As we wrap up our initial molding of an arm, wanted to reflect on how our expectations and solutions to problems have panned out initially. The first problem we considered was if the dragonskin would be sufficiently thick enough to support its own weight. Due to the budgetary constraints and the expense of silicone, we needed to be as frugal with our material expenditure as possible and try to use only a hollow shell of a skin surface. The solution we explored was reinforcing the structure with fiberglass padding. We had only seen this done in the context of plaster, not silicone, and was unsure on if this would impair it’s ability to stretch too much as well.
The fiberglass was applied about an hour after the initial pot life of the top layers, which we hoped would lead to it being sub-surfaced. We opted against applying it last for fear the fiberglass would simply slip out given silicones difficulty with taking hold of surfaces. However, the viscosity of silicone was less than we expected at that point, and post casting it was revealed to have sunk to a degree where it was visible on the exterior of the arm. That said, it did succeed in giving much more structural stability to the piece. However, applying it on the absolute last layer in retrospect would have done much the same in giving support, but not leave it vulnerable to sliding off if any amount of silicone membrane was placed on top of it to hold it in place. We also discovered that while the lengthwise application was the correct choice, a single layer would have been sufficient, and two layers impairs its elasticity significantly Limiting the application to the side of the arm and leave it absent in the center (where a stretchy tear effect is ultimately desired) would likely be a better compromise of stability and stretch.
A separate concern came from the dragonskin itself. We were unsure on if the homebrew release agent of dishsoap and alcohol would be sufficient, and to what degree the dragon skin itself would be stable and colored accurately. Color tests were done on silicone caulking, but we had no certainty how that would translate to the dragonskin. In addition we used a homebrew release agent of blue dishsoap and denatured alcohol, which would possibly have a tinting effect. We ultimately decided to do multiple layers: an initial layer of mostly transparent dragonskin. a center layer with flesh tone, some white and a tiny bit of yellow, and and wall layer of flesh tone yellow blue and white-with the hope of creating a gradient effect to give a more lifelike appearance. We applied it in a combination of brush on and slush casting which also led to concerns about the color thinning out near the edges due to gravity shifting the dragonskin centerwise. We has separate applications for the wall to attempt to even that out which works to a degree.
On this front the results went much better than expected. The crevices were held very well, and the effect was a (albiet pale) fleshy tone. We went in with the expectation of this as mearly a base layer with make up effects applied over it to give it the ultimate effect, and to that it seems to have been a success. The thinning effect toward the side was real however, although something we can work around we believe. If we attempt this again it would be more effective to create a top mold to press into it to pool the dragonskin more evenly up and fill the crevices, much like latex masks are often made. This would also be more time efficient. Using a silicone thickening agent would also go a long way towards helping it fight gravity in the later layers.