I’ve put together a 4 part series all about options for creating moulded appliques from different materials: hot glue, paper clay, modeling material, and Resin. I am going to show an example of each, including a short video, and the pros and cons I find in each method. I have them ranked in order of my personal preference starting with my least favorite. I hope this will help you decide what material is best to make your moulds from on your next project.
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#4: Paper Clay
Pros: paper clay gives great character. It will have cracking and warping that are very similar to authentic plaster cast appliques on vintage piece of furniture. Very well suited for distressed and aged looks. Very pliable when first cast.
Cons: super messy, your hands will be covered in clay. Moulds must be dusted for easy release. Difficult to get detailed/fine moulds to release without breaking. Will have cracking and warping, not ideal for clean crisp looks
Summary: more cracking when it dries for a very authentic old world feel, not good for clean crisp casts. Dust moulds for easier removal. Can dry out fast, add water to keep pliable. The most authentic looking aged moulds, but messy and inconvenient along with cracking and warping make this my least favorite option, I rank it #4 of 4 in my list of preferences.
#3: Hot Glue
Pros: fast, can get moulds done right away. Easy, most people have a glue gun and sticks are available at the craft store.
Cons: BURNT FINGERTIPS, you will singe a few along the way. Air bubbles, these are near impossible to avoid, hard to get a flawless mould. Lumpy backs and glue strings, the glue gets a bit messy. It does take a lot of glue to make one applique, I used large glue stick for each of these flowers.
Summary: Hot glue: a good quick option, hot glue is readily available. Use a larger gun and let it heat up sufficiently so glue expresses quickly. You can get air bubbles and imperfections in casts, glue distributes unevenly, because it sets so fast. Fast set means you can create several with minimal time in between. Stays pliable for longest amount of time. An easy, fast option, with some imperfections. I’d rank this #3 of 4 in my preferences.
#2: Modeling Material/Clay
Pros: easy and fast! The modeling material is very user friendly. Comes in large and small quantity so it’s easy to keep on hand. Very pliable when first cast. The cleanest details behind resin.
Cons: hard to use in intricate or small moulds. Some cracking and warping means moulds will have character. Hard to use in small/intricate moulds.
Summary: one of the fastest options, very soft like Play Doh, easy to use, gives clean casts with minimal cracking and shrinking as it dries. Can let dry in mould to help prevent warping. Flexible when wet, air dries overnight to a hard clay like feel. Gives a bit of old world plaster look. Dusting moulds for easy release not required. Store with a damp paper towel to keep material moist, but it does not dry out quickly. I’d rank this my #2 choice of 4.
This is an easy choice for me. Resin is my go to for moulds. Its fast, easy, and gives the best results!
Pros: readily available at most craft stores or online. I like this Amazing casting resin. A little goes a long way. Gives clean, crisp, flawless moulds in a short amount of time. Great for intricate/small moulds. Fast set up and easy to use. Liquid is self leveling for even backs.
Cons: can be a bit pricey. Clean moulds don’t have as much character. Not as pliable as other options. A mistake in the 1:1 mix ratio and it may not harden.
Summary: Once you overcome the stigma of resin being complicated, its frighteningly simple. Definitely gives the cleanest, most crisp casts and my favorite option. It has fast dry time, easy to use, flexible when fresh, dries hard with no cracking or warping. It can be bit expensive, available at craft stores and online. Can heat up to regain some flexibility. I prefer to under pour moulds vs. an over pour that spills out around edges, steady hand required. Avoid clear 8 hour set resins and go for the white, fast cast version to save yourself time and headache. Resin is an easy choice as my #1 material for creating moulded appliques. Find amazing casting resin here, use code brushed10 for 10% off
You can find the moulds I used in this tutorial HERE. What is your favorite material for creating mould appliques?