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Perfect Antler Reproductions Using A Reverse Molding Method

Accurately reproducing antlers is one of taxidermy's tougher challenges. Tony Breedlove of Wildlife Art Creations (Melrose, FL) has chronicled his innovative "Reverse Molding Method" (a cavity pour technique) that yields perfect antler castings everytime. This molding method is more time consuming than the conventional "cradle" technique, but once a rubber mold is made, it is much easier to work with.
 Prepare the piece by adhering it to base and spraying with a liberal coat of clear acrylic spray.

1 - Prepare the piece by adhering it to base and spraying with a liberal coat of clear acrylic spray.
 Protect the antlers by wrapping in aluminum foil.

2 - Protect the antlers by wrapping in aluminum foil.
 Roll sulfur free clay out into 3/8'' thickness.

3 - Roll sulfur free clay out into 3/8'' thickness.
 Create space for silicone rubber by applying clay over the entire surface of the antlers.

4 - Create space for silicone rubber by applying clay over the entire surface of the antlers.
 Build cardboard dams strategically to separate the mother mold pieces.  Apply paste wax to all surfaces.

5 - Build cardboard dams strategically to separate the mother mold pieces. Apply paste wax to all surfaces.
 Apply tooling gel-coat to the first piece to be molded. Fill in undercuts with thickened material.

6 - Apply tooling gel-coat to the first piece to be molded. Fill in undercuts with thickened material.
 Use fiberglass to strengthen mother mold sections. Allow each portion to set completely before continuing.

7 - Use fiberglass to strengthen mother mold sections. Allow each portion to set completely before continuing.
 Let all sections fully cure. Trim and smooth sharp edges. Drill 1/4'' holes in all flanges for bolts.

8 - Let all sections fully cure. Trim and smooth sharp edges. Drill 1/4'' holes in all flanges for bolts.
 Carefully remove the mother mold from antlers.  Do not remove antlers from the base.

9 - Carefully remove the mother mold from antlers. Do not remove antlers from the base.
 Carefully remove clay and aluminum foil from the antlers and mother mold.

10 - Carefully remove clay and aluminum foil from the antlers and mother mold.
 Using a paint brush, apply a thin coat of Mold Max 30 to the antlers. This helps reduce bubbles.

11 - Using a paint brush, apply a thin coat of Mold Max 30 to the antlers. This helps reduce bubbles.
 Wax all interior surfaces of mother mold pieces.  Re-assemble around silicone coated antlers. Tighten with wing nuts.

12 - Wax all interior surfaces of mother mold pieces. Re-assemble around silicone coated antlers. Tighten with wing nuts.
 Pour Mold Max 30 in a long thin stream into holes at top of mother mold.

13 - Pour Mold Max 30 in a long thin stream into holes at top of mother mold.
 After rubber is fully cured, remove the mother mold. Use a marker to draw seam lines on silicone in areas that need to be cut.

14 - After rubber is fully cured, remove the mother mold. Use a marker to draw seam lines on silicone in areas that need to be cut.
 Do not align the silicone seams with the mother mold seams. Rubber covering small tips or kickers will not have to be cut.

15 - Do not align the silicone seams with the mother mold seams. Rubber covering small tips or kickers will not have to be cut.
 Using a sharp scalpel to cut the silicone, gently pull the seam open from both sides as the cut is made. Completely remove rubber mold from antlers.

16 - Using a sharp scalpel to cut the silicone, gently pull the seam open from both sides as the cut is made. Completely remove rubber mold from antlers.
 Measure and mix Smooth-Cast 320 plastic and pour plastic into one side of the antlers, up to  the burr.

17 - Measure and mix Smooth-Cast 320 plastic and pour plastic into one side of the antlers, up to the burr.
 Gently roll mold to ensure that the mold tips are coated with plastic.  Repeat on other side.

18 - Gently roll mold to ensure that the mold tips are coated with plastic. Repeat on other side.
 Once both sides are poured, bolt the mother mold together securely at the center and pour the skull plate.

19 - Once both sides are poured, bolt the mother mold together securely at the center and pour the skull plate.
 After pouring the skull plate, allow the resin to fully cure for 45 - 60 minutes.

20 - After pouring the skull plate, allow the resin to fully cure for 45 - 60 minutes.
 Finish piece. Polytranspar and Lifetone paints were both used to create the natural antler colors.

21 - Finish piece. Polytranspar and Lifetone paints were both used to create the natural antler colors.

                   
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