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How to make a plaster relief using a clay mould

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by Laura Oswald on 24 November 2012

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Transcript of How to make a plaster relief using a clay mould

How to make a plaster relief using a clay mould Why make a plaster relief? The Plaster bit Start off by laying down some canvas to roll out your clay on. The clay is how you will create the design of the relief as you will press objects into the clay then pour plaster into the holes left by the object.
As you knead, begin to flatten the clay into a flat, smooth surface. Use small amounts of water to smooth out any unwanted cracks. You want your piece to be a rectangle or square so begin to form your clay into the desired shape.
Once your clay is on its way to being flat and smooth, find a way to uniformly flatten the clay using a rolling pin. Position the clay between the two pieces of wood then place the roller onto the wood. The thicker the clay, the deeper the reliefs you will be able to create. The Clay bit When your clay is ready, press your objects into the clay in the composition that you want. Use a variety of mechanical objects or natural forms.

Once you have pressed your composition into the clay, begin to make your walls to hold the plaster. The walls don’t have to be super high, just high enough to encompass the desired depth of your final piece. When you make the walls use a bit of water and also make small, shallow cuts into the side of the wall that will connect to the clay piece that holds your composition and also on the sides of your clay piece. Then press each wall to the clay piece and seal any gaps with water to prevent any plaster from spilling out. The Arty bit To mix your plaster always add the plaster to water NOT water to plaster. Also, make sure to keep the plaster away from the sink as the plaster will eventually plug up the pipes. You won’t need a ton of water as the amount of plaster you will get out will be about double the amount of water you put in.

Pour about one cup of plaster at a time into the bucket of water. Mix the plaster and water together after each mixture. You can use a spoon or your hands. When the plaster and water mixture starts to thicken and stick to your hand, start to lessen the amount of plaster you dump in.

There are a few different indicators that your plaster is ready. When the dry plaster being dumped into the water makes little “islands” that don’t disappear right away. Or if, when dragging your fingers through the mixture the marks made by the motion of your hand don’t immediately disappear, then you know the plaster is ready.

Once your plaster is ready, pour it quickly onto your clay relief that you have reinforced with clay walls. Be sure to somehow jiggle your working surface that your clay relief is on to get out any air bubbles that might have formed between the clay and the poured plaster. Plaster reliefs that are made using a clay waste mold are are aptly named as the clay used in the process will probably only be able to be used twice. That said, plaster reliefs are a fun and easy way to experiment with 3-dimensional art. The materials needed to make a plaster relief are:
- grog clay
- dental plaster
- canvas/cloth
- some sort of rolling pin
- water
- two pieces of 2×4 or thinner wood
- bucket of water
- cloth or paper towels
- plastic cup
- a working surface board
Think 'negatively': depressions in the clay will be protunsions in plaster TIP After the plaster is poured in, all there is left to do is wait. Plaster dries rather quickly though, so it isn’t too long of a wait. When the plaster starts to dry, it releases heat. If you touch the back of your plaster relief after it has hardened a bit and it is still hot, it’s not ready yet. Wait until the back of your plaster relief is cool to the touch before peeling away the walls and the clay relief from the plaster. Be careful to do this slowly as the plaster is actually rather fragile and can be broken. Patience is a virtue The Plaster relief Once the clay is removed from the plaster relief it can be washed if so desired. A toothbrush works well to turn the plaster into a brilliant white. Often the clay will stick into the small niches of the relief and create depth.

Surfacing your relief can be done with a number of media. Diluted acrylic paint and charcoal or pastels. Diluted acrylic paint is better than watercolour paint as it will work better with the surface of the plaster. Use your imagination, though, and experiment with different surfacing techniques. While there is no erasing, you can paint over the entire relief with white acrylic gesso and start over. Look at these examples
1 Lay down some canvas cloth to roll out your clay on.

2 Flatten the clay into a flat, smooth surface. Use small amounts of water to smooth out any unwanted cracks.

3 Once your clay is on its way to being flat and smooth flatten the clay using a rolling pin. Position the clay between the two pieces of wood then place the roller onto the wood.

4 After you have your clay ready, press your objects into the clay in the composition that you want. Use a variety of mechanical objects or natural forms.

5 Once you have pressed your composition into the clay, begin to make your walls to hold the plaster.

6 When you make the walls use a bit of water and also make small, shallow cuts into the side of the wall that will connect to the clay piece that holds your composition and also on the sides of your clay piece.

7 Press each wall to the clay piece and seal any gaps with water to prevent any plaster from spilling out.

8 Once your plaster is ready, pour it quickly onto your clay relief that you have reinforced with clay walls. Be sure to somehow jiggle your working surface that your clay relief is on to get out any air bubbles that might have formed between the clay and the poured plaster.

9 After the plaster is poured in, all there is left to do is wait.

10 When the plaster starts to dry, it releases heat. If you touch the back of your plaster relief after it has hardened a bit and it is still hot, it’s not ready yet.

11 Wait until the back of your plaster relief is cool to the touch before peeling away the walls and the clay relief from the plaster. Be careful to do this slowly as the plaster is actually rather fragile and can be broken.

12 The plaster relief can be washed if so desired. A toothbrush works well to turn the plaster into a brilliant white or you can paint your relief. How to make a plaster relief using a clay mould
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