Archive | Moldmaking

Another mold-making trick with Legos


I have written before about using Legos to make mold boxes. I’ve also used them to construct a platform to increase the depth of my mold boards. More recently, I found that I could use them extend the length of my mold boards to accommodate a sculpture that was a little too long. In this case, I was making a plaster waste mold of an clay sculpture. The sculpture was done many years ago in a very soft plasteline clay that had a low melting point, so it has been taking up space in the small dorm fridge sitting under my workbench. I wanted to free up that space, but I could not bring myself to just toss it. Making a waste mold was a way of saving the work, while also transferring the sculpture to a medium (in this case, ceramic greenware) that I like well enough that I might one day finish it.

With so many other ongoing (and late-running) projects, I was not willing to spend a whole lot of time. I certainly was not willing to have my husband make a larger set of mold boards just to fit this one piece. And really, I just needed a few more inches to make it work. That is when I realized I could create the inserts using Legos.


I did have to raid my husband’s workshop to get clamps that could span the distance. The larger clamps also gripped the boards low enough that corner was stable. (The larger clamp to right of the top picture was better for this, since it was deep enough to reach almost to the bottom.) The inserts were not quite as stable as a one piece board, so care had to be taken when I began to clay up the sculpture. But for a quick and inexpensive way to stretch the use of existing mold boards, it worked really well.

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Finishing up the Elsie molds

In the last post, I had pictures of the first large side of the head mold being made. I thought it might be helpful to show the next few steps, since they might not be obvious.

These pictures might be a little confusing, though, because I normally make two copies of each mold. This one is the second copy of the mold, and the other pictures are of the making of the first copy. As I mentioned before, after I made the first mold of her head I decided to reverse the order that I poured the sides.

Elsie’s head mold has three sides: left, right and a gusset. The gusset piece runs from between her ears (like a typical hat piece) down her face and up under her mouth. That piece is designed to break so that the final mold actually has four pieces, but it pours in three. The gusset is the first to pour, and it can be seen in that first picture of the clay barrier. The second piece there is the left side of the face, but for the picture above the second pour was the right side of the face. The left side is the third and last pour.

In this picture above I have already used a planer to clean up the edges so the head can be boxed and the last side poured. Since it is a relatively small mold, I’ve used Legos. I still had to use clay on the right-hand side of the mold since I am going to be pouring directly into the opening at her neck. Since that cut is not straight (making an uneven cut helps to “key” the pieces back together properly), that side cannot be level and must be shaped with plastelina.

Here is the second mold after it was removed from the Lego box. I haven’t yet used the planing tool (left) to level out the other sides of the mold. The top of the mold will still slope along the line of the neck opening, but I will clean up as much of that as possible. It might seem like an unnecessary step, but leveling the sides makes it much easier to stack the molds in the storage cabinet, and it makes it a lot less likely that the corners will get chipped.

Here are all three of Elsie’s finished production molds. As you can see, the head mold (top left) is all cleaned and planed. The smaller mold to the right is her tail, and the large mold on the bottom is her body. All totaled, it takes 19 mold pieces to make her. All together, her molds weigh just over 30 lbs. when still damp.

Now all that is left is the waiting. It will take 2-3 weeks, depending on the weather, before the head and body molds are dry enough to use. That’s when I will know if this set works.

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