Monday, July 18, 2011


I use two types of materials in my studio; those that can be reused, and those that must be replinished from time to time. I prefer to buy and use reusable materials whenever I can. In the long run, these types of materials are the most economical.


I ran out of plaster not too long ago, so I finally had to break down and buy a new bag. I use plaster for mold making. I rarely use it for making models or patterns, even though I know how. When I make traditional sculpture, making a plaster original is all about making a plaster model of the original clay sculpture. For doll making, carving wax is the material I am now using to make a hard model or pattern. The plaster I buy is called #1 Moulding Plaster and it is sold in 100 pound bags at the local Builder's Supply. While plaster molds may be used more than once, the plaster they are made of cannot be used again. This is why I am transitioning over to seaweed moulage to make rough shell molds, for casting carving wax. I still need plaster to make the final slip casting molds.


Shellac is a wonderful sealer. I use it to seal coddles, and anything else that needs a fast drying sealer. The shellac I buy was called Orange Shellac, but these days goes by the name of Amber Shellac. The amber color is useful for seeing where you have already coated whatever you are trying to seal. Shellac is brushed on. I clean the brushes with Denatured Alcohol.

Denatured Alcohol

I use denatured alcohol to clean my shellac brushes, and for fuel in my jeweler's alcohol lamp. No, this alcohol is not for drinking. Even so, it seems to go fast, and it is rather expensive.

Hot-Pour Seaweed Moulage

I bought a couple of pounds of moulage a couple of decades ago, and am still using and reusing it. Since I discovered that I can use it to make molds for casting carving wax, I recently ordered 5 pounds more of it. The fact that it can be reused over and over again makes it a very economical mold material in the long run. It does not stick to anything, not even itself, so no release agent is needed when making a piece mold. It is especially useful for casting plaster and wax models.

Oil Clay

I have some Roma Plastilina oil-clay in my studio. I bought it a couple of decades ago. At that time, I did not know about the sulfur additive. Roma Plastilina contains sulfur. It turns out that sulfur reacts with some silicone rubbers, so I cannot use the Roma Plastilina oil-clay I have, to make clay build-ups for silicone rubber molds. I can still use this oil-clay, but not with silicone rubber. As a result, I recently ordered 4 pounds more of a sulfur-free oil-clay. The sulfur-free oil-clay I ordered is called Prima Plastilina. All oil-clays are reusable, so in the long run, they are very economical. I will have to keep these two oil-clays separate.

Other than the above mentioned materials, I also have various waxes in my studio. I have Brown Microcrystalline Wax (Victory Brown), Paraffin, Posmoulage, Beeswax, and Candle Wax. I also have water clays, including earthenware, porcelain, and stoneware. All of the waxes are reusable, and so are the water clays, until they are fired in a kiln. I recently made some carving wax, for making the refined models for the ball jointed doll I am making. The refined carving wax models will be used to make plaster slip casting molds for casting doll composition slip to make the finished BJD.

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