Plaster Work · Plastics

Studio- Final Stage

At this point in the process in terms of my failed attempts to make a proper mould of a full baby or even of its limbs or head I felt there was only one other option that I could try considering the time frame I had in front of me. This option was simply placing a baby doll (full body and loose limbs) into the Vacuum Former that we have available on University Campus.

I hadn’t tried this approach previously as I am aware that if you place an object with undercuts into a Vacuum Former it is very difficult to remove it again, therefore to make casts from the formed Plastic sheet I would need to cut said sheet at a very specific level…..

Step 1: making the moulds

-Front full body baby:

To remove this full baby was quite difficult, I initially cut the shape out using a Stanley Knife and a pair of scissors, I then had to squeeze the baby and pull sharply to remove it, I then cut down to the line on the body in which I thought a casting would be able to be removed. As you can see in the last image the Plastic form split in places when removing the baby, however I  saw to remedy that by placing clay over the whole when it was time to cast the shape.

-Full body back baby:

Unfortunately when making the back of the baby then limbs fell out of place as I had been tampering with them previous to this for a different experiment. I also allowed the suction on the Vacuum Former to be on for too long and thus the head of the model baby collapsed in on itself and thus the resulting form did the same, as shown in the images. However I do not necessarily think this is a bad thing; I can still cast from this form.

-The Limbs and loose heads:

For this stage I stuffed the baby heads with newspaper to help prevent them from collapsing under the pressure of the suction like the other head did.

Unfortunately, as you can see in the close up of the green sheet during the forming the sheet popped out of its ‘harness’ and therefore the plastic wasn’t sucked all the way down on top of the objects underneath. This meant that these forms aren’t as realistic as the previous blue sheets.

Step two: Casting the objects

-Full Body babies

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As you can see the front full body cast came out perfectly whereas the back did not due to its irregular shape (since the original baby was sucked too much). However it was so difficult to remove these Plaster casts that I was forced to destroy the moulds beyond reasonable repair- unfortunately they will be one cast moulds! 😦

-Limbs and heads:

Through pouring Plaster into the formed sheets I realised that it’s easier to remove the casts when they aren’t all on one sheet, so I cut each head and limb out in order to successfully remove the casts. The heads a one leg cast split in places, however the first cast from each mould came out rather well as you may be able to see in the images above. After the first stage I plugged the splits with clay and continued to cast from them, as shown below:

As you can see above, the secondary and tertiary casts from these moulds where the splits have been plugged with clay hold slight marks on them, however for the purposes that I am creating these Plaster casts for that is not an issue. Once I started producing many many casts some layers of Plaster began to build up on the inside of each mould and it started to affect the casts in a negative way, this is shown below.

I merely rectified this by cleaning each mould with water and my hands.


Once I had produced what I deemed to be enough casts I began placing arrangements into the Vacuum Former once more, the process for this is shown below with each example.

-Sheet N.o. 1:

I noticed where the Plastic had been sucked to large undercuts the layer had become much thinner and thus lighter in colour as expressed above.

-Sheet N.o. 2:

Unfortunately when removing the Plastic sheets from the Vacuum Former you realize that some or all of the casts have fractured due to the brittleness of Plaster or they get stuck in the plastic due to under cuts and so must therefore be broken in order to be removed. In terms of the casts using the limbs they break very easily in comparison with the head casts.

-Sheet N.o. 3:

Much to my distress when beginning to make this sheet I went upstairs to my studio space and the front full body baby cast which had come out so perfectly had been broken by someone…….. total travesty!!!

I was therefore forced to use the fragments of its body for this particular forming, as shown:

-Sheet N.o. 4:

For this sheet I tried to form it using the positioning of heads shown above, it turns out that this layout was too ambitious and I was physically unable to pull the platform of heads upwards as the Plastic sheet wouldn’t stretch that much. This helped me to realize the limits of the Vacuum Former, I then rearranged the heads, as shown below:

With this second attempt I tried to re-melt the same plastic sheet that I had used previously, although I had to turn the sheet over in order for it to fit in the clamps (which is why it doesn’t look as shiny). By doing so many air pocket holes appeared and I was not able to form a realistic mould- it had abstract qualities to it. So I kept the same head arrangement, but placed a brand new sheet of plastic over it. This is shown below.

This new sheet also popped out of the holding frame before it was fully formed, I decided to try a different sheet design after these attempts.

-Sheet N.o. 5:

-Sheet N.o. 6:

With this sheet I decided to reverse the suction of the Vacuum Former to a blow once some of the faces had been formed, this gave it that bloated and less flat look.

-Sheet N.o. 7:

Again for this sheet I blew air into it.

-Sheet N.o. 8:

Finally I wanted to use a second Black sheet as I felt it had a level of creepyness to it the first time. I also did a small experiment with the protective plastic layer on each sheet, as shown below:

I simply melted it using the heater on the Vacuum Former. The textures produced were interesting…..


Step 3: Curving the edges

I did each of these using the lower 350 degree setting on my heat gun.

I’m really happy with how most of these Vacuum formed shapes have turned out, I was hoping that they look a bit like eggs with babies in which isn’t too far off! I intend to continue with this idea next semester till it reaches a conclusion that I can use as an installation. In recognition of my development I decided to do a few sample pieces of things I may explore futher next semester, namely painting the Plaster casts and adding metal wire through them, see below:

I observed how the paint ‘bleeds’ into the plaster and the properties of different types of paint in relation to the Plaster surface.

I also placed wire through the head as an attempt to merge my studio and workshop work together…..

Da daaaa! 😀


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