The article ‘All About Fillers’ gave a general description of the wide range of filling materials available to modellers. This article will take a detailed look at one of these – Milliput epoxy putty. Although the article is specifically directed at Milliput, the techniques described apply to other similar products such as Apoxy Sculpt.
Milliput comes in a variety of grades, but for modelling I always use ‘Superfine White’ which is the finest grade available.
Milliput is a two-part epoxy putty. Like epoxy glue, one part is a hardener and the other part is a resin. These two parts come in two separate rolls with the consistency of plastercine or clay. Whilst these two parts are kept separate they can be stored for a long time (although not indefinately) but when mixed they begin to harden.
The hardening process is very gradual and normally there will be 30 mins to an hour where the product is very easy to use, but it will gradually become harder until it is very difficult to mold it. After this point, any further shaping has to be done by cutting and scraping rather than molding. The speed of hardening increases with temperature, so you will have a shorter working time on a hot day.
Milliput makes an excellent gap filler, but it is very versatile and can has many other purposes. With a little practice it is possible to make a variety of accessories to enhance a model or diorama. Making items from scratch is very satisfying and will allow you to create a model that is unique and stands out. Milliput is also very useful when figure modelling as it allows the pose of figures to be altered so that they more naturally blend into a model or diorama.
The rest of the article will give a general description of how to use Milliput followed by specific examples of use.
Milliput comes as two rolls of clay-like material each contained in a plastic bag. To use Milliput take each roll out of it’s bag and cut off an equal length. It is best to keep an old knife blade for this as Milliput will stick to the blade and is difficult to remove.
Cut only as much Milliput as you can use in about 30 minutes because after this time it will start to harden and become difficult to use. It is generally better to mix small amounts because it is always possible to add more later.
It is now necessary to thoroughly mix together the two pieces that have been cut. The best way to do this is to press the two parts together and then roll them out into a long sausage shape. Fold this over in half, then roll it out again. Do this over and over until there is a uniform colour. The Milliput will start off fairly hard, but will become much softer and easier to work with as it is mixed and warmed in the hands. The Milliput is now ready for use. You may find that your hands are now sticky with residual Milliput and it is best to wash this off with soapy water before going any further. If you have sensitive skin, then consider wearing dispoable plastic or latex gloves.
If you are using Milliput just for gap filling then all that is needed is something to press the Milliput into the gap and then scrape or smooth off the excess. An old knife blade is ideal for this – perhaps the same one used for cutting off the Milliput from the rolls.
However, if you plan to do some scuplting then you will need a few more tools. Stainless steel scribes (like dentist’s use) are very useful and can be bought cheaply from modelling suppliers, either singly or in sets. The same can be said for scupting tools. Another place where you can get a variety of wooden and metal sculpting tools are pottery suppliers as sculpting clay and Milliput require exactly the same tools.
If you are only going to need to do sculpting occasionally then it is possible to improvise with tools and household objects that are readily available. Cocktail sticks, the ends of old paintbrushes, glue spreaders, and stiff wire (bent as needed) can all be useful in sculpting.
Example 1: Gap Filling
Example 2: Fine sculpting
Example 3: Major Sculpting
|On the left is the almost completed alien egg with most of the painting done and it can be seen how the putty around the bottom edge with ‘veins’ up the sides helps to make the egg look like it is part of the base rather than sitting on top of it.|
Storing And Buying Milliput
Milliput can be stored a long time but it will not last forever. It gradually becomes harder even when kept inside the plastic bags and a hard crust can form making it difficult to mix. Try to buy Milliput from suppliers that have a fairly quick turnaround so that it is less likely to have been kept in their storeroom for a long time.
If you buy Milliput from a store take the rolls out of the box and press your finger gently into the rolls (whilst still in the plastic bags) to check that it is still soft and has not formed a crust.
Make sure that you replace your Milliput in the plastic bags that it comes in and expose it to the air as little as possible. If it does form a crust then it is best to cut this away and just use the inside which is still fresh.
If you do modelling regularly then this should not be a problem – Milliput is very versatile and you will probably find yourself using it often. If it does become hard and difficult to sculpt you can still use it for purposes such as reinforcing the inside joints of vehicles or adding weight to the nose of aircraft.