Meanwhile, the mistake I didn’t avoid

As I noted in a previous post, the plaster mold for Imp is done and drying. What I have been working on, while posting the process for Imp, has been the mold for his mother, Vixen.

When I was a brand new graphic design student, I had a teacher explain how I had broken one of the rules of good design. Aha! If there were rules, there must be a book! Where could I find the rulebook, I wanted to know. Surely someone had written them down so the rest of us wouldn’t have to learn the hard way (like a public critique in front of a classroom of one’s peers). My teacher explained that the rules weren’t written down because true mastery of one’s craft came when you knew which rules to break and when to do so.

I have often thought of this when I have taught seminars on horse color. Giving the basic rules of pattern expression is important because students need some kind of framework to begin to make sense of the subject. But much past a basic grasp of patterns, rigid attachment to “the rules” actually gets in the way of deeper understanding. It’s much too easy to learn a given fact, and give it more importance than it should have.

Which is exactly what I did with my Vixen mold.

With Imp, I was introduced to the general rule of thumb of “tighten the mold perimeter as much as possible.” I hadn’t done this with Imp when I first boxed him, so I had to go back and correct the problem. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I made sure the area around Vixen was a minimal as possible. No unnecessary displacement here!

Unfortunately what I forgot was one of the other rules of moldmaking, which is “if the two big sides don’t touch at each corner, the mold won’t work as the box for the smaller pieces.

See how the corners on the two big pieces touch? That makes it possible to pour the gusset pieces withouth boxing the mold. If the gusset piece extended all the way to the left corner, the mold would have to be boxed in order to contain the pour.


The blue-tinted areas show the outline of what would be the inner pieces. The bright green line shows where the other gusset pieces will extend. With this size mold, more than 80% of my perimeter will be made up of innner pieces. That won’t work!

With Vixen I created an even bigger problem because the areas involved were rather large. What’s worse, I didn’t realize this until it came time to clay up the inner pieces. So I already had one large side poured all wrong.

So I’m going to try some creative salvage work with my Legos, and see if I can’t fix my error without claying her up again.

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One Response to Meanwhile, the mistake I didn’t avoid

  1. mel December 23, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    Arrrrgh! The tension is killing me!

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