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Casting :: Inspiring Creativity

by Folksy Support

Celtic love plaqueThis week 3 fabulous Folksy sellers are all set to inspire you to try something new. Each maker’s work is markedly different to the other, each with a totally unique style and working method; so what have they got in common? Well they all make their items from casts. Casting is a fascinating process and hopefully their methods will get you in the mood for making a mold and having a go!

Gelert Design turns his beautiful, plaster relief carvings and clay sculptures into high quality resin goods. Why? “To me, casting makes economic sense. Rather like producing prints and postcards of a painting. Casting is a hugely broad subject with different materials and techniques needed for different applications. You can cast with clay, plaster, concrete, papier mache pulp, metal, candle wax or resin.

I choose to cast in resin because of its versatility. You can cast water clear objects with or without embedded items, pigment the resin, add powdered stone or metals or paint the finished piece.

All you need is the object you want to reproduce, a mold of it and your casting material. I make molds of my clay models or plaster carvings from silicone rubber.fairy door

The mold making is a slightly underrated aspect of the process, but it’s the most important part and, depending on the complexity of the original piece, maybe the most difficult and skilled too.

I use RTV silicone rubber to make my molds along with a plaster or fibre glass support shell to prevent it from buckling.

Even after thousands of casts, I’m still excited when I pour liquid into a negative mold and it pops out as a solid reproduction ready for finishing!

I think it all stems from a rabbit shaped jelly mould we had when I was a child”.

In contrast to Gelert‘s intricate carvings, Adorna jewelery makes beautiful silver jewelery cast from things she finds in silver oval ingotnature. “My casting process I’m told is a very old one. If I’m using a natural cuttlefish I saw it in half, saw bottom ends flat and same length, carve my design and funnel then wire the two halves together. Next is the first fun bit – I melt the silver or gold in a crucible and carefully pour it in.

The second fun bit – (a little nervously) I break open the cast to see what I have. You never really know how the beautiful lines and patterns are going to appear, so it is then that the inspiration for the final piece comes into play. A shape will usually present itself to me and I try to enhance the natural lines by filing, piercing, polishing and sometimes even decorating with more silver or gold”.

Pennydog’s work is again, totally different to the other artists, her bright colours and simple shapes make striking accessories and she explained to me, “I am intrigued by shape mostly, so I like to make my own molds from silicone, quaint kitchen blue fabric necklacerecently in the shape of sweet treats! I love the way with resin that you can make complete replicas of pretty much anything. I currently use polyester resin which uses a small percentage of catalyst and stinks to high heaven, and often I need to use specialist additives to help cure the backs of pieces so they aren’t sticky, or to make them less brittle. Recently though, I have made a new friend who manufactures construction chemicals for business and even the Ministry of Defence, so hopefully very soon I will be using a less-brittle epoxy based resin that I can source in bulk which should make my home atmosphere a little more pleasant too!”

allsorts earringsFancy a go? Where do our sellers recommend finding out more and do they have any advice for budding mold makers?

Gelert Design warns, “There are toxic chemicals and an element of danger involved with mold making and casting and so it’s important that anyone who tries it knows what they’re doing”. Luckily he also adds, “There are plenty of resources on the web but I have found these two channels invaluable for silicone and resin: http://www.youtube.com/user/brickintheyard http://www.youtube.com/user/freemanmfg ”

Adorna found learning from a teacher most vaulable, “I would recommend a great learning source to be some type of aztec ingotcourse where a tutor can guide you through the process; precious metal has to get really hot to melt, so safety has to play its part! Spending time with class members is a great way to inspire and encourage you. It’s also a great way to get honest feedback on what you’ve been up to!”

In contrast, Pennydog is, “.. completely self taught, as when I started out a few years ago, there was nothing for people in between industrial resin users and fine silver jewellery/cold enameling processes. Since then I have written an e-book outlining casting techniques and mold making, and there are plans next year for another book release!

You can find Pennydog’s e-book here: Create your own resin jewellery and there are lots of projects on her blog

Items pictured are availaible at www.folksy.com – please just click the images for more details.

More about our columnist – Amy is a stained glass artist from Exeter and has a succesful Folksy shop ‘Amy OrangeJuice’ selling suncatchers, mobiles and Christmas decorations with the left over pieces of glass from her larger comissioned pieces as well as reclaimed glass. (pictured are her pretty heart tree ornaments) Read Amy’s blog and visit her Folksy shop to find out more, or buy a piece of work from this talented and award winning glass artist. You can find out more about her on her website, facebook or her blog.

Take a look at some of the other fascinating handcrafts that Amy has tackled in her Inspiring Creativity series. Thanks for reading, we look forward to hearing your comments.

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Simeon Jones November 30, 2010 - 9:36 pm

Love your site and am following on twitter.
I’m a handcraft designer bookbinder and make all sorts beautifully made books. Check out my blog, click a photo on it and see my flikr photos. I hope you’ll like my stuff.

Cinnamon Jewellery December 1, 2010 - 12:01 pm

It’s really interesting finding out the skills that lie behind the wide variety of handmade items on Folksy. Just off to check out Adorna!

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