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And how to make prints cheaper!
Of course, there are far more than five places to make prints of your artwork, and I can’t list them all, but here are some options for a range of budgets and importantly, for a range of purposes.
Sometimes I think that updating a weekly journal of creative accomplishments is a bit much. Other times I think it’s the only reason I get anything done.
It’s only because I realised all to soon that Friday had rolled around yet again and I hadn’t got the jump on anything I’d planned to work on that I got moving so I could come here and write, “look, I tried!”
I spent a fair amount of time creating moulds for other people this week, and now I can say I have a much better handle on mixing good DIY silicone moulds. so the entire process is a lot cleaner and less chaotic than it was when I started.
As for high-temperature silicone moulds, I sure have learned some valuable lessons over the last few weeks. I need to buy some more to make more moulds, but that might just have to wait a bit longer while I tie up loose ends on my current job.
The final pour… and what’s next
Of course I’d find myself melting metal in my kitchen in the middle of a heatwave. I just had to have another go to perfect my cast – or get as close to perfecting as I could.
Thing is, it’s actually not perfect, and it eats me up inside. I have a major problem with perfectionism that I’m constantly trying to tackle, and sometimes I think it’s a miracle I put anything on display in the first place.
But logical Lee knows it’s not helpful; sometimes you need to accept what you’ve got and work with it. It’s miles better than my prototype, and when I look at the finish I achieved with that, it makes me think that this one will be great when I’ve finished with the engraving.
So yeah, time to move this thing on already.
Cutting the thing off the sprue with a hacksaw was bad enough, but here comes the dirty, noisy bit – getting the engraving tools out and grinding/carving/polishing the metal until it’s just right.
I think I need a hazmat suit to cover me from head to toe this time, because I’m not showering myself in pewter particles again. Nope.
To copper electroplate or not?
Copper electroplating – another layer of faff or something I need to do?
When I first conceived of this coin sculpture, I wanted it to be in copper. I liked the idea that copper coins are usually those of lowest value, whilst copper itself is quite expensive nowadays. Plus, copper is just so pretty…
So now I have to make up my mind as to whether or not I’ll invest in a copper electroplating kit to enhance this coin (and others to follow). I’ve got more supplies on my list that I need to buy, and last month’s purchasing kinda wiped my budget out, so I think I need to get on with making more of the coin collection before I commit to their final finish.
This has to be a bit hurried, as I’m so, so tired…
After a week of experiments, I’ve produced my best cast yet, and it was partly down to a surprising find along the way. No, it’s not what I consider to be perfect, but I fixed the problem of the mould not filling all the way. Anyway, here’s the story of that find:
Into the spidery shed
The springform cake tin was a great idea for keeping hold of a round mould, but RTV silicone doesn’t like to be cast on its side – it won’t vent steam like oil bonded sand will, so it just forms mega bubbles, even with an incline. It has to be vertical.
That meant that I had to clamp it in place vertically and apply pressure on the sides to keep the mould tightly in place, or else all my pewter would just dump out into the bottom of the cake tin.
I was trying to come up with some system for jerryrigging a clamp – maybe a car jack wedged into a box? – and got Ste on board to excavate a box from our spider-riddled shed. As the spider-spotting backup, I was peering into the dim wooden cavern when I spotted a box we hadn’t seen before.
It was an unopened clamping table!
The exact model isn’t made any more, but this is the closest version.
The previous owners had obviously abandoned it to the eight-legged shed denizens, and somehow I’d never seen it before.
Although the nuts, bolts and plastic pieces were still sealed in their plastic bags, there was a fair bit of corrosion and that dank shed smell. Still, I put it all together the same day. It needs a bit of oiling and messing around with to help it fold up, but set up, it’s just right for the job.
I can’t believe that I just happened to find the exact thing I needed! I couldn’t have done the casting without it.
Tips for pewter casting
I’ll have to write this up as a separate post, of course, but here are this week’s discoveries:
- Fill from below. When you pour hot metal into a mould, you create turbulence in the flow of the metal – steam, bubbles, slag, all rolling around. You need to cut this out, and to do this, you need to fill your mould from the bottom up. This means having a separate pouring spout that feeds your mould from below.
- Use a tapered sprue. This helps to reduce turbulence as well, controlling the flow of the metal.
- Make your sprue big enough. The metal may freeze before filling the mould if you don’t.
- Plan your sprue and gating system into the mould making process. I didn’t do this… I did rely on the fact that I could cut the silicone afterwards, which is less than ideal, and means that I’ve had to patch some bits with oil-bonded sand.
- Wax acts as a flux, but don’t add too much. Pretty self-explanatory.
Now that I’ve achieved this week’s goal, I’m going to carry on with another job: helping my husband create some of his own moulds. I’m refining my DIY silicone mould-making technique and scoring major brownie points at the same time!