Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Playing with Moulage (Pic Heavy)

So I finally decided to playing with Moulage today.  I have to say it is an interesting experience.  The biggest thing about moulage is that you do NOT want it to be in contact with aluminum.

Do not use an aluminum pan or utensils as it will cause a chemical reaction that will ruin the Moulage.  (DickBlick.com)

So I am trying to figure out if a particular metal is aluminum or not.  For example, I stored my moulage in canning cars.  Canning jars have a metal lid and cap.  Are these aluminum?  What if I used aluminum pans to store shaving excess while carving my wax?  And what if I then put the wax shavings into my wax pot to melt and then pour into a moulage mold?  Hm.  Gives me a headache thinking about it.  Anyways...

Cooking moulage on low-medium heat.  Added enough water to barely cover moulage chunks.  Stirred every now and again.

Instructions say to just heat Moulage slowly in a double boiler to 115°F (46°C).  So keep in mind it is not a quick heating but a prolonged slow one.  You are trying to get a thin to heavy pancake batter consistency.

When moulage reached pancake batter consistency I used a canning jar lifter to place the jar on a towel to cool.  Temperature was 130F.  I cooled it to 115-120F.

UPDATE (08/28/11): At this time I don't know if you HAVE to cook at 115F from start to finish or if it works better to bring to a higher temperature to start then lower the temperature. One instruction sheet says 115F but others do not specify temperatures. I tried it both ways and I prefer to get the pot to the boil first and then set the temperature down.

Moulage was a little chunky while pouring.  Better hope you don't have cracks where the moulage can pour out of the shell.  I used plastruct sealed with oil clay.

I put mold in the fridge to cool down when it became apparent that it will take a while.  Possibly 30-60 minutes.  Thicker moulage means more time.

Update (08/28/11): If you put the mold in the fridge be sure to bring it back to room temperature before pouring wax or it may contribute to pouring lines. Better yet just don't put it in the fridge because it is just going to take time to set before it is ready to cast in.

When finally cooled, I cut the head out of the mold.  The head and oil clay spout were in perfect condition.  The pouring of hot moulage and extended exposure to the temperatures did not cause any harm.  Moulage mold is wet at this stage, but not dripping.  Notice above that my cut lines were not very good.

I prepared mold for second half of the body mold.  In the future I will have the sculpt lay vertical as opposed to  horizontal.  The wetness makes the moulage slick.  The second half of the moulage was cooked on the stove at 115F while waiting for the first half to cool.  (I did add water to the moulage while it cooked since it had water loss.)  It still poured a little chunky.  (You can see in the above picture how some of the moulage is leaking out of the cracks.)

Because of the wetness of the moulage mold pieces, it does stick to itself a little.  I was not careful enough separating the parts so there were some tears.  I also didn't plan out the mold very well, which contributed to a few more tears.  Although moulage mold has some flexibility, it is not a silicone mold.  You still need to be aware of undercuts.  It just happens to be more forgiving than the rigid plaster molds.  There is also a difference in appearance of the left and right halves.  The right half is the second one poured.  Did I cook it too low?  A separation of ingredients?  Don't know.  But it doesn't seem to have caused any surface issue.  Just a cosmetic difference.

Now it is time to cast some carving wax copies to see how useable these molds are.

Mold is prepared.  Carving wax is poured.

Something very important to keep in mind is that a moulage mold is very slick.  My moulage mold fell into the slow cooker with hot wax when I tried to pour out excess wax to make the sculpt hollow.  Hot only did hot wax splash on me and around the area, but I now had to get out the moulage mold.  After that incident, I just used rubber bands around the moulage mold to keep the sides together and it worked okay.  The problem with rubber bands is that it cuts into the moulage when I try to take it off each time I make a cast.

Something else I didn't think about is how cold the moulage mold was.  You can see the results best on the faces where the hot wax came pouring down but was cooled too fast to fill in the area.  You should also be able to see how the wax did not solidify smoothly because of the same reason.

So what did I learn?
  • No aluminum!.
  • Add water.  More is better than less since the excess can be cooked out, but it is hard to cook moulage if there isn't enough water.  Of course too much water is not that great either because it extends the cooking time.  UPDATE:  Depending on the size of your moulage chunks and how much air space it creates makes saying how much water to add to a jar of moulage impossible.  You will have to experiment with this.
  • Once set in mold, put it in the fridge.  Be patient in waiting for it to cool down before fiddling.  The thicker the moulage the longer you probably have to wait.  Experience will give you a good idea on how long a time you need.  (Plan at least an hour for 1/2" thick moulage.)  UPDATE:  Putting it in the fridge has likely contributed to the pour lines of the cast sculpt.  Let it set at room temperature instead.
  • Since moulage can be flexible, have a sturdy shell (or mother mold) made to support it.  Make sure whatever you use can be moved into the fridge easily.  You don't want the moulage to pour out of the supports because it wasn't sealed or thought out in advance.
  • Seal the shell support well.  You don't want the moulage to pour back out the cracks.  I did have some hairline cracks which had some moulage pour out, but nothing major.  It cooled down fast enough to seal itself.  Larger cracks won't be so lucky.
  • Don't be in a rush.  Make sure to have at least a few hours when making your first moulage mold.
  • Moulage molds are slick and can slip out of supports into the hot wax when pouring out excess for hollow cores.  CAUTION!
  • Rubber bands cut into the moulage molds.
  • Better planning for mold set-up prior to making the mold is needed.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment.  You fail?  So what.  Chop it up after cooled and try again.  Wax is fail too?  No worries.  Throw it back into the wax melting pot.  Moulage and carving wax are re-useable.

The experiment is not a total fail though.  I learned a lot of valuable information.  Even when I made plaster mold it wasn't perfect the first time.  As long as you learn from the experience, it was never a total failure.

UPDATE (08/28/11):  With more information from kwm from Atelier de Poupee  and a second experiment I have made changes to what I have previously written.  I did not want to completely delete information here so I just crossed out what I changed.

Resources - Other posts on my blog about moulage.
Making a Moulage Mold - my instructional sheet on moulage molds
My Moulage is Here

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