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.
Tag Archives: Mold
Oh, it was a gray and rainy old day today! It’s always a treat to arrive at the studio to spend time with my companions, though, no matter what it’s like outside. It was warm and bright indoors around the big table, although I felt less industrious today than last time. I continued to work on my conical bird house, trimming it a bit to make it perfectly upright. I also cut out a round of clay that I will insert next week after it dries a little. It will become a platform for nesting. Next week, after I place it, I will make horizontal scratches up to the hole I’ll cut and this will be the ‘ladder’ the fledglings will climb when they’re ready to leave the nest. Now, I have to research how big I want the hole to be, then factor in shrinkage rates and cut it. I also want to consider a squirrel-proofing addition. The photo above doesn’t show much yet, as the cone is covered with damp paper and plastic, but it is slowly taking shape. I also made a pattern and cut out the lid, but it will have to dry for a week before I create the low, squat conical shape and stuff it with newspapers to dry. A tile had come out of the kiln and while it has its charms, I am not perfectly satisfied with it. Because the white clay I use turns light gray when fired, I covered the whole thing with bright white underglaze, then Shino. I adore Shino and it was the perfect way to allow the glaze to show its stuff. The tile has a lot of texture, so there’s nice variation. I had some underglaze problems, so will be doing another. Pauline gave me some good ideas about how to prevent them the next time. Then, I checked on some things I have in the damp room. I mentioned I’ve made a mold of an escutcheon tile. Well, it’s drying nicely and soon I’m going to be able to start experimenting with small tiles made from it. You can see the vine and berries clearly through the cornstarch used to prevent the clay from sticking to the tile I molded it from. I want to hang things from the keyhole, as a decorative effect and have one skeleton key so far. Not much, as I don’t want to overdo it. The piece must stand on its own. Next, I checked on my little olive oil lamps, the design of which was inspired by Roman and Parthian lamps. I can’t wait to fire these little guys up to see how they work. I’ll probably make others that will be replicas of actual lamps, but I want to test them first. I already have my wicking at hand. The lamps are leather hard now, so I uncovered them in the damp room and will be able to fire them soon as they’re quite small. I will only glaze the bottom portion…clear glaze over the burgundy and turquoise glaze. These colors should look nice against the dark terra cotta. I made some house numbers with the turquoise and red clay and it’s quite nice together. And, lastly, my sheaf of wheat tile… It has been drying, uncovered, but I want to hurry the process a little because it’s starting to drive me a little nuts. (Patience!) After this tile is fired, I will mold it, too. I have some plans… One thing I’d like to do with one tile is to write around the edge, line-for-line, in cursive style with my new Kemper pen, which I have yet to use. Better start practicing… I won’t be able to do it till I’ve bisqued a tile from the mold I’m to make. So, to hasten things, I set it on a plaster mold and will let the remaining moisture wick from it till I can get to it again. Over the week, till I head back to the studio, I have some ideas I want to start working on at home with the red and white clay I have here. The tile looks a little ratty in this photo, what with mold and paper towelling stuck to it, but the mold is actually a sign that I’m using good clay and it and the paper will burn off just fine. I let it dry very slowly because I didn’t want the small bits to crack and it worked out well; everything’s intact. Phew. All’s well that end’s well.
Several years ago, my friend Jennifer and I made molds of our faces. Later, I used my mold to create my Green Man/Woman relief tile. I am going to be using the mold again soon for a mask. It was very easy to make. I’d heard horror stories of people needing to place straws in nostrils and lengthy drying times, but I experienced neither and you wouldn’t have to, either. What you will need to get is rolls of plaster bandaging. If you’ve ever broken an arm or a leg, it’s the same kind of bandaging with which your doctor made your cast. You can buy rolls of it at medical supply stores. I bought 2″ wide bandaging. If you can’t find a store that has it, you can buy it online. I made a mold of my own face, too, but you might find it easier to have someone make your mold for you, at least the first time. Steps to make your mold:
- Cut the plaster gauze into 4″ strips.
- Tie your hair back. No hair can be on your face.
- Spread a thin coat of petroleum jelly or eco-alternative on the face, under the chin, and jaw line. This will allow easy removal.
- Lay several towels down and have the person you’re molding lie down on them.
- Place a bowl of water and your stack of plaster strips next to them.
- Now, working quickly, fully immerse a strip, pull it out, then remove excess water by running it through two fingers, like with the wringers on an old washing machine.
- Place the strip on the forehead, smoothing out any creases in the bandaging.
- Immediately immerse the next strip and continue, overlapping strips. I wanted a sturdy mold and had two layers over the entirety.
- Work down the whole face.
- When you cover the eyes, make sure you gently follow all the contours, making full contact with the skin.
- When you work on the nose, leave the full nostril area open, so there’s about a half-inch gap with nostrils fully exposed.
- Work your way down till you are just under the rim of the jaw and chin.
- Now, leave it dry. Warn the person that it will become warm…it’s not too hot and feels relaxing.
- You’ll be able to tell when it’s set. Once it’s set, work around the edges with your fingers, then lift off.
- Have sink, soap and towel nearby so your friend can wash off his or her face.
- Wipe Vaseline off the inside of the mold with a soft rag.
- Voila! I used mine for molding clay, but I decorated it, too, so when I’m not using it, I can hang it on a wall for decoration. I usually sew twigs and leaves around it.
This week at the studio, Otto talked about having made slip to use in plaster molds. A little piece he’d slip cast was on the work table when I came in. It’s been so long since I’d done any slip casting, it made me wonder what the ratio of clay to water should be, how it is made smooth enough to pour, etc. So, I found a couple of articles to share that concentrate on these aspects and more. I think the last time I did slip casting was with my Mom’s friend Nancy when I was seven or eight! Maybe it’s time to give her a whirl. Slip casting is a good article covering the process from start to finish and includes formulas. Basically, the ingredients consist of clay in dry form, water, water glass (sodium silicate). I’m a fan of allexperts.com and found some good information from one of their ceramic experts. He said, “any clay can be turned into a slip. Cut the wet clay up into small pieces and let it dry out completely. Put the dry pieces in a container and add water until it just covers the dry clay. let it sit, do not stir, you will be able to see the clay disintegrating as it absorbs the water. Within a few hours it will be ready, next day is better, mix up and use.” This is exactly what I wanted to know and I have some pieces I never bisqued for one reason or another. So, I think I’ll just break them up and follow Sam’s advice. Here is another site that gives good basic information. It is not an in-depth article, but covers the process of slip casting rather well. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the article, though, in terms of the length of time needed to mold a piece, because these articles have conflicting advice and I don’t know what to believe. Another article suggests 20-40 minutes, whereas the ‘another site’ article above says eight hours or longer, depending on the size. That sounds like an awfully long time. I guess I’ll just have to experiment and follow-up with Otto. I like the idea of slip casting something, then altering it to make it more of my own. Since a piece is leather hard when unmolded, I would still have the time to make changes. This video below on “Clay for the Slip Casting Process” gives more depth. Based on what this ceramist says, I would have to add a deflocculant like water glass or soda ash to make slip the right consistency. Also, I have to consider whether the clays I’m considering using are appropriate, a white and a red clay. According to the video, porcelain is a good choice. Because there are many questions still unanswered, I am going to have to ask the centre’s artist-in-residence more about slip casting to get a better idea and I will report what she says at a later time.