Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nuts and Bolts

Today I have a wicked cold and so does Orion, so we're slogging through it at home. He's playing video games in his room and I'm working on things that need my brain and don't require any sort of bending or moving faster than a snail.

Fortunately, my brain seems to be working fine. Or at least, fine enough.

This is an advantage of working at home. I can fit the task to the day, at least most of the time.

A good enough day to put up these photos I took as I made some clear poppets. Above is what's called an envelope mold. Basically, it's a mold with a cut on one plane that folds shut.

I haven't use the mold in awhile, so I clean it up. I'm out of mold release and right now, it just isn't in the budget, so I use some Chapstick. (I know, it's technically Blistex but that's an exception.)

I could likely write an entire blog on the uses of Chapstick in the studio and out. But I won't, because I'd bet without looking it's already been done.

In this case though, it makes a good mold release, which is pretty much wax in a spray can.

With the stick though, I have to smooth it out so there are no lumps.

Now I mix about an ounce of clear casting resin (nasty stuff---do not attempt without good ventilation, or with a cold) with the appropriate drops of catalyst. Which for me means 4 drops over in compensation for the cold temps and that I want it to cure fast.

I pour the resin to just above the poppet's ruff, which means just under - we're upside down. The fifth space I filled with glass balls as an experiment because I'm a child at heart and can't stand not to play while I work.

While that sets, I hand sculpt some tiny hearts and fire them in the toaster oven. I wouldn't consider larger works in there, but this takes about three minutes at 300 degrees.

Then I paint them.

I'll use a bit of Shoe Goo to affix the hearts inside the mold. Have to make sure the paint on the hearts is absolutely dry and use a tiny amount. Also, have to remember to put them in upside down. :)

I find Shoe Goo to be extremely handy in the studio. While we're on handy studio stuff - rings cut from old stockings make a great substitute for rubber bands. For delicate molds, they can be cut to custom widths to distribute pressure evenly.

They also make good hair ties, bracelets. Or handcuffs.


So. Here are the poppets, freshly de-molded. They'll have flash - the thin bits of resin that seeped into the seams.

Their surfaces will be slightly sticky.

All that has to be cleaned away with the Dremmel and some hand sanding.

While I Dremmel, I drill a hole for the balloon string using a micro drill bit.

I'll put on the first layer of clear glaze and while that dries, I sculpt, fire and paint the heart for the balloon.

Before I fire it, I'll put a small hole in the heart with wire. Saves drilling later.

And here's the finished piece. I don't have any listed right now because, as you can see, they take a lot of time and aren't the sort of thing I can make with a cold. But now you can see how they're made. I like questions, and promise not to think any are silly, unless they are. And if they are, I'll like them anyway.


J.W.B. said...

Love seeing the process.

How did the glass ball experiment turn out?

maqart said...

Your tutorials are amazing- so clear, so full of the tricks that experience brings. I'm wanting to do some casting for the first time in maybe 25 years, so yes, two questions: How do you cut open the mold to make the envelope- a breadknife or saw?
How do you keep bubbles out of the RTV (I assume) when you pour the mold? and out of the resin as you pour? (oops that's three)

Many thanks!

crydwynn said...

How did the one with the glass balls turn out?

ravyn said...

That looks very cool!

Now about that cold, i highly recommend this to help short-circuit it: Boiron Cold Calm

i tried it three days into my cold and it helped cut it short. (They recommend taking it at the first onset of symptoms).

i had my mom take it and it softened her cold, again, we didn't hit it right away, but it sure seems to help.

Be well :-)

lisa said...

JWB: It looks interesting and it wants to be steampunk, but it will have to wait.

maqart: I use a sharp exacto knife and just a little pressure around each figure. You can get them in lots of shapes at most hardware stores. I like a sickle shape for this application.

Depending on the mold and the temperature, I tap them repeatedly as I pour and then after or put them on the washer or dryer to vibrate. Best would be a vaccuum chamber but if mold release isn't in the budget, a vaccuum chamber sure isn't. Another trick is to pour (when it's warm) in a really thin stream so the bubbles pop on the way in. You can try running the stream through flame but I'm NOT recommending that! Especially if you like having eyebrows.

crydwynn: as above. tell me about your little poppet avatar. I keep meaning to ask - looks cool

lisa said...

I spelled vacuum wrong twice. I'm calling cold meds. And too lazy to check.

crydwynn said...

Ah it's a pumpkin I carved several Halloweens ago. We called in the Poppet God.

Stacy Hurt said...

I am just continually so impressed with your con-fab-ulan-tastic-amundo imagination. What a darling, darling wonderful idea to make them clear with tiny hearts in them.

You are the kind of artist I hope I can grow up to be like.