Thursday, September 8, 2011

Buttons or How I Learned to Love the Three Piece Mold

Over the weekend I got to enjoy working with metal again. It was another delightful, if slightly nerve wracking, experience. I find every time I'm around molten metal that I'm nervous. Something about me being a clutz gets to me. But I work around molten sugars so much, I don't see why I should be making such a big deal about all this!

In either case, I was able to enjoy working with another style of mold and in a manner that intrigued me: three piece stone molds.

Remember, the last molds I had done were of plaster and sand, so carving in stone, as well as doing it with three pieces, was quite a jump from where I was.

Three piece molds are used, often, to make buttons which is exactly what I wanted to try and make. The way a three piece mold works is one part of the mold is the face of the work as well as the bottom of the mold. On top of that are two longer, thinner pieces which create the backing of the button as well as the button's... bale? What do you call that little part? No matter. If you only did two pieces of the mold, you would have to break the mold to get the button out. In three pieces, it works perfectly in making buttons (as long as you don't do any undercuts or a plethora of other things that would cause issues).

So for this particular project, I started by carving a simple design on a button face. Nothing fancy, just three convex circles put together with convex wedges at the outer points where they met. I didn't have a design in mind, but I also didn't want plain flat buttons. From there I drilled (nervewrackingly) into the other two pieces of the mold about half way to create a sprue. From there I carved in the button.. hole.. backing thing and brought the sprue down to it. After a bit of wedging here and there, we were all set and ready to cast.

We decided it would be easier to just clip the mold together since this is my first time and I wasn't looking for exact science and perfection yet, so it didn't matter to me if all the button backings weren't exactly the same. So... no pins to keep everything aligned.

And then we poured.

And poured.

At first we thought the metal face wasn't warm enough, so we heated that up. But we kept getting the same issue! I thought, perhaps, the metal backing section was too constricting to letting the pewter flow, so I widened the very ends of it. Then we heated up the mold again and... voila!

And that time? I was the one pouring. I actually did it myself! You have no idea how proud I was.

From there we snipped and clipped and I wanted to try one more because, well, a matching set would be nice. So I poured another one and snipped and clipped.

And now I have buttons.

And you have no idea how much I am looking forward to doing this again.