Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Here is the near complete Spider, is still want to put some finishing touches on the jaws as they need better hair definition but overall I feel that this has been a successful project.

More images on the way...

Friday, 1 May 2009

I mostly paint and hair, mostly.....

A shot of the spider being finally positioned after painting.

Using a thin Nylon Brush Hair and emulsion PVA the hairs were individually positioned on the legs. The Feelers below are the hairiest of the extremities and so were tackled first.

So far all is working well but I'm unhappy with the finish of the legs. The whiteness of the joints seems to prominent being to opaque. I have toned the white down to a more ivory colour making them more pleasing. I had the idea using thickness satin lacqure to build a thickness which will add a semi opaque translucency. I would prefer to strip the paint from the legs but the is no time and they have already been haired. Lesson learnt....

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Just The Hair

All the Les have been constructed and painted.

To prevent paint reaching specific area's they were coated in latex which was then easily removed after spraying. The (right) image shows a test for the hairs and spines, all work well but more are required.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Home run

All Your Base (warning huge post)

The Base is near finished, painting completed It is some awaiting minor last minute details
( Plant matter sand/dirt particles) Which can only be added after spider positioning.)

I also used a clear satin lacquer to add area's of moister, something the matt emulsion was lacking. I'm looknig into adding area's of pooled water (possible resin). Image above shows the current level of texture and detail. (I still have the problem with the texture looking butter up close, and somewhat monotone at a distance) Hopefully a spider walking around it will solve the problem.


Although time is running out, there's always time for experiments. Here is the Abdomen cast in Easy flow Clear, with the addition of red and orange flow to mimic veins and tissue detail.

The amount of air bubbles inside the resin made the translucence near opaque. Because of the exothermic reaction Placing the material in a vacuum to remove air waited time, so resin cured

Using a tray made from a vacuum former, the easy flow was spread across a wide surface. This helped prevent heat build up slowed the cure time, meaning air could be remove in a vaccuum.

Bag 'o' Sweets

Ever component is ready for painting, The leg were cast using a mixture of

104 grams (optic-clear 31)
10 Drops orange (Tria Ink)
.825 ml of So (Strong White PU pigment Solution) - (solution strength 1 part pigment / 50 part opti-clear-31 part B)

This gave me the perfect amount to fill 2 leg moulds so that the semi-opacity changes as the thickness of the leg increases.


The dorsal spines of the Dysdera Crocata are essential for Species identification. Having tested various methods of production the most successful is using fibre optic wire.

-Each spine is cut to length
-Sanded to a point using a cordless drill
-Polished back
-stained with Tria Inks
-Laqured to regain transarentcey.

---Painting Has Begun----

Sunday, 12 April 2009



With all components near complete it is time to paint,

-Legs and feelers, colour predominantly from cast. So only basic Highlighting
-Thorax and abdomen will require the majority of my efforts needed a range of colour.

I'm quite new to airbrushing and have been utilising on-line tutorials. Above is one Thorax test which started well. The base was cast in TRIA red pigmented easy flow clear, the image illustrates the progression of the layers. The 4th going very wrong.

-I have began to keep details records of my paint tests. I record paint mixture and thinner ration, all the way to spray PSI for each layer. Meaning I can easily recreate an effect.


The base is slowly being painted. To achieve an convinced wood effect I have used washes of emulsion paint. It is slowly working but damn it is time consuming. So far it hasn't been photographing well. I've aimed to only paint using natural light and these photographs were not taken then.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Transil 40 Moulds


All the transil 40 moulds have been finished. In the end the 5kg wasn't enough and another 2.5kg was acquired. Every component except the body has a transil mould.

As with the abdomen I opted for a cheaper tin-sure mould and to use a skin of easy flow clear. for the following reasons.

-Cut down time
-Cut down weight
-Required less equipment, (vac chamber etc) so workshop hours no longer issue.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Shiney Time

The moulding didn't happen today, but spent allot of time polishing. Each component of the spider needs to be polished to a high gloss. This will aid me in achieving a near realistic almost liquid surface, so more time was spent polishing.

-More easy flow tests were done, placing in a vacuum does help, but the quick curing time is an issue. Contains air bubbles but as I'm going for a more opaque it is perfect for my application.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

final Moulding

PU Experiment

I plan on moulding the body using a Transil 40 (Platinum silicone) Jacket. My aim is to use as little as required my creating a matrix style mould. One issue I found with this is that fibre glass jackets (usually used in this mould type) can inhibit the surface of Transil 40.

-So my attempted solution is to use Fast cast to create the two part jacket to hold the silicone, shown above.

Spraying and moulding

The legs and body have now all been sprayed with cellulose lacquer, this will all be polished tomorrow and used for moulding. Meaning Monday morning I can begin to cast with the opti-clear.

Also My Easy Flow clear has arrived (which will be used for the abdomen), and works very well. So far only a single test has been produced, Next step is to try adding acetone to slow down the reaction so vacuuming may be ipossible.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Spider Almsot finished....

Abdomen update

The abdomen has been moulded nicely but with three problems.
1) It becomes very heavily and my aim is to keep as light as possible.
2) The seem line in the mould moves causing undesired flashing.
3) Opticlear-31 will not work at this thinness...

After some research and a few chats with lecture's and Pete Tindall of, the following solutions were made.

1.1) Various fast cast test with filler powder, but most suitable is using the mould to slush near gelled fast cast. Meaning only a thin skin and very little material is used.

2.1) Pinning didn't work "this problem was a result of trying to save on materials" The mould weighed 1kg , if more was used with mould studs it could have been prevented. Lesson learned..... But painting in a fast cast layer allowing to catalyse, then slushing helps the mould hold its rigidity and lessens the imperfection.

3.1) After speaking with Pete and mould life, It should be possible to use 'Easy flow clear' is the same method as the fast cast tests. Meaning I can keep the translucency I require and reduce the weight.

Leg Segments

All the leg segment 'except the back femur' has been cast' These will now be connected togeather blended and prepared for moulding. 'About time'


The basic base structure has been made. Using blue foam and plaster a quick and effective rotten log was made in a few hours. the image above is of sections of my mequette place to test the leg positions. The base works nicely as is A-symmetrical giving the spider a more dynamic pose.

one of my live specimens has produced eggs, this could be an interesting addition to my model?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Sculpt Finished

Hear is the current body primed and ready to be lacquered. She is starting to look very spider like. The leg components are just about ready to mould, so tomorrow the basic base structure will be carved. Meaning each leg an be positioned so the joints can be added. So the final Transil 40 mould can be cast by Tuesday....

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Sculpting near complete

Underside of female dysdera showing lungs openings and epigyne

Moulding the fang, using mould life mould studs at split line. This split mean that fang could be separately moulded without damaging it.

Details of abdomen sculpt, focus on spinnerets

Excluding the final 3 leg segments each part of the spider has been fully sculpted. The current estimation is the I am just over a week behind my original time plan. Due to the sculpting taking longer than originally though. An example of why is shown in the image's above. Using mainly dead specimens as reference specific area's change after death. The underside of the abdomen was heavily modified after a live image was taken of the lung openings.

Each sculpted part has now been moulded in fast cast and are being modified with joints so each piece can be moulded in opticlear and then be easily assembled. All moulds should be completed by the end of next week.

Friday, 13 February 2009


Made some major changes yesterday and today, the jaw area specifically. On building the jaws I discovered that there wasn't enough space. So the best Fast cast copy was then taken back and re sculpted in milliput. Meaning the baking and shrinkage of sculpy can be ignored.

The Abdomen has now been massed out and detail is being applied.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sculpting update

The base of the leg are near finished, but the sculpting is taking far longer than originally thought. So for the next week their may not be any other progress.

Friday, 6 February 2009


This image doesn't show much, the lower jaw section was a more complex shape than originally thought, such much time has been spent reshaping. They have progressed much since this image and are ready for moulding. But the moulded copies will be modified further...

-Various brushes have now been taken apart and applied to various objects. So far PVA glue is the most effective. once dried the transparency takes on the colour of the surface below. Becoming a very quick method of adding hair root details.

-Also this weekend was spent airbrushing.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


Spending today playing with my airbrush, searching the net for some useful techniques and goggle and you tube are full of them. also have bought various colours of the Tamiya acrylic paints as I am told them are very good.

More Specimens
Also John Partridge of the BAS has found another Dysdera, but even better he has offered it to me for this project. Photo's coming soon....

Saturday, 31 January 2009

1 Part Down - 9 to go....

The body sculpt has been competed, it has been textured, smoothed but not baked off (as sculpy usually is) The reason being, modifications can be made easily if the mould fails, and the bottom jaw will probably break off when de moulding ... But can easily be blended back in.

The mould

To begin the body mould was made using a standard condensation cure silicone. So that fast cast replica's can be used for the following reasons.

-Base for sculpting additional limbs and parts.
-Painting tests
-Casting tests
-To be used when moulding with Transil 40

The oils from the sculpey may inhibit the platinum silicone, so a lacquered fast cast version will be used to prevent this contamination.

Mould Studs
I attempted a new moulding method. The mould studs (from mould life) are used within the silicone to perfectly locate two part moulds. The image shows a piece of plastic being used to created the split line with punched holes containing the studs. The plastic covers the entire seem up to 5mm away from the shape.

-problem - My original intention was to have the split line running around the seem of the spiders body where the top meets the bottom. thus easily hiding any flashing. But when pouring the clear plastic lifted slightly, and the split line is now across the spider eye cluster..

Other than that it was a very quick successful mould, we will see on Monday the extent of the split line. But it should be easily hidden.....

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Sculpt Update

The basic shape of the carapace (top) has been finished , and the details of the underside are near ready for texturing. It currently looks rather odd, but will look more even when textured.

Also using a piece of clear plastic is very useful when sculpting, as details can be sketch from photographs then looked through. Making scale and proportion easier to achieve.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Hair idea's

After attending IMATS this weekend I have a few methods of applying dysdera's various hair types. The main issue being the scale creates hair with a translucently.

-Sculpted, then cast from opticlear 31 in the same method as the main body.
-Sand thin acrylic rods , then either airbrush or dye.
Thick Hair
-Bristles taken from cheap laminating brushes, or similar brushes
Thin Hair
-Human or animal hair
-Synthetic hair
-possibly finer brush hairs
Wide area's of tiny thing hairs
-Sparsely flocked, if possible tests and samples are needed.
-Same as 'Thin hair' but one at a time.

Friday, 23 January 2009

sculpt and the maquette...

Roughly finished the foam maquette and began to pose the spider and a defensive pose will probably be the most likely. But 'hurray' I received a live specimen of dysdera today and she is now in her enclosure. I will give her a few days before photographing her as she will require time to settle in. (so photo's comnig soon)

Began the final sculpt a few days ago, the foam test became very useful. The image above was taken very early, showing the styrene outline taken from the foam....

BAD NEWS--- the core I built for the sculpt was too big, half needed to be dug out and cut in half.... all is better now...

--Off to IMATS this weekend, for talk models and source useful materials...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Base Idea's

After some discussions today, a few idea's came to mind about the base. Does it need to be of wood or stone? Perhaps not, possibilities are...

Wood / Stone - Represent the natural environment, requires sculpting and carving to mimic texture. The uneven base would give a more dynamic a-symmetrical pose.

Bathroom Tiles - Thought of putting spider in defensive pose. Something which would occur when encountered in the home. Would give less dynamic stance but polished floor would reflect details.

Scaled city scape - Treated as a comical city, i.e. B movie spider. Would be amusing and would give an area to create an interesting contrast but also show other skills. But this would move away from the museum style of display.

Fabric or material - Scale up fabrics etc that might appear in the home, would be a usefull way to easily communicate the scale.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Welding and Poly-Problems

Monday 19th Click image, to see better....

Welded a stand to hold the sculpting armature, with improvised clamps to hold various bars. Image above is hold a foam machette of the body. Produced core for body scultp, which will begin tomorrow.


Began by making white urethane pigment solution. Ration of 50parts 'opticlear 31 part B' to 1 part white pigment.

-Test 1, 30 grams opticlear 31 - 1 drop red TRIA ink - 0.1ml pigment Solution
-Test 2, 30 grams opticlear 31 - 1 drop red TRIA ink - 0.5ml pigment Solution

-Result 1, Slight has but not effective enough, the surface did not cure correctly and remains sticky. Control mould worked fine, there still seems to be some cross contamination from something. Possibly the sculpy.
-Result 2, Cleaned the moulds with IPA 'Isopropyl alcohol' and fast cast, opticlear still in mould will find result tomorrow.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Current Plan


The shape of the base is still undecided. A building decision needs to be made so the basic shape may be decided. Currently Foam experiments have been produced…

-Hand carved from blue foam

-Coated in poly filler

-Then painted with plaster Shellac

The idea is to make the base from foam because of it light weight. But unsure if the spider should crawl along stone or wood. (below are some samples made)

Original sculpt (Scale 20:1)

Note- Armature will be built tomorrow.

The majority of the spider will be sculpted from Sculpey firm. This will give me plenty of time to accurately modify sculpts. Once baked this will be sprayed with a cellulose lacquer and polished. The lacquering process fill in any micro cracks for repair fracture and even out textures. But more specifically it will give a shiny near wet look to the spider.

Casting and moulding

The final model will be cast in ‘Opticlear 31’, this material was used throughout my last project and its clarity will be very useful on creating the spiders overall translucent opacities ‘especially on the legs’…

-Polyurethane pigments will be used to remove the complete transparency, but they need to be heavily diluted. A solution of ‘Opticlear 31 part B’ and pigment will be used at a ratio of 50:1.Tests are required

The final moulds will be made from Tinsel 40, to prevent the Sculpey leaching oils into the mould surface (which can inhibit the opticlear’s reaction) the original sculpt will first be moulding using a condensation curing silicone. Fast cast version will be made, cleaned and then moulded in the Tinsel.


-Spider body and jaws can be sculpted, as base will not modify there shaped.

-Need to source some synthetic hair.

-Have produced tests mould from above shape. Will be used to test resin colour solutions.


Specimen Found

I was recently contacted through the BAS, by Helen Robinson who found Dysedera Crocata running across here bathroom floor. She has named the spider 'Deirdre' and has agreed to safely post her to me. Using various source's of information 'mainly the BAS handbook', I've set up a nice enclosure for her, plus a separate one for her pray.

I will use her to obtain an accurate colour match and also to pick a nice dynamic pose.


The pose is still something I'm yet to decide. Without building a woodlouse an defensive/aggressive pose would accurately display dysdera's species specific details.
(You tube video 1) In the research list to the left, (30 secs in) has a nice image of the spider in such a pose. The video itself is terrible....

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Micro fun...


bought this microscope, only played for a few minutes, but am slowly building a library of dysdera images, to aid in my sculpting. The microscope works ok, but the images quality is slightly lower than expected but a £50 was a fair prise.

The magnification is enough to figure out the required details but the shaky base make focusing difficult. I will machine a heavier stand in the next few days...
-The images above were my first successful ones but poor light conditions are giving a very yellow image...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Specimens and pose


Hello there, I received a pair of specimens today, kindly sent to me by John Partridge from the British arachnological society, below are some of the images I quickly took of them.

-These were taken by combining my currently basic microscope.
-With this compact camera

Scale and pose

I've decided on a rough scale of 20:1 which should make the body of the spider around 300mm long, currently building a very basic scratch model, to test the poses so tune in for more photographs.