Make a Latex Mold of your own Sculpture
Creating something original is amazing, but being able to duplicate it is even better! Let me show you how to make a Latex Mold of your own Sculpture.
My new Air-Dry Clay:
I wanted to try some of a new Air-dry clay that I was gifted; Sculpd. For the upcoming Easter holiday I decided a bunny would be fun. I started with a basic shape which was bulked by using scrunched tin foil to save on using a lot of clay and also make drying take less time. It is a common practice with polymer clay but that needs to be baked.
This Sculpd clay feels much like the earth clay I had played with in school on the potters wheel. It is not oily, but water based and since It is my first time trying it I was hopeful that there would not be much shrinkage as that could be problematic with the foil.
The Sculpd clay builds nicely and the fingers get a bit clay covered but a damp rag will remedy that. I have a box of all kinds of tools that I love!
But even that said; I do love just using my fingers! There’s a natural creative feeling about pushing something around… changing your mind and pinching more.
This ‘lil fellow is a bit odd looking but I really wanted to test the boundaries. It did not dry out too quickly but do keep the extra clay covered while working.
Don’t be too Critical:
Keeping some reference photos near by does help quite a bit. He is a sitting on the ground so the bottom will be flat and simplified.
I had forgotten that I do like sculpture, especially this very simple way. Make whatever your heart desires… be interpretive or realistic; it does not matter at all as long as ‘you’ like it.
Since I am going to make a mold, I knew that the ears could be an issue with breakage so I kept these ones simple and on the back. I also did not have any places where there were holes through the shape as that would be problematic to the mold. I am also testing how this mold material will be in the terms of flexibility so there were areas that some ‘undercuts’. The stiffer silicone/cornstarch method would not have been good for this shape.
And the eyes have it!
Oh, those eyes… I did re-sculpt them a couple times! I find eyes say so much so I am a little fussy about them.
Before I can even think about the mold making I need to make sure it completely dry. I placed it in a warm spot near my fireplace and after a couple days it was dry. It will feel slightly cold if not completely dry.
Before the Latex:
Since most mold making materials may stick to rough surfaces I added the step of applying a finish coat. I used Varathane Diamond finish in a gloss. The Sculpd site suggests that finished pieces can be fired or dried and painted with acrylic paint.
Oh Latex! This stuff is quite amazing! I have used pourable silicone when I made molds of the relief castings and have made many molds for concrete with silicone/cornstarch. They are great molds and have lasted amazingly but I have a memory of using a super stretchable mold when I was a kid. (don’t ask how long that was!)
This Product is from AeroMarine and they also carry other molding compounds. The product I used is the Mold Making Latex Rubber. I am in love! When I saw that some said they needed 25 coats of latex I was weary… This Latex is quite thick. (mine was a bit older so it had lost a bit of the liquid to make it even thicker)
‘Liquid latex mold is highly stable and has good tear resistance. Unlike other types of liquid latex, AeroMarine latex mold only has minimal shrinkage because it has a solids content between 68 and 70 percent’
That meant that the number of coats was quite a bit less. I used a soft brush only to realize that I will never get it clean, so use a disposable brush or a palette knife. Make sure to get into each detail (I had much fur details) and do not miss any spots. Build a flange around the base to aid later on when casting.
A Good Thick Product
I always like to ‘play & test’ so I had a bit that dripped and I stretched it like a rubber band! Wowsa! This may open a lot of possibilities! ‘But do not use on skin or the body’. I covered (painted) it about 6 times. I am sure it could be more or even less. Perhaps the size of the piece and also the way the shape is would dictate thicker or thinner.
The Moment of Truth!
Ok, here we go… (fingers crossed) I was not that concerned if I would break my sculpture as long as the mold worked. I carefully pulled back around the bottom opening and flange and pulled it back over the shape. The mold turns inside out… over the tail and then the ears (which were somewhat thin)
Wow, it’s fun! I worked around from the back because of the chin. And then it popped off. The sculpture was in a great shape with only a bit of the ear edges damaged. I could see each detail in the latex rubber.
It pops right-side out again and takes shape. How thick is it? I’d say it is about 2-3mm thick. I did not see any ripping. The 1 Litre container I have is still 3/4 full so I can make a few more molds.
I did notice that the thin layer of finish seemed to flake off the clay and also the mold; no issue but I wonder why. Perhaps a regular acrylic medium (gloss) would stay better as it less brittle. These days the world of acrylic and polymers is so vast!
Success! But, the next step will also be important since the mold is somewhat ‘soft’. There will need to be some consideration of a support. Stay tuned…
But for now enjoy your sculpting with Sculpd and mold making with Latex. Before you know it… there may be so many bunnies that you may find one in your garden…
I enjoyed your article on using latex to make molds. You can dip your brush in Dawn dish washing soap and wipe off the excess before applying the latex. When done add a bit of Dawn to the brush and rinse in cool water. Warm water will make the latex congeal. You should be able to use the brush for future latex projects.
Oh thanks! I will try that! I do not have a shortage of brushes, but was completely surprised at the latex. I think back and remember using ‘Frisket’ on my watercolour paintings and it was the same way! Good to know!
I love this idea. I have never thought about just placing the clay over aluminum foil and working around it, then making a mold of it. This opens other possibilities of what i can do with my sculptures. I look forward to seeing what you can do with the mold!
Keep doing what you’re doing! Alice
I enjoyed your making a latex mold with the bunny but I got to the “stay tuned” 😊 I figure I would pour cement or whatever in the latex mold from the bottom but could you please email ideas of stabilizing the bunny latex mold to pour cement in the latex mold and while letting it dry. Thank you
Oh dear, I need to update that page! Here you go: Making a mold support and Casting Have fun!