Ever make a mold?  I have been making molds since 1991; rubber molds, fiberglass, plaster, wooden forms fine finished with bondo, one part, two part, three part, single cavity, multi cavity, from tiny to monumental. There are lots of types of molds and lots of ways to make them and lots of stuff to stick in them to then make other interesting, useful things. Good chance most of you probably wouldn’t have much of a need for mold making skills.  I, on the other hand, have found the pursuit of knowledge in this area has taken me on some memorable adventures leaving fun tales to tell.  “The Rubber Flubber” is the one I am most fond of but that will be for another time. 

Let’s talk about the mold I just made last week.  I get excited when I make a mold.  Something new and potentially delicious is about to take form. Or maybe I should say delightful, as typically I do not eat what I produce from my molds. This mold is small, a single cavity yet it will hold the potential for a new butterfly pendant design, maybe even several new designs.  All is yet to reveal itself.  I love that about the creative process, one cannot predict just how things will unfold.  Creativity becomes a process of discovery and leaves one open to wonder, a freshly enlivened perspective, to surprise.

Come with me.

IMAG1893Beginning as a sketch drafted on the patio of the Red Rooster in Olde Town Cottonwood, I came home and dug a bit of wax from my tool chest.  I looked for something flat, not too thick. I carved a symmetrical set of butterfly wings with a smooth body holding the center. The result, a rough draft of a new pendant carved from wax. It rests on a sculpting block with some of the tools of my trade waiting for further transformation
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A clay wall is built around the wax carving, referred to as the “model,” to contain the liquid rubber.

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Pouring the rubber

The mold is made from silicon, a two part mix ratio 10:1.  Measured carefully and mixed thoroughly, the sticky blue liquid is poured from up above in a thin steady stream to minimize the chance of trapping air bubbles that would distort the final mold. You want the rubber to flow into every detail of the model. Mold making rubber picks up amazing detail, perfections and imperfections.  There are sculptures that I have made molds of and cast and my finger prints from the original clay can be seen in the final sculpture.

I also discovered a usefulness for the large glossy postcards that regularly appear in my postal box.  They make a great protective surface for my worktable.  Any drips or spills can go right on there and will wipe off easily.

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After the rubber is poured, I focus on another task while it sets, it will take several hours.

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This picture is not easy to make out, it is a pot of wax melting on the stove. A kitchen set up is essential to a workable art space, stove, sink, frig and of course, a coffee pot.

Looking small and insignificant the little blue mold sits on the counter, it is filled with liquid wax. At this point, I think we know better than to misjudge the potential of this tiny little mold.

 

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Each cast takes just a brief time, pour the wax and let it harden.  The rubber requires no special preparation, the molten wax is poured to level or in this case, I needed it to just before overflowing to make the piece a bit thicker.  It hardens in 10-15 minutes and is ready to be removed.

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I cast half a dozen pieces, then choose the best one

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I trim the edges and give the back a smooth finish. Once the first one is ready for embellishment,

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a thin, raised spiral pattern is applied to the wing.

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The word “Life” is carved in the back.  I love words.

 

When I think it is finished, the tiny wax sculpture is checked and double checked from every angle.  The surfaces are smoothed.  Once I have signed off and called the work complete for the moment, I carefully package the artwork and prepare to deliver her to the silver casting studio where a different kind of mold will be made and a fancier casting process employed.  The result will ultimately be a fine sterling silver pendant. The process will take a couple of weeks, I can hardly wait to see how it turns out.

I will have professional photos of the finished piece and of course there will be a story, a layer or two of symbolism and a bit about the inspiration.  That too we will save for another time.  But think for a moment, what a world we live in, a simple little, blue rubber mold that can lead to wonder and surprise. Can it really be that simple? Moments of wonder and joy are all around us if we have the eyes to see.


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