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Latex Ear Buds 
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Unread post Latex Ear Buds
Hi,

I promised I would show how I make the ear buds that go with the head wraps... so, here you go!


First, I start with a ball of oil clay. I hand-shape it into a dome and flatten out the bottom, and then I use the handle of a paintbrush to press ridges around the sides of the dome. They're a bit too sharp at first, so once I've got them pressed into the clay, I work it around and around in my hands for a few minutes, gently smoothing everything into a more natural looking design. (Because having domes on the sides of your head always look sooo natural!)


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Once I have the clay shaped, I set it aside and begin working on the mold. The little SOLO cups work really well for this. I use water based clay to fill the bottom of the cup, and smooth out the top of the clay as best I can. Smoother is better, but it doesn't have to be perfect. When it's flat, I press the ear bud gently into the clay and then use a damp paintbrush to clean up the edges of the water clay around the bud.


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Mix up a small batch of Ultracal 30, and pour it into the mold. I don't bother with a mold release for this project; it isn't needed. Once the cup is filled, tap it on the tabletop a few times to dislodge any air bubbles that might be trapped in the plaster, and then let it set. Overnight is best, to give it time to cure well.


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The next day, snip the top edge of the cup with a pair of scissors, and then the cup will tear. You can also etch a line with an exacto knife, if you promise to be very, very careful. Tear partway down the cup, and the plaster will fall out. The water based clay usually stays in the bottom of the cup, but the oil clay ear bud will stay lodged in the plaster. Use a wooden tool to dig the clay out. Once I dig about a third of the clay out, the rest usually comes out in a big chunk. Don't use a metal tool for this, as it runs a greater chance of scratching the Ultracal mold. Once the clay is cleaned out of the mold, it's ready to use!


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I've found that there are two workable methods for casting ear buds in the molds. The best method is to paint in layers of latex, one by one, and allow it to dry between layers. Three or four coats is usually enough. The other method is to fill the mold with latex, let it sit for a while, and then pour the extra latex back out, basically slush casting the buds. The problem with this is method that the latex tends to be come out uneven because the latex down in the buds is pooled, while the latex over the outer rim is very thin and exposed to the air. And, if you get distracted and leave the latex in there too long... you end up with an ear club instead of an ear bud. Been there, done that, wasted latex!


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Like any gypsum mold, the ear bud mold won't last long. By the tenth casting, it will develop pits, the top edge will become rounded, and the ridges will have begun wearing off. Then, it's time to start shaping the oil clay again!

I usually fill the ear buds with soft expanding foam. It does a good job of holding them in the right shape wihtout adding weight or a scratchy surface.


Pam :-)

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Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:05 am
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Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 6:31 am
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Location: florida
Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
Very cool! Thanks for the tutorial.


Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:20 pm
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Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:55 pm
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Location: Weymouth, MA
Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
awesome! this is just how i made mine after my lack of satisfaction with the model magic ones i made.

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Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:46 pm
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Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:49 am
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Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
do the ear buds have to have ridges in them or can they be smooth?


Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:35 pm
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Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
Everything I've seen indicates they're ridged. I'm guessing it's part of how they hear but there's no compelling evidence of this.

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Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:39 pm
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Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
Just out of curiosity...
Does it have to be different types of clay? Do the oil-based and water-based clays react differently to the plaster?
Also, I have a huge carton of plain plaster of Paris left from a project that needed only a smidgen. Could that be used instead of the ultracal 30?

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Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:23 pm
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Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
Aziara wrote:
Just out of curiosity...
Does it have to be different types of clay? Do the oil-based and water-based clays react differently to the plaster?
Also, I have a huge carton of plain plaster of Paris left from a project that needed only a smidgen. Could that be used instead of the ultracal 30?


The two types of clay are what allow you to separate the mold part out, otherwise you end up with an earbud sculpt stuck inside a hardened lump of clay.

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Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:23 pm
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Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
Makes sense... So is this done with the clay still wet, or is it left to dry?
And the plaster of Paris? Has anyone made a mold with it before?
Sometimes it feels like I'm bugging everyone with my newbie questions :oops: sorry :cry:

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Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:27 am
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Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
You never let clay get dry when molding from it. And an oil based clay needs some serious work to dry (Isopropyl alcohol will turn it to powder...)

Oola's were the only ones I could think of that were different. They still have a striated texture but are a different shape.

Plaster of paris will be fine, it just doesn't gel like UC and it is not as strong, but for a small project with only a few casts it is fine.

There are many sites that show how to cast with plaster of paris :)

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Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:13 am
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Unread post Re: Latex Ear Buds
ok so a question;

I had my ear buds in my head wrap which was on my Styrofoam head on my work station. I had done my makeup test on them both to match my skin tone and they looked great.

Today I picked them up and one was softer than the other one. More squishy, if that makes any sense. It just feels thinner. And when I hold them up next to each other the one does look a bit smaller (but we're talking a minute difference). But I used the same makeup on them both so it can't be the makeup. Even the expanding foam that Pam put inside it is softer.

What gives? What'd I do? My sewing station is inside, in a very well air conditioned room (seriously I like living in a fridge), and there's only one window and whereas I don't have curtains to totally block out all outside light I do keep the blinds down so no direct sunlight. But that's all I can think of, the head was facing one way exposing one to the direction of the window and the other to direct shadow.

Anyone else have any ideas?


Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:25 am
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