A reader named Kal wrote me this the other day:
"matt- i have been making costumes for a very short time now and have basically sticking to the plain-jane fabric emblems. you are the first person i have seen to show you made your costumes with molded emblems that YOU made instead of store bought. this has peeked my intrest of how to make my own. i understand that you identified the products you used but how did you make the casting molds. please any help you have would be fantastic. i am especially interested in the superman chest piece.
most of my questions are concerning did you carve your own mold or not. what casting materials are good. and so on. sorry to trouble you"
Where to start! First up, welcome to the madness, and thanks for taking the time to write. Always nice to know someone other than my mother is reading this blog :)
Ok, so lets start with the Superman Returns chest emblem. It sounds to me like your main question is regarding mold making. THAT I can help with. I even have a few blog posts that show the process I go through when doing it. But let me back up a little, and talk about products.
For making your own molds, there's really only a few things you need. Your main component is silicon mold making compound, or RTV. I get mine from Silpak. They have a VERY lame website, so your best bet might be to call them. I use their 1328 A/B product, though I buy the fast kick catalyst, the blue stuff. This makes it cure a little faster, but also makes the mold life shorter.
You also need a mold release. This is stuff you spray onto the thing you are molding to ensure that the rubber does not stick to it. You also spray it directly into the mold before pulling out a copy. It is also used as a barrier if you are making a two part mold.I use Ease Release 200 from Smooth-On. It's basically a spray on vaseline.
So those are the key components to building a mold. The actual process of making a mold is a little complex, but the good news is that I have covered it in previous blog posts. One REALLY important tool to getting high quality molds is a vacuum chamber. This will suck all of the air out of your rubber before pouring, and will lead to a bubble free mold. This means fewer imperfections in your pulls.
Here are some older blog posts that show some detail on the molds I made Superman Returns project:
Chest Emblem Mold
Sonic and Molding
A great post about putting together box for a dump mold.
Superman Returns Belt - Prepping For The Mold
And the actual pouring of the dump mold.
Superman Returns belt - Pouring The Mold
With all of that said, I don't have much to say about the actual creation of the chest emblem master, as I did not make it from scratch. It is in fact a production made chest emblem. It's the real deal. However, I'm pretty sure I understand the process they used to make it. If I had to guess, I would say that they sculpted the S-Shape, then vacuu-formed over it a sheet of styrene with the micro-s's laser etched into it.
Anyhow, that's all I've got for today. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I hope the molding information is of use.