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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.

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1 - This huge alligator snapper is a rare taxidermy specimen
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2 - Position the specimen on a piece of plywood. Leave ample working room around the edges.
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3 - Place specimen in freezer. Check and adjust frequently until desired position is achieved. Freeze solid.
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4 - Accelerate Mold Max® 30 with Fast Cat® 30. Rubber is applied in 3 layers to the bottom and all undercuts.
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5 - Repeat the 3-coat process on the topside.
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6 - Fill all cracks and depressions completely. You can use light air pressure to blow silicone into all the detail.
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7 - Add to thickness of mold. THI-VEX® thixotropic additive is used to thicken rubber.
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8 - Create an open mouth insert. First, apply release agent to the inside of the mouth and all surrounding silicone.
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9 - Fill mouth about half way with thickened rubber. Insert wooden peg and hold until rubber partially sets.
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10 - Fill remaining void in mouth with more accelerated rubber. Overlap the edges around lip line.
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11 - Determine the location of parting lines and build shims to separate the mother mold sections.
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12 - Apply two liberal coats of Mann Ease Release® 200 and Sonite Wax® to all surfaces.
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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.
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14 - Apply 10 ounce cloth and wet well with resin.
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15 - Finally, put the last layer of 1-1/2 oz matte in place and wet completely.
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16 - Demold the original specimen once the rubber and mother mold have fully cured.
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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.
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18 - The mold is then rotated by hand, allowing the Smooth-Cast® 320 to evenly coat the entire surface of the mold while curing.
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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.
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20 - Thoroughly clean any mold release from the reproduction with acetone.
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21 - Casting is ready to be primed and painted.
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22 - Finished piece is an exact replica of the original specimen.
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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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