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Molding & Casting An Alligator Snapping Turtle

The Alligator Snapping Turtle is one of nature's rarest and most elusive animals. An opportunity to reproduce a 250 year old specimen is as rare as the animal itself. Tony & Leslie Breedlove of Wildlife Art Creations (Melrose, FL) were fortunate enough to acquire a 150 lb. (68 kg.) Alligator Snapper, and have chronicled their mold making and casting processes used to make exact duplicates of this dinosaur.
 This huge alligator snapper is a rare taxidermy specimen

1 - This huge alligator snapper is a rare taxidermy specimen
 Position the specimen on a piece of plywood. Leave ample working room around the edges.

2 - Position the specimen on a piece of plywood. Leave ample working room around the edges.
 Place specimen in freezer. Check and adjust frequently until desired position is achieved.  Freeze solid.

3 - Place specimen in freezer. Check and adjust frequently until desired position is achieved. Freeze solid.
 Accelerate Mold Max® 30 with Fast Cat® 30. Rubber is applied in 3 layers to the bottom and all undercuts.

4 - Accelerate Mold Max® 30 with Fast Cat® 30. Rubber is applied in 3 layers to the bottom and all undercuts.
 Repeat the 3-coat process on the topside.

5 - Repeat the 3-coat process on the topside.
 Fill all cracks and depressions completely. You can use light air pressure to blow silicone into all the detail.

6 - Fill all cracks and depressions completely. You can use light air pressure to blow silicone into all the detail.
 Add to thickness of mold. THI-VEX® thixotropic additive is used to thicken rubber.

7 - Add to thickness of mold. THI-VEX® thixotropic additive is used to thicken rubber.
 Create an open mouth insert. First, apply release agent to the inside of the mouth and all surrounding silicone.

8 - Create an open mouth insert. First, apply release agent to the inside of the mouth and all surrounding silicone.
 Fill mouth about half way with thickened rubber. Insert wooden peg and hold until rubber partially sets.

9 - Fill mouth about half way with thickened rubber. Insert wooden peg and hold until rubber partially sets.
 Fill remaining void in mouth with more accelerated rubber. Overlap the edges around lip line.

10 - Fill remaining void in mouth with more accelerated rubber. Overlap the edges around lip line.
 Determine the location of parting lines and build shims to separate the mother mold sections.

11 - Determine the location of parting lines and build shims to separate the mother mold sections.
 Apply two liberal coats of Mann Ease Release® 200 and Sonite Wax® to all surfaces.

12 - Apply two liberal coats of Mann Ease Release® 200 and Sonite Wax® to all surfaces.
 Put the first layer of 1-1/2 oz matte on the original.  Wet with  resin and press in with brush to remove air bubbles.

13 - Put the first layer of 1-1/2 oz matte on the original. Wet with resin and press in with brush to remove air bubbles.
 Apply 10 ounce cloth and wet well with resin.

14 - Apply 10 ounce cloth and wet well with resin.
 Finally, put the last layer of 1-1/2 oz matte in place and wet completely.

15 - Finally, put the last layer of 1-1/2 oz matte in place and wet completely.
 Demold the original specimen once the rubber and mother mold have fully cured.

16 - Demold the original specimen once the rubber and mother mold have fully cured.
 The casting will be made with an outer shell of resin backfilled with an expanding urethane foam. First, Smooth-Cast® 320 is mixed and poured into the mold.

17 - The casting will be made with an outer shell of resin backfilled with an expanding urethane foam. First, Smooth-Cast® 320 is mixed and poured into the mold.
 The  mold is then rotated by hand, allowing the Smooth-Cast® 320 to evenly coat the entire surface of the mold while curing.

18 - The mold is then rotated by hand, allowing the Smooth-Cast® 320 to evenly coat the entire surface of the mold while curing.
 Once the Smooth-Cast® 320 has cured (approximately 10 minutes), Foam-iT!® 5 expanding urethane foam is poured into the cavity.  This rigid foam expands 10 times its original volume, making castings lightweight and cost effective with great durability.

19 - Once the Smooth-Cast® 320 has cured (approximately 10 minutes), Foam-iT!® 5 expanding urethane foam is poured into the cavity. This rigid foam expands 10 times its original volume, making castings lightweight and cost effective with great durability.
 Thoroughly clean any mold release from the reproduction with acetone.

20 - Thoroughly clean any mold release from the reproduction with acetone.
 Casting is ready to be primed and painted.

21 - Casting is ready to be primed and painted.
 Finished piece is an exact replica of the original specimen.

22 - Finished piece is an exact replica of the original specimen.
 Snapping turtle (upper left), alligator eggs (center) and alligator were all cast in Smooth-On products.  This award-winning display was created for The World Taxidermy Championships.

23 - Snapping turtle (upper left), alligator eggs (center) and alligator were all cast in Smooth-On products. This award-winning display was created for The World Taxidermy Championships.

                   
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