A Total Failure

On June 10, 2013 by Darian Lajoie
Last week I was very excited to try making some molds using rubber stamps and then use the molds to make paper mache figures.  I was going to paint the figures and make fancy hair sculptures and attach them to hair clips to wear.  Here is a picture of the product I used: IMG_20130528_180814 - Copy   I mixed it up as directed and it smelled absolutely VILE, like wet, soggy mittens, or wet dog.  Still, I gamely filled some tiny paint trays and small bowls with the compound and after a little while, it became jelly-like instead of liquid, so I pressed in my rubber stamps – an assortment of button designs, violets, and butterflies.
A picture of the rubber stamps sitting in the mold compound: IMG_20130528_181025 - Copy   I let them sit in the mold compound until it was still jelly-like but slightly more solid and then gently eased them out of the compound.  They looked perfect!  They had fine detail and looked like they would be great, so I let them sit about half a day to allow the compound to harden a little more before filling them with paper mache.  They are not supposed to harden completely – they are intended to remain soft and can be used multiple times until eventually they harden too much and must be thrown away. Here are two pictures of the finished molds: IMG_20130529_192331 - Copy IMG_20130529_192400 - Copy               After the molds had hardened, I put some paper mache clay that I had bought at a Dollarama into the button molds.  Here are some pictures of the package of paper clay and one of the paper clay pressed into the molds: IMG_20130529_192623 - Copy IMG_20130529_193918 - Copy   Although I did manage to massage the clay with a little water until it was soft enough to go into the molds, I did not think I could press it in hard enough to get the detail of the mold because the mold was so soft that it would have mashed apart with too much pressure.  That was when I had the idea to try filling the molds with gesso instead.  Gesso is a white liquid plaster and is used for prepping paint canvas generally, although I have used it for other things such as repair of chips in china, and antique molded frames and mirrors as well. Here are two pictures of my bottle of gesso and of the molds filled with gesso: IMG_20130529_194519 - Copy IMG_20130529_195409 - Copy    
I waited until the next day because gesso takes awhile to harden, but when I  checked them, they were still liquid.  I kept checking periodically and they were not dry for almost a week!  When they finally seemed dry enough to take out of the molds, the molds themselves were dry and crumbly (they are supposed to remain jelly-like.)  So, as I tried to take them out of the molds, the molds cracked apart and would not come off of the gesso (you can see the faint outline of a butterfly): IMG_20130610_190028 - Copy IMG_20130610_190206               I was able to take the paper mache buttons out of their molds with no problem, however, as I had feared, they retained absolutely no detail and so came out looking like plain round blobs.  Here are two pictures of the empty molds and the resulting featureless disks: IMG_20130610_185854 - Copy IMG_20130610_185930 - Copy               Finally, here is a picture of the whole mess at the end of a week of work.  This is definitely not going to be worn in anyone’s hair anytime soon!  Back to the drawing board… IMG_20130610_190232

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