MFA Chronicles Fall Semester 2018 at OCAC—Nearing the End

Moldmaking, Post 1.

September 4, 2018


I’m taking a mold-making class as an Independent Study, this semester.

It will allow me to make steps in my thesis work that center around using forms that are repeated in my paintings, highlighting their importance. I have struggled to achieve good forms with hand-made materials like paper, last semester, and think I’ll be able to achieve them more soundly with forms made from molds in resin, porcelain and plaster. Those are my chosen materials and I’m sticking to it!

The process is more complicated and can result in more precision objects, which is the effect I’m looking for. This is one of the steps I had planned to make earlier in this program—but as it turned out, this semester was the right time.


I’m taking the class with Chanda Glendinning as Instructor, with mostly undergrad students and we’re learning basic mold-forming techniques. These assignments will allow me to practice the basic forming techniques and break away from the planned assignments to follow my needs for production. Super-excited!

The first mold we’ve been tasked to make is this basic tile mold, changing the surface and texture. I chose to take elements from the street, to reflect needs for my thesis work. I’m working on capturing the essence of the riverfront area in Portland and I’ve used trash and signage from the street for this first mold to see how these specific forms work in the molding processes.

In particular, the texts and textures of deteriorating materials and street covers will be essential aesthetics for the painting-sculpture hybrid work I hope to make in my thesis.

Mold-making tiles with items pressed into clay, as with a stamp.

Mold-making tiles with items pressed into clay, as with a stamp.

For these molds, I have pressed objects into a tile to make an impression, and have planted the same object back into the clay. I am hoping to capture each object in relief and as a “void:” the object present and absent. I’m also looking to find out how a cast results when materials have different surfaces, such as paper/tape, lichen, concrete and metal.

Each surface will read differently in the plaster and I’m eager to find out how each one looks.

Results from three techniques: object impression, found object relief, and lines drawn using a template (is that technically also an impression?).

For those objects that are protrusions, I must coat them lightly with an oil soap so as to make them impervious to plaster, or I’ll have to spend a long time hacking those babies out from the mold I’ve cast, potentially ruining the surface of the mold—or, MOST LIKELY ruining the surface of the mold. This may or may not be a stupid idea, to use a lichen: it’s porous, will probably be eaten alive by the plaster despite a thorough application of the soap—but I’ve got to try it and find out. There are similar materials I’m hoping to cast in the future...


Here my tiles are, soaped and ready, and patiently waiting for me to build them a tar-paper/clay castle so that they may be submerged in a sea of plaster. The plaster will heat, begin its thixotropic process and settle perfectly around the least, if all goes perfectly according to plan...and, once I start this process, my hands will be covered in clay and plaster so I’ll have to update with those photos, next time. Cross your fingers that the lichen, nuts and tape don’t make my molds a complete disaster, OBJECT- ively speaking! (Har-har, art joke!)

Tune in to my next post to see more of this process and find out what happened to my tiles!


Go Make Something,

Jessica Rehfield

September 4, 2018