So, I found something called “DAP Bondex” or something like that at JoAnn’s website. It’s described as “plaster of paris” but is intended for casting reproductions of items from molds. It looks a whole lot like the other “premium casting compounds” that I’ve found but haven’t been able to purchase. It wasn’t listed as an “Online only” purchase, which implied that it is carried at local JoAnn’s stores. So after work yesterday I stopped by a JoAnns to get some.
Of course they didn’t have any. BUT, they did happen to be right across the street from a Michaels I rarely visit, so I figured “what the heck… I’m here already” and went on over.
Turns out this particular Michaels carries five pound sacks of something called “Artplaster” which said right there on the box “the SUPERIOR casting plaster.” And it was only $6.50, which was very close to the per pound cost of the casting plaster I’ve seen on the internet in 25 pound bags, but with no shipping fees to double the price..
Hmmm… that can’t be bad.
So I bought some. Last night I cast a couple of items and they turned out fine. Not perfect, this stuff is heavier, thicker and more viscous than the Lightweight Hydrocal, but I still managed to pour it into my column mold and my mushroom man mold (man I’ve got way too many mushroom men now…), and it set enough in an hour that I was able to demold it with no trouble at all. It was much easier to demold than the Lightweight Hydrocal and not only did they not break, but they felt quite sturdy even though full curing takes 24 hours.
Anyway, here’s a photo:
The column and mushroom man on the left are pure Artplaster. The ones on the right are a mixture of 1/2 Artplaster and 1/2 Lightweight Hydrocal. (That sort of crack-looking line going up the middle isn’t a crack, it’s the mold line where the two pieces of the mold come together. These are straight out of the mold, I haven’t done any cleanup of them at all. I’ll remove that with a sculpting tool before I use the column. Same is true of the figures, they have some flashing to remove as well.)
Both came out pretty much the same. The pure Artplaster one is probably a bit denser than the one with the Lightweight Hydrocal, but I couldn’t tell the difference by weight in my hands. As you can see the Artplaster has more bubble problems than the Lightweight Hydrocal (comparing to my previous pic of the pure Lightweight Hydrocal column). That’s because of the viscosity and thickness I think. There’s a website with hints for using the plaster which says to spray the inside of your mold with “wet water” which is a mixture of water with a drop or two of liquid detergent, and that will help with the bubbles. Also I wasn’t nearly as careful in mixing this as I should have been, I think I can mix it with fewer bubbles if I try.
Even so, these will totally work for gaming. Sure I’d prefer that they be perfect, but they are plenty good enough.