Materials for sculpting a 3D custom design - on a motorcycle

So here’s a question I don’t think has been asked here before…

I want to customise my motorcycle (2009 Harley FXD), myself, on the cheap. Rather than just painting the tank and fenders, I’d like to make some sort of sculpted cover or shell so I can do some sculpting in 3D - I’m thinking maybe some HR Giger-style growths with the steel visible below.

What materials could I use? It has to be unaffected by water, sunlight, vibration, and heat from driving on sunny days, and hold paint well. I suppose it could be flexible, but not like fabric or leather as it has to hold its shape. Would be interesting if I could make it removable with hinges and build in a pocket. I’m thinking maybe there’s some epoxy or putty that would work.

Any tips or recommendations for materials that might work? I’m in Brazil, so supply might be a problem. Any suggestions on how I could do this without necessarily having to have the bike disassembled for a few days?


I don’t have direct experience, but it looks like could be your best bet. They have a wide variety of media to mix with the epoxy, and there are additives to adjust the time available before its sets up.

Once you get to the website, click on creating works of art. I think this will help you out. They’ll ship anywhere.

The right kind of leathercan hold its shape.

Thanks AskNott, that looks like a possibility. The site is very technical though, but reading around on other sites about sculpting with epoxy putty it looks doable.

MrDibble, you’re right of course. I just have no idea how to even get started making something like that or where to get decent raw materials here. I’ve seen some leather crafters here, but their sky-high prices for simple things such as belts (especially compared with the prices of things sculpted in epoxy resin or aluminium) suggest that there might be problems with supply of materials and tools. Will look into it a bit more.

Some others on another site have suggested fiberglass. Not sure how well it would withstand the vibration and whether it could be used for a removable design. Examples here. Acrylic was another suggestion - am looking into how malleable it is, to take the form of the tank.

Back when I was into sailboats, I read of people sculpting boat features out of epoxy mixed with a filler called microballoons. For example, if a sailor wanted a mounting pad for a bigger winch, he could build it out of epoxy and microballoons.

I’m not speaking from experience, though. You now know about as much as I do about it.

Weird, as Brazil and Argentina are amongst the biggest sources of (cow) leather worldwide.

Weird indeed. To get my leather motorcycle jackets, I ended up importing them from the US (originally Pakistan-made, I think) - even with shipping and 60% import duties, they were cheaper than the only two domestic alternatives I found, and had better features and probably better quality. There appears to be almost no domestic market (or at least very little domestic retail supply) for leather.

Not sure if this would work but people have used it on cars.