restoman: (Winter house)
[personal profile] restoman
Last August, my niece, Alida, and her husband, Pat, drove to Syracuse to spend a few days visiting me. They stayed at my house and we did tourist things like visiting Taughannock Falls, near Ithaca and stopping at one of the Finger Lakes wineries to sample the wines. While they were at my house they admired the plaster medallion on my dining room ceiling. I told them I had made it myself. They eagerly asked if I could make one for their house too, ~maybe for Christmas~, and I agreed.

The Art Deco chandelier came with the house when I bought it, but I added the plaster medallion when I put new drywall on the ceiling about 24 years ago. The medallion is gold-leafed and glazed, a typical way of decorating them in the 19th century.

Fortunately, I still have the rubber molds that I made many years ago for one of my customers. I retrieved the molds from a box in the basement, bought a 25 pound bag of plaster of Paris (way too much), a can of cooking spray, and made some space on the kitchen table.

I lightly spray PAM cooking spray on the mold as a release agent. Using a rubber mold, I don't absolutely need the PAM, but it makes the casting easier to remove and causes less wear and tear on the rubber mold.

The mold is in 2 parts: top and bottom. The top piece has 3 holes in it for pouring in the liquid plaster, and to allow air inside the mold to escape.

I mixed up some plaster, 2 parts plaster to 1+ part water, in a bowl, and poured it into the mold using a plastic funnel.

Once the mold is filled and plaster starts coming out of the air vent holes, I tap the mold gently to get any air bubbles out and then let it harden for about half an hour.

After the plaster has hardened, I carefully remove the top half of the rubber mold. The plaster has hardened in the 3 holes, called sprues, and will have to be trimmed off later.

Next, I remove the plaster casting from the bottom half of the mold and clean the mold off to make another casting. I will need a total of 8 castings of this leaf to make the medallion.

The left leaf is just as it looks after coming out of the mold. The right leaf has been trimmed up with an Exacto Knife (above). The sprues have to be trimmed off as well as the line where the top and bottom halves of the mold meet. I also clean up any other imperfections.

All 8 cast leaves, plus a center piece, assembled on a piece of brown paper.

I gave Pat instructions on how to lay out and attach the parts to his ceiling. If he doesn't feel sure about how to do it I may drive down to Flushing to install it for them once the weather improves. Alida and Pat were very excited that I was able to get the medallion made for them as a Christmas present. It feels good to give something that you know is wanted.
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