Tuesday, 15 September 2020

A toothbrush - the long, long, long tutorial




Some of the most mundane, but essential household items seem to take a huge amount of effort to make. I'd been scouring the internet for a long time trying to work out how to make those colourful, transparent toothbrushes. The answer is surprisingly simple but long winded.

I touched on this technique in a previous post but this is a more detailed approach. This is how I make them and not, necessarily, the best way to make them.

If, like me, you intend to make a lot of these brushes, the initial outlay for UV resin, a UV nail lamp, UV resin dye and silicone mold may not seem so onerous. Since UV resin can be used for so many other projects; stained glass, glassware, drinks, water, I felt it was worth it.

The longest part of this process is making the first toothbrush. I needed a good master to replicate so I spent a lot of time sanding and shaping with wet-and-dry sandpaper. You can use anything that isn't porous for the handle and bristles; plastic, acrylic, styrene etc. The brush handle and bristles are made separately, the reason for which will become clearer as we go.
My real-life toothbrush measures 71/2" in length, 1/4" at it's widest point, (roughly 15.5mm x 1.5mm in 12th scale) . Here's the shape I used.

I rounded just the top edges with wet and dry sand paper. The bottom is not sanded at all and must remain flat since I'm going to make a mold from it. I found putting a piece of double sided tape on my finger or lollipop stick and sticking the toothbrush handle to it helped me to keep hold whilst sanding. I dropped it A LOT!

I made the bristles with a rectangle  of styrene at 1mm wide x 2mm long x 1.25mm deep. If you want ultra-realism, you can use a scalpel to score 'bristle' marks into the styrene.
 
Next step is making a silicone mold of both the handle and bristles. I found a great company in Ireland who produce a fantastic selection of casting materials. I chose the Polycraft T15 silicone, which picks up the tinyest of detail, is tear resistant, easy to pour and is translucent, which helps when you're casting. 

I super glued both the handle and bristles to a piece of clear material. This helps you see any bubbles forming in the mold mixture. I used a laminate pouch but anything transparent...glass, plastic...is great.



To make an enclosure around the pieces, I cut a slice from a toothpick container. The enclosure doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to stop the silicone oozing out.




I then used a hot glue gun to seal the bottom edge of the enclosure. 



Now this is where I spent weeks perfecting mold pouring. I watched YouTube videos, read books and lost sleep trying to stop bubbles forming in the mold. Bubbles are BAD! If they stick to the master that you're casting, it ruins all that hard work you put in perfectly shaping the master. But, fear not because I discovered a secret that changed everything 😀

This is a picture of the silicone mold mixture in a plastic cup, after I vigorously stirred it.

Yep, a tonn of bubbles!


 This is after I poured it. A gazillion bubbles. The trick is - immediately after pouring, stick it in the refrigerator. It slows down the thermal reaction and allows the bubbles time to rise 😊



This is the mold after about an hour in the refrigerator. Once the bubbles are gone, you can let the silicone mold set in a warm room.

Now the fun part 
I purchased this type of UV Resin and had great results.



Mix a quantity of UV resin in a disposable cup with your prefered colour (for the handle)
Mix a quantity of UV resin in a disposable cup with white (for the bristles)
Remember to mix a small amount at a time and do it away from sunlight since UV resin hardens under UV light.

Fill your toothbrush mold with resin and use something like a single sided razor blade to clear any excess. (Dirty fingernails optional 😄)



Do the same with the bristle mold. Put both molds under a UV curing lamp for 60 seconds.

Take a tiny amount of toothbrush coloured UV resin and smear it onto the end of the toothbrush (bristle end). Site the bristles onto the UV resin at the end of the toothbrush. 

When you're happy with how it looks, place it under the UV curing lamp for 60 seconds. Now smear a small amount of toothbrush coloured resin onto the toothbrush handle to give it shape and place it under the UV curing lamp for aother 60 seconds.



Done. It's that simple!

Next, I may actually get back to the Gothic manor and make a stained glass window. Maybe

Take care and stay safe
Pepper x



20 comments:

  1. Fabulous wee items and well worth all the time and effort.

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  2. Wow! You're amazing! The refrigerator makes perfect sense. Maybe I'll eventually get more adventurous with this!

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  3. Very good tutorial Pepper, thank you. The results are great too.

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  4. oh my goodness, thats a great toothbrush but Id have cried if I had to clear out those bubbles

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    1. I spent many an hour truing to pop the bubbles with a pin before discovering the refrigerator tip :)

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  5. gee, that took some patience! but the result is stunning!

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    1. Thanks Marion. The good thing is, once you get over the pain-in-the-ass making of the first toothbrush, you can make the next one pretty fast :)

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  6. Hi Pepper! What a wonderful tutorial! And you shared the "secret" method of bubble elimination! Your clear and precise explanation makes me want to try making molds. And the tiny toothbrush is Awesome! I am so glad to see you are making minis! :)

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    1. Thank you. I'm slowly getting back into it :)

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  7. This is brilliant! Thankyou for sharing

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  8. My favourite part was: "Done. It's that simple." *LOL* Well, to me it looked like doing magic with the purpose of having a stunning miniature toothbrush in the end - but your very good explanations made it pretty clear that this is the result of a talented miniaturist using methods and products in the most clever way and even sharing them with us. Thanks for the tutorial - and the very effictive anti-bubble-method. ;O)

    Hugs
    Birgit

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