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.