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Awww! Trolls are so precious! *pinches its little cheekies*

I have my own, now, apparently! I'll take it as a sign that I must be doing something right.
Pressure casting is the most practical, albeit noisy, way of casting resin parts in silicone molds. For my purposes-- Myth-Babies ball-jointed dolls and other products related to Tamara Henson Studios, LLC-- it is awesome and also cost-effective in the long run.

Here's what I did to set up a pressure casting system: 


Buy THIS: www.harborfreight.com/2-1-2-ha…

It's not huge, but it's a good starter for around $100. I modified the tank by 1) removing the paint uptake steel tube (it unscrews with some pliers), 2) installed a plug and a cap to shut off the hole from the uptake tube and another opening off the gauge that isn't necessary for the casting process. I thread-taped all the screw-in bits and tightened everything down with an adjustable wrench.

I bought a small "donut" style air compressor from Wal-Mart and an air hose and connector kit (with thread tape in the pack!), all for under $80. Also, ear plugs... I hate loud noises! And safety goggles if you don't want to live on the edge like me. 

I hooked up the air hose with a solid coupling (not an air-leaky quick-coupling) and left it attached, since this setup has one function. Between the air tank and the compressor, I have two safety valves to release air, so it's not that scary to leave it, and it's completely depressurized when not in use anyway. I tested the system by turning on the compressor and screaming every time the faulty safety valve released too early. :D After upgrading to a functional safety valve, it works pretty well. The goal is to get the pressure pot to 60 psi and stay there with minimal or no leakage. My pressure pot stays between 57 and 60 psi for a couple hours (which is fine for casting most resins) and doesn't go below about 40 psi when I ignore it overnight (on those long 24 hour silicone vigils). I have witnessed no ill effects from having the silicone dip down to the lower psi. I just bring it back up to pressure when I wake up.

                    THINGS TO KNOW:
                        *My safety valve was faulty and required replacement.
                 *My pressure pot's gauge stopped working after a month or so. The compressor's gauge still works accurately, though, so I haven't replaced the pot's gauge.
                        *Tweaking of everything is to be expected, although I hope this guide helps a bit. Let me know what works better for you!
                        *Pressure casting is dangerous, even with proper precautions. Read all instructions for every device you buy!
                        *Be smart about safety: Goggles, ear plugs, and no jarring or moving either device while they're in use.
                        *Other stuff... but it's too late to think right now... Ask me! :D

RULES AND NOTES FOR SILICONE AND RESIN:

    1) If you plan on pressure-casting resin, you should also plan on pressure-casting your silicone molds, too! Silicone molds that are NOT pressure cast have larger bubbles that will probably compress in the pressure pot. This means parts of the mold may collapse inward and lead to undesirable shapes in the resin.
    2) Pressure cast your silicone at the same PSI you will be using for your resin for consistency's sake. The same thing mentioned in number 1 above can happen, but on a less dramatic scale.
    3) Silicone ages like crap once it's used to make molds. Depending on the brand you use, there can be shrinkage and brittleness (?) in the finished molds. The shelf life varies depending on time and use.
    4) Resin ages like crap once you buy it. Don't spend a crap-ton of money on resin until you're ready to use it, and expect to use it quickly. Same for un-cast silicone, for that matter...

HOW TO USE A PRESSURE CASTING SYSTEM:

    1) Prep all molds in advance. Figure out which ones will fit and in what order. Seal all corners and edges. (I use LEGOs with "grass" plates I've cut into different sizes for different uses. All I have to seal is the bottom corners). Silicone is expensive. It is more expensive flowing across your floor!
    2) Mix and pour silicone according to product instructions. Gloves!
    3) Stack the molds in the pressure pot with a lot of clearance at the top. The displacer needs room to blow air in!
  4) Set lid on pressure pot. Tighten opposite wingnuts to hand-tightness (no tools!).
  5) Turn on air compressor to 60 psi according to gauges. Turn off air compressor when it reaches the proper PSI.
  6) Check PSI levels during casting time, periodically, and use compressor as needed. (This is another reason why quick-coupling isn't necessary. Refills!)
  7) Depressurize pressure pot by pulling ring on safety valve until gauge reads zero. 
  8) Loosen opposite wingnuts at the same time until all are loosened. 
  9) Remove lid and remove molds from pressure pot.
  10) Prep molds to fill part two and repeat the process, keeping in mind the room in your pressure pot.

TO CAST RESIN: 

    1) Clean and prep molds: spacer straws, rubber bands, fill slots and the like.
    2) Mix resin and fill molds. This is usually a much quicker process because resin cures faster than silicone!
    3) Stack molds in pressure pot and follow steps 4-9 above. ;)
    4) Don't try to fill more molds than the pot-life of your resin allows. Get the molds filled and in the pressure pot ASAP! Otherwise, you'll waste expensive resin!

This general guide is not intended to be all-inclusive, so I glance over details of silicone and resin mixing and pouring and moldmaking, etc. Feel free to ask any related questions, though! :D

Thanks for reading, and I hope it's been helpful!

Tamara
        
SOLANA: A Pathos Sidetrack is now on Amazon Kindle for just $0.99! It's a novella about a PATHOS character who is near and dear to my heart. She just demanded her own little book! I also designed the deco-style cover. Plus, the paperback is forthcoming!

Please, oh please go check out my books and let me know what you think! Also, share with your sci-fi/fantasy lovin' friends!

Starting, if you want, with Solana: www.amazon.com/dp/B00HU20UW4

Love and hugs,

Tamara
I am currently holding a contest for my Pathos series of novels over on Facebook. Prize packages include digital copies of Volume 1 and the new Pathos Sidetrack, an autographed Rowan Jun paperback, and discounts galore! Go check it out:

www.facebook.com/PathosNovels
TATTOO/PIERCING NEWS: After expressing my interest in starting my own studio sometime this year, I was fired by my cousin from his studio. Whether his motivation was really business-related or personal, I can't determine. Or at least, I'm taking the high road and not airing dirty laundry here. I am still hopeful to find funding to start my own, but will again be jobless for a bit.

NOVEL NEWS: I'll be releasing a Pathos Sidetrack novel before I release Volume 2, Silver Empress. The Pathos Sidetrack novels will be backstories and/or short story collections that complement the main Pathos series storyline. Some will directly tie into the main story. Some will feature characters that didn't get enough love in the original storyline. So it's all still the Pathos series! And until I find steady employment, or open my studio, I should have plenty of time to write!

MYTH-BABIES: I'm hoping that whatever space I lease for my tattoo/piercing studio will have additional rooms for moldmaking and casting. That way, when it's slow at work, I can work on my books AND dolls. But I'm really stuck for a bit now. I sculpt on the dolls to take my mind off the stress of being broke.

Other notes: I'd love to make an anatomically accurate BJD skeleton someday, when I'm willing to figure out the engineering! Also a dragon, maybe!

Love and cuddles,
Tamara
I often think about the many attempts that I make to create things: books, art, dolls and tattoos. Then I see a sunrise, or a sunset, or the birth of a baby, or a thousand facets on a single tiny snowflake-- and realize just how much my creative attempts pale in comparison to those by the Creator.

To strive and never reach perfection is perfection in itself, because we are made in God's image. In creating things, we bring ourselves closer to God, but will never be gods. We form a thing from clay, and turn it into stone by fire. He forms a thing from clay and breathes life into it, and here we are. The fire that strengthens our spirit is loving those around us. Today and forever, regardless of the differences between our trials, our beliefs, our experiences, our feelings and our personal reservations-- know that I love you!
Baby Satyr and Baby Mermaid are now in my Etsy shop, at HALF PRICE: www.etsy.com/shop/TamaraHenson…

Happy Holidays!!!
Celebrate the holidays early with my free gift to you! The Pathos of Rowan Jun will be available for FREE on Kindle from November 14th through November 16th!

The full draft for Silver Empress, Volume 2 of the PATHOS series of novels, is finished! It's a weird sort of adrenaline rush once I get there, and an adrenaline crash immediately thereafter. So yeah, I'm exhausted now. There's a full revision, proofreading and polishing to go before the text is ready for publication, and cover/interior design, but the hardest part (for me, this round) is over!

I had some sort of time and energy block that prevented me from working on the book consistently for most of this year. Once I got past it, I realized I had to go until I was finished. Well, I'm now finished! So now I'll do a slap-happy dance for you all. *dance, dance, collapse*
I just started a fully-custom DC Batman's Lady Villains Half-Sleeve. They get title-case, cuz I'm so excited! I finished lines on three pinup girls I drew in my style: Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Catwoman. I'll post pictures of all my recent tattoo projects as soon as I get another half-hour or so... And I'll probably do a full color art piece using these gals. Geeking out over this tattoo so much!
So much has happened this month! 

1. I released the FINAL edition of THE PATHOS OF ROWAN JUN! I packed in much larger illustrations, a full map of Unata, and revised the whole text. I am now truly happy with the finished product. Now on Amazon, in Kindle and Paperback versions: www.amazon.com/dp/0985188804 This re-release is in anticipation of my second announcement:

2. Volume 2 is underway and should be available by the end of 2013! This sequel is a long time coming, and I'm very excited to offer it to my readers!

3. My boss's shop, N The Skin Tattoos, has moved locations to a much larger building. We've spent a lot of time and money getting it ready, and I'm loving the space! If you're local to Corbin, Kentucky, come see us. My Facebook page for tattoos and piercings: www.facebook.com/TattoosByTama…

4. I ordered a pressure pot for my casting process. I'll be ordering some silicone, resin and other supplies. Then I'll finally be able to finish up the Garyn and Rowan BJDs!

Sleep can wait! I got work to do... :D


Well, I'll say it. Someone needs to. I sculpted genitals on this male BJD I started. Why? Because he didn't look right without them! I always wondered why. Now I know! LOL

Anyway, his name is Rowan, from my PATHOS series of novels. He's muscly and cut, and his primary face will be Asian, like Rowan. I'll make at least one alternate head, and that'll probably be Collern, his brother-in-arms, a Unatan with elf-like features (like the female doll Garyn). The Unatans generally have skin in a range of rich tan to light brown, so if I get him (and Garyn) pro-cast, that'll be an option. I can't go further with Garyn or Rowan until I get a pressure cast system installed at the house, for making high quality junk casts. I'm saving for it, so that should be soon. 

My second book is at a standstill because of my tattoo artist job. Now that it's my primary job, I expected some free time since I wasn't doing two full time jobs. But free time is apparently not an option. However, as someone who gets paid commission, I need to work as much as possible!

So I keep tattooing, writing (whenever I can), and finalizing the sculpts as much as I can (without casting)... and life is good. Stressful and worrisome in some areas. But I feel blessed!

I'm still a couple months out from taking a pre-order on the dolls. Once they're available, I plan on making them very affordable. I also plan on making some fullsets of different types and optional accessories, like weapons and full armor (as well as selling blank dolls). At this point, is anyone interested in getting a pro-cast version of BJD Garyn or Rowan, once they're available in resin?
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Supernatural
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(
I made the new arms too thin over the wide straws. I worked with them. They shattered. Making new, thicker ones. Again. That is all we will say about the arms for now. *pouts*

Upside is, new hands and legs are underway. Shoulders are functionally jointed. And things get better with each re-sculpt.

Also, turns out that the ball-eye-bevel attachments I ordered from China for my Dremel are multi-purpose awesomeness for making joints, too.

So this VERY exhausted girl is now going to bed. Sorta. Right after she sculpts some more...
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Supernatural
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(
Sorry for the notification bomb. I realized I've neglected my account for far too long! I've completed a lot of tattoos lately, some very exciting nerd ones in the mix, and I've been swamped getting around to posting them!

News for now: Working full time as a tattooer. Working in free time on Volume 2 of my Pathos series. Working in minuscule remaining time on my ball-jointed doll project, and other doll projects. (I've had too much time lately to stare at her parts lying around, and now want to do some major overhauling on the design.)

News for August: I want to attend a local comics and gaming convention in August, bringing along the first two volumes of the Pathos series, and perhaps some art prints and dolls. Perhaps make some tattoo appointments. Which means I've a lot of work to finish very soon. We shall see!

Love and cuddles,
Tamara
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Randy Orton... And he SHAVED too!
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(
I'm so excited to announce that I'm taking appointments and walk-ins. My current days are Saturday and Monday, until further notice. Sooo... if you want a tattoo and live in or around Kentucky, or want to travel a bit, send me a note! ;)
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Randy Orton... And he SHAVED too!
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(
Twelve tattoos done-- a few of which are in progress-- a lifetime more to go!
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Randy Orton... And he SHAVED too!
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(
Looks like tattooing is becoming a real career possibility, hopefully one that takes off in the near future. :)
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Randy Orton... And he SHAVED too!
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(
I don't addict easily, but doing tattoos is my next big addiction! It's all about the art, all about building skills, all about technical application of those skills, all about the adrenaline, the needle stabbing into a blank canvas, the client, the appreciation they have for talent and hard work... Yep. All about all those things, and so much more! :) I'm four tattoos in, and see no signs of slowing down.
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Randy Orton... And he SHAVED too!
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(
I have progressed enough to make a BIG announcement:

I'll be applying my first tattoo in living flesh this Saturday!

My teacher says I'm ready, so here I go. Wish me luck!

UPDATE 12/23/12: Well, THAT was scary! But it turned out okay. So tired I forgot to get pictures, though. Soon!
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Randy Orton... And he SHAVED too!
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(
1 commission for a huge painting.
1 Christmas art trade.
1 Character art trade.
A dozen glass ornaments to paint.
1 Tattoo apprenticeship to maintain.
1 Book to finish and publish.

And I'm sure I'm forgetting something... Wow! I just realized how much I have to do!! Off I go...

Update 12/11/12: Ooooh! I finished some stuff. Yay, strikethrough!
  • Listening to: Nightwish
  • Reading: Rough Draft... ugh!
  • Watching: Randy Orton... And he SHAVED too!
  • Playing: with dolls! LOL
  • Eating: Junk food
  • Drinking: Water. It's delicious and nutritious! :(