Make Architecture



06. Mold & Cast: Log_TILE

The goal of this project is to make a repeatable mold and a cast item. I choose to make a tile system with slight varying thickness using the investment casting method (also lost wax casting).

The inspiration was the northwest forest as well as a log stool designed by the artist studio Brent Comber I once saw in a furniture store in Seattle.

Alder Cubes by Brent Comber Studio


Make Time:

  • 3 hours – Pattern making & Mold making
  • 2-1/2 hours – Demold & Casting
  • 30 min – Surface cleaning & Finishing

Tools and Components:

  • Dowels, 1/16″ , 1/8″, 1/4″, 1/2″, 1″ Ø
  • Hot glue gun
  • 1 sheet of plastic corrugation (or any sheet material)
  • Plastic sheeting to protect work surface
  • Paper cups
  • Stirrer
  • Silicon rubber (Smooth-On OOMOO-30)
  • Urethane plastic (Smooth-On  Smooth-Cast 300)
  • Clear polyester casting resin (Castin’ Craft Liquid Plastic)
  • Sand paper, electric hand sander, and/or belt sander


PATTERN MAKING. Cut dowels to 3″ length and assemble into a 6″ x 6″ square frame. Glue dowels together to make a pattern for rubber mold. The pattern is intentionally 3″ deep to create tiles of varying thickness for future wall application.

MOLD MAKING. Make a container slightly larger than the 6″ wide x 6″ long x 3″ high pattern. Tape all edges to make container water-tight. Mix part A and part B of OOMOO-30 silicon rubber thoroughly in 1:1 ratio. Pour mixed liquid into container. This product have a 30 min pot life and a 6 hour demold time. Add additional objects such as foam to displace liquid if necessary. Remove pattern from mold after 6 hours.

Note: Removing the pattern took 2+ hours due to the many cavities created in between the dowels. Each dowel had to be cut loose from the hot-glue bed and removed individually. Notice that the top left corner of the rubber mold is relatively flat due to pulling a chunk of dowel out which also removed part of the rubber.

CASTING. Mix part A and part B of Smooth-Cast 300 urethane plastic in 1:1 ratio. When mixing, beware of adding air pockets into the liquid. Pour mixed liquid into mold at 1″ mark. This product have a 3 min pot life and a 10 min demold time. It also gets hot and turns from a clear liquid to opaque white while curing.

Remove 1″ white urethane plastic tile from mold. Some rubber are seen stuck in tight cavities. Use a belt or disc sander to clean and finish the surface.

The mold can be reused multiple of times. To make clear resin tiles, follow direction on the back of the product and add 5 drops of catalyst per ounce of clear polyester resin. For 3/4″ thick tile, use 12 oz of clear resin and add 60 drops of catalyst. When mixing, be very careful not to of introduce air pockets into the liquid. Also, lower the cup when pouring mixed liquid into mold to reduce air bubbles. The polyester resin will off-gas while curing and therefore needs to be handled in a well ventilated location.


Thoughts & lessons learned this week:

  • At each step of the process, from pattern to mold to cast object, information is lost in translation. It is important to think through each step and perhaps exaggerate details to retain the amount of information in the end.
  • Remember to wear surgical gloves if possible. Most of the products are difficult to remove from skin or hazardous to the human body even if it is low VOC.
  • An alternative process for the desired effect is to glue and slice wooden dowels into 3/4″ thick tiles and cast it in clear resin.

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Instructor: Nick Gelpi TA: Skylar Tibbits TA: Varvara Toulkeridou
Class Times, Monday, 1-4pm - room 5-216
4.184 is an intensive introduction to methods of making explored through a wide range of brief but focused 1-week exercises. We'll engage the real and leave behind representation in the focused context of this class gaining skills for utilizing a range of fabrication machines and technologies from lasercutting, waterjet, 3D printing, welding, formworking-molding, casting, gears, joints and composites.
In this workshop we'll constrain ourselves to the territory of the 1:1. Students will represent architectural constructions at full scale and develop a more intimate relationship with technology by engaging the tools and techniques that empower us. We will gain access to the most cutting edge machines and technologies in the MARS lab at the Center for Bits and Atoms.
The second layer of information for this course will be to look at a series of case studies in which construction methods and technologies have played a dominant role in the design process .
Over the past 20 years, architects have focused on the technology of representation to create new ideas of what architecture could be. Looking back today, much of that research failed to substantially change the way we design buildings by focusing on apriori formal configurations. This class makes the contention that this failure comes from a lack of considerations of the potentials within fabrication knowledge. We look to the future of what building might become, given the expanded palette of personalize-able technologies available to us as architects. Students will participate in curious technological and material investigations, to discover the potentials, known and unknown, for these various technologies.
The sub-disciplines of what's drawn and what's built have been compartmentalized and disassociated as the representational tools of architecture have distanced themselves from the techniques of making. At the same time the technologies for “making” in architecture have provided us with new possibilities for reinventing how we translate into reality, the immaterial representations of architecture.


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