WORKING TECHNIQUES

How we work

Collecting information is the first step in the long process of making a scientiffically correct model. Our huge network of scientists and experts provides us with scientific papers, SEM pictures, photos, drawings and even access to real specimens.

 

Planning the production of the model is the next step. We break down the model in different elements and decide on sculpting and casting techniques. Deciding translucency and coloration needed to achieve the right look also has to be considered in this phase.

 

Most of our plankton models have a great deal of transparency. This means that we have to consider not only the surface shapes and textures - but also inner structures such as muscle tissue, inner organs and pigments. Each part has to be sculpted, cast and painted. So we literally build up the model from within - layer upon layer - like a Russian Babushka doll.

Years and years of tests and experiments have given us a huge library of tricks and techniques that we use to make our models outstanding. Thin sheets of vacuum formed plastic with subtle veining of cotton fibers, colored with crayons, brush and pencils. Plastic granulate, glass powder, PU foam pieces, sterling silver- and gold leaves are to be found on our strange alchemist list that make a piece of plastic look like something created by Mother Nature. 

 

Being able to cast micro structures is another skill that we have been refining for years. Our own alchemist Rasmus Frederiksen has developed revolutionary techniques and recipes that make him able to cast a cockroach in a one piece mould. Not only will every little segment of the antenna show in the cast, but also the small hairs between these segments are there - only visible in a microscope. But Rasmus does not stop there. He can swell the casts and make new moulds of the enlarged cast - thus being able to scale up microscopic details so they are visible to the naked eye. This way we can make our own very special and detailed bristles and hairy appendages needed to make our models just a little better.

Some times we need to go the opposite way - from big to small. Sculpting barbule-like structures with chemical clay and shrinking these three, four or six generations makes the sculpting so fine and tight that it looks like magic. Shrinking whole models this way helped us to reach the demand of German accuracy requested from the Natural History Museum in Stuttgart for a series of 1:1 Burgess Shale creatures. The finished models measured from 20 to 80 mm. But as we made the prototypes in 5:1, the small models had the same amount of details that we have on our bigger models.

 

Painting and weathering our models is the last but not the least important step in the process. It takes guts to "ruin" the delicate creations by adding scars, scratches, wounds and dirt. But nature is never neat. A subtle transparent wash and action painting finished with an airbrush "clean up" will breathe life into our models.

Examples