Sunday, 12 February 2017

How To Make a Plaster Support Mould For Latex Moulds

Materials required:

Gypsum plaster, clean bucket, water, spirit level, Vaseline/petroleum jelly, 12 mm thickness wooden dowel, PVA glue (or similar strong water based craft glue), two slim glass louvre window panes (2 or 4, I used two for this project) or smooth melamine wood cut to size, duct tape/packaging tape and you obviously need a finished latex mould with positive objects still contained inside the mould :) 
Old louvre window panes, smooth side up, are ideal to use as latex mould bases.
To make my latex mould, I secured my positive objects first on a recycled window louvre, flat side up. Fifteen layers of latex later, the mould is ready for a plaster 'mother' mould or backing mould. Applying fifteen layers of latex means that your latex mould will last longer and your mould will be the strongest it can possibly be. 

Fifteen layers of latex is recommended to ensure strength and durability of your mould.
Please note that I have left all of my positive objects still enclosed within my finished latex mould, just as they were when I was making the latex mould. Do not remove them, or your plaster mould will not be effective!!! 


Method:


1. I applied petroleum jelly/Vaseline, to the dry latex mould above, with the positive objects still enclosed within the latex mould :)

2. I measured the highest point of my latex mould and cut six identical pieces of wooden dowel to act as levellers for my finished plaster mould. I left a gap of 2 cm above the height of the highest latex mould so that the finished plaster mould will support it well.




Ensure your glass pane and wooden dowel pieces are level. Glue the dowel pieces down with the loose top glass pane acting as a weight on top. 


3. I glued down the wooden dowel pieces to the latex mould and waited around 30 minutes for glue to dry. Do not glue the glass pane down!!! Keep the glass pane on top to help set the wooden dowel pieces to the latex. Once the dowels are glued down, remove the louvre pane. 


4. 
I then made a supporting frame around the latex mould, but I only used glass louvres on the two longest sides of the mould to make the plaster mould. Butt one glass window pane up against the longer side of the latex mould, so it sits upright. Butt the second louvre glass pane on the opposite longer side of the mould. At this point you can tape around them using duct tape or ordinary packaging tape. The tape will enclose the other open ends of the mould. You could of course use melamine or the window louvres (the narrowest ends) to make a completely enclosed box shape around the latex mould. For this project, I only used two louvres to surround the two longest sides of the latex mould. 

5. Apply petroleum jelly/Vaseline to the glass louvre panes (optional but a good idea).

6. Prepare your plaster. Fill your container with water. Add dry plaster mix at a ratio of roughly equal parts water to powder. Once the plaster is visible over the water line, start to mix with a spoon or I use my hand/s so I can squish out any lumps and feel the thickness and temperature of the plaster. The plaster will feel warm once it is thickening and the texture should be as thick as a soft 'butter' type consistency. Leave it a bit on the soft side, as once it starts to harden quickly if it is too thick, will not leave any room for smoothing it down once it is applied to the mould.  




 7. Pour your plaster onto your latex mould and fill completely up to the top of the wooden dowels. Once your mould is filled over by plaster, place your glass louvre pane firmly on top of the plaster and press down firmly on top of the dowels, to ensure it is level. Try to keep the shortest sides of the mould covered with plaster too. What we want to end up with is a rectangular plaster box shape with a perfectly flat bottom to support our latex mould, once turned over right side up.

7. Once finished, you can remove the glass pane once the plaster has set. The glass should not stick to the plaster. Your plaster mould underneath the glass window pane is the finished bottom side of our mould. Once dry, flip the finished mould over and leave the latex mould enclosed in the plaster until it is completely set.

Warning: Mixing plaster with your hands, squishing it between your fingers then sculpting with it can be seriously fun. 




Saturday, 28 January 2017

Making A Multi Cavity Silicone Soap Embed Mould

Project: Making a multiple cavity (Egyptian) silicone soap mould embed.

Materials:

RTV Silicone/catalyst -  or you could use a Latex rubber moulding compound but I can't stand the stinky ammonia smell.

Bathroom heat lamp globe (sold in supermarkets for under $15) which is used to soften modelling compounds and to provide even heating for the silicone mould once it is finished.

Modelling compounds - Plasticene, heated with the heat lamp for a couple of minutes;
Fimo oven bake clay - the Chinese variety, commonly found on Ebay under 'oven bake clay' or 'polymer clay' (The cheaper the better because the cheaper ones are harder and less pliable).

Cheap thin paintbrush, from a child's set or similar.

Cheap pourable craft glue, from discount stores.

Offcut of a tile, glass sheet or perspex, or anything else with a smooth, flat finish.

Egyptian positive object/s, with flat bottoms. You can use anything else you like to make an embed, as long as the underside is flat. Jewellery pendants, charms and buttons are examples.

Method: 

First, I secured my Egyptian positive objects to a long piece of perspex offcut using craft grade glue (found in discount stores). I used the cheap paintbrush to brush the glue all over the back of the positive object, with the glue being thicker in the middle. The sheet of perspex then went under the heat lamp for 30 minutes, to set the glue.

Once the objects were glued onto the perspex firmly, I then backfilled any protruding undercuts underneath each positive, using warmed plasticene and poked the warm plasticene around using the non paintbrush end of the paintbrush. The perspex was then placed onto a piece of wood which was levelled using a spirit level. Although it looks like the positive objects are sitting on a wooden base, they are sitting on the clear acrylic perspex. 

Next, I built the mould walls and borders around the perspex base. I used the cheap and nasty 'oven bake clay/polymer clay' which I cut in long strips about 1 cm high. 
I pressed the two sides of the perspex together while attaching the polymer clay strips around the perspex, and trimmed off any unwanted clay strips. I then used softened plasticene to build a softer wall on top of the polymer clay and filled in any gaps along the bottoms and made sure there were no gaps on the inside or the outside of the mould. I did not bake the 'polymer' clay in the oven for the bottom layer...it still needs to be soft enough to adhere to the perspex and plasticene. Using the other end of the paintbrush, I poked and prodded the warm plasticene around until I was happy there were no gaps.


The positive Egyptian objects adhered to perspex, with the wall of modelling clay and plasticene now complete.

Now with the mould walls secured around the perspex, I poured the silicone into the mould and turned the heat lamp towards the mould once it was finished.

One polymer clay strip on the bottom layer, with softer plasticene moulded onto the upper layer.
Finished silicone multi cavity embed mould
As it is a mild summer evening, I will leave the heat lamp on overnight to ensure the temperature of the silicone constantly stays at around 23 degrees. I can soon smell the familiar smell of the catalyst warming the silicone, which is a good sign. Within 48 hours my mould should be cured and ready to demould.

Thank you for reading my blog about my serious silicone moulding addiction :) 




Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Recovery from spinal injury...whilst running a business

My looong journey of physical recovery has concluded..I think.

Seven long years in the making since my spinal injury occurred in 2009 as a result of a drunken driver with two children in the car, smashing into my car's rear end whilst I was stationary. Chronic fatigue, chronic pain, financial stress, situational depression...I experienced this for a looong time.  Wrong medication, inadequate medication...finally after some years tolerating chronic pain that I assumed the GP prescribed the correct dose of medication for, I discovered different medication and a stronger dose of existing medication was needed. I was a practising Occupational Therapist then in the public service, so I guess I just 'toughed it out' because of my occupation too.

Bottom line: Get another medical opinion and/or a medication review urgently, and don't suffer ongoing, chronic pain unnecessarily.

It's now 2016/17 and I feel almost physically 'normal' now. Almost. I'm not superhuman any more but I'm happy with that. I just don't clean the house as thoroughly any more...Pre accident I dusted weekly, mopped twice weekly, vacuumed weekly and cleaned the house windows every month, inside and out. Not any more. The 4 kids tell me they didn't really appreciate being yelled at for not cleaning their rooms every week. They like the new 'lived in messy look' of our house. It's an 'Artists' Den', aka very messy house. Husband Daz calls me a bullshit artist, but that's ok too. Basic things are cleaned such as beds, clothes, people and things we eat from. If I have time I mop the kitchen/toilet weekly and vacuum, but I don't clean all the bedrooms weekly. I now work full time again, so I'm doing well. I now run a small, humble post office.

Once I started to physically and emotionally recover, I could see the world with open eyes again. I realised that the simple things that started this business - with me spending my spare time carving soap and wax positives, making silicone moulds and selling soap base that helped my son's eczema - were the things that gave me satisfaction. I posted pictures of all my new moulds that I made, shared messages from my friends in China and shared photos of my family history with the world. People wanted 'reality based' online interaction, and soon the little original Southern Skies Soap Supplies' 'Moonfruit' hosted mini website became very, very busy with online visitors.

However when I first started this business, I became too obsessive with selling online, tried to sell everything to everyone, started to sell goods in larger sizes and then learnt that I could not do that effectively with spinal injury. I had decided to dive head first into online selling full time, since working from home was easier than working for an employer, with 4 young children. I made many mistakes, but it taught me lessons. In the meantime, I had lost any motivation to participate in any hobby, due to pain. I started to wonder where the 'real me' had disappeared to, for the last seven years. I did a lot of soul searching. I questioned every decision I had ever made, throughout my whole life. I looked for answers in deep, dark, faraway places. I questioned my spirituality - am I a Pagan, a Buddhist or a Christian? (I'm just a 'non conforming Christian' actually, with 'multi dimensional' spiritual beliefs omg). I had to make a conscious, very determined effort to find myself again, and recover my hidden hobbies and umm artistic 'talents', if you could call them that! It's actually a LOT harder than you may think. Did I still want to be an Occupational Therapist? Did I want to be a full time online soap seller or was that a stupid idea? Why did I go to Uni if all I do is sell soap online? The truth is, as long as I'm around people and helping them, then I'm pretty happy. My life is a big learning curve on an enormous, unpredictable ride - and I've learnt now that I like it that way. I valued my 'old life' which was secure and predictable as an Occupational Therapist...but have now realised that personal growth and new experiences, (as bad as they are!) is what makes us develop and progress as individuals, on many different levels. Oh and I discovered in 2015 that I love selling soap at local markets. I will try to participate in some more markets in the future - people like to engage with other like minded people (instead of an online only interface) and I like to talk, so that works well.

During this journey, I have also learnt that I would like to 'recover' my original focus for my business - soap base and soap moulds. So whilst some of you may look at my website for the first time and not notice anything new, others have been shopping with me since the beginning...and there have been many, many changes on the website lately, due to me refocusing my motivation and business ideas.

Yay, it's summer time, which means wax carving and moulding time. Oooh the beeswax is melting outside on the stove top and the scouts are buzzing around looking for a new camp for their Queen. Hello bee friends! you really wouldn't believe just how glad I am to see you guys again...for this year anyway, I am very, very relieved to see bees buzzing around the wax pot.
Ooohh nooooo,  don't nose dive into the pot again, you did that 7 years ago and we both know how that ended...I have to dig your body parts out when my wax cools. Welcome to my world.