Breaking the Mold

Posted by on Feb 19, 2012 in Blog | Comments Off on Breaking the Mold

My challenge – to make wax castings from a matched set of key and keyholes (another good fit for after Valentine’s Day).  I had purchased a set of Locket Keys by the scrapbook designer Tim Holtz.  I decided to photograph the set so I could also print them out to use as collage elements in my works.

Tim Holtz's Locket Keys

I printed the keys and keyholes onto plain computer paper with my inkjet printer.  I wanted to keep the elements more solid looking this time, rather than using tracing paper or rice paper.  I used an X-acto blade to cut out one of the sets I thought looked paired best together.

Cutting out paper versions of the Locket Keys.

The keys and keyholes were meant to be used as embellishments in scrapbooking.  I liked the ornate decorations on them and wanted to see if I could make wax castings from them.  I followed the guidelines in Lissa Rankin’s book, Encaustic Art, to make wax casts of objects.

"Encaustic Art" by Lissa Rankin

I had purchased Enkaustikos Impasto Wax Medium which was composed of microcrystalline wax combined with the standard beeswax and damar resin.

Impasto Wax composed of microcrystalline wax and encaustic medium.

Next, I used pliable modeling clay (the type that hardens in air) and rolled out two balls of clay, slighter larger than the key and keyhole I wanted to cast.

Modelling clay to be used for wax molds.

I pressed the key and keyhole firmly into the clay, levelling off the top so I could get the metal objects out of the clay easier.

Negative molds made of key and keyhole in modelling clay.

Melting two small pieces of the Impasto Wax (it came as a large block that I tried to chip off smaller chunks to melt) in a pan, I used a spoon to carefully fill my clay molds with liquid wax.  I wanted to avoid air bubbles since they would create a void in the cast object (like Swiss cheese).

Liquid Impasto Wax spooned into clay molds.

Once the Impasto Wax had hardened, I removed the clay mold from the wax castings.  Trimming off the excess wax, I had a nice set of white wax key and keyhole, a perfect replica of the metal objects.

Wax replicas of metal key and keyhole.

Next time I would colour the liquid Impasto Wax first, since I now realized that the white wax key and keyhole would be hard to paint without losing the fine details of the original objects.  As a technique for making replicas to be used in my encaustic works, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.