Tag Archives | claying up

A potter of little patience

This is my last look at this Oliver mold while it is still clean. They don’t stay like this, of course. Once the slip gets poured, they get stained. Eventually a corner chips. And of course, I learn what parts don’t work as well as I imagined, and what I should have done differently. But at this stage, when they are still pearly white, I can still believe they will turn out rows and rows of pain-free greenware.

I told myself that I’d leave the two Oliver molds until after the molds for his mother, Elsie, were done and drying. Although I do have her tail molds drying, the rest of her is no where close yet.

Here she is almost ready for the first rubber piece to be poured. This is actually an intermediate mold that will be used to get a rubber original, which will then be cut apart so that a separate master can be made for her head and neck. Needless to say, there are a lot more steps before I should be pouring an Oliver.

If I had been virtuous, I would have finished cleaning the studio. In my defense, I can say that half of it is very, very tidy. But then I got to the area where the Oliver molds were sitting in the sun, quite obviously dry. I couldn’t resist. Surely it would be okay to test one, just to see?

I don’t know yet how well it worked, since it won’t be ready to demold for a while still. (More unbearable waiting!) I used to think that molds worked better when they had been “broken in” for a while, but I suspect the real issue is that the newness has to wear off enough that I am reasonably patient.

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Unusual shapes

There was no question that I would need to cast Elsie’s tail separately. What I hoped was that once I cut it free from the sculpture, I could find some kind of angle that would simplify the shape for mold-making. As it turns out, there wasn’t a magic angle. It was a shape that didn’t work well from any angle, and I was stumped about where to draw the mold lines.

I finally decided that I’d clay up one side, pour the first side piece and figure out what to do from there. I had high hopes that the planes would suddenly make sense once one was covered, but I also knew that I had rapidly degenerating rubber components. Polyurethane prepolymer (rubber Part A) degrades after it has been exposed to air, so I needed to use what I had left quickly. Experimenting seemed like a good idea.

The process did work, though there really wasn’t a simple answer. The strands of the tail move in too many directions for anything but a fairly complex mold. Right now I think it will be a five piece mold, though the area that fits inside the bend may work better broken from the rest of that piece. That’s five, possibly six, pieces and we haven’t made it to the body yet!

Meanwhile Oliver’s two production molds are about half-dry. I am dying to test them.

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