Smiling Stop Motion Gods: More Gel Water Experiments

(Please note: when you receive your water gel sample, please use standard safety measures and do not heat it or eat it. I don't wear gloves with it myself but I do wash my hands before I eat just in case. There's no labeling whatsoever, no ingredients listed, it's made in China, use at your own risk. Thank you.)

Packages of gel water samples* are being readied to mail out tomorrow. Let me know if you'd like some, if you haven't already. I've got enough to share. *Some have asked about a trade/pay back. You know what mama want. FISH!!! for the underwater scene. (See details in sidebar>>>>scroll down a bit.)

Some new findings about the material today:

The gel water tints beautifully as long as you use a transparent dye. I used a drop or two from an old bottle of Marshall's photo color to get this watery aqua blue, but one could easily choose red for wine instead, etc.

I added a several sizes of holeless glass beads to the tinted sample to see if boiling water bubbles could be animated. They can. I also found that organic air bubbles can be easily pressed out, if in the way. Gel water can be as crystal clear or as bubbly as one could wish.

I found that the gel can be sculpted with a push mold technique. Here you see a blob after being easily removed (!) from the Ultracal mold of Kyra, the mermaid's sculpt! If you ever wanted to have a face appear in (by reversing the slump/fade away) or disappear into a body of water, this is your stuff. I was wondering how I could get a face to appear for a moment on the surface of water in Rana's water barrel! If one wanted a little life in the water face, there's a little time to move the mouth or eyes as the impression slowly fades away.

It also makes stable controllable stop motion tears, seen here on the sculpt for Rana, the goat woman. Much easier to animate than glycerine I imagine and will leave no trace on your puppet unless you want to paint one in water.

I experimented with chilling the gel water to see if it being cool made it more firm and it does. It might be useful to have a can of freezing spray on hand to cool the material if animating thin streams you want to hold for more than a frame or two. I also tried freezing the material all the way in the freezer with surprising results.

It becomes rock hard and also changes the opacity to something like the frost of beach glass as it thaws back out. The consistency also changes after fully thawing out again. It no longer sculpts/blends, becoming firmer and more rubbery instead. I'm suggesting that if one were to push the room temp gel into a sturdy push mold, freeze it hard in the mold, then demold and let return to room temp, you'd have a semi-transparent stable prop in any color you'd want--oh yeah--that BOUNCES!

UPDATE: Here's who got GW samples mailed out to them today (Friday):

1 Nick H - Australia
2 Mike B - Illinois
3 Rich J - Canada
4 Emmy B - Canada
5 DJ D - Canada
6 John H - Hawaii
7 Jeffery R - Louisiana
8 Yuji K - California
9 Mike LaT - Wisconsin
10 Jessica K - Germany
11 Stephanie D - Canada (unasked, but I wanted to)

Here's who has packets ready but on hold until...:

12 Yaz S-A - Turkey (waiting until she's home)
13 Sven B - Oregon (unasked, but I'm going to anyway)
14 Brian P - ? (waiting for an address - email me Prosser!)
15 Katie - Somewhere in Australia (waiting for an address - email me Katie!)

Anyone else like some?

Thanks so much to everyone for the incredible fish they've already made for Halfland and for those working on making one now! These are the most wonderful marvelous things and will make the underwater scene a total RIOT! Can you imagine all the great critters doing their thing under the water?! I'm hoping to crowd the little ocean floor set with all your creativity!! So great.


  1. That is absolutely amazing! Ok, one sea creature on the way!

    I'd like to provide a public service though and dispel a rather tenacious myth. Water is not blue, water is clear. Well, unless it's from a toilet tank filled with blue sanitizer, or it can be green if it's from a pool filled with chlorine, or a pond filled with algae.

    The reason people think water is blue is because large bodies of water tend to reflect the sky. Pools are often painted or tiled in blue to mimic this effect. Well, that and children go for the blue crayon because it's much harder to draw transparent water!

  2. Hooray, I already made up your pack.

    And thanks for the public service announcement because seriously? that's really interesting. I always think/feel water as blue?!

    Now wait, you mean to say that the ocean blues are only appearing blue from reflecting the sky? That's such a great illusion because the ocean blues seem so much richer/darker than the sky ever is! And the incredible aquamarine, my favorite color, and the pale wonderful aqua? And how is it that the ocean colors are varying, surface undulation refraction? All sky reflection? Amazing.

    Still gonna use my "blue crayon" though.

  3. Shelley, do you still have my address? I'd like a packet of water :)

    I'm gonna work on getting you that puffer fish i promised as well!

  4. Anonymous6:12 AM

    Very cool! Love seeing how you use this in your past posts.. What sort of fish are you after?

  5. Shelley, vaoww a lot of things happening there in Halfland. I was not able to check out your blog just for couple of days while I was travelling and there are already 3 posts with all the comments. Great progress on water material. What you did with the material looks absolutely amazing!!! I LOVE the tear drop and I can see her crying real!

    I would really love to get a pack of gel water. I dont think I can find that material here in Turkey. Is that possible for you to send me one inside that package you were going to send? I am still travelling and hopefully I will be back around July 20th. I will let you know as soon as I am home.

  6. Looks like someone is having way too much fun with the gel, lol.....Or shall we call it learning! Now you can see why the kids love it so much. Have you found out if it dries yet? I'd love some to use as juices in jugs, but would need it to dry:) Although some little jars with the bubbly stuff would look cool, too!

    I will email you this weekend with more details:)

  7. Really nifty! You even made little cards for each letter - how cute is that haha. So the only thing I could find that came close to your gel water is:

    It's the only product from the only distributor I found that resembled yours and was still in stock. Not sure if it's the same - comes from the UK.

    It was one of the first things I found while searching though so I'm almost positive you've seen it as well... but best to be sure right?

    Once I finish my task at hand there are a few Targets around here that shall be plundered. The tinting is plain awesome. Thanks for these posts Shelley!

  8. this is fun stuff. Can't wait to try it. I would love to make you a fish for hafland. i'll have to think of something..

  9. ooo I thought of somehting. half land fish coming soon to you! Oye!

  10. HI, Yes, Mike LeT, Already got you a pack made up, it'll mail next Wednesday. Any fish most welcome, gotta fill that sea scene with goodies from everyone!

    Katie, absolutely great for miniatures and goes completely dry if you freeze and then let thaw all the way back out. You'll LOVE IT! Be sure to include a mailing address in your email to me so I can send it.

    Yaz, of course, you gel water is already in a pile for your package! D'uh! (American for "of course, silly!")

    Yes, that could be the same stuff, Tony, I just can't tell w/o seeing. So.... you want a sample? You know what to do>> addy for a fish ransom.

    Hi, nyx creations, ANY KIND OF FISH!!! I have received happily everything from professional animation puppets to pipe cleaner shapes from children! Nothing turned away! I want the scene to be filled with fish from all over the world, all kinds of artists, everyone joining in!!!

    If you mean what should the fish creature be? That's something anyone can imagine for themselves. Ideally something that is a pun, like "tiger" shark" that is a fish that looks somehow also like a tiger, etc., that sort of fun.

    It can be made in any manner and any material, it just should be smallish, about 4 inches long or so. A little larger perfectly ok, just not huge.

    It could be paper, fabric, rubber, foam, metal, anything!

    Thank you for asking. Would you like to try some gel water too?

    Your pack mails today, Rich J. Please let me know when you get it so I can gauge how long it takes. Loads going to Canada!

  11. Oooooo, can't wait, Rich! Thanks so much!

    Mike LaTendre yours went out today, I forgot I'd already made your pack. I had the wrong zip code but the po person corrected it for me.

  12. Hmmm... well, it's possible that water, like air, is slightly tinted blue, but it only shows up in large quantities.

    I hope your drinking water there in LA isn't blue!!!

    You're right, in large bodies like oceans or lakes, it does appear blue, maybe more than can be accounted for by mere reflection. But streams still look completely transparent to me. I don't know about any rivers near you, but the Mississippi looks... um... brown!! But then that's why it's called the Muddy Mississip. A kind of stupid abbreviation, since for such a ridiculously long word it only cuts off the last 2 letters/1 syllable!!

    I can still remember the AHA moment for me... I used to draw water blue (and wondered why it always looked so WRONG!!) until one day I saw a painting (actually a page from a graphic novel called Tell Me Dark) by Kent Williams featuring tapwater running into a sink, and I think he must have taken a digital pic or maybe recorded some video and drawn from that reference, because he perfectly captured the transparency without the slightest hint of blue... he used only greys. It forever changed the way I think of water visually. But for oceans or lakes, yes, bust out the blue crayon!!

  13. Ok, you inspired a bout of Googulation....

    "That cool, refreshing glass of water on a hot day may appear colorless, but water is actually a faint blue color. The blue color becomes visible when we look down into, or through, a large volume of water......

    It is often easier to appreciate water’s intrinsic blue when looking at large bodies of water, such as lakes, seas and oceans, when we are able to observe how sunlight changes color as it travels through a significant depth of water. When circumstances eliminate the reflection of blue skylight, it may be possible to observe that water is not entirely colorless."

    Found here:

    So you've "deepened" (ahem!) my understanding of the subject!! But for small amounts like teacups or teardrops or even streams, transparent will look much more believable.

    This has been a Public Service Announcement.

  14. Damn, 3 posts in a row....


    This is why transparent casting resins are referred to as "water clear".

  15. Yes! Now that explains it perfectly. Thanks for that Googlation, Mike.

    (I want to make sure that you knew that I knew the water was NOT the aqua color I made in the photo above! I was only testing how to best tint the gel. You know I hope that I know that a droplette of water would be colorless.)

    I love your AHA story about discovering (ahem!) "clarity" overtly! Really helpful.

  16. I *was* a little afraid you might have bright blue teardrops trickling down Rana's face... which would work if she wore eyeshadow I suppose!!

    I THOUGHT you would know better... you do have that artistic subtlety that shows in everything you do, but I'm also aware of the pervasive power of certain myths like the BLUE WATER mythos. It can make otherwise subtle artists do crazy things I tell ya!!!

    Now... on to a discussion of PARALLAX ERROR and why grass is always greener in someone else's yard.... ;)

  17. Tooooo fun my friend. I can't imagine what I would do with it in my world, but I find it fasinating, and see what kids like about it. You are so creative.
    Have a blessed day!
    Marcie HON

  18. Shelley, thank you so much!!! It will be a lot of fun experimenting water effect with that gel. By the way, I love the word "D'uh!" :))) Best,

  19. Whew, glad we got that straight, Mike! no, no, the blue was just a speramint.

    Thanks, Marcie. This stuff becomes interesting as a material that makes animating water easy. I'm just so glad I thought that it was worth a buck to check it out!

    Hi, Yaz, hee. fyi; when one says "D'uh!" it has the "uh" part trail off flatly, and drop your mouth open and leave it there a second, as if you are pretending to be dumb. And you make it sound like a question that you're annoyed about at the end, like this:



  20. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Shelley, I would love some water gel!! Is there any left?

  21. Dear Peggy, D'uh!

    But maybe you'll come `n git it. (!) If not, I'll mail it to you when you're back.

  22. Okiii.. studying the prononciation. Probably making it so funny.. You know how these kind of words sound funny when told by a foreigner :)) Thanks for the deetaaaiilleed explanation. Also, I have just seen your reply to Peggy. So, seeing the word used again. Yep, got it!!

    By the way, your new pic looks great! Stopmo Marilyn of Halfland:))

  23. Wow, thanks Shelley!

    And you will receive a sea critter... just taking a *very* long time! But kind of appropriate once you see what it is ;)

  24. Woo, Emmy! Hmmmm, what could it be? "taking a very long time" that belongs in the sea... what could it be? Fun!

  25. Yaz, I want to hear you say D'uh sometime! If you ever post a video of yourself showing something on your blog,maybe you could throw one in there for me!

    (thanks about the picture. It helps to have pro photographer, make up and lighting, eh?!)

  26. Yep, will do after I am back home Then we will all laugh loud :)))

  27. I got my packet today Shell and oh-sweet-jesus I'm in love :) This stuff is incredible! Thanks so much!! (I can't wait to test-animate it!!)

  28. Now that's the kind of reaction I was after, Jeffery! woo!

    I can't wait to see what you do with it too!

    add'l info I've found:

    Double zip lock bag it, or better yet, keep it in a small airtight container when not in use. It dries out to hard candy-like stuff if left out in the air for more than a few hours.

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