Tag Archives | hypodermic needles

Another use for the needles

This the watched pot that won’t boil. That’s the mold that will tell me if Vixen can be cast in one piece. I’ve placed it next to the kiln (which has been running pretty steadily for the last few days) hoping that it will dry faster. So far the only thing drying have been the rubber bands!

I almost forgot to mention that I found another use for the large gauge veterinary needles. One of the things I wanted to try with this test mold was pouring the head piece. Horses with turned heads are problematic in ceramic, and usually require a separate piece to fit over one side of the head and neck.

Finn” has one of these. In the past I’ve made these by hand, much like I did with the tail piece for “Imp”. I thought with “Vixen” I would try to include this piece in the master mold, and pour it just like the others.

The problem with pouring these kinds of pieces is that they wrap under the original. The poll piece sits on top of the ears and forehead, but the second piece has to include the underside of the head.

Since the plaster pours from the top (the area tinted blue), what often happens is that some amount of air – often quite a lot! – will get trapped under the jaw (the area tinted lavender).

What I found was that I could fill the needles with newly mixed plaster, tip the mold sideways like I have in this picture, and then insert the needle just past the tip of her nose. I measured that distance and marked the needle, since the last thing I wanted to do was inject plaster into the rubber! But doing it this way allowed me to fill the area under the jaw. Then I turned the mold back the normal way and continued filling the rest of the cavity. The finished plaster piece was completely bubble-free.

The nice thing was that plaster cures slowly, so the needle can be cleaned and used again. With the rubber the syringes have to be thrown away since it is impossible to clean them afterwards. So I have the marked needle ready to use again for future plasters, if this mold design works.

In the meantime, I’ve reclaimed my studio and have started glazing again. It feels good to get back to all the projects I left hanging when I started working on the molds. I’ve enjoyed pushing myself with some more complex molds, but the end results aren’t nearly as charming as finished, shiny horses!

Continue Reading

The local pharmacist thinks I am a nutter

I haven’t posted to the blog in a while because I’ve been busy hitting my head against the wall lately. (Apparently my friend Sarah has been doing the same, so at least I had company even if I didn’t know it at the time!) Usually I can find humor in almost any setback, but I’m afraid even my natural optimism was taking a beating.

My problem has been getting a good rubber master of Vixen. Rubber masters are always tempermental things anyway, so I am used to the idea that it’s going to take more than one try to get something useable. But the master is the part that counts, because the it creates the image in the plaster. Any problems there will simply repeat on every casting. It’s a pain, but making several copies until one is perfect is just part of the process.

Vixen has been a whole other ballgame. No matter how I vented the poor mold, I was getting trapped air. Huge areas of trapped air! Each time I’d lose the back raised leg. If I was lucky that’s all I would lose. Usually it was much more.

In frustration I decided to call Barry at Laf’n Bear. Barry is one of those people who are just natural problem-solvers. (He’s the one who first introduced us all to the wonderful uses of Legos.) He was also familiar with Vixen since he’d done the resin casting. He had a number of suggestions, one of which was to use a syringe to inject new rubber into the air pockets.

I thought the idea just might work. What I didn’t think of at the time I spoke to him was to ask where one might get syringes. It would need to have a long, metal tip if it was to get through the tough rubber. Big metal syringes aren’t exactly a common thing one might have lying around the house. Surely, I thought, diabetics must use these things. So I made a trip down to the local pharmacy.

I guess I should point out here that I am about as far removed from any counter-culture as one can get. I’ve never (knowingly, at least) met a drug addict. I’ve never even seen illicit drugs of any sort. I wondered, perhaps, if something like a needle might be controlled in some way because I knew that shared needles was a disease vector among people with drug problems. Surely they wouldn’t take those risks if needles were readily available.

So I checked out the area where diabetic supplies were located. Lots of lancets, but no needles. Getting brave, I went to the counter to see if perhaps they were like the newer cold medicines – available but requiring you to ask. As it turns out, you can get needles if you have an insulin prescription – or if you can convince the pharmacist you have a good reason to need them.

I suspect I must have featured in the lunchroom discussion there at the pharmacy that day. Dressed in a t-shirt for my son’s school chess team and driving up in a minivan with church bumper stickers, I probably didn’t look like a drug addict. But explaining what a rubber mold is, and why you might need a needle (a big needle, I kept telling her – long and with a big opening!) to fix it, isn’t easy. Most people have never heard of rubber master molds, and wouldn’t imagine some suburban housewife makes rubber molds of tiny horses in her kitchen while her kids are at school. Maybe I need to start carrying one around in the car, just in case I need a visual aid, because I think the girl decided that I was a (harmless, probably drug-free) nutter.

But she did sell me some syringes! Unfortunatley even fresh rubber was too viscous to go through the needle, so it didn’t solve my problem. I’m almost glad, because I’m not sure I can bring myself to go back and tell the folks at the CVS that I need more! I think the idea might work if I could find a larger gauge of needle – perhaps vets use larger ones for livestock? But I’m not sure I want to ask anyone!

So it’s back to banging my head against the wall. I do have a few more potential solutions to try that don’t involve convincing anyone I’m not a criminal.

Continue Reading