Friday, September 24, 2010


If a mold is not too large you can pour your waxes yourself but often I have someone assist.  I have two vats or actually cookers that one is placed at 200 degrees and the other 180 degrees and you want to use the hotter of the two first (that way it gets into all the tiny detail areas or ears etc.) then follow up with the lesser heated wax.  Often if you have a tiny area that you need to force wax into you can also use a hair dryer to blow the wax into that area.

Your objective is to pour a mold that is thick enough to be a good wall in bronze but not too heavy because that is a sign of a poor there is a very thin line of thinking there. It must be 1/8 inch thick to be a good solid wall but there are areas that you will not be able to control such as around ears or in detail areas.

I have one piece I pour that has a large indention in the middle and invariably I will have to pour a little wax over that area even after I have finished pouring the piece because it just is a high spot in the mold and hot wax just tends to run right off of it....therefore I let my wax cool a little just for that particular spot. If you take this opportunity to clean your molds and piece them back together for storage they will be ready next time.  Wax does have a tendency to build up on your molds each time you pour a piece.About every three or four pours you should check your molds to see if age has deteriorated them or they need release.

 I have had a personal battle with mice loving to spend the winter in my studio and they can ruin clay or molds in just a little time.

The wax that you poured from your mother silicon mold is cleaned of every defect and reconstructed if necessary (often feet or horns are cast separately) into an exact replica of your original clay.
Sometimes the texture of hair or eyes and ears catch little bits of mold material or bubbles requiring a good pair of tweezers and a hot dental tool.

There is also a harder red wax that comes in handy at patching.  Always remember hot wax won't seal to cold wax so heat both patch and hole area.  I use a small oil wick lamp to heat my tools but also have an electric hot tool with changeable tips.

I know the lamp sounds antiquated but it gives you time to think between heating your tool as to exactly what you are doing.  You can not just go melting a cast wax, it is usually cast hollow so you can only touch it briefly to repair.  You also must cut off your pour channels and patch that hole.  I pour wax in a 1/8" or more thickness in a baking sheet to use to cut my plugs and fill pour holes, always heating wax to receive heated wax.
After you have reconstructed the entire piece and checked for flaws re-check areas that are special, eyes, nostrils, ears and mouth (all have a tendency to catch bubbles or become malformed.)  These are your last minute checks but more importantly they are incredibly difficult to correct in metal so best done in wax.

Notice the little piece of red wax holding the tail on the above buffalo, that will be metal but it is placed there for support and will be cut off in metal after casting. Also now is a great time to flatten the bottom to where it lays well on your base, I have a flat sheet of steel that I heat and carefully place my wax on to level the bottom and then clean.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Refilling my vision

Wily Hunter
Got away to the mountains to check out the foliage this weekend and enjoy the last few days of Fall that you can actually enjoy in a tent. It was chilly at night (in the 20's) but fun all the same.  Had a wonderful camp sight up at Long Draw reservoir. The beetle kill is ruining the  pine trees but the aspen were changing and beautiful. The camp was just at the edge of a valley so you could actually survey the entire area looking upstream from the lake to the mountains.  Even the small bushes were colorful in their bright reds and oranges.

 Talk about recovery I ever forget the problem with my molds. This is what I meant about refilling your artistic energy and feeling the excitement again. This is where your passion lays so take hold of it and own it...never feel that you are lost and run down without any idea of creating again.

I saw moose, coyote and enough fresh air to amp up my creativity.

Just try to remember your soul is like a bucket and needs refilling constantly, it is not as easy as some people think to just sit down and create.  You have to be in "the mood" but you have to also have a content heart, one that is just ready to create, not worry about tomorrow or yesterday or whether he said or she said.  Art is your baby and your creation and this is your sweet spot to go to and create something that no one else can create.

Whether you be in the mountains, on the back deck or just sipping something refreshing and listening to soft (or loud) music...this is you, your soul is searching for a way to express an idea...let it out.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Silicon Molding-two piece simple

 By now you have your clay work finished and have it sitting on a large enough piece of melamine coated cabinet board so that it allows several inches for the mold material.  A dam or wall either created with thickness of clay, paper cups or even tin will work, just make sure it can support a little pressure from the fluid pushing against it.

You will do one section at a time keep it simple and do not rush.

Registration marks or keys will be worked into your walls to lock your mold pieces together.  These can be made by  using a little (key) mold bought at art supply store (or make your own).  One side of wall will have a positive and the other a negative.  If you use clay for the wall you can poke indention's or tracks where they lock.

Determining where your wall will fall is crucial.

Determining where your wall will fall is I am not crazy just repeating important issue.

This is where you have to look at your piece very carefully for undercuts.  For instance if you have a two piece mold and you pull them apart will you be pulling a nose or ear off , etc.
In some cases you can split tiny areas after silicon has set up to loosen area around something but over time sometimes that weakens the integrity of the area.  Some unnecessary undercuts can be avoided by just filling in with a little clay knowing you can clean it out later in your wax.

Polytek Platsil 71.20 RTV Silicon Rubber

Be careful of items used (no latex gloves) and be prepared to throw away whatever you mix your Part A and Part B together . Plastic buckets are great and then into a third container to blend the two.The largest problem is deciding how much volume you need for the job you have created. This can be broken down by math (there is only room for a 5% error or so) a scale that measures in grams accurately is great. Most important in the beginning is spraying everything  you will be touching with the silicon with release.The wall, board, clay, just don't get it near your silicon itself.

Mix Part A and Part B equally but do not pour together until you are completely ready and set up to continue.They are two separate colors so it will blend to make a third color so stir it until you are sure that it is completely are allowed a little time so you can make sure. If you are making a one piece mold you have the piece already dammed all around the object and just evenly and smoothly pour the mixture all around the piece until you have it covered sufficiently (this is where you do not want it so thin that it tears or pokes through the mold). This will set up in four hours and you can remove the wall and extend it out farther where it can accept the mother mold that will support it through the months of storage.

 This is a plaster mold (instructions on the sack) and you just add a little shredded fiberglass to the plaster to add strength. One thing you want to make sure is that you don't add too much so that you get a pocket of fiberglass like a bubble next to the silicon...this weakens your mother mold. This type of mold is perfect for a relief type piece or a simple piece that can be pulled apart other words it gets more complicated the number of molds you have in a single piece also if you have a vertical piece that requires a thickener (which they sell for silicon) then you are laying it on vertical surface. For that type of mold you would need a specialist in mold making and that is not me.

artist friends

I find in my development along the way I have had support and advise from other artist and hopefully they realize how much I value their friendship. I feel sad for those that are too busy to share their solutions or encouragement.  All is helpful whether you have been in the business 30 years or just beginning.

I recently spent a day with a couple (both being artist) and soaked in as much artistic vibes and knowledge as possible.  Deb Jenkins (can be found on ) and her spouse Walt who is still shy about his creativity are both artists I can have a quiet, calm day or a fact filled activity and come away feeling my senses have been filled. Best advise, surround yourself with artist friends...great input for the senses and heart. I would not even be blogging if it were not for the encouragement of another phenomenal artist Judith Meyers also found on Be inspired.  Most good artists are great people, often shy about their work, take Stephen Spears (check him out online)for example, he does monumental work and does not even have a brag bone in his body.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tough lesson

I have learned a tough lesson on molds. My first 10 years of molds were made with urethane and the last few years with silicon and this past month has been rather disturbing due to the discovery of deterioration of some of my older molds.  There are areas turning to liquid especially sharp details or projections.  I have actually had to take the last few days to keep my wax vats hot and re-pouring constant in order to try to salvage as many editions as possible.  Your editions are only as good as the stability and quality of your mother mold (the one you pour all your waxes from to be taken to the foundry.)

On that note I won't say too much about molding as it is the next step and I am not exactly in the advising mode. As my crisis lessons I will hopefully be able to sanely describe the molding process. This might be the place to insert the idea that the computer or internet should be used as a tool but not necessarily lead to a way of life, it can rob you of very special time needed to create. If you use the computer as an asset, set a time aside daily to take care of business, respond to emails and market but remember your true calling is not the chat line but creating art whether it be pastels, pencil, oil, sculpture and pottery.

 One of the best things I can advise any beginning artist is organize your time, have your ideas set ready to go in the morning and have your tools sharp or ready to work. Set hours that would be the same as a job, even though you are passionate about your art, it is still your job...without creating, marketing and managing it is just a hobby and can not pay for itself in the world of black and red. Another thing is don't let feeling stuck or non productive stall you out, remember you have to keep refueling your insight. You empty your passion every time you create a piece of work so therefore you have to refuel yourself and your passion...go to the mountains and view animals (if you are me and work in wildlife) or go to the Botanic Gardens and refuel if you love to paint...just do whatever gets you back into the mode of excitement.

I know that at times I get burned out, either irritated at myself or whatever and need to re-think so I re-read Artist Way.  Each time I re-read this book it gives me a jump start. There are all kinds of great books out there including the Bible "do what you do good" that will instill your power again. Another thing to do is go to a gallery and check out your competition...all artists are competitive and it will motivate you like nothing else.

 While I am re-pouring waxes check out one of my sites and enjoy all the artists and their particular

 This is a good area to acknowledge help: There are times in everyone lives where they need to acknowledge needing help and advice and I have many people ranging from old friends to new acquaintances to advise me.
Everyone knowing my mold deterioration problem will understand my panic reaction but I would like to share with you advice I received from an artist in Australia.

 "You mentioned some of your molds going bad.  Molds seem to have a short life, depends on the temperature it is stored at as well as what is put in it, not to mention that some materials just don't last.  The only way I know of having a back up is to save the original sculpture, but if its clay or plasticine that is not very permanent so I keep copies in either plastic or plaster, that way if the mold needs remaking I have a model I can make a new mold from....I cast the thing in polyester casting resin, but mix it 50/50 with a material that is called Plastic bond (here in Australia) basically any plastic putty they sell for fixing dents in damaged cars....By mixing the two, one liquid, the other like tooth paste results in a slow running thick material that sets in about 20 to 30 minutes during which time it sets and is also removed from the mold before it all gets too hot." This is from a very diverse artist by the name of Mario Donk and he can be found on fineartamerican .com or