As part of my ongoing battle to clear out and clean up the workroom, I have belatedly made a start on systematically going through my mould cupboards, casting from each and every mould, and dispensing with those which are clearly past their best.
This is always a traumatic process for me, and one which I prefer to put off interminably. I should do it every year. Especially as I have been dollmaking for two decades now, and have two huge cupboards filled to the brim with moulds.
For those unfamiliar with the dollmaking process, I use plaster moulds to make castings. Most moulds are simple two part affairs, held together with a large elastic band. Liquid porcelain casting slip is poured into the mould and left to set up for a few minutes. During this time the porous plaster absorbs water from the casting slip which results in a thin layer of clay adhering to the inside of the mould. After a few minutes the liquid slip is poured out and the mould is left for up to an hour for the casting to dry out sufficiently to enable the mould to be opened and the casting carefully removed. The mould is then tightly rebanded and left to dry, with air circulating freely in and around it.
Over time, with repeated use, detail is gradually lost from the mould as it wears out. This is particularly noticeable on faces, and fine detail is the first to suffer. Also, seam lines become more pronounced and require more time to remove. In addition, the moulds eventually become much less porous and there comes a time when they have to be consigned to the bin.
So this morning I have made a start on all of the ladies' arm and leg moulds, taking a casting from each and assessing them. So far I have two carrier bags full of discarded moulds, to which I will take a hammer later. The thing with the hammer is not strictly necessary, but after the trauma of decision making, I find it cathartic to smash the old moulds to pieces, thus rendering them completely unusable, and deleting them from my mental hard drive. Before I discovered the thing with the hammer, it was not unknown for me to retrieve moulds from the rubbish bin in the middle of the night, so it serves a useful purpose, giving me 'mould closure'.
Ok, so now I have to make a start on the men's arms and legs too..........funny thing, the process does get easier with each decision, so I like to maintain the momentum, stopping just short of the point at which I begin discarding perfectly good moulds.
It's a fine line................