My travel plans this year pretty much rule out the possibility of working on Wrecked at the Weidner again. So I decided to create a new femur prosthetic for the production crew as a parting gift.
A Durable and Reusable Prosthetic
My original piece consisted of a chopped up plastic prop bone and layers of tissue, latex, and paint. It probably would not have survived another season of use. This time around, I wanted to build a tougher prosthetic that would last at least 3 or 4 years.
Instead of a prop bone, I chopped up a piece of PVC pipe. I discovered that if I use my miter saw in short bursts and rotate the pipe, it would chip the pipe and not look like such a clean cut. This time, I cut the other ends at very shallow, 10 degree angles, so that the protrusion would look a lot more realistic.
I set the bone in thick layers of silicone. Using a Popsicle stick, I striated the top layers of silicone so as to resemble muscle tissue. In between the two bone fragments, I injected some spray foam to resemble bone marrow. The foam also serves the dual purpose of knitting the two heavy PVC pieces together so the prosthetic is less likely to tear.
Painting with Silicone
They say that only silicone will stick to silicone. I’m pretty far removed from my college chemistry education, so I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I heeded the advice of my predecessors and decided to learn how to paint silicone without going nutty.
Suffice to say, it was difficult. My approach was to mix varying ratios of Naphtha and clear silicone caulk with a healthy amount of acrylic paint. As I’ve come to learn works best, I painted in layers, using slightly different shades of color and varying levels of viscosity in order to create depth and texture.
The first several coats did not cooperate and did little to add color to the prosthetic. But sort of by dumb luck, the first few layers of paint on the bone interacted with each other in such a way that they created a marbling effect, and the bones do look like the bones I occasionally pick up for Remy from the deli.
For the final layer, I did a thin wash of Naphtha and silicone, coupled with my go-to, PermaBlood. Although this prosthetic was touch-and-go in the early stages, I think it came together pretty nicely in the end. I’m holding my head high on this project.