Honey, I shrunk the pony!

I mentioned earlier that I’d been doing some experiments on the Celtic Pony medallion over the summer. Not only did the poor guy turn pirate, but he got shrunk! Now he’s tiny. Really, really tiny! The original medallion (the cream-colored one in the first photo) is around 3 1/4″ across. The little guy there is 7/8″ across.

There’s also an intermediate one between these two which measures 1 5/8″, but he needed another coat of glaze so he’s not pictured here.

I still need to experiment a bit more. The intermediate piece was slip-cast, and it took the detail beautifully. But then the slip we use is designed to capture really fine detail well. The smallest one, however, was press-molded with moist clay. I need a finer clay than the one I used, because the coarser clay just doesn’t pick up the detail as well. There is actually a lot more detail in the mold of the tiny piece than the finished one shows!

My goal with these was to be able to use these guys as jewelry components. Wouldn’t a group of the little ones there make a cute bracelet?


10 Responses to Honey, I shrunk the pony!

  1. Hyn September 22, 2007 at 5:06 pm #

    Hehehe, brilliant, Lesli! I love it! I think a whole string of them would make a nice necklace too – that’s an idea I wanted to use myself but is hardly original to me so go for it! I know that Joan joked about shrinking entire horse sculptures this way but that there were distortion issues. Still, it could be fun to play with all the same, making adjustments as needed to the greenware before firing, hrm? Keep up the creative work! It’s exciting stuff – and the shrunk down pony is sssssssooooo freak’n CUTE! Bottons for your coat, anyone? Ear rings? :}

    Paige Easley Patty
    Hanblechia Studio

  2. *melanie* earthenwood studio September 22, 2007 at 9:56 pm #

    Oh that looks great! The detail is amazing!

    Will you share how you managed such a great shrink, or is it top secret?

    Well done!

  3. Adalee September 22, 2007 at 11:10 pm #

    Oh my! That is *awesome*! Cool beans! Hey- if you are having clay issues, have you tried letting a puddle of slip harden a bit & pressing that in?

    Addi 🙂

    P.S. There’s something shiny going out to you from VA today!

  4. Lesli Kathman September 23, 2007 at 12:19 am #

    Oh, I have no secrets! 🙂 I’m not sure anyone wants to repeat what I did. I’m not sure I do!

    But I’m happy to tell what was done. I just kept pouring pieces in clay with a high shrink rate. I would clean them up and fire them, then seal the bisque with spray varnish and make a mold of the smaller bisque in rubber. Then I’d make a rubber positive and use that to make a plaster mold. That plaster mold would then be used to cast the next high-shrink bisque.

    I just kept repeating those steps, using the shrinkage to get smaller each time. It took a while – and it took a fair bit of rubber! But I use such small quantities when I make molds that it always goes bad before I use it up, so why not “waste” it on an experiment? 😀

  5. Lesli Kathman September 23, 2007 at 12:25 am #

    Hi Addi! Yes, I thought about trying that. One thing I liked about the moist clay, though, was that I could build up the back a little so it could be drilled. If I was smart, I would have increased the depth with each step so I didn’t end up with a bead too small to pierce.

    I suppose I could fill the mold with firmed-up slip, and then set a rod across and add more slip. I wonder if that would work, or if if the back would break when you tried to remove the rod? Hmmmm…

  6. Emily September 23, 2007 at 1:12 pm #

    Oh my gosh.. I want some as buttons!! How cute!

  7. *melanie* earthenwood studio September 23, 2007 at 9:31 pm #

    Ah yes, thank you! Very logical!

    It is similiar to a Wedgewood technique of shrinking, although I think they used clay or plaster instead of rubber, just shrinking it down again and again. I think that’s how the Wedgewood cameos and sprig molds were made.

    I have pressed bisque into wet porcelain (solid clay, not slip) and shrunk down that mold with good success. But my items are not nearly as detailed as yours…

    I posted a tutorial last year:

    I have also seen some shrinking compounds for rubber molds that have me curious. From Rio Grande. They are sort of expensive though, so I haven’t splurged to experiment. Probably need a vacuum de-bubbler type thingy too.

    BTW, your tile is in the mail. So sorry it took so long!


  8. Lesli Kathman September 23, 2007 at 9:49 pm #

    Hi Emily! What cool knitting in your blog. My husband can tell you I’m really good at starting knit projects – for boys that grow quicker than I knit! 🙂

    So what kind of back would you need to use them as buttons? I would imagine you’d need something pretty strong, since the attachment point gets stressed.

  9. Lesli Kathman September 23, 2007 at 9:54 pm #

    I’ve seen those in Rio Grande, too. But I’ve heard the edges tend to curl, which has always made me hesitant to try them. But I hadn’t thought about the vacuum thing. I’ve been trying to avoid getting so deep into moldmaking that I need that kind of equipment.

    And I am so excited about the tile! woo hoo!

  10. Diane September 25, 2007 at 5:03 pm #

    When I mold small, intricate stuff, I often use Super Sculpey. I just roll and cut out some with a cookie cutter a bit larger than the piece and push it inside the bisque or plaster mold, and then backfill it and gently pull up. The I take that, form a back or base the way I want, and make a plaster mold from that. by the way, I mean that I use it in it’s uncooked state, like a waxy clay.

Leave a Reply