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RE: Sculptor inquiry

If you really want a heavy duty sculpting medium, you can't beat plumber's
epoxy putty, such as Propoxy 20 or Ace Plumber's Epoxy Putty.  It is a two
part epoxy putty/metal powder mixture.  It isn't the cheapest medium around,
but you can buy the little tubes of it by the dozen on line.  Intended for
repairing metal pipes, plumber's epoxy putty sticks aggressively to just
about anything, and will bond tenaciously to your wire armature.  It would
be an ideal medium for making delicate structures that must be strong.  

Plumber's epoxy putty sets up REALLY fast, so I would advise you to mix it
up in small batches.  Fortunately, once set it can be sawed, filed, ground
down, drilled and added onto, so you will be able to "erase" your mistakes
with some effort.  Some people use this material to beef up a wire armature
prior to more refined work with Super Sculpey or the like.  It will stick to
fingers, so I always wear rubber gloves when I use it.

A basic epoxy putty such as Magic-Sculp (popular with sculptors and
taxidermists), though not as durable as the metal-filled plumber's epoxy
putty, may prove to be less expensive for building up larger forms, and
somewhat easier to work with on those areas that require special care with
respect to texture.  Magic Smooth is a Vaseline consistency (gel coat) epoxy
that could be used as a glue or as a filler for hairline cracks.  

When using epoxies, as with any manufactured chemicals that smell bad, I
would strongly advise wearing rubber gloves, working in a well-ventilated
area -- such as outside -- and wearing a respirator if the ventilation is
inadequate.  In fact, even with good air flow, wearing a respirator would
still be a good idea, especially if you are going to be using this material
for any length of time.  Although epoxy is relatively innocuous, it may
trigger undesirable reactions, such as rashes, with repeated exposure.  Dino
Guy says: "Play it safe, kids!"           

Dino Guy Ralph
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
Dinosaur and Fossil Education
Member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology