Introduction to Making Ceramic Molds: Submitted by: Majik Merlin | Date Added: 6 Feb 2018 About:

A Brief History

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Making things from molds has dated back thousands of years. Historians have found evidence of the use of molds dating prior to 3000 BC. Among the earliest forms of mold use was evidenced by the finest pottery of the time crafted in Babylonia.

So what is a mold? Quite simply it is a form or shape with a cavity or pattern that is filled or pressed with a substance which once the substance is dried or mature, it can be removed and used.

The development and use of molds is as varied as one’s imagination. Stop and think for a moment of all the things you use daily that come from molds. Soaps, cookies, candies, butter, cheese, car parts, candles, machinery, dishes, even shoes and hats and of course ceramics. You will find molds made of rubber, plastic, wood, stone, glass, metals, cement, and plaster – all with the purpose of making repeated castings of a desired item.

The art of clay or ceramics is the oldest recorded medium for mold making that I have been able to research. Wet clay pressed against a shape to create an opposite shape, such as a bowl, which when dried became hard enough to be used as a vessel for serving, holding or storing food or some other purpose.

Molds have morphed over the centuries, but the standard has become using plaster for a ceramic mold because of its water drawing properties. That means that plaster, by its very nature, soaks up water and moisture. Clay pressed next to it in slab or liquid form reacts to the plaster mold soaking up the water. The clay takes on the shape of the plaster, then as the water is drawn out of it, the clay begins to shrink and pull away. Once shaped, clay will hold the design and shape until it is acted upon by some other force.

The simplest mold to make is the one piece, open cast, or press mold. They are quite easy to make and use. The design is only on one side of the item. To get design on all sides of an item, it is necessary to have a multiple part mold. Depending upon the intricacy of the design, this can be done with as few as two parts, or as many as 4 or 5. Sometimes multiple molds have to be created to make one item. One mold is made for the basic part of the piece and another for the smaller extensions which will need to be attached to the basic piece. Creating molds for these type of pieces are the most time intensive and the hardest of all to learn.

So now you wonder, what do you need to make a mold. On a small scale, the home hobbyist for personal use, you only need a few tools or supplies and minor expense. However, going into it to produce a lot of molds to sell, it is an entirely different matter. When you want to produce multiple copies of molds, you need to create a master mold, or a mold of a mold of an item. With a master mold, you can create a large number of plaster molds which in turn each can create a large number of ceramic/clay items. To do this, one would incur a major financial expenditure. A master mold is usually made out of rubber sturdy enough to hold its shape while the plaster is drying, and then be removed.

DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that when making molds, one should not copy others creations. You should beware of copyright and trademark infringements. There are laws against stealing another's work.

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