Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All Sprigged Up

You know how sometimes, when you've got something really important to do, like, say, get ready for a big event? And, with this important thing looming, suddenly inspiration to do something totally different and unrelated hits you? No? Just me, then.

Obviously I am supposed to be getting my home, yard, and studio ready for the Maine Pottery Tour, happening minutes from now. (Okay, days. W'ev.) But then I saw this post about making molds for ceramic jewelry, from Sculpey. I don't make ceramic jewelry, but sometime I do use sprigs; and I still have plans to make buttons, magnets, drawer pulls, and other little things. This takes weeks out of the process, and makes designing much more direct: you can start making the objects while you are still excited about them; so many of my ideas die in the time between having the idea and getting the mold out of the kiln.

Right now I am most excited about using this for sprigs. Sometimes I make a pot, and it really really needs sprigs: it needs the tension between the identical repetition of the sprigs - a machine-like quality - and the soft squooshiness of the clay, with enough wonk to speak of its handmade nature. BUT! Making the exact sprigs that a pot needs used to be out of the question: make a positive, bisque it, make the negative (the mold), bisque now you're  a month out, and the pot is either long finished or bone dry.

Enter Sculpey! I can make the sprig-positive (the model), using the pot which will wear it as its background; bake that (about 5 minutes for tiny little pieces); make a mold of it, and bake, 15 minutes later, I have a mold that I can use right now today! I can also use the model now to make a mold of clay, that will then be bisqued because it will have a longer studio life.
A couple of things:

  • Since I was using a toaster oven, I had to turn the heat down to about 280; less than the 350 on the directions.
  • The tiny little sprigs baked up faster than the directions called for, also. I set two of them on fire before getting it right. Be careful!
  • The article calls for Murphy's Oil Soap as a mold release; that was fine for the Sculpey-to-Sculpey casting, but I found that a dusting of cornstarch worked better for the Sculpey-to-clay part. 
  • A student who worked for an art supply store told me last night that it is not recommended to bake Sculpey in an oven that will also be used for food. It's best to have a dedicated toaster oven. Sculpey says otherwise, but I'll tell you what: it sure smells toxic. Especially when it is on fire.
Okay, now I really do have to go get ready for the tour: price pots and so on. It's happening Saturday May 12 and Sunday May 13th.

Hope to see you there.


Melissa Rohrer said...

Thanks for the tip. I've been frustrated with the time factor too.

DirtKicker Pottery said...

Love this!