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When I have sculpted a doll part I take a plaster of Paris mould from it. I make a mould box out of Lego bricks, line it with Plasticene, partially embed the shape and fill the remaining hole with poured-in wet plaster. When this has set, I remove the half mould and the Plasticene, reverse the half in the mould box and pour the other half. When the mould is dry, the shape is removed from the middle. Now the two halves of the mould can be held together with a rubber band and the slip poured in through a hole. After varying lengths of time, depending on the size, the slip is poured out. As the porous plaster absorbs the water from the slip, the clay solidifies in the mould to form a thin, hollow shape the same as the original sculpture. After a length of time varying from minutes to hours the rubber bands are removed and the shape retrieved from the mould. The pour spout is gently cut off and holes for arms, legs and so on are roughly cut, avoiding too much handling, as the casting, which was liquid half an hour ago, is easily squished back into a little mishapen lump of clay. Plaster moulds are very rigid entities. When I am sculpting I have to bear the mould in mind. I must not model a shape with an undercut, such as a hooked nose. The rigidity of the mould would ensure that it ripped off a hooked nose every time I removed the head from the mould. Over fifiteen years of mould making I have discovered and invented ways of getting round these problems. When I made gargoyles, which were all undercuts, I did so with 5 part moulds which were like jigsaws to fit back together. Now you know why antique shoulder head dolls, made in factories by Victorian children, were such simple round shapes. Plaster of Paris is a law unto itself. Between plaster-clogged carpet, rapidly draining leaky mould box, lumpy bits and perfect mould, lie fifteen years of learning with Plasticene and plaster ground under my fingernails. There is nothing that can break you into a sweat as efficiently as a sculpture stuck immovably in a rock hard mould, unless it''s the discovery of a million tiny air bubbles all over the face inside a newly dried mould. This leaves only two options: start a fashion for dolls with acne or start making another mould.

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