The foundation of every new terrain environment starts with the selection of your molds. The Pile begins that process with the Industryâ€™s best â€“ Hirst Arts and then created custom molds from those original casts to ultimately support the high-volume pieces of the set. Join Co-Piler Enygma as he shows us how he made these unique works of art.
So why go through all the trouble and expense of making one-of-a-kind molds? Youâ€™ve already got the originals from Bruce. Isnâ€™t that enough? Well if you have the Gandhiâ€™s patience and the Popeâ€™s time, read no further. However, if youâ€™re a man of the town like most of us, these larger molds are a lifesaver. Instead of doing essentially a single floor tile, you can create an entire room. Forget doing 10 floor squares in a single cast, how does 100 sound instead via a home-brewed custom mold?
For starters, Benâ€™s Egyptian environment utilized the following Hirst Arts molds.
- Tower Mold #93: hieroglyph columns
- Temple Mold #94: more hieroglyph columns
- Basic Block Mold #95: your bread (walls)
- Pyramid Accessory #96: columns, door, sarcophagus, etc
- Tomb Accessory #97: door frames and statues
- Temple Accessory #98: mighty columns and lion statue
- Fountain Accessory #99: water accent pieces
- Floor Tile #290: your butter (floors)
- Weave Floor Tile #291: decorative floor accents
- Decorative Floor Tile #292: more ornamental floors
Now itâ€™s time to identify the critical, mass production pieces of our terrain build. Again, the goal being letâ€™s make larger mold forms here to save us a mountain of precious time. Donâ€™t rush this step. Inevitably though, you will say to yourself, â€śWhy did I pick that particular piece to mass replicate?â€ť Typically, you will need 10 casts of the final pieces.
So now get out your pen, itâ€™s time to make a shopping list of all the ingredients that go into creating the actual forms and pouring the new mold. Donâ€™t worry many of these items are re-usable.
- 1 sheet of 20â€ťx30â€ťx3/16â€ť Elmerâ€™s foam core ($3, Walmart)
- 1 roll of masking tape ($1, Walmart)
- 1 bottle of white tacky glue ($1.50, Walmart)
- 1 utility knife/paper cutter. ($5, Walmart)
- 1 can of silicone mold release ($10.80, Aeromarine)
- AM 128 Pourable Silicone Rubber, 1 gallon, 2-part kit – 8.8 lbs. ($101, Aeromarine)
- 2 wooden spoons ($1.00, Walmart)
- 2 plastic measuring cups ($1.50 per, Walmart)
- Digital scale ($25,Walmart)
- Cooking timer ($5, Walmart)
This is a two-part process. The first is building the form that will hold the silicone rubber solution. Make the mold form 12â€™x12â€™ so you can use a drywall scraper to scrape the form after casting. This configuration gives you 100 square inches of Hirst art floors and walls which is about as fast as you can safely cast.
Pre-glue the original Hirst Arts floor pieces together to dramatically cut down on assembly time. For example, pour a 4×4, 4×3, 3×3, and so on.
Create a Box
With all that said, letâ€™s create the actual form/mold housing:
Step 1: Measure a 12â€ťx12â€ť foam core square and cut with a utility knife.
Step 2: Measure a 1.5â€ťx11.5â€ť foam core side piece and create 4 with a utility knife.
Step 3: Run a piece of masking tape across the whole length of the side piece. Make sure that half of the tape is hanging off and there is an inch hanging off each end.
Step 4: Attach the side piece to the 12â€ťx12â€ť piece. Do the same for all 4 sides.
Step 5: Take tape and run it inside the seam of the 12×12 piece and the side piece.
Step 6: Add tape to each corner (3 pieces, center, left and right of each corner).
Step 7: Run a bead of glue on the inside of the seam of the form and up the corners.
Step 8: Glue casted pieces into box with about a ÂĽâ€ť space between the pieces/sides.
Step 9: Allow it all to dry. The beads of glue will become clear.
Pour the Mold
Now letâ€™s do a step-by-step on the actual mixing and pouring of the mold:
Step 1: Zero out and set your scale to metric as you will need to do some simple mixture math.
Step 2: Pour the first part of the mixture, the silicone (white), into the cup. It comes out thick and takes a good amount. Depending on the size of your mixing cup, you can pour about 180 grams of the white solution into the cup. Mark how much you poured so you can divide it by 10 for the Catalyst.
Step 3: Double check your measurement of the white solution
Step 4: Zero out your second mixing cup. Pour the Catalyst into it at one tenth the amount of the white solution. Example: if you poured 180 grams of the white solution, you would pour 18 of the purple. Tip: itâ€™s best to pour about 1-2 grams extra because you will not get all the Catalyst to come out of the mixing bowl.
Step 5: Double check the measurement.
Step 6: You have 20-30 minutes to combine the two mixtures together.
Step 7: Use the wooden spoons to mix for 10 minutes (on your timer) so the chemical solution fuses together. The latex is thick and will take a lot of mixing.
Step 8: Did you stop?! Keep mixing. You MUST mix for the full 10 minutes.
Step 9: Double check your form and make sure everything is glued properly placed.
Step 10: Pour the Latex in slowly at each of the 4 corners and in the middle. Make sure you pour at least 1/4 an inch above the highest piece your casting. So if youâ€™re casting floor tiles make sure its 1/4 above the floor tile.
Step 11: Once the mold is filled, let it sit for 24-36 hours then strip away the foam core form. This is where you can use some of that silicone spray release product to get the first couple of castings out of the mold cleanly.
Quick-hit Tips and Tricks
Here are some helpful tips that make the whole process go a little smoother:
- Match Pieces: Make sure that you pour all the like pieces together. That means pour floors with floors, walls with walls, and similar pillars together. Make sure all the pieces are the same height (saves on latex).
- Heavy Duty: Donâ€™t be stingy on your form bead of glue around those seams of your box and you double up the tape on both sides of the forms. Can you imagine what would happen if you do this step poorly?
- Level Playing Field: Pour on a level surface. This is a must or all your work is for not. Bust out a level to be sure.
- Pouring Angle: Pour at 70 to 80 degree angle for better settling and an easier bottle pour.
- Detailed Piece Brush: For detailed pieces, it doesn’t hurt to use a paint brush and go over them with latex before you pour the main mold.
- Slow and Steady: Pour gradually as this reduces air bubbles (latex is thick).
Once you make a custom mold you will never want to use anything else. It takes about the same time to cast the custom mold as a Hirst Arts mold (once you get the measurements down). So your doing a 10-1 ratio on your casting time!
After repeating the above process, you walk away with a bevy of Egyptian mass molds.
- Floors: Utilizing #290 to make 4×4, 3×3 and 3×4 in pre-formed bulk pieces
- Walls: From #95, you can mass produce the other core component
- Ornate Set 1: Hallway, doors and columns pieces
- Ornate Set 2: More decorate column, pedestal and statue elements
So with a little extra thought, preparation and elbow grease, you can turn your most important pieces into a well-oiled casting assembly line â€“ drastically cutting down your mold time and ultimatelyâ€¦giving you more time to play.
Questions to Ponder: Have you ever made a custom mold before? Why or why not? What worked well and where were there improvements to be made? What other Egyption pieces would you use a lot of? What set would you mass produce (cavern, field stone dungeon, etc)?