Modeling clay molds for quick and easy casting

I did this as a tutorial for another website I have joined, The DM’s Craft. I wanted to post it here too, and that gives me the chance to upload my photos.

I joined the above board and was reading through their messages on crafting stuff, and thought that it might be helpful to post my own experience with making stuff using clay and plaster. I posted a few photos but was asked if I could post more demonstration so that people could see the process.

First, the materials. For this effort I use standard Hobby Lobby modeling clay. Not the oven-baked clay like Sculpey, nor the air-drying clay for making sculptures or pottery. Just the regular clay that takes forever to dry out. The clay I am using has probably been in use over a year and still works fine.

Step 1: Roll out your clay. (The miniature is to provide a sense of scale)
Rolled clay

Step 2: Make your molds. (This first image shows me simply using my thumb to create a depression which is how the coin pile and the skull pile will be started).
Thumb in clay

Step 2a: This image shows all the “molds” pressed into the clay. In each case I’ve shown what I used to make the mold next to each one. For the coin pile I used three different sized wooden dowels, for the skull pile I just used one skull on a stick (I couldn’t find the ones I made, so this is from a set of miniatures I painted a long time ago), for the coffin lid I used an unpainted miniature and for the lion-head shield I used a small toy lion. All I did was carefully press each item down until I felt it was good to go. For the coin and skull piles that meant a lot of individual pressing into the clay to create the effect of a pile.
Imprints in clay

Step 3: Pour the plaster. I use “Hydrostone” which is a super hard plaster that is much sturdier than regular plaster of paris. I also mixed up enough to cast a couple of Hirst Arts molds at the same time so I got a bunch of blocks out of this too.
Plaster poured in clay

Step 4: Demold the cast items. I just popped them out.
Plaster casts from clay

Step 5: Paint the tiems. I did a pretty simple black primer, then did a couple of layers of wet and then drybrushing. On the coin pile I used some glitter. The coin pile looks better than the photo, but it didn’t turn out as good as I wanted. Flash photos sometimes pick up certain pigments better than others, and in this case the black paint I used as a wash overwhelmed the gold and silver paint making it look all gray. In real life it looks gold and silver, with glitters. Trust me.
Painted casts from clay

Regardless, I think they came out OK.

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