Molding Quick Links Molding Quick Tips

Ultra-Cal & Drain Pipess - Don't dump your excess Ultra-Cal down the sink or drain pipe. You will clog the pipe with rock hard Ultra-Cal!!!

Krylon Crystal Clear - Be sure to use the Crystal Clear and not Krylon's Dulling Spray. The CC dries with a shean, so you can tell what areas have been covered much easier!


Mold Making

As mentioned earlier, mold making can be a messy process. I prefer to complete the process in my garage. I find it much easier to clean up, and if Ultra-Cal happens to get on the floor, it’s not a big deal. I begin by making sure that all my supplies are out and within reach. There’s nothing worse than trying to dig out a supply or tool with Ultra-Cal covered hands!


I will begin by placing the sculpture on a small workbench and making sure I have three small buckets nearby. I will use one bucket for mixing the Ultra-Cal. I use the second to hold clean water that I can use to add to my mixing bucket. My third bucket (5-gallon) is about half full of water for cleaning my hands in between applying coats of Ultra-Cal. I don’t have a sink in my garage so these buckets allow me to work quickly without running back and forth to the hose or sink.


Step 1 - Prepping the Sculpture

The first step in the process is to spray down the sculpture with Krylon Crsytal Clear. This helps protect your sculpture’s detail from the dam that we’ll construct next, and from any brushing.

Get a good even coat around your sculpture. Take care not to overspray. I like to spray 2 or 3 thin coats to avoid pooling of the spray. The spray will dry to touch pretty quickly, but I like to wait a good half-hour before I do anything to it.

Step 2- Building the Dam

The dam is what allows us to create a 2-piece mold (front & back). It is the one aspect of mold making that you really want to take your time with. Depending on the shape of your sculpture this can take upwards of an hour or two to really get right. Building the dam with care will make the difference between getting a mold with two good clean edges. This means your cast will have a good clean seam. In the end I really want the final mask to not show any sign of a seam.

The dam is made of slabs of water based clay. I cut my slabs with a wire cutting tool, but it can be done with a large knife also. I make my slabs about ½” thick, and about 2½”-3” tall.

When I have finished cutting my slabs I will rest them on plastic to avoid moisture loss. It’s best to use clay that is still good and pliable for this, as the slabs will be bent and cut into small pieces and wedges. If the clay is too dry this process is made more difficult.

I typically start around at the base of the shoulders and work my way up the sides of the sculpture. The Crystal Clear base should ensure that the dam walls don’t stick to the sculpture.

I continue all the way up and around the top of the head. Once my pieces are in place, I will smooth the dam wall out. Do not worry about smoothing out the side of the dam that faces the front of the mask, it is unimportant. But, it is essential to a good tight finished mold that the dam wall that faces the back of the head is as smooth as possible.

When the dam has been smoothed out, I now want to make sure the edge that touches the sculpture be as clean and tight as possible. I will often use a rubber tipped sculpture tool for this. Extra care needs to be taken not to knick or carve into the sculpture while doing this. It takes time and patience to complete this step.

Next, I add my keys to the dam wall. I’m using Monster Makers silicone keys on this mold. However, it is possible to make your own out of clay, which I do this from time to time. The purpose of the keys is to create a negative form along the dam edge. When we make the front half of the mold a positive will form. This helps the two sides of the mold lock together.

This next step features a nice tip I learned from Doug Goins of Hoosier Effects Labs. Doug is by far and away the best mold maker I know, truly an expert of the craft. Doug taught me to use a small loop or ribbon tool to create the moat around the dam wall. This, like the keys will form a negative/ positive on the dam walls and helps to keep the latex from leaking during the casting process. When we cast in the next step, we can be sure we won't have any leaks.

The final step is to create a small dam around the bottom of the sculpture. This serves two purposes. First, it creates a nice bottom edge to the mold. Second it helps contain run-off from the Ultra-Cal.