Tag Archives | Elsie

Small breakthroughs

One day when my youngest son was a toddler, he decided he was too old for baths and requested a shower. I set him inside the shower stall in our master bedroom, and went to get extra towels just in case things got especially wet. I was only gone for a minute – just long enough to walk down the hall to the linen closet. When I came back I found him sitting on the floor of the shower, oblivious to the water falling on his head, with all the pieces of the drain scattered around him. In just that brief time he had taken it apart. I didn’t even know it came apart.

He is one of those people who are just seem born with an instinctive understanding of how things work. He gets this from his father, because I am most assuredly not one of those people. I often struggle with relatively simple machinery.

Which brings me to the item in the picture. That is the fastener on a mold strap. Mold straps hold the pieces of a mold tight while the slip is poured. I haven’t needed mold straps in the past because I have always dealt with molds smaller molds that could be held together with wide rubber bands. This has been a good thing, because I never could figure out how the fasteners worked. What is sad is that I have seen them used at Pour Horse. I’d even unfastened and refastened them, so I know how they are supposed to feel when they lock. I just couldn’t seem to make mine work.

I thought I could avoid dealing with them at all by simply using the same kind of large black rubber bands that I had used on the rubber master. They actually came off a set of “moon shoes” that my kids got for Christmas one year. When he first saw them, my friend Joe insisted that the shoes were the best job security he had seen in a while. Joe is a emergency room doctor. Shortly after that the shoes went missing (funny, that!), all except those useful-looking black bands.

I became skeptical though, when I had the completed mold. The rubber master tends to stick together a bit all on its own, so it doesn’t need to be cranked closed quite like the plaster one. I wasn’t sure the rubber bands were up to holding the large side pieces tightly enough.

As this picture of the first pour shows, they were not. The extra clay around the leg is where the liquid slip leaked between the pieces. (The white areas are from the mold soap that is present on the sides of the mold pieces.) This wouldn’t work. Not only does that slight gap distort the casting, but the clay between the pieces effectively glues the whole thing shut. It is almost impossible to remove a horse in this kind of situation without tearing it.

So I had to figure out the mold straps. I felt a little better when even my husband was at a loss. They looked simple enough, and he works in an engineering field. We must not have been the only ones, because in my search for a picture online of how they looked like closed, I found this online tutorial. Suddenly it all made sense, and now I have a tightly strapped mold. I thought it might be worthwhile to share the link, in case others were having similar trouble.


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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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