Friday, 6 January 2012

Casting Spells...

Many of my statues, bowls and amulets are hand cast by me - from my original sculptures. The following is an explanation of this process...

My originals are created with clay - the air-drying kind. Here's a selection of them...

When they are fully dry (this takes about a week), I make a latex mould. This is a very time-consuming process, one that takes at least a day and a half of almost constant attention.

Many layers of latex are required, and each layer has to partially dry before another is added.

After all the layers of the mould have been completed, it stays on the original overnight. Then, with help from talcum powder, the mould is released. I then make supports for each mould - from cardboard packaging that I've saved. I rarely make more than two moulds of each original.
When I'm ready to take the first cast, I'll prepare the moulds - they have to be rinsed, with a tiny amount of water left in. Then I'll prepare the plaster - I use Stonecast, which is the hardest. It's very tough stuff. The mix has to be just right.
For the amulets and pendants, I mix by eye, from experience. When I'm casting large pieces, I will use scales and measured amounts of water. I normally cast a small batch of items - between four and ten - and will repeat the casting as necessary later on the same day. The prepared moulds and their supports are placed on whatever is tall enough to stop them touching the worksurface - I keep a selection of plastic tubs and pots for this.

The mix displaces the water, and that little amount of water helps to get the mix right into the details too. I check for air bubbles, clean up the excess water and mix from the edges, then wait...
The mix is quite quick to set, so after about six minutes, I'll start to carefully set the bails into the pendants. Some of my pieces have a little hole for threading instead - these usually take a little extra care during the pouring to make sure the mix has flowed everywhere.
The mix, like all plaster, warms up during the time it takes to set. I wait until they are all fully cold again. Then they are ready to emerge...

I check each one, make sure the edges are nice and smooth - I use one of my steel sculpting tools to round any edges. They then sit and wait for a couple of days to fully dry out.

Then, the fun begins...choosing colours...I use acrylic paint, and a non-toxic, non-solvent waterproof varnish.
The painting and varnishing takes several days, as I like to give everything time to fully dry. Each piece is signed and dated, and my special Limited Editions are usually named too.

So, that's the process for all of my hand cast pieces - the pendants, wall plaques, statues and bowls.

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