I always forget how much easier it is to work with fresh rubber. Once the containers are opened, the two parts begin to degrade. My molds are small enough that I rarely use up what I have before it goes stale. At close to $70 for 5 lbs. (the minimum order), it’s really tempting to use what’s left anyway. As the Imp above shows, freshness does make a difference. I should have remembered that lost production days are a lot more expensive!
I am also trying to work a little smarter this time, so I use as much of the rubber as possible while it is still fresh. I have three horses to mold, and a previous mold I would like to redesign. The holidays are an ideal time to do moldmaking because it’s the kind of work that gets done in spurts, with lots of waiting in between. Little bits of work time is pretty much all I get at this time of year!
The other reason for doing all the molds at once is that I won’t have to relearn things (like, “always use fresh rubber”) with each one. That is one of the greatest downsides to being a one-person pottery studio. There are a lot of different skills to master, and working on one takes time away from the others. With established skills, like glazing, I find that can be helpful because a break often allows me to look at technical issues with a new eye. With developing skills, however, absence often means losing some of what I’ve already learned. My hope is that not only will a marathon session of moldmaking save me a few wrong turns, but that repetition will move some of that know-how into my permanent memory!