Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Adding to the Cast

It's been a while since I added any new faces to the Dollie brooch gang, so last week I spent a few days working in my Mum's large sunny kitchen, making moulds from some more antique doll faces.
My own kitchen is galley style, and very dark.... it's so dark that I call it the cave!
It was lovely to be able to get all my broken heads out of their sweetie jar home, and pick some cute faces to play with.
Choosing faces from my Antique collection

These dollies are getting plaster moulds, so that I can have the choice to press them in Paperclay, cast them in composition liquid, or porcelain. Most of my earlier brooch moulds are flexible silicone, and so can only be pressed with Paperclay.

This dollie looks very like a Grace Drayton girl
 Before the plaster can be poured over the head, it must be set in a bed of clay. In the past I have used soft earth clay for this, but after doing a couple this way, I switched to wax based plastiline. This was cleaner to work with, and comes away from the plaster very cleanly. The warmth from the plaster setting also made it very easy to work with.
After experimenting with sections of plastic bottles to hold the plaster, I thought it would be a great idea to use pastry cutters instead. The plastic ones weren't deep enough for some of the larger heads, so I managed to source some lovely stainless steel ones for those.
And then disaster struck!!!
Despite coating the metal liberally with mould size/soap the plaster stuck fast in the metal.....and this tiny dollie got caught in the plaster too.....
Stuck in the plaster, and the stainless steel ring

I have no idea why it stuck so solidly, buy I'm guessing that it was something to do with the metal heating when the plaster cured.

I tried soaking the mould in water and soap, hoping to degrade the plaster, and free everything up, to no avail. I haven't got a lot of patience at the best of times, and was more than ready to take a hammer to the plaster to get smash the dollie out, when luckily the man of the house stepped in with a dental tool........
He managed, after a LOT of scraping to free everything from the plaster of doom......

Relief when the Dollie was released
 So then it was back to plastic cutters, and sections of cut up bottles!
More cute dollies preparing to get the plaster treatment

Building a smooth base for the mould

Making moulds from my own sculptures is much easier than these old heads, the model is softer, and the plains of the face slope away from the parting line. Porcelain is harder to get out of the hardened plaster and the broken edges need to be smoothed with clay. In a second stage, these protrusions are filled in with plaster, so that I have a usable mould. It's only because I love each of these faces so much that the tricky task is so worth it.

A finished Dollie Mould
The moulds have now been put aside, whilst I wait for the plaster to dry. And after a very eventful start to this week, with all sorts of washing machine and plumbing dramas I'm getting my stock ready for The Secret Vinatge Fair

 I'm really looking forward to getting out and meeting customers and friends again!!



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