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Unread 01-05-2013, 12:37 AM   #1
stiffkick80
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Fixing a gun with clay/plaster

So I rewatched 'Firefly' (again =P) and am now totally stuck on the idea of cosplaying Jayne and making a 'Vera' of my own.



Of course, all of the people who have made this replica gun before are super talented and/or spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on this. I am neither rich nor talented. However, I did have an idea. The closest match I could find was a toy AK47.



There's a ton of things that are wrong with it, but I was thinking I could fix them with some sort of modeling clay. (ie: adding clay to the curved clip to make it straight and long, painting it, gluing on a brake and scope, etc.) Is there any reason this wouldn't work? Has anyone ever tried anything like that? Is there something I can't see that would prevent it from coming out right? What kind of clay or plaster would work?

Any help or guidance would be appreciated.

Last edited by stiffkick80 : 01-07-2013 at 08:51 PM. Reason: dead link
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Unread 01-05-2013, 02:11 AM   #2
Nostrum
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Clay and plaster would work.. In theory. It's much heavier than you need, and it's also nowhere near as reliable as other methods.

I'm sure Verdatum or one of the other talented prop makers will come along and give you some options. But I just wanted you to know that there are lots of people who modify guns to be more accurate.

Also, I love Vera. I would never trade her for Our Mrs Reynolds.
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Unread 01-07-2013, 08:56 PM   #3
stiffkick80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nostrum View Post
Clay and plaster would work.. In theory. It's much heavier than you need, and it's also nowhere near as reliable as other methods.

I'm sure Verdatum or one of the other talented prop makers will come along and give you some options. But I just wanted you to know that there are lots of people who modify guns to be more accurate.

Also, I love Vera. I would never trade her for Our Mrs Reynolds.
Thanks for the feedback. I just figure I couldn't really do any metal work so this would be the only way I could do it that would work for my skill level. I guess I'll have to take a trip to a craft store to see what kind of plaster/clay looks like it would work best. The toy gun is cheap, like $15, so even if I completely mess it up, atleast it won't break me.

Also, yes, it is the finest gun in the 'verse.
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Unread 01-08-2013, 11:59 PM   #4
gambit86
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Both of these materials are a bit brittle and prone to cracking and breaking.

I would recommend Styrene plastic, its sold in sheets, and can be glued on with crazy glue, modeling glue etc, and can be used to build up major details.

The second thing I would recommend is Ave's Apoxie sculpt. It works like clay, just much stronger at the end of it all, easily sand able and takes paint just fine.

The third of course would be auto body filler, such as Bondo. This will allow you to get everything else right.

Hope these materials help you out in your build.
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Unread 01-09-2013, 12:23 AM   #5
rj_sosongco
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Yes, I'd suggest not using clay or plaster. Aside from the weight and brittleness, it would be EXTREMELY difficult to sculpt it into the square, machined shapes that the prop requires.

I'd go with Styrene plastic as well. If you wanna go super cheap, you could use foamcore posterboard, or thin ceral box cardboard to get all the squared corners and boxy shapes, and then seal it with some mod podge or school glue to smooth out the surface texture before hitting it with spray paint.

I'd also look for some PVC for the muzzle, and don't be afraid to use unusual sources for details. Things like the butt could be made with mending plates, nuts/bolts/screws, k'nex pieces, old legos, or various other junk drawer fodder.
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Unread 01-09-2013, 04:04 PM   #6
verdatum
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I got started in propmaking by modding Nerf guns. I had pretty much zero visual-arts experience, training, or talent. But I was really surprised how much I could achieve just using a couple resins, a few grinding & cutting tools, sandpaper, and a bunch of patience.

I don't have much experience using air-dry clays to augment props. Most of the experience I do have is in trying to use traditional water-based clays, which would always shrink, and depending on geometry, would pull away from the rigid surfaces I applied them to. Further, traditional clay that has merely been air dried (As in, not fired in a kiln) is pretty fragile stuff.

I'm told products like Crayola Model Magic has less shrinkage issues, and I know that it's lighter weight, but I've yet to actually play with any of them.

Plaster is a bit heavy, and brittle when not reinforced with some sort of fiber. However, if has been mixed properly, it can be carved to extremely high detail.

Epoxy clays, such as apoxie sculpt are a good way to go to augment this. Until you have a good idea about the rate at which you work, only mix up small batches and work on one component of the rifle at a time. If you find you have trouble sculpting details, just leave a bit excess in place and let the stuff cure, then you can grind/carve the shape with exacting details, using files and sandpaper wrapped around different shapes, such as dowel rods.

Polyester autobody filler putty (often referred to by the brand name "Bondo") is cheaper than epoxy clay by volume. But it's a bit frustrating to work with at first. It's sorta like cake frosting. You can't sculpt it, it just cures way too fast. You are forced to apply it in excess and then grind it to the desired shape. This exposes little airbubbles, called pinhole-flaws, which need to be filled to get the surface smooth. The stuff is also noxious. It should be used in an extremely well ventilated area, or outside. On the plus side, it's really easy to sand.

sculpting exacting angles is not all that hard if you use the right tricks. You just need to treat it more like carving (removing material) than sculpting (moving material around). When trying to replicate something, vernier calipers are your best friend (even the dirt cheap ones at Harbor Freight).

Of course, if you're using an expensive or heavy material, you can always build a core out of something like foamcore, and then surround it in your sculpting medium to carve out the fine details.

I'd urge you to use at least a couple real materials. You can make those bullet casings easily using brass tube stock. It's pretty cheap, and sold at hobby shops, and some craft stores. To keep the brass shiny, polish it up with brass cleaner (or even just ketchup), wipe it clean, and then coat it with a clear topcoat. Otherwise, mere exposure to the air will cause it to tarnish pretty quick.

If you can carve up a hunk or two of real wood, it'd really make the thing pop. Plus, trying to paint on a convincing looking woodgrain is a pain in the butt. The type of wood you use doesn't matter all that much. Basswood is lightweight, easy to carve, and sold in small inexpensive blocks at the hobby shop. A cheap coping saw can cut the rough shape. A couple rasps and round files can sculpt the contures. Then sand it all the way up to 400 grit, then stain it something like walnut or cherry. Finally apply shellac or if you have the time, polyurethane wood finish (takes a few days to fully cure). Tack it in place and you're good to go.

Hope this helps.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 12:25 AM   #7
stiffkick80
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Wow, you folks are all awesome! Thank you all so much, I'd have hated to put a lot of work into something that was going to crack and break.

Ok, so it looks like I'm going to start with Styrene Plastic, Apoxie Sculpt, and a cheap vernier caliper to measure. The part that looks easiest to fix is the clip, adding a 'cover' of plastic cut out of those sheets, some Apoxie sculpt for the trim/detail. Can't wait to get started.
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