By Paula Briggs
This resource shares a project which explored mould making, casting and painting in the creation of a sculpture inspired by Egyptian wallpainting, in particular Nebamun hunting in the marshes, Nebamun’s tomb-chapel, which can be seen in the British Museum, London
The project can be adapted for use in KS 2 and 3, and can be used to accompany a study of Egyptian Art / Hieroglyphics.
You will need:
- Sheets of printing foam
- Carton closure tape or other waterproof tape
- School clay (cheap grey clay, not airdry clay)
- Fine casting plaster
- Scrim or modroc
- Clay tools or nail tools
- Board to work on
- Watercolours / brushes
Step One: Making the Mould
Take one or more sheets of printing foam and, if you are making a larger sculpture, stick them together using the tape.
Turn the printing foam over, and use a pencil to make marks into the soft surface. Take care not to let the pencil perforate the surface. If you are making hieroglyphics then remember to draw them back to front as the final cast will create a mirror image. You can use a mirror to help you do this, and there are websites which can translate text to hieroglyph.
Leave some areas of the printing foam without marks so that you can paint on these surfaces.
When you are happy with the surface of the mould, you can begin to make the “walls” of the mould.
Use wire to cut pieces of clay.
Use your hands to shape them into thick sausage shapes. Add the sausages to the printing foam to make the walls. Press down and make sure the clay is in close contact with the printing foam with no gaps – otherwise the liquid plaster will leak out. As you add more clay, make sure each piece is moulded to the last.
Remember that the weight of the liquid plaster is considerable and that if your clay walls are not solid enough the mould will burst like a dam. So make your walls nice and chunky.
Use a clay tool to create texture within the clay walls. This will be cast into your final piece and help it take on an “aged” appearance.
When you have made the clay wall all the way round, do one last check to make sure it is solid and in contact with the printing foam. Have a piece of clay handy so that you can “dam” any leaks when you pour the plaster during the next stage.
Step Two: Taking the Cast
Mix plaster according to the guidelines you can find here. Pour it slowly into the mould. Press a layer of modroc or scrim onto the surface as extra reinforcement. The plaster should be about 4 or 5cm deep. Leave it to set (approximately 40 minutes).
Tip: If you are leaving the mould between sessions, cover the wet clay / plaster with damp clothes and plastic bags so the clay does not dry out. This will make it easier to remove the clay from the set plaster.
Peel away the wet clay and use a tool to remove the clay from any gaps. Lift the plaster off the printing foam.
Step Three: Drawing and Painting
Use a pencil to draw directly on the surface of the plaster.
Use watercolour paints to add colour. The plaster will absorb the water very easily (especially if the plaster is dry). Experiment with how dilute you make the paint and how adding layers will change paint effects.
You can also use Sgraffito and scratch back into the plaster to make marks on the surface.