Ran some experiments glazing the eyeballs to get that shiny wet look. Tried a massively toxic 2-part epoxy and a mildly delightful air-dry acrylic. As luck (and perhaps chemistry) would have it, their ease of application was inversely related to their performance as a glaze.
Question for the artists out there: what would cause an acrylic glaze to orange peel on me?
More after the break…
To get started, I hotwire cut about 60 balls at kwartzlab. This, after doing 10 in my sub-optimally ventilated basement and getting a little unwell. Much better ventilation at kwartzlab.
I applied the irises with Mod Podge Gloss glue, which gives the shine in the pic above. Sort of worked out a technique to get the smoothest possible fit to the curvature of the ball:
- Apply glue to back of iris
- Apply iris to ball
- Brush glue over iris and onto ball to smooth out. This wets the paper and greases the next operation.
- Run thumb from centre of iris to edge to remove trapped air and excess glue
- Brush more glue over iris from centre outward onto foam, trying to keep brush strokes radial. I made sure to feather the edge of the glue over the foam.
- Let dry for 24 hours. No further prep prior to glazing.
And, yes Gus, each iris placement is deliberately non-uniform for effect. Took me about 2 minutes/eye.
This is the Envirotex Lite Pour-On High Gloss Finish, whew, 2-part epoxy goo that Gus put me on to. His neighbour used this in a similar application for Halloween props. This stuff is what fume hoods are made for. I was working beside an open window, which was admitting a 10km wind to the lab and I still lost brain cells. “pour-on” is very fussy about thorough mixing (mercifully 1:1), and gives a nominal 25 minutes working time, but to have this stuff flow nicely you really have to gun it as fast as possible. I applied a heavy layer with a brush, wearing gloves and goggles. Fun fact: to remove any bubbles that form, you just breath on it. It worked. Full cure time is 72 hours(!) and I can confirm that. The eyes were still off-gassing 36 hours in. I hadn’t really taken the “run-off” effect into account when setting up the drying rack, and discovered the eyes needed to be upside down and tilted back at 45 degrees to keep runoff away from the critical areas. Ben and Ed lent a hand to rig up a cardboard rack while I held the dripping mess (thanks boys). I sealed the whole thing up in a 60L container to keep them dust-free while drying.
The upside of “pour-on” is the outstanding result. Gives a thick mirror-smooth finish that has great reflective properties and is totally transparent (for my purposes).
When I was recounting the issues with the epoxy, a visitor to the lab, Stella, suggested trying an acrylic leveling fluid as a less smelly alternative. I picked up this Liquitex glazing medium from Michaels (with my 40% off coupon). No detectible odour. Brushed on. Brush cleans up with water. A little thinner consistency than the epoxy. In this pic I had just applied a second coat so it’s slightly milky, but dries transparent.
Here’s the result of 2 coats of acrylic. It’s pretty good, but not as thick as the epoxy. It dries within a half hour, so applying multiple coats wasn’t hard. The downside is the “orange-peel” effect off the acrylic finish. It’s not as smoothly reflective as the epoxy. What causes this? Air-drying? Drying too fast? Dust? I neglected to cover this piece during drying, which may have lead to this effect. I’ve got a third coat drying on the piece right now and it’s covered by a bucket to slow down drying a bit and limit dust.
Side by side, they both look pretty good. If you zoom in you can see the orange peel in the highlights. You also get a better sense of the thicker coating with the epoxy. So, which way to go? I’ll wait for the final results on the acrylic, but it looks like I’m going to have to get messy with the epoxy for best effect.
Here’s a shot of the run-off glazing. Gotta keep this to the back of the eyeball and…
away from these edges where the eyeball mounts to the panel. Gotta have that nice and flush. I sorted out an optimal angle for hanging these to dry. Using mechanics wire stapled to 1″x2″ for the drying hangers.
All in all, these are fun experiments in consumer-available material “science”. I’m really happy with the results.
Here’s a little different lighting. A great outcome for me on this is developing some new techniques to apply beyond animeyes.
I’ll bring this stuff to Tuesday Open Night if anyone’s curious for a close-up look. Come on out to kwartzlab and see what else is cookin at the lab.