When I am claying up seams, I heat the clay up in a microwave, bang it out into thick slabs with a rubber mallet, and then put it on the sculpture while it is warm. Often I search around the studio for jars, cans, and other items to hold up this seam. Pressing hot Klean Klay against the base of a jar will help to hold it in place, and the jar helps hold up the seam. If I need to clean up a seam, I’ll use my favorite dental tool. I use a round ribbon tool to carve the groove in the Klean Klay. This creates the “key” to keep the two pieces of rubber together. Kitchen knives come in handy to cut the clay to make a clean edge.
As you can tell, making the seams and preparing each piece can take a lot of time. It probably took me three days to cut and prepare the entire sculpture.
Don’t forget to leave an area to pour your wax into the mold. This can be the cut area. For example, where the arm was cut. Sometimes I create a clay spout, adding it to the cut areas to give me a good pour. If you look at the lower torso in the video, I put rubber over the entire cut section, between waist and lower torso, and poured the wax into the rear area.
I love power tools. It is a reciprocating saw that I use for cutting apart the sculpture. Using this tool is something I learned from the foundry.
The metal shims used in creating the seams on the upper torso and head are from Wholesale Tool and they are taped together with scotch tape. I have also seen other sculptors use plastic for shims. One of my cans of shims says the size is .0005. The shims should be thin enough so as not to make too big a gap when the rubber pieces are put together and not too thin so that it bends when you push it into the clay.
Be careful when using metal shims. Throughout the process, the shims disappear after being covered with rubber and plaster, you may have an edge stick out that can slice your hand.
Each sculpture piece is sprayed with a couple of coats of mold release agent. I never seem to have enough of this around. Be sure to keep a few cans on hand. Universal Mold Release costs about $11.30 a can and is purchased from Reynolds.
I have tried several different rubbers, but right now I am using Reynolds Rubber Brush- On 40, gallon kit. It costs around $120.00. It took about four of these to do the Dick Hathaway sculpture, a big investment. Remember though, a foundry would charge you about $7,000 to make a mold this size. I’m open to investigating less expensive rubbers, but dependability and longevity of a rubber is something to consider when comparing rubbers and I know this rubber fits that bill.
Mold making is messy. I put paper, plastic, or cardboard around the mixing area. Save all of your large plastic yogurt and sour cream containers. These can be used over and over again for mixing rubber. This entire process is not very earth friendly and reusing containers helps ease my conscience a bit.
Mixing sticks. I use a lot of these, so I try to pick them up from the hardware store whenever I go. Usually they give them when you buy paint. I also look for anyone throwing away old shutters or shutter doors. The slats work perfectly for stirring sticks. Yes, the word is out, I garbage pick.
Be sure to keep the catalyst (yellow container) of your rubber covered while working with it, it can go bad.
Keep a stick to scoop out Part A and a separate stick for Part B and then another clean mixing stick. You don't want to get any of part A into part B until you are ready to mix. You will notice in the video that I save my containers from sushi to set the cups in so they don’t drip all over the work area.
You must have equal parts. You must also be sure to mix thoroughly. If you are using yogurt containers be careful of the groves in the bottom of the container. You will want to be sure to mix every bit of it from the bottom. If you falter on these two hints, you will lose your mold and maybe your original.
Have plenty of gloves on hand. Mold making is very wasteful, but working without rubber gloves is maddening. I usually try to keep both vinyl and latex, just in case an apprentice prefers one to the other.
You will use quite a few paintbrushes. I change out paintbrushes after each coat of rubber. One inch chip brushes work best for me, and I get mine from Montalbano Lumber, $14.04 a box Even though this is a little item, I suggest looking around for a good price per piece on these. You will use a lot.
When applying the first coat of rubber, be sure to dab the rubber into all crevices. The second and third coat will go much faster than the first. I like to have several pieces to work on to keep the flow going. That way I am not waiting around a long time for something to cure for the next coat. If you touch the rubber and it feels sticky but kind of leaves a fingerprint, it is ready for the next coat.
This is a step that is not covered in the video. The video does not show how to make sure a mother mold will come off of the rubber. It is a vital step. Please contact me and I’ll explain this or I’ll be sure to video tape it in detail the next time I make a mold.
NEXT MONTH – Making the mother mold