How to shatterproof a small ceramic figurine?
July 4, 2017 9:11 AM   Subscribe

I have a small ceramic miniature figure, about two inches across and an inch tall. It's not valuable, but it's perfect for one of our D&D monsters. But it's hollow porcelain and rather thin at that. Is there some way to make it more resistant to the rough-and-tumble life of tabletop?

(It's a silly-looking toad, if it matters, but for the humor it has to be THIS toad, because... long story, evil NPC got polymorphed, he looked just like this, etc)

The figurine is hollow, with a hole in the base. I was wondering, if I poured something inside it to fill it up-- epoxy? Plaster? wall-sealing foam? wood hardener (left over from my stump project which was sadly ruined when pest control tore out the stump because of carpenter ants) would that make it less apt to break if/when it inevitably gets knocked to the floor or has a book dropped on it by a clumsy player? Or what if I coat or seal it with something clear, some kind of epoxy or resin, that will turn it from eggshell fragile into rock-hard?

I'm fine with doing something permanent to it but I don't want to damage it or get it wrong, because I found this figure at a thrift store and have no idea where to get another one if I break it or mess up.
posted by Pastor of Muppets to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Fill with 2-part epoxy, seal with spray enamel (multiple light coats vs 1 heavy spray, test on something similar first)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:15 AM on July 4, 2017

Could you mold and cast it?
posted by zamboni at 9:35 AM on July 4, 2017 [10 favorites]

Two part epoxy is unforgiving and requires special safety equipment, or at least proper ventilation and proper gloves.

I would mix a thin amount of plaster of paris, stream it in. let it fully harden (this might take overnight) and never worry again.

I do suggest working with plaster of paris a few times so you understand how quickly it hardens. There are exteners you can use, but I wouldn't bother. Mix it thin, use a funnel with a thin tip, have a wet rag and a soft toothbrush ready to wipe off any excess spills before the mixture hardens anywhere on the outside, store the figurine safe upside down until it hardens. Enjoy your figure.

Make sure the mixture is thin enough to fill all crevasses and the nozzle on the funnel is thin enough, too. Be mindful of air bubbles. You might even go to a medical supply (I think Walmart and CVS carry these, too) and get a bunch of disposable wider gauge syringes to inject the thin mixture and help avoid air bubbles. A small tube on the end of the syringe might work. Prolly more trouble than just working with a thin mixture. You might have to go in stages if the figure has complicated limbs.

Plaster of paris is cheap. Play with it and see what you think, I think it's the charm. No special ventilation or other safety equipment required, unlike epoxy.
posted by jbenben at 9:36 AM on July 4, 2017

sexyrobot has it. Won't protect it from everything, but it's more likely to chip than shatter.
If you really want it to be indestructible, fill with epoxy or this, then encase in this polyester casting resin.
posted by H21 at 9:38 AM on July 4, 2017

Another thing you could fill it with is polymorph (or just buy polycaprolactone pellets in bulk on ebay). You just put the pellets in very hot water, wait until they go clear, then you have a soft, putty-like plastic you can pack into the figurine. When it sets, it's extremely hard. Much less smelly than epoxy.
posted by pipeski at 9:49 AM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fingernail polish is mineral spirit based resin. I would get some cheap fingernail polish like Hard as Nails and fill the interior and coat the exterior. Perhaps fill the interior in layered stages for drying rates. Easy to pour, minimal mess and expense.
posted by effluvia at 9:58 AM on July 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

You could also get a small specimen box and place it inside.

*hand wave* blah blah magic force-field..
posted by nickggully at 10:36 AM on July 4, 2017

Elmer's makes a two-part epoxy that's pretty user friendly, btw. That's what I'd use.
posted by mochapickle at 11:45 AM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Can you copy it? This sounds like a job for a 3D printer.
posted by thenormshow at 2:52 PM on July 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

You could encase it in a thin layer of translucent polymer clay, bake it (use aluminum foil to enclose it if you use your regular oven), and then apply a coat of polyurethane.
posted by acridrabbit at 6:05 PM on July 4, 2017

Zamboni has the best suggestion. You could look into Composimold to make the mold. Being able to have more than one will also be useful if you ever have more than one toad in the mix....
posted by jimw at 9:22 PM on July 4, 2017

3D scanner? There are services that'll scan your piece for you.
posted by at at 10:10 AM on July 5, 2017

« Older Please help me choose a futon! (back pain, camping...   |   How can I tame my wild hair? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.