Super Fine Awesomeness
While gearing up for today's post, I tried to think of the perfect title while still keeping it modest. I feel terrible dropping down to one post a week, but I've evened that out with how good I feel about my most recent project that I'm about to share with you. If you caught my last post then you'll already know I've been sculpting a Spiney Orb Weaver spider; it's one of the few native critters in my South Florida neighborhood, besides myself. Like me, this spider has no heightened sense of style nor NASCAR-like driving skills on I-95. We like hanging-out around pools and we're lovers not fighters; I've played with this abundant species all my life and if they were poisonous... I'd be dead.
The "awesomeness" I feel about this sculpture is partly due to the kinship I feel for the spider itself. I was born and raised in Hollywood Florida.
Yes... there's a Hollywood in Florida - it's just south of Fort. Lauderdale and slightly north of Miami. My sense of uniqueness, however misguided, stems from being a native of "where?" Florida and living as a native in a place that feels overwhelmingly foreign. On one hand I don't work or play in Miami or speak Spanish or dance, and on the other hand I'm not retired or super-duper wealthy and this is my all-year home. A nowhere man who simply likes to live near the coast, doesn't mind sweating away the day in a tropical climate, and knows nothing about what's trendy. As I sculpted this piece I became more and more aware of how akin I felt to this spider: we are oddities in our native setting. Upon completion of this sculpture it ignited a small spark of "belonging" that I have never otherwise felt. On the bright side, not belonging suits me; it has allowed me an opportunity to disassociate from "pride" which upon observation seems to hinder growth and especially compassion in some individuals that posses it.
Far be it from me to "sell you" on one of these belt buckles, but I REALLY like how it turned out and if I were you... I'd want one. More so than anything else I've created, this piece gives me a sense of, dare I say pride? Time + supplies + shipping - demand= $60.00. For this you can have one of these unique entirely handmade buckles. Contact me if you're interested while I try to re-figure out all the crazy code needed to include new items in my Shop. For now... here's more of the free awesomeness. :)
As with previous molds, I used cereal box cardboard to create a containing wall for the mold. I've taped the cardboard wall to a piece of thick glass (wherever that came from) so we can see the magic from below too! For all it matters, you could use another piece of cardboard for the bottom, gotta tape it real good though so the "mold goop" doesn't leak out.
Here you can see how I've hot glued the spider sculpture to the glass. After a hell-of-a-time getting this piece unstuck from the glass I would definitely recommend making a cardboard bottom instead of glass. As in previous posts, I used rice (uncooked, with NO plans for ever eating it) to determine how much "mold goop" I'd need. Just dump the rice over the sculpture and fill up the cardboard enclosure so that it covers the entire sculpture. Then dump that rice over into your 2 measuring cups so that they're level with each other, mark both cups with a pen and BOOM - that's how much goo you need!
In my last post I mentioned the disappointing results from trying to make new molds with Smooth-On, even getting worked up about it enough to take-up old bad habit again...sighing, heavily. I've been using polymer clay and I've wanted to branch out into other clays with hope that a non-hardening clay would be more cost effective due to it's reusability. But instead I just ended up spending more money. Smooth-On seems to dominate the market for mold making with it's simple 1:1 mix ratios, YouTube tutorials and wide range of materials that don't need to be degassed (although it's still recommended in the finer print to degas the materials, hmph). After having tried a number of Smooth-On's mold-making materials with a number of different clays, I feel confident saying that it won't work on any clay other than baked and otherwise hardened clay. The Smooth-On worksheet states to use a sulfur-free clay, but in reality it doesn't seem to matter; non-hardening clay just won't allow the Smooth-On products to cure properly: Dragon Skin, Oomoo and Mold Star (which means complex 2-part mold are just futile). The fact is, after searching and searching, there are no specific clays endorsed by Smooth-On, so although I'd prefer to experiment with materials I've decided to save myself the hassle and just go with what I know on this project: *Hardened* polymer clay and any of the above mentioned Smooth-On products will work together and you can take that to the bank! If your sculpture is more complex, just be prepared with a sharp knife to cut the mold open after.
The mold came out great! Why isn't everything as as easy as it is when you've got experience getting positive results from a process you done before, hunh?! Also you can see how I create the belt buckle hardware, I'm telling you...ENTIRELY hand made AND functional.
Because I tend to pour a little heavy, I pulled out my other belt buckle mold of the dinosaur skull so that I'd have somewhere to pour the "extra" mix. I'll be combining brass powder with Smooth-On's Smooth-Cast 326 in a 1:1:1 ratio - bing, bang, boom.
The trick behind working this brass powder into the mix is to keep it moving. You should even try to stir it AS you're pouring it since all this brass powder wants to do is sink to the bottom of your mixing cup. Even AFTER your pour it you should continue moving it around. Using a throw-away brush, agitate the mixture by brushing it up the sides to the edge of the mold. After a few minutes it'll begin to gel; just keep on brushing it up the sides until it begins getting too thick and sticky to brush through.
Once it's hardened and removed from the mold, I first wipe it down with mineral spirits and then sand it to the desired shine with Super-Fine Steel Wood - damn, that wool is sexy! To give it depth and dimension, smear on some black shoe polish, let it dry and buff it with a soft cloth. To finish it and prevent the brass from oxidizing, apply 2 coats of semi-gloss acrylic spray.
Subsequently, I casted another belt buckle and painted it up to look like a real Spiney Orb Weaver. If you'd prefer one that's painted over the brass, just let me know. By all means let me know what you think. I'm pretty darn proud of how they turned out, so whether you want one of your own or you want to set me straight OR even if you have an additional idea to share, I look forward to hearing from you!