Tag Archives | mold-making

BOYCC Report – Workshops



One of the coolest aspects of the BOYC Convention was the wide range of workshops that were offered. I have attended stand-alone workshops before, but the convention was unusual in the sheer number that were offered. Pretty much every aspect of producing ceramic horses was covered, so that attendees could sample what was involved with each step.

These first two pictures were taken during the Custom Glazing Workshop, which was held on Thursday at Pour Horse Pottery. Participants were given their choice of either an Animal Artistry Dartmoor or Friesian Mare. They masked the markings and patterns, and selected the color for Joan and Addi to airbrush. After that the horse was returned to them for detailing.



Here is my roommate Katie Gehrt with the Dartmoor that she was glazing dapple grey. Joan airbrushed the basic color and Katie erased the dapples and painted the details. All the horses were fired and ready to take home on the last day of the show. Joan even supplied boxes and packing material, as well as offering to ship the horses home for anyone that could not carry them. Talk about full service.

That was a workshop for underglazing, which is the method I use to glaze my own work. The other method is china painting, which is completely foreign to me. For that reason I was really looking forward to taking the workshop on China Painting with Karen Gerhardt. I will post about that separately in the future, because it really deserves a separate post.

There was a two-part workshop on restoration that I would have loved to have attended, but fitting a repair victim in my overstuffed luggage was out of the question after I decided that “Elvis” needed to travel with me. There was also a demonstration on how to pour and clean greenware, which was a lot of fun to watch, since I remember that part of my own ceramic education so well! (No one at BOYCC broken nearly as many legs as I did when I was learning.)

But the coolest set of workshops, in my opinion, were done as a pair. On Friday Kelly Savage gave a workshop on sculpting a simple medallion. Throughout the show on Saturday, a small group of folks worked on their medallions. That was because on Sunday, Margaret Olson of MAO Ceramics gave a workshop on simple moldmaking.



Here are some of the participants making plaster waste molds of their medallions.

(And on a completely unrelated note, the woman in the red shirt is Amy Peck. I’ve been privileged to call Amy a friend for many years, but my time at BOYCC gave me a whole new appreciation for the level of organization that Amy has. Much of the messy logistics of the convention were handled by her, and she did so with such competence and grace that I was left in awe.)



Here are four of the medallions ready for the lids to be poured. I especially liked that there was a strawberry daiquiri there in the picture, complete with fruit kabob and drink umbrella. The husband of Elli Heritage-Mench, Gunner, kept the Hospitality Suite stocked with mai tais and daiquiris made from fresh, locally-grown strawberries. (The amber liquid in the cup next to the daiquiri is mold soap – an important distinction to remember while moldmaking!)

This full slate of workshops was the part of BOYCC that had me most intrigued when Joanie first explained the concept. As is probably apparent to anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time, sharing techniques is really important to me, and I would love to see this kind of concept take off within the model horse community. Blog posts and articles can convey a lot of information, but there is nothing like handling the materials in person alongside someone who already knows how to use them. It is certainly true of ceramics, but I also think the same kind of format would work well for the other artisan activities like sculpting, casting, prepping and painting.

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Some useful tools

I was grateful for the tip about the grids on Lynn Fraley’s blog. In the previous post, you can probably see the bubble wrap lining the smaller damp box. That had been my own solution for keeping the greenware elevated from the damp plaster, but I can see her tool will work so much better. It also reminded me that I’ve meant to share some of the tools I’ve come to depend on for some odd jobs around the studio. Since I’ve been absorbed in mold-making these last few weeks most of these are tools used either for that or for prepping the resin masters.

1) Sponge-backed sanding pads
Although they are here with mold-making tools, I really use these for everything from cleaning masters, to polishing plaster to cleaning greenware. They often aren’t sold by standard grit numbers, so I like to buy them in person by feel, and I use all kinds. Often I cut them into small strips and round the edges (a big help when they are used on soft greenware, since the corners can gouge), then strip off most of the padding from the back. I find for some tasks I need them a little more flexible than the thick layer of foam allows.

2) Miskit Liquid Latex
This is another all-purpose tool in the studio. It’s primary purpose is to mask off bisques during underglazing, but I also use it when I want to clay up a resin original. The blocking clay I use, Plastalina, is really soft and sticky, so I find that masking areas with deep grooves (like the mane or the eyes) before I place that side down in the clay makes the later clean-up much easier. Just be careful to keep it well away from the mold lines, since the seal against the master needs to be tight there.

The exposed face of the resin master tends to get clay residue as well, especially near the mold lines. To clean those places without disturbing the clay, you can paint the latex over the area (including the plastalina itself) and allow it to dry. When it is peeled off, it takes the residue with it. The small square under the Miskit bottle is a rubber cement eraser, which is useful for removing dry latex. It is quite rigid, so it can be cut into shapes to reach tight areas.

3) Clay Shaper

These tools are really popular with sculptors and can be purchased with different tips and with varying firmness. I use the smallest firm (black) wedges to apply the liquid latex. The have just enough give and dried latex peels right off of them.

4) Fingertip Swivel Knife

I found this tool, made by Fiskars, at a scrapbooking store and immediately fell in love with it. (That hobby has more cool tools!) The tiny blade is just the right size for cleaning seams, and the loop that fits around your finger braces the knife in a much more controlled fashion than an ordinary Xacto handle. Even better, the blade can be positioned at any angle to the handle, so it is perfect for getting into tight spots. It was made for cleaning out the “keyholes” in manes and tails – and Oliver’s crossed legs!

5) Schwan All-Stabilo Pencil

We used these water-soluble pencils at my family’s sign shop to mark cut lines. They were great because they gave a very visible blue line that didn’t brush off easily, but could be removed completely with water. I use them to help mark out mold lines on resin masters. I can see the lines more clearly than with a regular pencil, but I can still remove the marks (or change them) when I am done.

6) Embossing Stylus

This is another cool tool from the scrapbooking store, also made by Fiskars. One of the most time-consuming – and truly boring – tasks in making molds is sealing the mold boards. The clay needs to be sealed against the edges, as do the corners of the box. It has to be done reaching inside the box, and without bothering the soft clay around the horse. It is messy work, and it always left a messy edge around the rubber master. Now I just run the larger end of the embossing stylus along the seam, and it makes a clean seal in minutes.


Here is the stylus sealing the edge of the mold in yesterday’s picture. I love this tool!

7) Swizzle Stick Sanders

I found these at a hobby store that catered to military miniatures, and they are particularly handy for sanding hard to reach areas of hard surfaces like resin. They are more rigid than the sanding pads, and can be bend at angles when needed. They come in four different grits, with the finest pretty comparable to 600 grit sandpaper.

Most of these tools are pretty inexpensive, but it is really the time saved (and frustration avoided) that makes such a difference. Hopefully some of them will prove useful to others.

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