Friday, August 31, 2012

05 Molding Design Nº 1






This is the first of a series about Mold Design. As I have mentioned before, I am following the Ball-Jointed Doll making method of Martha Armstrong-Hand more closely with this third version of my first BJD.

I first wrote about Marth's Method a couple of years ago. I was just discovering her method back then, and was already becoming fascinated with it. In order to try and understand her method even better, I wrote about Martha's Method at the Woodland Earth Studio forum.

What I did at WES was to follow the Table of Contents in Martha's book, Learning To Be A Doll Artist. The Table of Contents outlines her method in 19 chapters, from Ideas and Planning to Displaying a finished porcelain BJD. So far, I have followed the first four chapters pretty closely, deviating slightly in the making of the armature.

Chapter 1 Ideas and Plans is 01 Ideas and Planning, here.
Chapter 2 Drawing is 02 Drawing, here.
Chapter 3 Making the Armature is 03 Armature, here.
Chapter 4 Modeling is 04 Modeling, here.

The fourth chapter ends with removing the oil-clay figure from the modeling stand, and cutting it up to prepare it for molding. The next three chapters, are all about molding. Chapter 5 is all about making plaster rough shell molds for casting carving wax, an intermediary modeling material that is suitable for later stages of her method. Chapter 6 is about the principles of designing plaster molds so that the models do not get stuck in the molds, and other possible mishaps. Finally, Chapter 7 is about making the final plaster slip-casting molds, also known as production molds.

However, that is not how I work. I think it is better to learn about the principles of mold design before making any plaster molds. So what I am going to do is mix up her steps so that they follow the actual work flow of how I am making a ball-jointed doll. So I am not going to write about Chapter 7, which is all about making the plaster production molds, until I am ready to make the plaster production molds. That happens after Chapter 10, which is about test stringing the carving wax BJD.

That is why this series is labeled 05 Mold Design, which is about the principles of mold making. In other words, this series is going to be more theory than actual practice. While I am reviewing the principles of mold design, I am actually going to be finishing up the cut doll parts, and getting them ready to mold. So.....

Chapter 6 Mold Design in LTBADA, will be 05 Mold Design here.

Then I will do the series about making the waste molds of the oil-clay doll parts for casting the carving wax doll parts. I am planning on using a reusable mold material known as hot-pour moulage to make waste molds of the oil-clay doll parts, in order to cast the carving wax doll parts. However, I will also discuss making plaster rough shell molds as well. The principles of mold design will be of use, no matter whether the waste molds are made of plaster, hot-pour moulage, or even silicone rubber.

Chapter 5 Mold Making in LTBADA, will be 06 Waste Molds here.

After making the waste molds, it will be time to discuss making and casting carving wax. I use my own studio-made carving wax, and I like it very much.

Chapter 8 Wax Work in LTBADA, will be 07 Carving Wax here.

Then the design of the ball and socket joints will be discussed. The ball and socket joints are designed and made in carving wax. Also the test stringing is done with the carving wax doll parts. Carving wax is tough enough to withstand elastic tensioning.

Chapter 9 Body Works in LTBADA will be 08 Body Works here, and
Chapter 10 Stringing Design in LTBADA, will be 09 Stringing Design here.

Finally, it will be time to make the production molds. It is at this point in the whole process that a doll maker can decide to make silicone rubber production molds for casting polyurethane resin BJDs, or plaster slip-casting molds for making porcelain slip doll parts or doll composition slip doll parts. The carving wax patterns are good for making the final production molds, no matter what kind of material the final doll is to be made of. The trick, of course, is to use the proper mold material for the chosen casting material.



Chapter 7 Making Molds for Porcelain Slip Casting in LTBADA, will be 10 Production Molds here.

Chapter 11 Casting in Porcelain in LTBADA, will be 11 Casting here.
Chapter 12 On Kilns and Firing in LTBADA, will be 12 Curing here.
Chapter 13 Porcelain Painting in LTBADA, will be 13 Face-ups and Blushing here.
Chapter 14 Stringing Production in LTBADA, will be 14 Doll Assembly here.

The last five chapters of the book will be pretty much the same here.

Chapter 15 Hair and Wigs in LTBADA, will be 15 Wigs here.
Chapter 16 Clothing Design in LTBADA will be 16 Clothing here.
Chapter 17 Shoes in LTBADA, will be 17 Shoes here.
Chapter 18 Accessories in LTBADA will be 18 Accessories here.
Chapter 19 Display in LTBADA, will be 19 Display here.

At this point in the process, I should have a completely finished BJD. I will have completed my apprenticeship with Martha Armstrong-Hand.

I probably should have done this overview earlier, because it is important as a doll maker to Know Your Process. For example, I was able to design the armature I made so it was relatively easy for me to remove the oil-clay figure from the modeling stand, and also to remove the head and limbs from the torso, because I already knew that was a part of the process ahead of time.

Also, I am going to substitute hot-pour moulage molds for the plaster rough shell molds because I know that the hot-pour moulage can be used to cast waxes. And since the hot-pour moulage is reusable, it becomes much more economical for me to use. I will discuss the pros and cons of that when I get to it.

If I am not mistaken, the Martha's Method thread at WES follows this same order. The thing is, I am not just writing about it, now I am also doing it, and documenting my progress, here. So if everything goes as planned, then I should have an elastic tensioned ball-jointed doll in about ten more steps.



I will be casting my final doll in doll composition slip which can be cured at a low temperature in my kitchen oven. However, if the doll composition doll works out, I will be able to use the same plaster production molds to make a porcelain BJD. I do not have a kiln myself, but I know a doll artist whos does have one. So if everything works as planned, I will make arrangements with her to fire a porcelain BJD for me. If that works out, then I may deicde to invest in an electric ceramics kiln to make porcelain BJDs. The alternative to that is to invest in a pressure pot, and try to make polyurethane resin BJDs. I will decide when I get to that point. I still have such a long way to go.

References:
Woodland Earth Studio

Learning To Be A Doll Artist: an apprenticeship with Martha Armstrong-Hand.
Martha Armstrong-Hand.
Lavonia, WI: Scott Publications, 1999.
ISBN: 1893625044




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Thursday, August 30, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 160




In the photo below I have started to cover the armature wires with oil-clay coils. I want to be able to use this armature again, so I am not going to clip the wires off. Instead, they will be cast in carving wax, and I will trim the carving wax off, after casting. The clay coils will keep the molding material from sticking to the wires, which are twisted, and might not release as easily from the molds as the oil-clay coils.



This is the last official modeling post that I am going to make here. I will continue to work on these oil-clay doll parts to get them ready for molding, but from now on, I will be posting about making molds of the oil-clay doll parts, in order to cast carving wax, an intermediate material. I will be able to design balls and sockets for joints, test string the carving wax doll parts, then refine the carving wax doll parts for making the final production molds for the doll.




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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 159




I found another old pillow to use to cradle the soft oil-clay doll parts while I am getting them ready for molding. This is a photo of a leg being smoothed on top of the pillow. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I smoothed both of the legs to remove the rake marks. I still need to refine the overall leg forms.






I used a pottery loop tool to clean up the bottom of the torso.






I used the same pottery loop tool to clean up the top of the legs.






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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 158




Today I cut the legs off of the torso. I made several cuts, starting in the back, along the bottom of the bum. I used a fettling knife to make the cuts. It has a long slender steel blade that is somewhat flexible, so I could get it between the legs. I sliced down until the knife blade hit armature. I sliced over to the sides so I could see my first cut when the figure was rolled over, to a face up position, for the next set of cuts. Click on any image to enlarge it.






After rolling the figure over, so it was face up, I made a Vee cut on either side of the crotch. Here again, I cut into the oil-clay until I hit armature. Then I continued the cuts from the back, over to the front, meeting the Vee cuts.






I grasped the right leg with my right hand, and held the torso with my left hand, then started to wiggle the leg, while at the same time, twisting it back and forth and pulling down. I could feel the leg start to loosen, then it came free. This is what it looks like after the first leg was freed from the torso. I think I did a pretty good job making the cuts with the knife because there is minimal tearing of the clay.






The I did the same thing to free the left leg from the torso. Yay !!! This operation was somewhat intimidating, but I consider it a success. In this photo, the raked inner legs can be seen clearly. I still have some modeling and smoothing to do before I can start making molds, but now I am one step closer.






This is a photo of the other side of the legs and torso. That is also a good view of the fettling knife that I used to make the cuts.






This is an end view of the cuts.






This is a comparison photo of the carving wax torso from version number two of my doll, and the freshly cut oil-clay torso.






This is another comparison photo of the version two carving wax torso, and the freshly cut oil-clay torso.






Here is a photo of all the oil-clay parts together on the pillow. There are a total of six parts. One torso, one head, two legs, and two arms.



The torso will eventually be divided into two parts, a lower torso and an upper torso. The head will probably have a skull cap, so eyes can be changed, so that is another two parts. The arms will each be divided into upper arms, lower arms, and hands. The legs will be divided into upper legs, lower legs, and feet. That is a total of sixteen doll parts to finish, not counting a pair of eyes, which I have purchased.




This is a parting shot of the oil-clay doll parts together on the pillow on the metal tray in my studio.



Although this part of the process is somewhat scary, I remembered that if I can make it, I can fix it. It pays to think ahead, and decide what to do, before jumping in and doing something without thinking first. I am so happy that I thought about a removable head and removable arms during the armature making stage because that really helped when it came to cutting parts off the torso.




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Monday, August 27, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 157




I loosened the screw, then tapped the back iron gently with a small hammer to free it from the vertical upright on the modeling stand. Then I lifted the figure off the modeling stand, holding the back iron and the Vice-grip pliers that were attached to the neck wire armature. I placed the figure on the pillow which is on the metal tray. Click on any image to enlarge it.






Then I removed the Vice-grip pliers from the neck wire and clamped them onto the back iron. I slowly turned the back iron to remove it from the back of the oil-clay figure. I am very pleased that I thought of attaching the armature to the  back iron in this manner. It made it very easy to remove the figure from the modeling stand, and to remove the back iron from the figure.






This is what the figure looks like with the back iron removed.






This is the figure turned over onto her back.



The next thing to do is to decide where to cut her legs. I am already thinking about that.




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Sunday, August 26, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 156




Image Source


I was always curious about how far Martha Armstrong-Hand took her figure, modeled in oil-clay, before she removed it from the modeling stand and cut it apart for molding in plaster and casting in carving wax for further development. This is what she has to say about that point in her modeling process:

As you gradually come to the surface of your creation, you begin to close the form. In other words, you make the skin. Depending on the size of your sculpture you can do this with your fingers or tools. But remember, every tool used should fit the form, whether it is a spoon, dental tool, a spatula or the end of a knife.

This kind of modeling takes me two or three days if I don't think of anything else and work with a deadline. Don't stretch it longer than a week, as you might lose the connection with your piece. Tell yourself that you can stop only when the piece is finished as completely as you know how. If you want to learn more, make a new one! Don't fiddle with your forms if you don't know what to do. Go away and study.


I have been modeling my oil-clay figure for months now, so it is quite possible that I have lost the connection with my piece, but I have too much time and energy invested in it to quit now. I have told myself that this figure is finished as completely as I know how. I am still planning on doing a wee bit more modeling on her after I get her off the modeling stand, but for the most part, I have finished and all of her forms have been completed. In other words, I feel like I am ready to work with cast carving wax doll parts from now, onwards.

  The beginning doll artist might not realize that he or she is starting at the most difficult level, namely the human body. I know of no school to which I could send you except books. If you were to take a course or study sculpting with me, I would start you out with simple forms: an egg, a cube, a composition thereof. Some drawing books have even simplified the human form down to those shapes. 


For me, an apprenticeship by reading and studying books is the most affordable and the most adaptable to my lifestyle. I have tried to do a little bit of work on my doll every day, and that mindset has resulted in an oil-clay figure that did not exist before I started working. So far, by investing a little bit of time every day, over the past few months, I have taken an idea and a desire, and made it into an oil-clay figure that is almost ready for molding.

 One of the best ways to study is to work on your sculpture. When you feel you need help, find the appropriate chapter or chapters in one or more books and try to apply what you find there. Book reading should feel like going to a favorite teacher and asking for advice. If you have a chance, go to a museum and look at good sculpture. Realistic or simplified pictures help, but walking around a piece is the experience you want. 


I have used books and Internet resources to help me to study sculpture. I feel that I have done well, considering that this is my first ball-jointed doll. This next part is about getting the oil-clay figure ready for molding. This is still part of the modeling phase of the process.

Getting Ready to Make the Molds

 When you come to the next phase, I can understand that you have doubts and hesitations about following in my footsteps. Here you have worked so hard on your sculpture and now you should cut it apart? Is there no other way? Don't worry, nothing is lost. The cutting is only to make it easier to work on the parts, and each part can be finished in Plastiline for appropriate mold making no matter how rough the first cut turns out. For instance, the wire can be cut shorter inside the soft clay or clay added where necessary.

Maybe this is a good place to ask ourselves some questions: When we see our creation complete in our mind, do we know the exact pose it is going to be in?


This question is moot because I am making a ball-jointed doll, not a static statuette or figurine, nor a doll with modeled head, legs, and arms attached to a cloth body.

Whatever we visualize at this point, our next craft to be learned is mold making.

Why do we make molds?
1. To make a record of the form or forms we have created.
2. To work in a different material than we modeled in (from clay to wax, etc.).
3. To duplicate the image we achieved more than once: to make a limited edition.

 But before we start, we reach another crossroad. Which parts of our modeled figure need a mold? 


All the parts of the doll will need a mold because all of the parts are unique, and I will be making a fully articulated ball-jointed doll.

 We make the choice of mold material depending on the substance used for duplication. Here is our plan: We will cast plaster over Plastiline, plaster over water clay, plaster over plaster, plaster over wax, and porcelain slip into plaster. But first we must close all forms by cutting wires and adding clay where needed so that molding can proceed without interruption.

 We are now ready for mold making. The most important decision in this process is the choice of mold material. We must ensure that the model does not stick to the mold. The final model must come out of the mold unmarred, and the new cast must be released without any sticking. 

This is where I will be doing something a little differently than Martha Armstrong-Hand. My choice of a mold material for the first set of molds is hot-pour moulage. The reason I am choosing hot-pour moulage is because this first set of molds are waste molds for casting carving wax into. The hot pour moulage works very similar to water-saturated plaster for casting carving wax, except that hot-pour moulage is reusable.

I would like to explain Martha's plan, as described above.
Cast plaster over Plastiline refers to making the first half of the plaster mold over the oil-clay original.
I believe that Plaster over water clay refers to either using water clay for the original modeling or for the mold bed?
Plaster over plaster refers to casting the second half of the plaster mold over the original oil-clay figure embedded in the first half of the plaster mold.
Plaster over wax refers to making plaster molds over the carving wax patterns.
Porcelain slip into plaster refers to casting porcelain slip in the final paster molds.




I am currently doing a lot of thinking about getting my oil-clay figure ready for molding. In the photo below, I stuck a fettling knife in the back of the oil-clay figure, and sliced down until I hit the hip piece of the wooden armature. Then I measured how far that was from the middle of the back iron. Maybe I will use this measurement later on? I have also circled a couple of places where the wooden armature is showing. Before I use this armature the next time, I am going to trim it some more.  Click on any image to enlarge it.






The question in my mind right now is: How do I want to cut the legs off the torso? One way is to cut the legs straight off at the level of the bottom of the bum (the red line). The other way is to cut them off at an angle (the green lines). In the working drawing, shown in the background, the green line is over a line I drew showing where the edge of the wooden hip armature is. The wire for the legs goes into this wooden piece on both sides.






What I may end up doing is a double cut, along the green lines, and along the red lines. Then, later, after removing the leg wires from the wooden hip armature, I can put the wedges back on the torso.






I removed the head and placed it on the little portable head modeling stand. Then I clamped some Vice-grip pliers onto the neck armature wire. This is so I will have another place to grasp the doll when lifting it from the modeling stand. I do not want to drop the oil-clay figure at this point, after months of modeling. That would just break my heart. I will have the Vice-grip pliers and the back iron to grasp when moving the figure.






My plan is to 1. unscrew the bolt that is screwed into the vertical upright, then 2. lift up the back iron while grasping the Vice-grip pliers and the back iron. I will lay the oil-clay figure face-down, or on her side, on the pillow that is on the metal tray. From there, I can unscrew the back iron from the torso, in order to get ready to cut the legs so I can remove them from the torso. I will only be cutting oil-clay, down to the wire armature; and I will not be cutting the wire armature, so I can reuse it for another figure. So far, this armature has stood up to months of modeling without collapsing or distorting. I am very happy with how it has worked for this figure.



Reference:
Learning to be a Doll Artist: an apprenticeship with Martha Armstrong-Hand.
Martha Armstrong-Hand.
Livonia, WI: Scott Publications, 1999.
Pages 26-31.




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Saturday, August 25, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 155




I used a flat washer that I found in my scrap box to scribe a circle in each arm area on the torso. Since the circle is the same size on each side, I can easily see where I need to do some work. I tried to position the circle the same distance down from the top of the shoulder on each side. I would like to make the figure's right side the same as the figure's left side. Click on the images to enlarge them.






I found a nice, large metal tray to put the old pillow on. This will make it easier to move the pillow around the studio once the figure is on it. If I did not have the metal tray, I would have made a plywood modeling board, of about the same dimensions as the pillow, with some pieces of wood fastened underneath to make it easier to pick up.

I am hoping that the pillow will help keep the oil-clay figure from distorting too much when I cut the legs off the torso. I am very happy that I designed the armature so that the head and arms are removable.






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Friday, August 24, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 154




I remembered to straighten the crease between the buttocks while modeling the oil-clay figure. I would see it in the photos, but forget about it when modeling, until today. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I found an old pillow and confiscated it to use to lay the oil-clay figure on when I take it off the modeling stand.






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Thursday, August 23, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 153




One of the things I noticed in the turnaround photos that I did the other day was that the left hip was a smooth curve, and not like the curve on the right hip. So today I worked on the hip area a littl bit. I removed the arms to make it easier to see the right hip, and model the left hip. They are more symmetrical than they were. Click on the image to enlarge it.






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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 152




There are still some hard-to reach areas that need smoothing, but I am starting to think about how I should take the oil-clay figure off the modeling stand in order to cut it apart for molding. I can always smooth these areas when the oil-clay figure is cut apart. Click on the image to enlarge it.



As can be seen in the above photos, most of the areas that still need to be smoothed are between the legs. Behind the legs, the back iron gets in the way of smoothing between the legs. In the front, I can only reach those areas between the legs with a tool. I like to smooth with my fingers because I can feel what is going on so much better. That is why I never used any of the materials that I tried earlier for smoothing the raked oil-clay.




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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 151




Today I made some little touch-ups in various places, then took a series of eight 45 degree rotated photos of the figure. Most of the figure's surfaces have been smoothed. Click on the image to enlarge it.






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Monday, August 20, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 150




I smoothed the left hand, and worked a little bit on the left arm. Click on the image to enlarge it.






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Sunday, August 19, 2012

04 Modeling Nº 149




I took a break from the feet and did a little work on the right arm, as well as started smoothing the right hand. Smoothing a surface includes adding small pieces of oil-clay to fill in dents and so forth. I removed the right arm from the figure to work on it. It was well worth the small amount of extra effort it took to make the arms removable when I made the armature for this figure. Click on the image to enlarge it.






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