Tag Archives | mold straps

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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Although I have been caught up in the busy Christmas season, I haven’t forgotten little Imp. I am anxiously awaiting the delivery – hopefully any day now – of a fresh batch of rubber. I know the UPS man is ready to stop seeing my hopeful face peek out the door each time he has to make a delivery on our road, but maybe that’s because I’m always holding on to my psycho, brown-truck-hating dog when I do it!

I am reminding myself to be patient. Even if it arrived today it would still need to sit for a day or two. The components have to be at room temperature, or they don’t cure properly. I found that out the hard way last year! Uncurable rubber never really comes off, either, so it’s a good way to lose whatever it was poured over.

This mold has already lost one dried-out red band and is about to lose the other.

I am also waiting for a shipment of more mold bands. Some moldmakers use mold straps, but since most of my molds are quite small I use the rubber bands. They have the advantage of being cheap to buy in quantity and they are quick to take on and off. The downside is that the environment in the studio eventually dries them out. (The air in the studio dries everything out. After ten years I am now a connoisseur of hand lotions.) Usually they all give out around the same time, so one day I open the cabinet and find them all curled up around the molds.

That’s usually when I got hunting in my son’s things, because there are always a few up there. Long, fat rubber bands are really tempting to small boys. And it is only fair; I do filch his Legos. I didn’t find enough, though, so that’s one more shipment I’m hoping will arrive.

To bad Emma isn’t more welcoming of the delivery guy, so that he actually wants to bring the boxes here!

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