“Rescued” – molds and molds and molds

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As mentioned in the previous post, the process for creating the dog paw prints wasn’t straightforward. The challenge was finding a way to get the real prints of all 3 dogs on the canvass without having it look like a distorted mess. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to do a piece with the messy prints splayed across the canvass, and I’ll readily admit that is a good idea, too. However, that was not the direction for this project.

The other challenge was ensuring the actual prints of Crash, Boom, and Zip were used. I didn’t want to do a photo-based, realism approach, i.e. take a picture of the paws and free paint the shapes. I really wanted to have the touch and active presence of CBZ on the canvass. This became very important to me as the work progressed because it would be a forever connection to our beloved pups; a way to always reach out and touch their “real” paws.

So if you haven’t barfed from the sentimentality, you appreciate the concept… hopefully. The original thought was to slather some non-toxic kid paint on the dog’s paws and let them run on the canvass. That’s such a bad idea for so many reasons. Just think about it for a minute if you don’t know what I mean. The next idea was to paint the dog’s paws and then press their paws on the canvass myself, in a more or less controlled fashion. Aside from the obvious battle of wills that would ensue, of which I would surely be on the losing side, this doesn’t work well because the prints are muddled with hair marks, making the prints largely indiscernible. I know this because I did a trial with Boom, the mellow dog, by shaving his paws and following the technique noted above on a practice canvass. It looked like poo.

The final answer was molds in molds. The photo included has the molds I used plus one set I didn’t. The 3 molds on the top left and the set of 3 on the bottom left. Process went like this:

  • Pressed the dog’s paw into a round of molding clay.
  • Baked the molds for 30 minutes. These are the top 3 molds in the photo.
  • Using non-drying clay, pressed into the dried molds and pulled them out. These are the bottom 3 colored ones.
  • These non-drying clay molds held their shape, but could be manipulated, so I pressed each one gently down onto a flat surface to flatted out the paw prints so it would transfer the shape better.
  • Applied thin layer of paint to the clay molds and pressed carefully onto the canvass. This provided the general shape and worked surprisingly well.
  • Applied free-hand touch ups and additional layers of paint on paw prints on canvass.

The other 3 molds (on right side of photo) are a failed attempt to create oven dried impression molds as described with the non-drying clay above. They are great 3D molds of the dog’s prints, but turns out the paint doesn’t transfer well to the canvass because the paw pads are too well done, i.e. they are rounded and can’t be pressed flat to make a good stamp. One of those things you try and then feel like a moron for having overlooked such a simple mistake.

All the molds are reusable, so I can recreate this project again if I wanted to. The best part is that my wife gets the painting she asked for, plus a mold of each dog’s front left paw.

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