The Process of Creating One Sculpture

There are many steps to producing one finalized sculpture, and the entire process can take 2-3 days worth of work.

  1. After the clay sculpture is finalized, it is secured onto a platform where it will be molded.
  2. It is then prepared for the mold by being thoroughly coated/brushed with mold release spray.
  3. After about 30 min, the first layer of the polyurethane rubber mold is applied. The 2-part mold is mixed thoroughly and the first layer is applied fairly thin to ensure all the detail is captured and air bubbles are eliminated.
  4. After an hour or two (depending somewhat on the room temperature), when the first layer isn’t dry yet, but tacky to the touch, the second round is applied, in a thicker layer.

    The polyurethane rubber mold

  5. After another hour or two, the third and last layer is applied. The mold is then left to cure overnight (16+ hours).
  6. When the rubber mold is cured, and no longer sticky, it is prepared for the support shell by being divided into thirds with clay partitions.

    Clay partitioning section for gypsum cement

  7. The section is then sprayed with mold release and left to dry.
  8. I used gypsum cement to create the mother-mold. After mixing it with water to a thick consistency, it is applied evenly to the section and left to dry.
  9. After about an hour, the clay partitions are removed, and a new one is applied on one side of the next section. (The other side will be against the first cement shell part.)
  10. The second section is sprayed with mold release and left to dry.
  11. The cement is applied for the second part of the shell.
  12. When the second section is dry, the clay partition is removed and the third section is sprayed with mold release.

    The gyspum cement mother-mold

  13. The last round of cement is applied to the third section.
  14. When the last part of the cement shell is dry, the mother-mold can be removed. The cement parts can be separated at the seams by slowly and carefully driving a nail where they meet.
  15. The parts should be able to be removed and fit together snugly, as they will be put back onto the mold. The shells are removed for now, so a slit can be made on the rubber mold so the clay sculpture can be removed from inside of it.

    The rubber mold slit to release clay sculpture

  16. The hollow mold is sprayed with mold release, closed up again, and held in place by the support shells. A strap is tied around the support shell to keep everything in place.
  17. After the mold release has set, it is time to cast. The 2-part liquid plastic (Smooth-On 300) is mixed thoroughly and poured into the mold. This particular plastic cures in 10 minutes, which is a good amount of time to apply it using the rolling method. The mold is just rolled around until the liquid plastic has coated the entire surface of the inside of the mold.
  18. The liquid plastic cured to an opaque white, hard material that is now a hollow shell. I could’ve made the entire cast out of the liquid plastic, but I wanted the sculptures to be as light as possible since they will be spinning. The liquid plastic would have been too heavy to fill the whole sculpture, so instead I used it for the outer shell only.
  19. After the liquid plastic cures, its easy to see if it has coated the mold or not because of the color change, so if any part of the mold is still showing through, or the plastic looks too thin, a second round of the liquid plastic is applied using the rolling method.
  20. After the plastic shell is done, the 2-part expandable foam is mixed and poured inside of it. I cut a piece of wood and placed it inside the sculpture, holding it in place for 5 minutes as the foam expands and hardens.

    Foam expanding around piece of wood

  21. As the foam expands, some of it might overflow out of the opening. When it is all dry and rigid, the excess is cut off and sanded down. A thin layer of the liquid plastic is poured on top of the foam to seal off the opening.
  22. When that is cured, the mold and support shell are removed to reveal the sculpture. The bottom of the sculpture is sanded down to a level surface so it is ready to be attached to the spinning disk.

    Final sculpture of frame #1

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