Introduction: 5 Ways to Ruin a Mold Making Project

About: I'm a maker with a penchant for art and a love of sculpting the unsettling. I also appreciate the history of deep craft traditions and would be a good part of any post apocalypse survival team.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you think, "I know exactly how to do this correctly, but I'm not going to do it that way." Either cost or time or hubris gets in the way and you make a bunch of rookie mistakes and end up with a failed project. A failure that your logical side saw coming from the very beginning, but you kept going anyway.

Okay, so replace "you" with "I" in that last paragraph and that is exactly what happened with this casting project. I wanted to do a quick project using only materials I had left over in the studio and I decided to just improvise the rest. 

I did, however, get the 10K achievement for doing every cardinal sin in mold making. A sort of triple crown of failure. And here's how you too can ruin your project, waste materials and add a trophy to the wall you'll want to bang your head on.

Step 1: Use the Wrong Materials

First, think of what you'd like to make and the best possible materials for it. Now, use the exact opposite. 

For a successful project, I would have used silicone for something small and highly detailed. So, to ensure failure, I used Dermagel, which is great for life casting since it sets up quickly, is non toxic and easy to use. It is, however, very soft, prone to air bubbles and not durable, making it ruinous for a small detailed projects like this one.

Step 2: Say "Good Enough" on Your Original Sculpt

Once you rough out your sculpture, be sure to stop there before adding detail. Maybe beat it up a bit or move it around the room so it stretches and warps out of shape. As soon as it's a hollow shadow of you original idea, say "good enough" and stop working on it. Not only will it look like a drunk child did it, but it will also not fit onto any other part of your project. 

Step 3: Use the Wrong Size Container and No Mother Mold

To guarantee failure in your project, be sure to use a container that doesn't fit your object. This will ensure that the final mold has thin walls that tear easily and other areas that are dense, heavy and waste materials.

Also, to aid in that effort to create walls that tear and warp, do not under any circumstances create a plaster mother mold to keep the soft material in place. Registration marks are key to precision and success. Avoid these at all cost. 

Step 4: Run Out of Materials

Be sure to have too little mold making material, panic and try to displace excess material with whatever is around adding unnecessary holes in the mold and weakening it further. Once it sets up, be sure to cut far to close to the object. You should end up with a pile of goopy gelatinous mold material is barely recognizable as something man made. 

Additionally, If you need two sides of your project to match up perfectly, do not create a two piece mold. Create a one piece mold and just toss in a half hearted attempt at the reverse side when you go to cast. Again, do not use registration marks or any other indicators of where this piece should go. 

Step 5: Ignore or Poorly Patch Weak Spots

After guaranteeing that the mold will have holes, tears or at the very least weak spots, be sure to fully ignore them or poorly patch them with ridiculous materials, like cellophane or tape. After an abysmal patching effort, go ahead and pour the mold making material anyway. While I had a layer of cellophane under the mold to catch most of what spilled out, you can take it to the next level and have plastic spill all over your workbench and floor. Once it sets and hardens, it will be nearly impossible to remove from some surfaces. Consider this your well deserved merit badge of terrible planning, execution and decision making skills. At this point you should either vow to all that is good that you will never make anything again, or try to regain your self respect as a maker, and just do it right next time.