9 thoughts on “Chinese new years Rat”

  1. Nice rat! I’m hoping to be able to do larger sculptures eventually. One thing I would like to add to your tips: If you’re using hot wire/knife ventilation is a must. From what I’ve read most foams do not give off toxic fumes, but you need to know what kind of foam you are using, because some do. And like you said, a well fitted face mask. I’m a fan of hot wire, because all those statically charged particles drive me nuts.

    • Mostly a lot of different sized wire brushes, and time/patience/elbow grease.
      There are different density Styrofoams available. The smaller the bead the harder the block. It’s easier to use the harder stuff for details.
      The tail is separated from the main piece though. We connected it once we installed it.
      I use the dry wall compound and sand it for that super smooth finish.

    • You really have the technique that works. I have never worked with styrofoam but my husband builds model airplanes for combat flying and he uses a hot wire to cut the wings perfectly. I can’t imagine using wire brushes to shape but obviously it works. And the smooth finish is perfect. I am so impressed!

    • Thanks!! It’s taken me years to figure out how to carve the stuff.
      I guess – tip wize – get a block of it cut to about the size you want your sculpture to be. Professional Construction supply companies sell it. Or take a bunch of Styrofoam and glue it together. Expanding foam works as glue, You can get sheets of insulation Styrofoam at most hardware stores.
      Draw what you want to make, vaguely, on the block – sharpies work.
      To carve, for large cuts – hot wires (might have to make one) chainsaws, grinders with wire disks, drills with wire bits. Disk and mouse sanders. It’s insanely messy. Use all of the protection – goggles, face visor, fitted masks. I usually make myself a plastic “room” if I’m doing something big.
      Clean as you go, or you will regret it

    • Thanks!
      Tip wise:
      1- there are a lot of different density foams available. The harder the foam the finer the details.
      2- wear all of the protective devices. The stuff gets statically charged and sticks to everything, Flys everywhere. Spraying water occasionally helps some. Fine mist spray bottle.
      3- work in a space where you can control the mess. Clean as you go.
      4- hot knives, hot wires are great, but I don’t like the fumes – probably toxic. I usually use all sorts of different saws – including chain saws, be careful with the electric devices- sometimes they get clogged with the foam particles.
      wire brushes of all sizes – these I use the most. Sometimes it’s a serious work out!
      5- sand the finished foam then coat the whole thing in the dry wall patch stuff. I sometimes use an “elastomeric” dry wall patch. Because it has some “give”
      Smooth it as much as possible before it drys. Then sand again.
      6- Wait until it’s totally dry before painting. I usually use acrylic interior house paint. The latex keeps it from cracking. Note that this will never be truly hard.
      7- on a side note. I’ve thought about coating it with paper mache, once roughly carved. I might try that next. I think it will help me achieve finer details. I’ll let you know what happens.


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