The initial moulds that I created worked well to produce masters but with the technique I used mean it was hard to get an even wall thickness to the produces and this effected quality. It also mean that the inner surface was unsightly, something that I wanted to avoid. The solutions were costly in terms of money or time but as I didn’t want to invest large sums of money in noisy spray equipment that my neighbours would no doubt no enjoy, I decided to go down the route of creating a solution that stayed true to the hand made theme of my work.
As some of designs were essentially flat from their starting point I wondered if I could create a moulding technique that enabled you to fold the concrete after it was laid. I had already designed a mix of concrete that stuck to walls but was smooth and workable so I thought it was entirely possible
Below is the origami net that creates Kronen Bowl, this was to become to experiment basis for the idea
The material choice was crucial as it needed to be flexible enough to bend into shape, smooth enough to release the product and strong enough to last the test of time. To start out with I use a cheap and easy material call neoprene, it worked well to prove the principle but had poor durability over time.
Making The Mould
As the picture below demonstrates, I broke the design down into vectors and had them laser cut, allowing a small space between for flexibility. The panels were then laid onto a layer of neoprene and stuck to it. The same was done for the back side so the panels were effectively locked in an airtight bag.
The result was that the mould could then flex in the places I needed but stayed rigid on the surfaces. The basis of my idea worked and I began to try and find more durable materials to use.
Latex was a much stronger and more durable material to work with so when combined with a fabric the result was a super strenth material with a smooth, sealed surface, perfect for moulding from. Below you can see Kronen laid out ready to be stuck to the new material.
With the idea now proven I was able to roll it would across my range and create different support frames for different designs. The great thing about this mould is that with one mould you can get several different designs. Kronen, Prisme and an unreleased design were made from just one mould meaning that I could achieve a much better return on my investment.
What made this process better?
When It came to filling the mould with material the usual problem with complex shapes is getting into the areas that are tight and when you are there making sure that the material is a safe thickness. But with my new moulding technique you can see that it was a very easy and simple process.
The mould lay flat on the floor and the special mix that I designed was spread evenly on top. The material thickness was now incredibly easy to get even throughout the pot. When the material was applied the orange straps were attached to a winch and the whole mould was hoisted into the air, naturally taking the shape of the desired pot.
In designs like Kronen and Kronen tall they both needed to braced, with arms pushing parts in to achieve the correct from each time. Kronen bowl just sat in a former and lifted out easily when set.
Over all this not only increased the quality but also the production time, enabling me to mould a pot in less than 1 hour from weighing out to cleaning up compared to 3 hours previously.