Tag Archives: Mold Making

Making quick-drying molds of ceramic tiles

Making molds of my ceramic tiles enables me to produce tiles in quantity. I’m using one bisque-fired mold and three more are drying. That’s the problem…they take so darned long to dry. These molds are made of white clay and they are very durable. At least so far. Several times, I’ve even placed a slab on the floor and stood on the mold to make sure I get a deep impression. I don’t want to push my luck, though. The molds I’ve made are very thick and need controlled drying to prevent warping. While I wait, the molds grow moldy. It’s a sign of good clay, good organic matter. However, it isn’t safe to be around mold, to breathe in the spores. Now and then, as they dry, I quickly rinse them to remove the mold. I’m thinking of spraying them with some type of solution to actually kill the mold, but will have to look into whether that will affect the clay. This site is a good start and it suggests using vinegar. And I’m also considering other forms of molding. If I’d molded these tiles out of a material that dried more quickly, I would have more tiles in my inventory at this point. Time is important, as I became ill and got behind in my studio time. So, I’ve started investigating mold-making. I came across a tremendous site, very comprehensive, called Mold Casting Tips. The site recommends that “when casting molds, Pottery Plaster #1 is best because the particle sizes are small and will capture detail the best.” Given this advice, I looked up a site called Sculpture Supply Canada and found this product: USG No. 1 Pottery Plaster. The product is described as the industry standard, “noted for outstanding performance and long life.” It sounds like this is something that could work well for me and I’m going to look into it. I’ll check to see if our local supply house has it, The Green Barn, in Langley, because I don’t relish having to pay postage on a 50-pound sack of plaster. I did find very specific instructions for working with this product at a U.S. site, The Compleat Sculptor. Info about the plaster includes technical properties, general directions and guidelines on use and storage. Click here to be directed to the page. I must also choose a different material to prevent the clay from sticking to my molds. Thus far, I’ve used cornstarch but don’t really like using it because it seems to accelerate mold growth. I would rather find something inert. I’ve heard my friend Joan say she uses talc and I’ll have to ask her more about that. For now, I’m just happy I’ve found a durable, quick-drying material for making molds, Pottery Plaster # 1.

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Filed under Articles and Interviews, How-to-do-it, My Work

Sid Dickens and his incredible Memory Blocks

I’m taking a road less travelled today to introduce you to a Vancouver artist whose work is informed by the classics, science, art history, research, curiosity, and poetic vision. Sid Dickens’ Memory Blocks are not made of clay, but of beautifully decorated plaster tiles. They are quite thick and I like that…they have substance. Exquisite designs, soulful execution. Highly unique. Dickens, 48, is originally from Prince Rupert, B.C., according to Beladagio. “Until the age of 28 he worked as a commercial fisherman,” according to what must be an earlier site. “Off-season, he served burgers on the ferries and dedicated his spare time to drawing and painting.” Dickens attended Vancouver’s Emily Carr College of Art and design, now a university, was inspired by works he saw in Europe and later learned bronze-casting in Mexico at the Instituo De Allende in San Miguel. He opened his first studio in 1984, then built a studio retreat on Haida Gwaii. In ’91 he opened a studio in Gastown, the oldest area in Vancouver, along the waterfront. The Beladagio site quotes Dickens, who said, “Originally, I created large panels with many elements.” His ideas evolved and he began to work on a smaller scale. His site says his tiles are “hand crafted plaster, 6″ x 8″ x 1 1/4″, finished to a porcelain-like quality, cracked to create an aged look and feel.” He has a studio in Vancouver, employees a team of about 30 emerging artists, according to the site, Sid Dickens Timeless Collectibles, which features some of the artisans involved. Click here to see some photos of the blocks being made and some information about them. Dickens’ current studio in Vancouver is not open to the public, but the memory blocks can be found in many locations or purchased online. I see that there is a retailer in my town that carries his work, so soon I hope to pop on over and see them in person. The tiles can be mixed and matched to suit your tastes and there is a wide variety of themes. The Memory Blocks have an aged, antique look, and I think they are exquisite. Photos are copyrighted, so I cannot show them to you here, but here is the link to his online catalog of works. I saw an earlier version of his website some time last year, the first time I learned of him. I felt a bit put off by the new site because not all of it is accessible unless you ‘join.’ I like free and easy access to information and while I understand that he and his work are enjoying increasing visibility and popularity, it smacks of exclusiveness. In the end this matters little because the work is what counts. I will leave it to you to explore his site and possibly find a retailer that carries Memory Blocks in your area. One of my new favorites is one from a line out this spring and it is called Winged Sage. It is quite lovely and retails for $92.00 CDN. So many forms of art emerge from Dickens’ work, all of which he designs himself. When you gaze upon one of his tiles it evokes many feelings, senses, and memories. One appreciates the beauty, the artistry, and the subjects portrayed. It is so nice to know such beautiful work is being made so close to home, in Vancouver.

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Video: How to use a rectangular drape mold for clay

Yesterday, I talked about draping clay and listed a few mold sources. After that, I became more curious about how to use the molds because I am going to be using molds for an upcoming project. I found a video that shows how to use a rectangular mold. The artist, Dale Baucum of Baucum Pottery in Tennessee, appears to also be advertising clay tools, but the ad plug isn’t intrusive and it is an excellent how-to video.

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