Tag Archives: de genaro

Silicone back

I’m doing the second side, the back side, of silicone mold. This repeats the steps done for the first, front, side. Of course, the mold is turned-over now. Apply a liberal amount of release to all the surfaces of the two halves, the one with the model sitting in the silicone of the front side, and the other, back side plaster. Where silicone will meet silicone there must be a barrier of release or else the two halves will bond permanently. It is surprisingly easy to neglect this for some reason, when one is pre-occupied with so many details to consider. I apply paste wax (Briwax) to the plaster, several coats, and a spray type release I’ve mentioned before, which is hydrocarbons in ether, or something. Works fantastic. I’ll say it again: APPLY A LIBERAL AMOUNT OF RELEASE TO ALL SURFACES. If you can’t remember clearly applying release, then do it again.

Assemble the plasters, strap it together and again, cover the feet/pour spouts area, sealing it tightly so there will be no leaks.

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And that box mold I’m doing on the side? I added some pour spouts there too, and applied release. I’ll pour the second half right on top of the first, with whatever’s left over in the bucket from the big mold.

Here’s the mold, with the silicone poured in. Like before, there are vent holes at the high spots which let air escape the mold as the silicone fills it. The clay plugs the holes when the silicone oozes out. I have again mixed up 250% of the volume of the clay blanket removed in the last step. It follows the formula: The weight of clay times 1.06 equals the volume cubic inches of the clay. The volume cubic inches times .68 equals the weight of the Mold Max 30 silicone product that I’ll need. The rational about qualities to mix up are all in the earlier post “Silicone front”. On that first side, it turns out I had a good bit of silicone material left over, even after the box mold was poured. Based on weighing the leftover amount, just doubling the volume of the blanket would have been enough. And although I know this, I’m still going to use 250% volume, to be safe. It is a large batch, as much as I can get into the vacuum tank at one time.

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Enough to fill up the box too.

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After curing for 24 hours, I open the foot-cover to see. It’s all good, but do notice that 10 grams of material has leaked into the left spout. The seal wasn’t perfect.

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Split the mold open carefully, slowly, gently.

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The mold, by chance, opened with the first side facing out. This side hasn’t seen the light before, and it’s our first look at it, but it isn’t the side we just poured. It looks good without any air gaps at the high spots – all the venting worked properly.

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I want to free the other side. I invert the whole thing and suspend it on some cups to let it, sort of, ease its own way out, for a couple of hours.

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Then I gently start to pry it away from the plaster shell…

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..until it is worked loose.

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Interesting. See the air gap there on the belly of the figure? Although there had been oozing silicone out of that vent hole before it was plugged, there must have been some subsidence of the material while it was curing, leaving that void.

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I think it may be the same amount of material which found its way leaking into the foot-funnel. Or perhaps, because I forgot to seal the edges around the plaster half with the blue tape, air got into the mold and allowed the subsidence to happen. Otherwise, the clay plug should have secured vacuum to hold the silicone up. Who knows, but in this case it is easy to fix. I’ll re-assemble the mold and pour some silicone directly down the vent hole and fill the void. Since I will not apply any release to this area, the new materials will bond tightly to what’s there.

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After 24 hours I open the mold and see that the repair is good.

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Silicone front

I’ve been holding back something; remember that I had to cut off two pieces which make the back of the head to get this mold to work? I need to make a quick box mold for these, because, if I’m smart, I will be mixing enough silicone material to fill my mold up with some leftover, and I’ll have this second mold to use it up in. So, the usual procedure. Make a cradle, model clay up to the parting line, and box it in.

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Next, I’m ready to pour the silicone blanket for the front side of the big mold.

It is especially important to apply mold release to all the surface of the clay model, and paste wax to the plaster shell that contains it; otherwise, the silicone rubber will stick tenaciously to both and make it impossible to part the mold later, destroying the work entirely. I use a spray-on product, Mann Ease-Release 200, which is hydrocarbons in ether base, that I get from Smooth-On, same place I get the silicone rubber (Mold Max 30) from . The paste wax is Briwax, a furniture wax with a lot of solvent of some kind like Toluene that vapors off quickly. I get it at a hardware store. USE RELEASE, over use it, and use it AGAIN. And if you can’t remember for sure, use it again. That’s where this high-end release is good; it doesn’t build up and alter the model’s surface like many other common household substances which are often use for release. I won’t even name them.

After that, I assemble the mold, and seal off the bottom with a flat clay piece, which is the pouring funnel area for the finished mold, to keep the silicone in. Wrap the mold seam with tape, to seal, and bind it up with a rubber strap, a cut up bicycle inner tube. They work great.

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Next, I mix the silicone. I never have pictures of this because I’m too busy working quickly before the material passes it’s pot life. Here’s the summary: Decide how much silicone you’ll need to fill the mold. This is hard. What I do, is weigh the clay blanket that I removed earlier. Based on a lot of experience, I make some calculations. The weight of clay times 1.06 equals the volume cubic inches of the clay. The volume cubic inches times .68 equals the weight of the Mold Max 30 silicone product that I’ll need. Think about this. The clay is heavier that the silicone rubber, but the volume is the same for both, so I’ll want this formula to figure how much less of the silicone by weight I’ll need to fill the same volume as the clay. I derived it from the product’s specification sheets. Believe it, I have a whole notebook of these numbers worked out for each mold I make. There is more: Realize also, the clay blanket doesn’t precisely define the volume of the mold. It is like a loose drape over the sculpture. By much trail and error, I have learn that the volume of clay is about one half the volume of the space the silicone needs to fill. So double the volume calculation and work from that. You want to have enough to pour the whole mold at once. You do not want to have to mix up extra while the first batch is setting-up. You can, but it is stupid. I have done it too often, trying to be frugal with the cost of material. Just mix up what you know will be more than you need, and have some other small molds going which you can pour the extra amount into at the moment. It is better to mix up too much and throw it away, than leave the material on the shelf getting old past its expiration date. For this mold, I am mixing double plus another one-half, or 250%, of the volume of the original clay blanket. This mold is intricate, so I’m also using a silicone thinner at 5% of the total in order to help it flow better into and throughout the mold.

You can find instructional videos on the web which explain the proper mixing and pouring of silicone rubber material.

It helps a lot to use a vacuum pump to depressurize the air bubbles out of the mix. You’ll get a smoother mold without the chance of small pin-bubbles marring the surface details.

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The silicone is poured in from the highest point of the mold. Various other high spots in the mold are vented to allow air to escape, so that the rubber can fill the mold completely. As each vent shows rubber flowing out of it, it is plugged with a bit of clay, so that the rubber will continue to fill higher and higher. There are eight vents to see in this picture.

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On the side, is the box mold for the head pieces.

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And some leftover. That’s good.

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It’s a lot. A lot of planning, a lot of work, a lot of time. Truth is, it stresses me out, doing this. Sometimes, I think I should find another way to live my life.

Back blanket

It’s been a while. Went snowboarding in Wyoming with my brother-in-law, his wife & my remarkable niece. What fine hosts, and I had the greatest time there. I’d been to the Tetons many times in the summer to hike and climb, but this was my first time there in winter to snowboard. An excellent variety of terrain, rugged and scenic. I miss those days when I would lose myself in nature & the dissolution of the self, but after being so out of my head there and on return, I and ready to get back to work on this. The few people following this blog have told be they have in fact no complete idea what the process is here I’m illustrating; and how I can focus so much seeming effort upon it?

It is the complexity of it all which lets me lose myself in the work.

Here’s the first side again, now trimmed back from the edges to expose the plaster surface and match the extent of the first side blanket, which of course you can’t see, so it’s helpful to have pictures to refer back to. The new second plaster side will match face-to-face with the exposed plaster, creating a shell, or mother mold, within which the silicone mold is supported.

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Another clay blanket is made now for this, the back side of the model. Again, these are sheets of clay not more than 3/8th inch thick, laid on the model.

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After a rudimentary smoothing-out. This layer will become the shape of the silicone mold rubber to eventually take its place, and the second side plaster will be poured on top of it, so it must not have any undercuts to interlock with the plaster.

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The nearly final form of the blanket.

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Next, I create the sprues and vents for where the silicone will (eventually) pour in, and box it up all around (again) so the plaster can be poured on.