Monday, March 31, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 12




I am still designing the plaster production molds for the feet. I believe in taking my time with this part of the process. Even if I take my time, I still might get it wrong the first time. There are no step-by-step photographic instructions for molding these feet. I must figure it out as best as I can. After all the time I have put into this doll so far, there is no need to start rushing the process now. Click on any image to enlarge it.






Should I make single molds of each foot, or double molds of two feet? The things I am trying to figure out are: how are the mold pieces withdrawn from the casting, and how will pouring the excess slip back into the slip jar be done? Do I want to make the feet solid, or should some parts be hollow (such as the ball joint)? For hollow feet, where is the best place to place the spare? How thick should I make them?



I made two designs for the double molds. It looks like the top double mold might be easier to remove the mold pieces from the castings.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 11




I took another look at my plan for the foot mold and changed the direction of withdrawal for number 2, which is the toe piece of the mold. I am not sure if I am going to leave the spare where it is on the bottom of the foot? Click on any image to enlarge it.






Next I drew a new parting line on the left carving wax foot. I can deviate from the carbon paper parting line because the direction of withdrawal for the inside foot piece of the mold is to remove it sideways.






Like wise for the outside foot piece of the mold.



The reason I want to do this is so I can make the sole foot piece as flat as possible. I am thinking this will make it easier to do the other pieces of the mold. I will be making the mold 1.5 inches wider, all around the foot. So the dimensions of the sole foot piece of the mold will be 7 inches long by 4.5 inches wide by 1.5 inches thick.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 10




I used the carbon paper wrapped around the plastic card and held in place with tape to help me find the parting lines on the right carving wax foot. I raised the foot up with the wooden block and let the foot hang slightly over the edge of the block to mark it with the carbon paper. I also used the block when I turned the foot sideways, to keep it at 90 degrees to the table. Then I went over the carbon paper mark with the Sharpie® permanent marker. Click on the image to enlarge it.



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Friday, March 28, 2014

08 Joint Design Nº 487




I filled the slot and pin holes in the right carving wax foot. I sliced off some pieces of carving wax from a piece of scrap, then inserted them in the slot and holes. Then I used my wax pen to melt, fill, and weld the slot and holes closed. Click on any image to enlarge it.






After the fillings cooled, I used my paring knife to scrape off the excess carving wax filler. Now this foot is ready to have some parting lines added to it with carbon paper and a permanent marker.



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Thursday, March 27, 2014

08 Joint Design Nº 486




I probably should have done this before marking the parting lines. Here is a snapshot of some scrap carving wax inserted in the slot on the carving wax foot, in preparation for filling in the slot with the wax pen. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I melted the carving wax filler into the slot, then scraped away the excess with my paring knife. Afterwards, I used the Sharpie® to join the parting line through the filled-in slot. I also did the same thing to the holes on each side of the foot for the pin that holds the s-hook. I need to remember to do this filling-in before I mark the parting lines on the other carving wax foot.



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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 9




I probably spend more time looking for things than I should. I could not find the carbon paper I thought I had in my studio. I mean, carbon paper is a basic staple in an art studio, right? I ended up going to a local office supply store and buying some carbon paper. It didn't cost too much more than ordering it online for a much cheaper price, but paying shipping costs too. The carbon paper wraps around the edge of the plastic card, giving me a very thin marking edge. I simply cut out the carbon paper a wee bit smaller than the card, then taped it onto the card. Later, when I needed fresh carbon paper, I lifted the tape, moved the carbon paper, taped it down to the card, then continued making marks on the carving wax foot. I used a small block of wood to raise the foot a little bit. Then I always had the side of the foot that I was marking, hanging over the edge of the wooden block a little bit. After marking a section, I would use a Sharpie® permanent marker to go over the carbon paper line, so as to have a line that would not rub off too easily. This is what my first try looks like. Click on the image to enlarge it.



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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 8




Today I was looking at a carving wax foot, trying to figure out where I want the parting lines to be. This is a diagram of one of my ideas. The numbers and arrows indicate the order and direction that the plaster mold pieces would be removed. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I have tried several types of drawing pencils to see which will leave a mark on my carving wax. The best one, so far has been a 4B pure graphite pencil. I have been looking for some carbon paper in my studio, but haven't found any yet. I looked online and saw that Mead MEA40112 Carbon Paper is available. Martha Armstrong-Hand recommends using Carbon Paper, wrapped around a square, to make parting lines on carving wax. One type of square that be used is a plastic card, such as a credit card, or one like the Tuesday Morning Perks card shown below. Carbon Paper can wraped around an edge, and held in place with a couple of pieces of tape.



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Monday, March 24, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 7




I always enjoy finding out how someone put together their own piece of studio equipment, rather than being told it was bought somewhere. Years ago I was doing so much mold making that I decided to make a dedicated plaster molding table. I started out with a piece of discarded formica counter top that was 24 inches wide by 30 inches long by 1 and 3/8ths inches thick. I built the molding table around those dimensions. I also used some scrap two by fours for legs, as well as some 3/8ths inch thick pieces of plywood to fasten the legs together, and some wide pine boards for the front and back, which I had in my studio. Below is a diagram of all the pieces of the table. I made the table high enough so that I would not have to bend over for long periods of time, when working at the table. Bending over like that just kills my back. Click on any image to enlarge it.






Two by fours are actually about 3.5 by 1.5 inches. So the height of the table includes the thickness of the formica table top, plus two widths of 2x4 at the top and bottom of the legs, plus the length of the legs. I made my molding table 36 inches high. A normal kitchen table is about 30 inches high. The kitchen counter tops are 35.5 inches high. I made the legs first. I used a carpenter's framing square to make sure that everything was nice and square. The plywood end pieces at the top and bottom were glued and nailed to the two by fours. The resulting legs are very sturdy. I turned the plywood end pieces to the inside of the table. I made the width of the legs in such a way that when the front and back boards were put into place, they were flush with the table top. Alternately, the width could be made so that the table top had some overhang, for attaching clamps. The front and back boards were also glued and nailed into place, using the carpenter's framing square. Finally, the table top was glued to the legs. The AC Electric Motor with the eccentric steel disk, used for the vibrator, was attached with machine nuts and bolts to the back of the table. This table was simple and easy to build in a relatively short period of time, and it has served me well for many years. I like the formica table top for many reasons, one of which is, I can draw on it with a pencil. It is also a very smooth surface, and is water proof as well.



Here are some snapshots of the plaster molding table I have diagrammed and described above.



If you do not have space for a dedicated plaster molding table, you can use any sturdy table, or even the kitchen counter to make plaster molds. Been there, done that. Spreading newspaper out helps keep the mess under control. Just remember: Do NOT put plaster (dry, wet, or set) down the drain pipes.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 6




One of my very best plaster molding tools is a molding table vibrator. I made mine from a used AC Electric Motor that I found at a flea market for a few dollars many years ago. I used machine bolts and nuts to attach it to my plaster molding table. I plug it in to turn it on, and I unplug it to turn it off. One day I may even make an on/off switch for it? Click on any image to enlarge it.






It is not a very big motor. The black body of the motor is about 5 inches long, and it is about 4 inches in diameter. What makes it vibrate is an eccentric disk made of steel, attached to the shaft. The disk was made from a piece of 1.75 inch diameter scrap bar stock, found at a salvage store. It is about 1/2 inch thick. A friend with a drill press made the hole. The hole was drilled off-center. This is what makes the table vibrate when I am pouring plaster.






This is a diagram of the disc with the eccentric hole. The more off-center the hole is, the more it vibrates.



Once I mix my plaster, and right before I pour, I turn on the vibrator. I turn if off after filling the mold. Using this vibrator, I hardly ever see any air bubbles next to the patterns in my molds. The plaster is vibrated as it is poured, and fills in all spaces. I always seal around all edges of the coddles with clay when using the vibrator.

Another way to vibrate a mold is by tapping it with a small hammer, or other stout object. Once a mold has been poured, patting the top of the plaster with the flat of my hand can also release air bubbles.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 5




I am going to use Roma Plastilina to make the clay build-up for the carving wax feet. The thing about Roma Plastilina is that it contains sulfur. Please note that some silicon rubbers have an adverse reaction when setting-up if they are in contact with sulfur. So if you are making silicone rubber molds, for casting resin, do not use Roma Plastilina for the clay build-up. In this case, I have about 4 pounds of #2 Roma Plastilina, and I am making multiple-piece rigid plaster slip casting molds, so the sulfur content does not matter. I have prepared the clay by making into small sticks of clay. For better handling, I can warm those sticks up in a hot-box if I need to. If sulfur is not wanted, look for a Non-Sulfur Plastilina (NSP), such as Chavant, Prima, or J-Mac Classic clay.



Other tools include squares, for making the parting line, and small bubble levels to check that the top of the plaster molding table is level. I will discuss plaster molding tables, and surfaces in another post. I will also discuss the parting line in another post. As usual, I am sneaking up on this plaster molding. My recent health emergency has me somewhat scatter-brained. I am struggling to get my head wrapped around working on my doll again. Thank you for bearing with me.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 4




Coddles are used to surround the model that is being cast, in order to contain the poured plaster. I have always made my own coddles. Basically, coddles are made from four pieces of wood that are a sufficient length and height, with small blocks attached to one end of each piece of wood, for clamping the coddle together securely. I usually seal the coddles with three coats of orange shellac. Click on any image to enlarge it.






The length of the coddle boards should allow for the longest pattern plus at least 1.5 inches on each end, and the width of a coddle board and block. For example, the longest pattern on my doll is the lower leg, which is 7.5 inches long. If I make the block from 2x2 stock (1.5"x1.5"), and make the coddle boards from 1x stock (0.75"), then that will be 2.25 inches. So 1.5" plus 7.5" plus 1.5" plus 2.25" equals 12.50 inches. I always add a little bit more to the length, so the minimum length I would make my coddle boards would be 12.75 inches long. I will probably make each one of them about 14 inches long instead of making them the absolute minimum length.






The height of the coddle boards should be high enough to allow for a mold to be made of the thickest pattern, plus 1.5 inches above and below it. Chaney & Skee suggest making the clay build-up that goes around the pattern to be 2 inches wide, but I have always made it 1.5 inches. The thickest doll pattern I have is the lower torso, which is about 5 inches. So 1.5" plus 5" plus 1.5" equals eight inches. I will be making each coddle board 1x8x14 inches. The 1x is actually 0.75". Each clamping block will be made from an eight inch length of 2x2 which is actually 1.5"x1.5".



Even though I have not mentioned it yet, note the molding board with the cleats on the bottom, in the last diagram. The cleats allow for everything that is built on the molding board, to be picked up easily.

Martha Armstrong-Hand describes her coddles which were made from 3/16" thick aluminum plate. The clamp ends were made from pieces of aluminum angle. The angles and plates were fastened together with machine screws. These would be the Cadillacs of coddles.

Chaney & Skee mention using rolls of linoleum as coddles. The linoleum is wrapped around the pattern one and one-half times, secured with clothes pins, then tied with cord and the bottom edge sealed with clay.

I have also heard about people using Lego bricks to make coddles. Since I am not of the Lego generation, I do not have any Legos, and they are much too expensive for me to purchase them for use as coddles when wood is so inexpensive and easy to cut and assemble. But if you have them, you may want to try them.

If the coddle material is porous, seal it before using it. To maintain the same consistency between all mold parts, the coddles should not absorb any water from the plaster mix after it is poured.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 3




I am continuing to prepare for making plaster production molds. Plaster molds for slip casting should have the same consistency. Consistency is always a number that is the ratio of water to 100 parts of plaster, by weight. In order to get the same consistency, the water and the plaster should be weighed on a scale. I use a Baby Scale that can weight up to 25 pounds. I usually use 1/4 pound, or 1/2 pound as a unit of weight. A consistency of 67 is recommended in Chaney & Skee. That is the same as 2 parts of water to 3 parts of plaster. Most of my measurements for plaster mold making are in 1/4 and 1/2 pound units.


Click on any image to enlarge it.

I use a set of plastic mixing bowls for mixing the plaster and water. These are inexpensive, can be purchased anywhere. They are also light weight and somewhat flexible. So even if the plaster mix hardens in the mixing bowl, I can get it out and put it in the trash can. Professional plaster molders use rubber mixing bowls. They last longer, overall, but are initially more expensive, and a little bit heavier than the type of plastic mixing bowls I use.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 2




I'm back. I still have to rest a week more before I can lift anything over 10 pounds. However, I finally feel well enough to continue working on this doll-making blog. I will be going slowly, and I will try to cover every tiny little detail.

As I have mentioned, making rigid plaster production molds can be a daunting task if you are not well prepared ahead of time. It is very important to always remember: Never put plaster (dry, set, or wet) into drain pipes. It is much less costly to get a 5-gallon bucket, half-filled with water, to rinse plaster off your hands, mixing bowls, and tools; than it is to hire a plumber to unclog the drainage pipes. I always try to mix up a little bit more plaster than will be needed. I put the excess plaster that is not used, in a lined trash can that has crumpled newspaper in the bottom. Having these two pieces of equipment can make mold making go much smoother.


Click on the image to enlarge it.

When you rinse the plaster off your hands, mixing bowls, and tools, in the 5-gallon bucket half-filled with water, the water turns white with the rinsed plaster. Eventually, it settles to the bottom, and hardens, leaving clear water on top. Over the period of time it takes to make several molds, the plaster residue will build up in the bottom of the bucket. The way I dispose of this plaster is, I carefully pour the clear water out of the bucket, usually in the back yard. Then I put the remaining plaster goo in the lined trash can. Before the lined trash can gets too heavy to lift, I tie up the plastic trash bag, and take it and put it in the refuse bin, for pickup by the city. This plaster residue could also be buried in the yard. Never put plaster (dry, set, or wet) into drain pipes.

This advice should take care of at least two items that can cause anxiety when making plaster molds:
  1. Where do I rinse plaster off my hands, mixing bowls, and tools?
    • In a 5-gallon bucket half-filled with water.
  2. Where do I dispose of excess plaster and plaster residue?
    • In a lined trash can with crumpled newspaper in the bottom.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Down Time Nº 7




Sometimes life gets in the way of making dolls. I am currently experiencing some down time, due to an unexpected health emergency. I will try to get back to work on my doll as soon as possible. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Down Time Nº 6




Sometimes life gets in the way of making dolls. I am currently experiencing some down time, due to an unexpected health emergency. I will try to get back to work on my doll as soon as possible. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Down Time Nº 5




Sometimes life gets in the way of making dolls. I am currently experiencing some down time, due to an unexpected health emergency. I will try to get back to work on my doll as soon as possible. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Down Time Nº 4




Sometimes life gets in the way of making dolls. I am currently experiencing some down time, due to an unexpected health emergency. I will try to get back to work on my doll as soon as possible. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Down Time Nº 3




Sometimes life gets in the way of making dolls. I am currently experiencing some down time, due to an unexpected health emergency. I will try to get back to work on my doll as soon as possible. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Down Time Nº 2




Sometimes life gets in the way of making dolls. I am currently experiencing some down time, due to an unexpected health emergency. I will try to get back to work on my doll as soon as possible. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Down Time Nº 1




Sometimes life gets in the way of making dolls. I am currently experiencing some down time, due to an unexpected health emergency. I will try to get back to work on my doll as soon as possible. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

09 Plaster Production Molds Nº 1




Wow !!! I cannot believe that I am actually doing this. What happened to my resolve to do this process in order? If the truth be told, I am fairly certain that I finally admitted to myself that I am stuck.

By my very nature I was determined to finish refining all the carving wax parts before starting on the plaster production molds. I must admit that I was dreading the refining part of the process. I detest sanding anything. The more difficult it is to sand, the more I detest it.

Google Search: define:detest

de·test   /diˈtest/
verb detest;

1. dislike intensely.
"of all birds the carrion crow is the most detested by gamekeepers"
synonyms: abhor, hate, loathe, despise, shrink from, be unable to bear, find intolerable, dislike, disdain, have an aversion to;
formal abominate

"the only vegetable I truly detest is turnip"

(that's really funny because I have a taste aversion to turnips !)


Maybe that is one reason I have not tried the LaDoll modeling material? Besides the fact that it is extremely expensive and not reusable, it seems to me, from everything I have read about it, that it is a material that is mainly shaped by sanding ? Yeah, right. Like I am going to be attracted to a material that requires a lot of sanding ?

Thank Goddess for carving wax !!!. Not only can I get really close to the final form with cast carving wax parts made from modeled oil-clay, but the sanding of carving wax is probably the least obnoxious of any material that I have ever worked with. Yay !!!.

With this post, I am starting to make plaster production molds. I am starting with the feet. According to Way of the Doll the feet are first because they represent being grounded. I can relate to that because I am a Virgo, and Virgo is an Earth sign. Feet support the whole weight of the doll. They will be cast solid. This is an important point. Some parts are cast hollow, and others are cast solid. The feet and the hands are cast solid. The main difference is in the design of the spare. The spare is the pouring cup of the mold.

If a part is to be cast hollow, then the spare should allow for the excess slip to be poured back into the slip jar after the casting has become the desired thickness. If the part is to be cast solid, then the spare does not have to be designed with that in mind. Keep this in mind.

Besides the design of the spare, there are many other things that I need to remind myself of when making plaster molds. Plaster molds are rigid, and unforgiving. Planning is needed. Planning is best done when the whole process is understood. Most of the anxiety of making a plaster mold can be avoided by simply being prepared.

Being prepared means knowing which tools and materials are needed to make plaster production molds, and getting everything together ahead of time.

In the following posts I will be going over everything that will be needed to make plaster production molds and I will document all the molds that I make.

I must admit that I have many tools and materials that a beginner may not have. I have been making sculpture for awhile now, so I have accumulated many materials and tools. I will try to mention alternate methods and tools where needed.

The thing is, I was once a beginner myself, without all these tools and materials. I did not always have such a nice studio. So please ask questions if you have them. I do not expect many questions. It seems that I always go SO slow that all the questions are answered before they can be asked.

The plaster I use for making the production molds is called White Moulding Plaster, also known as No.1 Industrial Moulding Plaster. I purchase this plaster from a local Building Materials Store in a 100 pound sack. When I first started making rigid plaster slip casting molds, that sack cost about $11.00 USD. The last 100 pound sack I purchased cost $44.00 USD.

My plaster mold making  bible is Plaster Mold and Model Making by Chaney & Skee.



Plaster Mold and Model Making.
Charles Chaney, Stanley Skee.
NY: Prentice Hall Press, 1986.
ISBN: 0671608967

(Originally published by:
NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, Inc., 1973. ISBN: 0442215118)

As of the time of this post, this book is out-of-print, but still available from used-book search engines such as AddAll. I highly recommend obtaining a copy of this book if you can. I found my first copy of Chaney&Skee through the Inter-Library Loan service at my local Public Library. You can find libraries that have a book in their collection by searching WorldCat.

It is only fair to note that the above book does not address making doll molds specifically. Rather, it is a book that covers the principles of making plaster molds. Therefore, once the principles are understood, plaster molds may be designed and made for just about any model or pattern that a plaster mold can be made from.

Here is a list of plaster mold making books that I have in my studio.

There is also some very good information about making plaster molds for ball-jointed dolls in the Making a Porcelain Ball Jointed Doll Tutorial and the Martha's Method topic at Woodland Earth Studio.

This post about making a plaster mold from a hard-boiled egg provides a good overview of making a two-piece plaster mold. The same process can be used for making a mold of any round object, such as a ping-pong ball, or a wooden ball if it is sealed first. The idea is that these objects are small, so a lot of plaster is not needed. Also the egg or ping-pong ball is a demanding pattern. If you do not get the parting line just right, it will be locked in one half of the mold. If a mistake is made while learning, losing a hard-boiled egg or a ping-pong ball is not as traumatic as losing a doll part that has many hours of work invested in it.

The important thing, whether you have a book, or are using an online tutorial as a reference, is to understand the process first, then get all the tools and materials that are needed, then practice making some small ball molds before trying to mold any doll parts.

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