Make Architecture



#7 – Party Mold Machine

OK – for starters, this attempt was a total fail. I still like the idea, but no part of it came out in any predicted or desired way. I’ll concentrate on the things that went wrong, so that perhaps you can avoid this in the future!

So the idea, which I still like, despite the lack of success, is for a party ‘machine,’ wherein you have all the tools you need to make the tools you need to hold four different (or more) types of parties. Which is to say, there are three “boxes” in this construction… each has four different “tool mold options” in it, which you can pour into, one from each side. SO, for example, if you wanted to have a tea party and you weren’t sure how many people were coming, you would simply rotate the three boxes so that for your “tool,” you would get a tiny spoon and some finger-sandwich picks, you would rotate your “dish” box to the small saucer, and you would rotate your “vessel” to a small teacup. This way, even if more guests kept arriving, you could just pour into your party mold and voila! more dishes.

(this would be particularly awesome if there was some kind of vegetable-based or easily recyclable casting compound available – you could cast disposable partyware)

So this failed on a number of fronts. I’ll go through my process with commentary…

Materials: Masonite, SMOOTH-ON ReoFlex30 Urethane Rubber Compound (NOT RECOMMENDED!)

1. Make the “boxes” to cast the dishes into.

Ok – actually, so far so good on this step. I lasercut half-boxes for each of the molds, leaving a half-circle on each edge that would match up with a companion box (this was to have been the sprue).

This is out of masonite because I’d used that before when casting rockite and it was pretty sturdy under the wetness of the casting compound.

2. Prepare the cast so that the dishes don’t touch the bottom.

I hadn’t used this type of mold rubber before, and was surprised when it was the color of coffee-milk, and not the charming robin’s egg blue to which we had become accustomed with the OOMOOs 25 and 30. So this is ReoFlex30, and I can see where it would be useful in other applications. Just not this one. ReoFlex takes about half an hour of pot life, and 16 hours (!!) to fully seize. It also smells a bit weird, and the Part B for it (in the yellow canister) is super thick (almost like honey), and difficult to fully integrate into the mixture of Part A and Part B.

But still, at this step, I still thought I was headed for success…

3. Prepare the materials to be submerged.

In the lightbulb project, we used vaseline inconsistently to try to make our molds release a little bit better. I decided to try a real mold-release agent – “Castin Craft Mold Release and Conditioner”

Now, this release agent comes in a little spray bottle and looks fairly friendly; it even says on the bottle: “Odorless, Solvent Free.” I might argue differently. I got some on my hands while I was spraying the dishes and silverware that I wanted to cast, and within five minutes the area around my fingernails were burning. Washing with soap and water didn’t fully remove the oily residue, either, which is curious. All of this chemicals are very suspect, and warrant a closer look if you’re going to do a big project.

4.Pouring a first layer

I decided that the dishes wouldn’t hold very well on top of that small dollop of rubber I’d poured earlier, so I poured a thin layer; it was somewhat firm after about two hours, so I was pleased that I didn’t have to wait another 14 to pour the rest of the mold.

5. Submerge the dishes

It was at this point that I realized that I didn’t have enough liquid rubber material to fill even one box, much less the three I was planning for. I had half a box of the ReoFlex30 before, and I had purchased another two, but alas…

ALSO – notice how I didn’t use spacers or blocks between the different dishes – this is a major WASTE of material, since it’s not really doing anything in there. That’s the oops I feel worst about because it’s just silly to waste this expensive toxic material.

6. Unpack the mold

After about twenty hours, I decided to see what I had done. I tried to separate the two halves of the box mold, which proved to be very difficult. I had taped the inside and outside seams to prevent any of the liquid rubber from coming through (successful for that), but unfortunately, it seems like the ReoFlex30 actually really likes to stick to Artist’s Tape. Bummer #2.

7. Getting the positives out

My grand initial scheme called for using a cheese wire to separate (or at least begin to separate) the two halves of rubber. Not only did that not work, the rubber really didn’t take to being cut with a Japanese x-acto blade (and EVERYthing loves being cut by those). It kind of shredded or shriveled, but for the most part just stuck to itself.

ALSO, notice how inside this mold, you can see that there are parts that are still goopy. While I was sure I had everything (Parts A and B) fully mixed, I’m suspecting that this is the result of the Part B (goopier honey-like one) not being fully integrated. It doesn’t appear to be getting any better as time goes on, either, so I suspect this goopy inside of mold is permanently gooped.

8. No dice!

After about an hour and half of hacking at the mold, I declare it DOA. Notice to the side that I had begun pouring the “tool” box mold as well. That was quickly aborted when I realized how I had too little rubber material.

ALSO notice how the tape around the edge is not letting go of that rubber mold! The sticky side wasn’t even facing the rubber, but I guess they’ve got some kind of affinity.

SO – I still like the idea, and I’d like to try to think about ways to go about this more strategically. I think OOMOO30 is a best-bet idea, as well as perhaps the vacu-form if I could get a little bit better at the technique of vacu-forming (to get higher resolution and specificity. Also, I might add an axis through the middle that all the boxes would rotate around so that the ‘machine’ stays in place. This is pretty disappointing, but hopefully the tips above will help you avoid the same mistakes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


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.


%d bloggers like this: