So after several attempts at different methods to make the arms I finally went back to casting- this time from life instead of wax and into epoxy and microspheres (hollow glass spheres mixed in to make the thing lighter) instead of glass.
The other methods depended too much on the person setting it up and weren’t as stable. This way I know I’ll get exactly the pose I want and that it will all stay together if it’s pushed around a bit.
I am always delighted by the fact that I can find volunteers for this sort of thing at a moments’ notice. Out of that pool I had one person who had the exact correct measurements for the project… who was unfortunately leaving in a few days for research south america. I doubly wanted her as the model because she is a professional ballroom dancer and I could trust her to hold the shapes I wanted correctly.
…so I ended up casting her arms in plaster wrap and her hands in algaenate during a pumpkin-carving party I was hosting that she was already attending. It was really the only time One does what one must. It also made for great entertainment for all and I could clean up after both in one shot, so it worked out alright, even if I didn’t get to carve a pumpkin.
I love algaenate as a casting medium. It gets perfect detail and is safe enough to use on the inside of the mouth. The only drawback is that it doesn’t last very long, and it’s a one-shot process.
At this moment I have two epoxy hands curing in the algaenate molds (kept carefully in the fridge) and two arms prepped for the next round. At first I thought I would work on a good way to attach and detach the hands from the arms to get the clothes on, but it occurred to me that cloth is a lot more easily altered than epoxy, so I’m just taking apart the sleeves and doing a hidden velcro seam. MUCH easier.
This project has been very technically challenging and interesting and I’m exciting to see it coming to a close. But right now I’m also thinking that what I really want to work on primarily for the next while is classical painting. It’s a break really. The problems are all artistic rather than technical.