Monday, March 27, 2006

Getting beautiful leaves from a press mold!

In the gathering process of my foray into polymer work, I have amassed a fair number of tools. Yes, I am a tool junkie. Always looking for leaf shapes, I have now accumulated a huge number of leaf cutters, and a small number of know...the large flexible vinyl sheets with attractive shapes that you are supposed to be able to press clay into, and get wonderful molded identicals of. Today I had a three step learning process that you will get a kick out of. I wish I had pictures to go with this, but am certain that when I share my experience, you will nod, smile, and/or laugh out right at me... yourself------ or both of us! I am still laughing. It is always such a rich pleasure when ingenuity wins over an obstacle.
I avoided those tray style press molds for months. I kept thinking, sure, conceptually the idea is great, but how am I going to get a lump or sheet of clay pressed into that wonderful leaf mold, get rid of the excess clay, and retrieve the clay from the mold that I am attempting to reproduce!
First, I rolled out a small sheet of clay...perhaps 3inches by 3 inches and layed it over the mold, pressed the clay into the mold, grabbed one edge and pulled the clay away from the leave mold and wow! The leaf is the middle of that little lake of green clay. It has serrated edges, or ruffled edges, or lots of tiny curved edges. What the heck! Am I supposed to cut that with a craft knife...maybe..ok....I'll give it a go. A craft knife was not a good plan. Impossible to navigate all of the fine edged details, I got a less than satisfactory result and before I could even finish extracating my leaf, I switched over to a pair of scissors, picked up the leaf gently between my fingers, and attempted to cut my leaf out. This didn't work out either. Finger prints in the clay and still unable to negotiate all of those tiny curves and serrations with the scissors. I layed the whole mess down and had a major think.
Finally, I pressed the clay into the flexible mold: trimmed away the bulk of the excess around the edges with a craft knife, but never getting into the edge. Then, with a straight bladed craft knife, I held the flexible mold in my left hand and gently tented it so that without disturbing my molded leaf, I made the edges of the flexible tray bend ever so slightly away from the mold I was actually using! Then with a straight blade held on a flat plan, parallel with the surface of the mold, I carved the clay away from the edges of the mold precisely where the clay meets the edge of the mold. This worked perfectly and the resulting leaf was everything that I could have hoped for. As the mold is flexible (I keep reiterating this flexible part, cause if you try this with a rigid mold, I doubt you will have the same degree of success) I was able to very easily unmold the leaf, add some garnish of mica and pop it into the curing oven!
If you have been dodging some of those very elegant leaves and things because you had little confidence that anything lovely could happen with that type of mold, I hope this opens up new and exciting opportunities for expressing yourself!!! Thank you for visiting! ................Mona

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