Necessity, the mother of you know what

I like to make my own texture plates to create an interesting surface design on my metal clay beads. I make most of these plates with Cold Mold from Rio Grande. The two-part silicone molding compound is perfect for picking up textures from leaves, shells, bark, plants, just about anything you can imagine.

When my sister-in-law, Karen, visited me in January, she brought a carving tool and some soft white rubbery substance, that she used to carve blocks for printing. She left them with me, and I carved out a few different designs that I  have used in some metal clay pieces.

I liked the carving enough that, in April, I bought more of what I thought was the same white substance.  When I opened up the package, drew a design on the piece, and started to carve…ICK!  It was defintiely not the same stuff. Little shreds of rubber were rubbing off the block as if it were some kind of super shedding eraser. This would not do at all!

The earrings I was planning to make required a silver clay component with a kind of “viney” design. I knew I wanted to carve it, but the new rubber was a mess. I looked all over my studio to see if I had any more of the carving stuff Karen had given me. I thought to myself, “There must be something here that would be easy to carve, and would not lose surface integrity.  Wouldn’t it be great to also carve a block that wouldn’t stick to metal clay?”

I flipped over several of my Cold Mold™ silicone texture plates to see if any of the surfaces were smooth enough to carve. I might not have thought of it if they weren’t sitting right in front of me. I was determined to have this particular texture at this particular time, so I started to carve the back side.

It worked!  It carved so easily, and I doubled the usability of my original molded texture plate.  The silicone might not be the best material to hold ink for block printing, but it will sure make a nice impression in metal clay, without sticking.

I usually don’t pay much attention to the back side of the silicone when I am making a mold of something. I just plunk a steel block on top to weigh it down while it cures, oblivious to air bubbles, dirt, or whatever might be on the unusable side.  In my future molds, I’ll be careful to put a piece of plexiglass or something smooth on top before placing a weight. That way I’ll have a molded texture on one side with a smooth carving surface on the flip side. Two textures in one piece!

So, I’m wondering. Did I just come upon a whole new use for Cold Mold™ silicone, or am I just getting around to discovering something that everyone else already knew?  Not that it matters. I’m just happy to have figured it out.


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14 responses to “Necessity, the mother of you know what

  1. ingenious! my mold backs are a lumpy mess…don’t think i could ever use them! when i carve with a linoleum cutter i usually use soft-kut from dick blick in case you’re interested! love that starburst carved pattern of yours!


    • fernald244

      Holly, mine are usually a lumpy mess too. But I’m going to try not to lump them up anymore. I may even make some silicone blocks just to carve them. Thanks for the Dick Blick reference. I knew there was another kind of carving block to use. (It sure wasn’t the one I picked out at A.I. Friedman!)
      Did you make your plane reservations yet?


  2. Brilliant, Barb! I usually carve in a Speedball block or a sheet of baked polymer clay. I love the idea of keeping the backs of my silicone molds nicer and carving into them. It never ocurred to me that this would work. Thansk!


    • fernald244

      Hey thanks, Wendy! I think I will have to mix a smaller amount of silicone and make one mold at a time to try to get the timing right for a smooth back to the mold. Are you going to the conference in Purdue? I am. Holly is. It will be fun to meet you if you are there. Please bring mangoes!


  3. jackie haines

    Nice innovating!! I have been doing some carving too, with mixed results. Maybe the Cold Mold is just the thing… And congratulations on being in Metal Clay Magic! I recongized your piece instantly as being “you”. Nice.


    • fernald244

      Hi Jackie,
      Try the Cold Mold. I was surprised at how smoothly it cut. Really sweet that you recognized my piece. Thanks. Are you doing the show in N.E. Harbor this summer? I’m headed to Purdue for the conference, so I took a pass on the show rather than make myself crazy trying to do both.


  4. jackie haines

    Hi Barb,
    No, no NEH for me this summer! I didn’t get an invitation this year…I suppose they need to mix up the artists to keep it all interesting.


    • fernald244

      Hi Jackie,
      I didn’t get invited either. Then I got a call in Feb. from Judith to see if I wanted to or to see if I had anyone from the island to suggest. I did okay last year, but told her the timing was not going to work this year. Ah well. Will you still be doing the Directions Show?


  5. jackie haines

    No on the Directions show too! I decided to take a break from that show this year, since I’ve done it so many years. I’m going to a bluegrass festival with my son and husband instead!


  6. Hi all,
    I am indeed attending the PMC Conference, and I am just jazzed about it. Don’t know if I’ll have room in my suitcase for mangos, but I’ll keep that in mind. See you there!!


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