Saturday, 29 June 2013

Fimo notes

The debate about using Fimo rages on - Miniature Mentor have a tutorial video in which it is used, and 1listSculpting has some very useful observations and resources on the material. 

Here are my personal observations on using Fimo, which I will periodically add to. Comments, other hints and links to decent Web resources are most welcome, and I will post here.

  • Aragorn Marks in his Miniature Mentor video (the Barbarian)  recommends always using Fimo in a 1:1 mix with Fimo MixQuick. This helps enormously with kneading the clay and handling it, and I thoroughly agree.
  • Fimo dries out - wrap it in foil or clingfilm and keep it in an airtight container.
  • Fimo with MixQuick will melt plastic sheeting, such as polystyrene plasticard - always keep it on baking paper (silicone paper)/ foil or something similar. If you don't, plastic will melt into your clay and ruin it for you.
  • I find a darker or richer colour clay really helps with contrast. I tried "champagne", which is too light for me, especially under artificial lighting. I now use a terracotta colour, which is great, although any rich colour would probably do.
  • Some sculptors will boil Fimo rather than bake it. This has an advantage in that you know the water's temperature is 100°C - handy if your oven is flakey or you don't have one. However, I did this once and the water got into a crack that I didn't see - and promptly ripped the Fimo off the sculpture, ruining it. So I always bake at 110°C.
  • I like to do several short bakes of a Fimo sculpt, particularly if I'm layering clothing on top or something else. Fimo recommends an overall baking time of no more than 30 minutes, so I bake for about 10 minutes each time, keeping a note of the total accumulated baking time.
  • Fimo is really good for clothing, flesh and tissue, as the baking softens the edges slightly, making it look much more natural. However, Fimo does get brittle, so trying to file/drill/sand/machine small parts will damage it.
  • Raw Fimo does not stick to baked Fimo!
  • Raw Fimo does not stick to bare metal! You can make it by dropping a thin layer of cyanoacrylate superglue (e.g. Bostik) onto the metal and let it dry, or by painting the metal with a standard primer (e.g. Halfords or a zinc primer from B&Q). However, you may run the risk of generate cyanide fumes by baking Fimo models that incorporate superglue, so please read the Manufacturer Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) first. 
  • Fimo with MixQuick will stick to things, especially under pressure, so be careful when flattening or shaping it on plastic, paper etc.
  • I find Fimo very difficult to flatten out into thin sheets. Some authors recommend using a pasta machine (I can't justify buying a pasta machine to make pasta, let alone for sculpting!). I have tried pressing it out on baking paper (silicone paper), clingfilm, plasticard, melamine, wet plastic - and it sticks every time to the surface, ruining the flat sheet. The only method I have found that works, is simply drawing it out with my fingers carefully. This means that I struggle to get a thin enough layer for clothing.
  • Baked Fimo will neatly slice with a scalpel, which is fantastic for things like buttons or cylinders. 

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