and a lot of puzzled looks at my explanation of the casting process. So here’s a brief little How-To. (with pictures!)
First of all, I don’t start off with regular clay. Clay is really messy and I just don’t have a year-round set-up for all of that. Instead I use Sculpey, the ceramic artisan clay used by crafters everywhere. A one-pound brick of original Sculpey (and you need a substantial amount, not the little tiny packages they’d love to sell you in kits) will set you back around $17.99 on either Amazon or the Sculpey website or any of several Sculpey-oriented crafter websites. You have to move quick too, because Original Sculpey (sometimes known as Sculpey III) is the fastest-setting version of it. Basically, Sculpey is a form of plastic that hardens after you put it in the oven, at which point you can do all kinds of things with it, like making Gnomes and Incense burners…
But even before you get the clay going, you have to make an armature. Not the elaborate stop-motion animation sort of armature, just a basic form around which you spread your clay. In this case, I use aluminum foil to ball up and mold into the basic shape. After you’ve got it in the basic shape, place it on a small sheet of WAX PAPER.
So then, take your foil model shape and spread the Sculpey over it, at least ¼ to ½ inch thick. Once it’s spread over the aluminum armature and completely covered it, that’s when the model carving fun begins. Make sure you’ve got some decent clay modeling tools which you can pick up from your art/craft supply store.
Then start carving…
Carve some more…
Until you finally get it right.
At this point you CAREFULLY transfer the model to a cookie sheet. And let me state here that it’s really important that the clay model is seated perfectly flat so that it will sit nicely. Now, set the oven to 275º and when it’s ready, pop the model in there. Might have to pull out some racks to make room.
Bake at 275º for at least 30 minutes. The Sculpey instructions state you want to keep it in the oven for 15 minutes for every ¼ inch thickness of clay on your model. So 30 to 45 minutes will usually do the deed.
Then just pluck it out and let it cool completely. Might want to open the windows too because hot Sculpey really stinks….
Now, get yourself a nice, flat work area for the next part of the process:
And here is where I leave you and let you go to YouTube University, because the experts there are far better at explaining the silicone mold-making and plaster casting process than I ever could. The following YouTube videos are really good and let you in on some of the process details, unlike a lot of the other professionally-made let’s-sell-you-stuff sites.
This guy is great. No corporate flashiness, just him showing you the process one-on-one.
He also has one on how to hand-mix Hydrocal plaster which is really good, but I haven’t been able to find it lately.
This gentleman is pretty good too.
And another one from Robert Tolone, on the brush-on mold-making method, which is what I do.
(General rule of thumb, If you really want to learn anything on YouTube, always look for the older guys and the working-from-home videos.)
Now, for plaster jackets over the rubber molds…
I watched this guy over and over again:
And this guy also does what I do with the plaster jacket molds:
And once you’re done with the mold making and have your mold ready, you can pour anything from plaster, plastic, wax, or resin or even other kinds of rubber into your silicone mold for whatever you want to do.
The stuff I sell on Etsy or at my booth is either plaster or Quickset Cementall fast-drying cement for the Gnomes and the Backflow incense burners.