Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eureka....and DOH!

I had two moments today, one of "I RULE!" elation and one of...well...let me say that if I'd had a fork in my hand, I'd be in the emergency room right now with it stuck in my forehead (Joanie and Lesli -- prepare to chuckle).

OK...let me backtrack a bit...I hate hate hate gouging out pour holes from plaster molds. I probably hate it more than prepping resin sculptures for painting. It's messy, tedious and it hurts my hands something fierce. While Sonya was here, we cogitated ways to get around it, and she came up with some grand solutions that, frankly, went over my head. She has waaaay more casting experience than I do, and gave me perhaps a bit too much credit in the grey cell department. To be quite honest, I'm a bit of an idiot, and one fated to learn through turgid failure (as you'll see in a moment)..."And so...I flail!" should be my motto.

Anyway, I had to figure out a way to short-cut around gouging pour holes, when an idea popped in my head (much to my surprise)...the "eureka" moment. Now I knew that what I was about to do was either alarmingly stupid, or would save me heaps of hassle -- the potential pay-off was just to great for me not to try. Public humiliation on a grand scale or easy street? Hey -- it's a fair wager.
So forging ahead, I used some craft clay that I use for claying up, and rolled a blunted cone on a flat surface (in this case, a kitchen tile I bought at a DIY store): Then I stuck a toothpick in the end, being careful not to distort my thingamagig: I made two of them and poked them into the back of my oil clay ornament, already stuck in the first pouring. I pre-poked holes into the back of the ornament, since that clay is much harder than the gooshy craft clay (being careful not to be too aggressive and poke through and damage the inner side of the front piece). Once in, I gave them a little twist back and forth to make sure that joining was snug, and I made sure they were upright, too:
I proceeded as usual:
Now...those of you experienced in making plaster molds for slip-casting will notice I've done something remarkably silly...the "doh!" part: I've neglected to make keys in my first pour! Keys are natches that the second pour oozes into to create a male-female lock that makes sure the mold is aligned and locked tight when the two sides are joined together for pouring. I was so fixated on my contraption, and making sure I'd soaped this puppy before pouring (I nearly forgot again!), that this essential step just plain slipped my mind. Again, hosing up in spectacular ways is my best teacher...sad, but true. Anyway...I make the pour (because I hadn't realized the key thing yet):
Everything seemed to work just fine! I was concerned the cones would move or dislodge, but nope...they stayed as sturdy as concrete, even when I tapped the table to ease air bubbles up to the surface. And I guess Fate was kind to me...this pour was pretty bad, even by my own lame standards. It set up way faster than I expected (or I got sorely distracted and lost track of time and texture, which is what probably happened, let's face it), and I apparently didn't mix it as well as I should have (there were lumps in it!), so I had to rush the pour. Afterwards, I didn't expect this section would be a keeper, but that's fine. I can do another, and it did prove that these cones would stay put even in a ramshackle, hasty pour.

So I let it set and off I go grocery shopping, wondering if my diabolical plan would work. I come home to find the plaster set, I pop off all the stuff, pop the two parts apart (phew! I did soap enough!) and out popped the cones, as easy as pie! I swear I heard the trumpeting of angels...seriously:
The cones are in such pristine condition, that I can simply use them again for my re-do! I'd hoped it would work, but I never dreamed it would work this good!No more dang pour hole carving! Whaaaaa-hooooooo!

Now I wonder if various rubber cones could be poured as permanent "templates" (there's always extra rubber in a pour!), or if simply remaking ones in clay may be a better option. Hmmm. I also wonder how I can factor this into a rubber master mold. Oy.

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!), but 'That's funny.'" ~Isaac Asimov

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