Apr 2, 2013

Izzy Heads! Or...two thirds of a pun: P.U.

I'm learning to make plaster molds.  The basic principle is fairly simple, when you get right down to the chemistry and physics of it.  Of course, the basic principle of aerodynamic flight is simple too, but you don't see me zooming around with my arms out.

I have some Izzy head & torso sets all made up and ready to paint...I'd sculpted their faces and were happy with them, but they won't do for making a mold because they are cloth heads sewn onto bodies in a unit. 

What I need are just the heads.  So I made molds of the faces with Amazing Mold Putty.  Then I made paper clay "masks" using those molds.  Then I made heads with balled-up foil as an armature, and applied the paper clay masks of the previously sculpted faces. This took a ridiculously long time.

I'd thought this would save time, but it might have been faster to start from scratch over the foil, and re-sculpt the faces.  The proportion gave me fits, but it finally came out all right.  I ended up with four heads, three of which I was willing to use to record for posterity in pressed cloth dolls.

A friend of mine said, "Do NOT stick those good heads in plaster until you try a practice one!"  Or something to that effect.  She was right--I had not planned to do so, but that was the smart thing.  Sooooo I used the fourth head...sealed with Modge Podge and then sprayed with cooking oil as a mold release.  The head released well and without damage, and I was satisfied I could proceed with the "real" ones.

Life intervened with chores and more chores, paperwork and more paperwork.  When I did get back to the plaster, I was so impatient to get started!  SO impatient, in fact, that I...forgot the mold release spray.  By the time I realized what I had done, I was barely able to save them.  One came out with a minor scratch here and there, the other two are "in the shop" for repairs.  (The shop, in this case, is the oven where they are drying with their paper clay patches.) 

Lesson learned?  Slow down.  Breathe.  Pay attention.  Count off a checklist...whatever it takes, but don't get a-head of your self, or you will lose. your. heads. 

I would apologize for that horrible, double, almost-pun, but I really have to laugh at this point to keep from crying.  More on the Mold Making Progress later.  Right now I have to take my head(s) out of the oven.


  1. I love your sense of humor! Sometimes that's all we've got. Very interesting this process you go through to make these lovely dolls. I do admire your talent. When I need dentures...I'm calling you.

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    1. Deleted my previous typo comments. Your doll heads are really good. Keep at it.

  4. Best of luck with your mold making...quite interesting for sure! You have created some real beauties here!

  5. oh Jan, I love reading about your mold making adventures. When we lived in our antique house, with the lovely worn bare wood floors, I went through quite a plaster mold making stage...including molds for a chimpanzee which I sculpted then made molds of two ears, two feet, two hands and a face. Sadly those molds were lost when we moved...but back to my story. After doing some small molds in cardboard boxes, I read about using a home made wooden box where the sides slid out after the plaster was cured. This sounded good, so Steve built me a box...much bigger than any cardboard box I'd used. I thought I'd seamed it up with oil clay, so, for some unknown reason, I decided to use the dining room table to pour my plaster...I got the head I was going to copy all ready (I used dish detergent as a mold release, which works quite well I should add) mixed up the plaster, poured it into the box and watched in horror as it ALL slipped right out of the box onto the oak table, and down to the floor...oceans of plaster all over the place!! I'm not sure HOW I got all of that up off of the floor, but when it was all over I was wet, and flustered and oh yeah...I went back to using good old cardboard boxes...which I used OUTSIDE on a folding table...never a studio when you need one. Oh did I mention that my favorite refrigerator magnate reads "No one is ever old enough to know better!"

  6. I hope your heads are a success, using molds. I am still making lots of faces and have built a new shelving unit to contain them.... :0 Hope your move is going okay. J Ann


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