Making Scale or Small Plate Armor
For this tutorial I’m using the first version of the scale armor made for the collar of the Kili duster coat. They are not quite right, I plan to redo them soon. The measurements were off and they were pierced in the wrong place, ending up with a wonky fit once put in place.
When I make the new set this tutorial will be updated, in the meantime however the steps are still good.
Recommended Tools for Making Kili’s Scale Armor:
Sculpy III in desired color, approximately 1/2 pound
Sculpy Mold Maker Clay
Floral foam (optional)
Black Acrylic Craft Paint
Metallic Silver Acrylic Craft Paint
Something to hold paint in
Step 1: Making a Master Scale and Negative Mold
Lay out a nice big piece of parchment paper on your work surface. I then drew the shape of the Master Scale right on the parchment paper in pencil, making sure to make the lines nice and heavy.
Knead and roll out a small amount of clay (in this case red was used) into a flat disc approximately 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. This will be slightly thicker than your finished piece, this will help with making the negative mold.Gently press the disc onto the pencil marks you made earlier, the marks should transfer to the surface of the clay. Use the cutting tool to trim off any excess.
Take a small amount of the clay and roll it out into a very thin ‘snake’ roll. Lay it along the outer edges of the scale base. I trimmed as I went so that each side of the base was a separate piece of the ‘snake’ roll. This helped keep the corners and edges crisp and sharp. Once all the edge pieces are down use the piercing tool on it’s side to press indentations into the clay at regular intervals.
Take a small amount of clay and shape for the center. Gently press into place.
Bake the Master Scale according to manufacturers instructions. Allow it to cool.
Take a larger amount of the Mold Maker Clay and knead. Roll out into a flat disc about 1/4″ thick. Liberally dust the Master Scale with talc. Press into the Mold Maker Clay, making sure that the Master Scale is only pressed in about half way. Remember, your finished scales need to be fairly thin!
Remove the Master Scale and bake the Mold Maker according to manufacturers instructions. Note: Mold Maker has slightly different baking needs than regular Sculpy! Allow the mold to cool.
You should now have a slightly flexible Negative Mold!
Step 2: Now Mold!
This may take some practice to get right. The lovely thing about working with Sculpy instead of air dry clays is that the clay will stay quite pliable for a long time. So if you aren’t happy, you can recondition the clay and start again. Removing the molded scales from the clay may also take some practice.
Liberal dust the entire front of the Negative mold with talc, inside and outside. Take a ball of kneaded clay and press into the mold. Using the flexiblity of the Negative Mold and the excess clay (click the photo to view a larger view) remove the scale. Trim all any excess clay and fix any deformations that may have occurred while removing the clay from the Negative Mold. The excess clay can be recycled into the next scale.
Dust off any talc from the molded scale.
I made a batch of 50 1″ scales. This gave me a few extras in case any broke during the baking process.
Step 3: Prep for Baking (Optional)
This step is if you plan to attach the Scale Armor to the costume as shown on the original, that is sewn in.
Using a piece of floral foam and your piercing tool you will poke holes completely through each scale in two places. In this case I did them incorrectly at the corners, I should have used a flat side, I goofed so hard on these I had no choice.
Remember: dust your piercing tool with talc before you poke holes!
Flip the scales after the holes have been poked. Clean up any excess clay and make sure the hole is clear so you can pass a sewing needle through.
Step 4: Bake!
Bake the scales and allow to cool.
Step 5: Paint
Blend metallic silver and black acrylic craft paint until you get the desired look. The addition of the black paint will help give an aged look to the silver paint. Allow to dry.
I also made the hair clip (shown on the right).