Professional Tips and Tricks

Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you be able to create your own molds and casts.

Clean Area

It’s difficult to maintain a high level of quality of work in a dirty environment. It’s best to mintain a clean area. As you start to do more molding and casting, try to work out a system that’s best for you. Keep all your chemicals in one area. Your mixing supplies in one area. If you do a lot of small parts casting, try decanting a little bit of your chemicals into smaller, easier to handle contaiers. Trying to pour small batches out of full gallon containers is tricky sometimes. In keeping your area setup the way it works best for you, you’ll start to identify trouble spots. The cleaner your area, the easier it will be to make your mold and do your casting.

Glue your chips brush bristles

It’s often overlooked, but try to make this part of your protocol. In moldmaking and sometimes even in casting we use a lot of chip brushes. The materials we use don’t always allow for us to clean brushes and reuse them so we use throw away chip brushes the cheap ones from the hardware store. The problem with those is, they’re cheap and the bristles can be pulled out by the materials if you’re not careful. One trick is to run a little bead of cynoacrylate over the base of the bristles near the handle to lock all the bristles onto the brush or at least to each other so they have less of a chance of being pulled out. After the glue dries and before using it, give the bristles a tug to pull out any loose bristles that were going to fall out anyway. After any fall out the brush should be about as secure as it can be.

Use a scale for best results

All materials require a catalyst component to start its chemical change into what it will become. That goes for moldmaking and casting, and the mix is either by weight or by volume. By weight always feels like it’s a proper chemical mix, while by volume always seems like there’s a little more leeway. In order to mix by weight you need a really good scale. Ohaus makes the standard and most reliable triple Beam Scale. There are also digital scales, prices and sizes vary.

Mix silicone in plastic bowls

Silicone will peel out of plastic, and so it makes clean up a breeze and expendable costs down. It also will show you if you got a good proper mix.

Label your molds

Sounds like a simple one, but when the client wants another cast from a mold, it’s always easier to read the label than it is to have to dig thru and open molds to see what they are.

Release plaster mixing bowls with a little bit of wax

Plaster is a slow silent deadly killer of mixing bowls. Your best line of defense is to wash out your bowls immediately while the plaster is still wet. Now then, that being said even the best mold makers sometimes forget to wash the bowl especially when a mold needs every bit of your attention. The second best line of defense against bowl annihilation is to release the bowl with a little bit of vaseline or wax.

Run thru all steps mentally

The moment the catalyst hits the base, there’s no going back. You’re starting a process that can’t be undone. It’s best to have a protocol and run thru it as you start your mold or cast. Run thru that protocol, make sure you’ve done all the steps. Mentally see yourself mixing and pouring the cast. Try to forsee any trouble spots before you even start. Will you need to roll the mold with casting material inside? Will it spill out? Think about it, go thru everything and try to be as prepared as you can.

Learn from your mistakes

The best tip, learn from your mistakes. Each mold and each cast can teach you something. It will either force you to think outside the box, or it will teach you that you’re on the right path. Save your miscasts. Learn from them, do you need to vent the mold? Do you need to cast from a different angle? Learn from every mold, learn from every cast. Air bubbles are a good indicator that you might need more vents, or they indicate you whipped too much air into your product. Study the casts, and make corrections.