 to 5 hours you spent making the thing goes up in smoke . Before you resin you should add support struts. I tried that same exact file, screwed up and ended up having the face flat and not curved. So put support struts to help maintain the shape. Trust me it will save you from having a head ache later. So when you start to fiberglass put a thin layer of resin first on the outside and thin a layer on the inside. Once you've done that you can add a thicker layer on the inside and slosh it around and let it dry completely. You wanna do this so it'll become more rigid and able to hold it's shape better. Once that is dry then you add do your normal fiberglassing regiment. Sooo that's all I got on that. If you need a link to the pep file for the Rocketeer helm just shoot me a message.
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Unread 01-20-2013, 09:47 PM   #4
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cool, thanks guys
i like the comparison of it to paper mache....and didn't realize it was so toxic. makes me a liiiiiitttle nervous to be working with it, but i'm guessing so long as im in open air and using gloves i'll be ok
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Unread 01-21-2013, 12:22 AM   #5
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Don't forget a respritator.

This stuff will kill brain cells if you inhale. So definitely wear one.
When in doubt, just take the next small step.
With that next step take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
When the mind is calm you realize the best is still yet to come.
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Unread 01-21-2013, 10:35 AM   #6
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The amount of nerve damage it actually does is sorta still in debate. But naturally, that's nothing to mess around with. Besides, polyester resin smells just horrible, and when you wear a cartridge respirator, you can't smell it at all. Personally, I like being able to work indoors, so I nowadays spend the extra money and use epoxy resin.

As far as Gel-coat, it is mostly the same as polyester resin. It is different in that it is thixotropic, which is a fancy word meaning it is thick in such a way that it stays where it is put. Finally, it is waxed, meaning it has wax dissolved in it that rises to the surface as it cures. This wax forms a protective barrier from oxygen, which prevents the surface from fully curing.

Waxed resin isn't all that critical if you plan to sand and paint the surface. So when I need thick resin, I just mix together polyester resin and autobody filler putty (often just called "Bondo"). I get more control of the thickness, and it tends to be a good deal cheaper.

As far as which method is better as it relates to end appearance? Well...it doesn't. The end appearance entirely has to do with how much work you put into the process of surfacing; all the steps that go into getting a smooth surface; sanding, filling, priming. Particularly when new at the process, you can expect to either spend dozens of hours sanding and filling and sanding some more, or getting sick of the process and throwing on a coat of paint, only to notice all the little bumps and layers and textures that you could barely see before. With practice, and maybe a couple power tools, you can get the process down to a couple hours.
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Unread 01-21-2013, 02:52 PM   #7
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I was just thinking if you went with an old motorcycle helmet like this:http://compare.ebay.com/like/3706438...pes&va r=sbar or any similar. Why not just lay sheets of epoxy clay over top of the helmet and then build up the fin and details. Once cured all you would have to do is mask off the lenses and spray paint with a bronze gold and then seal. Nice and easy.
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Unread 01-22-2013, 12:00 PM   #8
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thanks for all the info guys. MUCH appreciated
i found 2 or 3 really good videos on you tube about people making iron man and master chief costumes out of pepakura, resin, fiberglass and bondo. definately looks like the sanding/bondo part's going to require alot of patience but it makes me very excited to get to work

now one last quick question (or 2 really)! after applying the bondo and i sand it down and find there's little holes, uneven parts, dips, or rough spots do i just apply more bondo over that spot or do i use that filler stuff?? does the filler hold up like bondo?
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Unread 01-22-2013, 12:10 PM   #9
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You'll want to apply more bondo. Typically, it can be a process of applying, sanding, applying, sanding, until it's as smooth as it needs to be.
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Unread 01-22-2013, 06:21 PM   #10
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If it's a big divot where there should be material, then yeah, you just apply another batch of Bondo. If there's unevenness, it is up to your eye to figure out if it would be better fixed by adding more material, or by sanding what is there down smooth.

little holes, aka pinhole-flaws are not all that easily fixed with pure Bondo. Bondo is thick, like cake frosting. To fill in pinhole flaws, you ideally want something thinner, that is formulated to seep into tiny spots. You also want something that isn't going to shrink too much, or it will just settle into the holes and shrink into little divots, forcing you to apply a second coat. Most surfacing-primer paints have this problem. Don't fall into the "I just need to add one more coat" trap.

Almost anything you use must be physically worked into the surface, otherwise, the pinholes will just trap air and prevent your filler of choice from seeping in. This is done with a coarse bristled brush, a rubber squedgie tool, a plastic scraper, a putty knife, or just a gloved finger.

Bondo markets a special spot filler putty, but it doesn't really blow me away. I've had decent luck both with mixing bondo and polyester resin, and to a lesser extent using jointing compound.

Whatever you use, it is useful for it to be a different color than the resin you've applied. That way, you can be sure if you're sanding off your filler layer, or if you've cut through to the main layer. I do this with powdered pigments, since they mix with anything. If using bondo, since the catalyst has red pigment in it, and you mix it by eyeball, almost every batch you mix up will have a slightly different color already.

If all you have is pinhole flaws (which probably won't be the case, but just imagine it), you'll apply a thin solid layer of your filler material and gently sand almost all of it off once it has cured. You should see just your original (usually pink) bondo layer, followed by speckles of filler where there was previously pinholes. Since they're just speckles of filler, it doesn't need to be strong, it just needs to take up space.

If you sand too aggressively, you risk popping the filler right out of the flaw, just like taffy pulling a filling out of your teeth.
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Unread 01-22-2013, 11:05 PM   #11
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thank you verdatum!
very informative.
ive already picked up some of my materials so if i have any troubles in the process i'll be back, hehe
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Unread 01-23-2013, 12:31 AM   #12
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Also, something I learned the hard way. Follow the mixing proportions on the can!

Adding additional catalyst will speed the cure, but will weaken the resin a bit. Then there is the trap I fell into...

<<Not sharing that particular story. But it didn't end well>>
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