Friday, April 18, 2014

Tutorial-How To Put A Finish On Chalkware

Although I enjoyed playing with plaster,
when it came to painting, it was a total disaster!
It seems like I painted for days and days.
I must have painted them 3 different ways.
I had paint on my clothes & paint in my hair.
Good grief, I had paint everywhere.
How many times can you paint a bunny's eye?
Enough to make a grown woman want to cry.
According to my visual measuring stick,
in places, the paint is a quarter inch thick.
I must admit it wasn't much fun.
Thank God, the bunnies are FINALLY done!!!

I wanted a very soft patina for the bunnies.  Since Plaster of
Paris is strictly for the indoors, I decided to go with a hard
wax finish.  Just to brighten the colors and protect the paint.
Polyurethane is a good finish too.

 
I 've used Briwax products for years.  It comes in different
colors and it's so versatile.  You can use it on fine antiques,
 paint, raw wood, metal & even cement.  I was out, but I ran across
 this product when I was looking for Briwax.  Thought I'd give
it a try.  Available at Home Depot and Michael's Crafts.
What's old is new again!
 
It's just like shining your shoes.  I actually put on
a thin layer with a paint brush.  Let it dry & buffed.
 Repeated for a second coat.  It was very easy
to work with.

After a few days, it cures to a very hard finish with
a beautiful soft patina.  From then on, just dust with
Pledge or whatever you normally use.


I put little ribbons on the girl's bunnies.





Not sew easy.  I'm going back to my needle & thread.
To all the ladies that paint dolls so beautifully, I have
an even greater admiration for your fine talent!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
HAPPY EASTER!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tutorial-How To Make Chalkware Figurines

Chalkware simply refers to decorative figurines made from
Plaster-Of-Paris.  Chalkware was very popular
all throughout the 1800's and is still popular today.  It's often
called "the poor man's porcelain" because it was inexpensive
to produce and affordable to the masses.  As a child I remember
 going to the Taney County fair and seeing the brightly painted
carnival chalkware prizes to be won at the games of skill.
Sadly, by the time I was old enough to play, they'd been
replaced with stuffed animals.
Many of the new folk art chalkware figurines you see
today are made from antique chocolate molds.
I have one antique 11 inch bunny mold.  He has a
little flower on one side,

& a little shamrock on the other.  He makes a
beautiful chocolate bunny.  We are having an
impromptu "girlfriends" get together in May, so
I thought I'd make them a chalkware bunny.

Antique chocolate molds can be very costly.
Large ones can go for hundreds of dollars.
 I also have some 3D, two piece open bottomed
polycarbonate professional chocolate molds.
 These molds are hard, heavy and rigid. They were
purchased from Tomric Moulds.  They've been in business
 since the early 1960's & many of their molds are made 
from antique chocolate molds.  They work wonderfully
for chocolate and are sturdy enough for Plaster of Paris.
Below is a 16 inch Easter bunny with a basket, a lucky
Irish pig and Father Christmas, all from antique molds.

I bought some Plaster of Paris at the local building
supply, gathered up some plastic containers for mixing
 & something to mix the plaster with.  Plaster of Paris pops
 right off plastic and metal when dry, but doesn't come off
of wood easily.

I have plenty of clamps for holding the 2 sections
of the molds together. You cannot have too many clamps.

I have a large bucket of soapy water for clean up.
DO NOT PUT PLASTER OF PARIS DOWN THE SINK,
IT CAN CLOG YOUR PIPES!
When I am done, I will pour off the water outside. The
 Plaster of Paris at the bottom will dry up, pop off
and can then be disposed of easily.

Plaster of Paris is mixed at a ratio of 1 part water to 2 parts of
plaster.  I blocked off the open end of each side of the mold &
filled them with water to get the exact amount, then
doubled that for the plaster. 

The mold is held tightly together with clamps,
the more the better!

I readied a box to prop the filled mold in,
while it cures hard.

To prevent air bubbles while pouring, I prop the
mold on it's side and pour about half of the plaster
down the side of the mold.  Gently shaking the
mold helps to dislodge air bubbles. 

I also wore a facial mask and disposable gloves.
It's not good to breathe and it will dry your hands out.
'
Plaster of Paris starts to set up in about 7 to 10 minutes.
 I worked quickly, especially when mixing for the large mold,
stirring till it was smooth and the consistency of a thick milkshake.

I leveled off the bottom with my mixing tool.

 It's easy to see an air pocket in the clear molds.
(I used a long wooden dowel rod to fix those)
Father Christmas was propped up in an old coffee
 container.

Lucky pig was easy!

I propped the large Easter Bunny in a trash can.  It
required clamps from the hubby's shop.
I love the hub's workshop, he always has what I need!
Luckily, it didn't fall over and spill on my kitchen floor.
(It was just too chilly to work outside that day.)

Plaster of Paris heats up as it hardens.  When
the molds are cool, it's safe to remove the casting.
20 to 30 minutes for a small mold, about an hour
and 30 minutes for the big one.
(Don't let the kiddies make a plaster mold of
their hands!)

The casting pops right out of the mold.
Very little sticks to the molds and they clean up
easily with soap & water.




The figures will have a seam line, where
the 2 sides of the mold meet.
 
I purchased a couple of fine grit wet sanding sponges
 in the drywall section at the hardware store.
I scrapped off the seam line with a sharp clay tool (a paring
knife would work too) and wet sanded until I could no
longer feel the seam line.  I cut one of the sanding sponges
 into smaller pieces for those hard to reach places.
 
 
Then sanded the bottom smooth.
 
  I used wall patch to fill any holes.
I sanded those smooth too.

Let the castings thoroughly dry for a couple of days.
The large one I will let dry for a week.
To prepare the pieces for painting, I used gesso according
to the directions, one thin coat followed by a thicker
second coat.  This gesso is for oil or acrylic paints.

 Painted a rich dark chocolaty brown they look good
enough to eat.  Add a silk bow to the bunny & he makes a
 sweet Easter decoration.  A light cream color simulates
white chocolate.  Paint them a pastel color, glue on German
mica flakes or glass glitter and they look foo foo fancy!     
  I got a wild "hare" and decided to paint the girls 
bunnies like the cute ones in my yard.
 I did take a few ceramics lessons 35 years ago and
I can stay in the lines of a color book.  I can even 
paint by number.  So, I purchased some folk art color 
acrylic paints, a sea sponge and decent brushes at
our local craft store.  I don't know what I was thinking!
 I am NOT a painter. 
Hopefully, they won't be too butt ugly.
Tune in next time for "How To Put
A Finish On Your Chalkware"
So far, so easy, just a little messy!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Learn more about chalkware:
Wisegeek
~~~~~~~
Polycarbonate 3D Chocolate Molds:
 Bittersweet House
Tomric Moulds
~~~~~~
Antique Chocolate Molds:
Old Molds
Dad's Follies
Victorian Chocolate Molds
~~~~~~
German glass glitter & mica flakes:
32 Degrees North Specialty Craft Supplies
D Blumchen & Co.