Essentially this project was a fail, and a pretty huge one at that, considering the time and money I sunk into it. But we can’t let that stop us, right? My basic idea was to make a concrete cat bookends. First, I would model a clay sculpture of a cat, then make a latex mold, then support it with a fiberglass jacket which would then give me a way to cast multiple concrete castings of the design. Sculpting took me quite a while, but in the end I was pretty satisfied. I used a non-sulphur non-hardening clay. First I tried a dipping method, which according to what i was reading, should have worked. But the latex just slipped off the clay, so either I got the wrong kind of clay, or the wrong kind of latex. Next I tried painting multiple layers of the latex onto the sculpture. That worked, but was super time-consuming, and I didn’t have the patience to make the latex as thick as I should have. Next I had to use fiberglass, and make a supporting jacket, allowing for undercuts, for the shape. I’d never worked with fiberglass before, and what a stinky mess. I eventually got it done – but had to buy a fairly expensive mask to deal with the toxic chemicals (even though I was working outside.) I don’t see myself doing this process ever again – even though I couldn’t smell a thing through the mask, I just don’t like using chemicals this hardcore. After the fiberglass hardened, I had to take it apart and drill some holes in it so that it could be tightly fastened back together with screws and bolts, with the rubber mold inside. I did two castings, each with it’s own problems. On both, my cat ears were too thin, and so broke off then de-molding. On the second casting, the latex was already stretching out a bit, and making folds inside the fiberglass jacket – essentially giving the cat wrinkles. I could live with that, but the ears breaking off was very discouraging, and I felt ruined the piece.
Postscript: Sadly, my beloved cat Izzy, on whom this sculpture was based, got lost on Feb 13, 2014, and although super human effort was made trying to find her, she tragically died seven weeks later when she jumped into the an unknown yard and was mauled by dogs. She was only four. The black cat I made now serves as her headstone. Miss you every day, Iz.