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Mold Making Techniques

Mold Making Techniques

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Published by Stefan Van Cleemput

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Published by: Stefan Van Cleemput on Sep 14, 2012
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www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2010, Ceramic Publications Company | Ceramic Mold Making Techniques |i
 
tips for makingplaster molds andslip casting clay
ceramicarts
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ceramic
moldmaking 
techniques
 
 
www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2010, Ceramic Publications Company | Ceramic Mold Making Techniques |1
Ceramic Mold Making Techniques
Tips for Making Plaster Moldsand Slip Casting Clay
Plaster molds make it possible or you to repeat complicated patterns and create orms not possible to ecientlyconstruct using any other pottery technique. For thousands o years, potters used bisqued clay or molds but themajor drawback was that they could not get a lot o detail. With the discovery o plaster in the 17th century, pottersimmediately saw the advantages and plaster has been the choice or ceramic molds ever since.
 
www.ceramicartsdaily.org | Copyright © 2010, Ceramic Publications Company | Ceramic Mold Making Techniques |2
10 Steps toPerfect Plaster
by Bill Jones
W
hether you need a drying bat, a simple humpmold, or you’re making a complex slip mold,you’ll need to mix plaster. Getting the plasterright requires a bit more than just “dumpingand mixing.” Here are 10 ways to get the best results or yournext plaster project.
1
Prepare your mold.
A common mistake potters make is tomix plaster only to realize everything’s not set up or pour-ing. Beore casting, make sure your model is set, the mold boardsor cottles are secure, and all the suraces you’re pouring onto arecoated with a parting agent such as mold soap.
2
 
Prepare your work area.
You will need a clean mixing con-tainer or the plaster, a scale or weighing the plaster, a mea-suring cup or the water and a rinse bucket. Note: Plaster cannotbe permitted to go down the drain, because it will orm a rock-like mass. Even small amounts will accumulate over time. Line arinse bucket with a plastic garbage bag and ll it with water orrinsing your hands and tools. Allow the plaster to settle or a day,then pour o the water and discard the bag.
3
 
Use resh water.
The mixing water you use should be at roomtemperature or 70°F (21°C). I the water is too warm, theplaster will set too ast and vice versa. Use only clean, drinkabletap water or distilled water. Metallic salts, such as aluminum sul-ate, can accelerate the setting time, and soluble salts can causeeforescence on the mold surace.
4
 
Use resh plaster.
Plaster is calcined, meaning chemicallybound water has been driven o through heating. I the plas-ter has been sitting around in a damp environment, it will havelumps in it, in which case it is no longer usable. Pitch it. Useplaster that has been stored dry and is lump ree.
5
 
Weigh out materials.
Do not guess about the amounts o plas-ter and water you’ll need. Once you start the mixing process,you do not want to go back and adjust quantities. To determinethe amount you need, estimate the volume in cubic inches thendivide by 231 to give gallons or by 58 to give quarts. Deduct20% to allow or the volume o plaster, then reer to the table.
6
 
Add plaster to water.
Slowly sit the plaster onto the suraceo the water. Do not dump the plaster or toss it in by hand-uls. Adding the plaster shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes.
7
 
Soak the plaster.
Allow the plaster to soak or 1–2 minutesmaximum. The soaking allows each plaster crystal to becompletely surrounded by water and it removes air rom themix. Small batches require less soaking than large batches. I the
Water to Plaster Mixing Chart
1 quart 2 lbs 14 oz (1,293 grams)1¹/ 
2
quarts 4 lbs 4 oz (1,937 grams)2 quarts 5 lbs 11 oz (2,585 grams)2¹/ 
2
quarts 7 lbs 2 oz (3,230 grams)3 quarts 8 lbs 9 oz (3,878 grams)3¹/ 
2
quarts 10 lbs (4,522 grams)1 gallon 11 lbs 6 oz (5,171 grams)1¹/ 
2
gallons 17 lbs 2 oz (7,756 grams)2 gallons 22 lbs 13 oz (10,337 grams)2¹/ 
2
gallons 28 lbs 8 oz (12,923 grams)3 gallons 34 lbs 3 oz (15,508 grams)This table is based on USG® No 1 Pottery Plaster mixed to a consistencyof 73 (73 parts plaster to 100 parts water) recommended for most studioapplications Excessive water yields a more porous but more brittle mold,and less water means a very dense, hard mold that will not absorb water
soaking time is too short, it may contribute to pinholes; and i itis too long, it will contribute to ast set times, early stiening andgritty mold suraces.
8
 
Mix the plaster.
Small batches o plaster can be mixed byhand. Use a constant motion with your hand and you willnotice a change in consistency rom watery to a thick cream.Break down lumps with your ngers as you mix. Mix only ora minute or two being very careul not to agitate the mixtureso much that air bubbles are incorporated into the mix. Mix-ing time aects absorption rates—longer mixing times producetighter and less-absorptive molds.
9 
Pouring the plaster.
Ater mixing, tap the bucket on a hardsurace to release trapped air. Pour the plaster careully.Wherever possible, pour plaster careully into the deepest area sothe slurry fows evenly across the surace o the mold. Once themold is poured, tap the table with a rubber mallet to vibrate themold and release more air bubbles.
10
 
Drying plaster.
When plaster sets, it heats up because o a chemical reaction. When it has cooled, it is sae to re-move the cottles or orms—about 45 minutes to an hour aterpouring. Molds must be dry beore use. Drying molds properlypromotes good strength development, uniorm absorption andreduced eforescence. Dry molds evenly. Don’t set them near akiln where one side is exposed to excessive heat or the relativehumidity is near zero. Place them on racks in a relatively drylocation away rom drats.
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