Going Vaguely Mouldy

I  have been sneaking in to the pit of extraordinary messiness that is my studio, and instead of tidying up I have been playing. What a surprise, I am very good at displacement activity!

As you will see below, I have been making moulds using the two part silicone moulding compounds that go by various names – Siligum, Easy Cast, Amazing Mould Putty to name just a few.  I even used the remains of the moulding compound that the Opro gum shield people sent when I was taking a mould of my son’s teeth for his sports gum shield!  It is the same stuff, and although the colour varies from make to make, I can’t really tell much difference between them all. 

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All of these items have been taken from casts of buttons, beads, charms and odd things I have found.  There is very little difference between the speed at which the compounds cure – all the moulds for these cured within 5 minutes.  I had been scouring my boxes and drawers for buttons and odd bits to take a mould from, and I went to the market and bought a whole load of single buttons to try out (nothing cost me more than 50p)

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This a close up of one of the pieces taken from a mould of a button.  I used Pewter Friendly Plastic and then coloured it with Adirondack Alcohol Inks.  This is about an inch (2.5cm) across so I was pleased with the level of detail the moulding compound picked up, after all, the original item was a cheap plastic button that cost about 30p in the market.

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The button that this came from is REVOLTING – a totally naff mock pearl middle with plastic “metal work” around the edge.  I much prefer my version.  This was made using Friendly  Plastic Pellets which I  pushed in to the mould (after melting them in hot water).  The colouring all came afterwards with acrylic paint, Alcohol Inks and a metallic pen.  I did learn that I need to be more careful to get the blob of pellets smooth before I push it in to the mould, but I still like the damaged and aged look the cracks give.

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These did not come from buttons, but objet d’art that I found around the place.  The nice thing about the silicone putty is that it does not damage anything that you put it on, and it comes away cleanly (in fact it is a great dust remover for all the nooks and crannies that the duster does not reach!).  Friendly Plastic Pellets were used again here, this time I coloured them before I moulded them, using metallic bronzing powders (real bits of metal, so masks are advisable).  They got a thin coat of copper paint and some patination solution afterwards as well, but it was really late when I did this and I think I should have  been more careful as I missed bits.

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This lot is a mixture of mouldings taken from items of jewellery, old beads, and some fabulous knitted wire that my good friend Erica makes using her knitting machine (she makes wonderful jewellery using very thin coloured wire, and as she is a perfectionist, it is always absolutely beautiful)

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Now this strange piece is only about 3 inches long and I moulded this around a lovely beaded necklace that my sister made me.  The original item is really lovely, but I wanted to explore the fabulous texture of the rope of diverse beads, and this is what I came up with, which is not lovely, but merely interesting.  Once again I used the Pellets and coloured them after moulding.

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I really like this moulded piece as I love oriental influences, and I coloured the pellets after moulding using acrylic paints, alcohol inks and Rub n Buff to make it look a bit like Chinese lacquer work.

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This is my very favourite piece, partly because I love the vase that it comes from (not mine unfortunately).  This moulding  measures about 3″ tall and again I used pellets, acrylic paint and alcohol inks plus Rub n Buff gradually building up the layers of colour.

As you can see, I have had fun avoiding tidying my studio and playing with mould making.  From my experiments, I don’t think there is much to choose between the different 2 part silicone moulding compounds, they all take a minute or two to mix together in your hands (just like mixing plasticine when you were a kid, but softer).  Once the two colours (usually white and another colour mixed together in equal parts so no measuring is necessary) are smoothly mixed with no streaks then all you do is push it around the item to be moulded and leave it for 5 minutes (more if the mould is deep or big).  I did discover that you do need to take care to have a big enough blob of compound to successfully mould deep things – one of my more pointy buttons nearly went through the bottom leaving a hole.  Another tip is to try to make sure the top is smoothly moulded around the item leaving a neat edge and not lop sided or you will find your mould less tidy to use leaving you with raggedy edges.

The moulds are flexible so you can manage a degree of undercutting, but take care not to enclose some element of your model completely or you wont get it out and your mould might be ruined.  Balls can be enclosed completely, you simply have to cut the mould in half once it has cured.  This could give you possibilities for making large hollow beads using a golf ball perhaps as the former.  I did this many years ago and it worked a treat.  If you are interested in getting your hands on some of this wonderful moulding compound then I might be able to source it for you, but I don’t want to keep it in stock if no one wants to buy it.  Half a pound of 2 part silicone moulding putty will cost around £18 to £20 I think, but it does go a long way, I made all these moulds (almost 30 of them) out of slightly less than half a pound of putty, which makes each mould average out at about 65 p a mould.  The compound keeps for a long time too, I have had some for a number of years and it worked absolutely fine.  Don’t forget that the moulds can be used again and again but they can’t be resoftened and remade into new moulds unfortunately.  So if you are interested then drop me an email at enquiries@rarebird.ltd.uk and I will get some in to stock for you.

If you do not want to go to all the bother of making your own moulds (I thought it was great fun and I am now looking at objects differently to see if I can take a mould from them), then go and check out the Krafty Lady Moulds.  There is a fabulous range of these, and if  you are in the UK then The Stamp Bug is the place to go and find them.  But do visit the Krafty Lady web site to get some ideas.

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