issue 6

Articles & Reviews


Book Reviews by Caroline Taylor and Paul Gunning


The Mouldmaker's Handbook

by Jean-Pierre Delpech and Marc-Andre Figueres

160 pages
ISBN 0713667702
Great Britain: A&C Black, 2004
France: Groupe Eyrolles, 2001
(The book has been translated into English by Sasha Wardell.)

Review 1 by Caroline Taylor

The publishers A&C Black are well known by students and practitioners of ceramics for their technical handbook series. The Mouldmaker's Handbook by Jean-Pierre Delpech and Marc-Andre Figueres runs along a similar vein, although it is presented in a larger format and it's appeal would not be limited to those with an interest in ceramics.

The French authors of the book are both well informed professional mouldmakers who manage to impart a wealth of knowledge in a user friendly format. The inclusion, at the beginning of the book, of the French Mouldmaking Charter testifies to the seriousness of their pursuit.

The book is roughly divided into three sections; the first part deals with the preparation of a model for mouldmaking, materials and tools for model making and descriptions of a variety of releasing agents available for each mouldmaking product.

The second section looks at the different materials available to the mould maker and their most appropriate uses, along with their advantages and disadvantages when employed in a variety of applications. The authors then go on to describe various projects, with step-by-step instructions on how to make moulds using the following materials; alginate, plaster bandage, plaster, latex and silicone. Brief historical, manufacture and application information is also given for many of the materials.

The third section of the book describes a range of materials used for casting; plaster, resin, wax, low-melt metals and gives detailed descriptions of various casting techniques.

The book concludes with a set of charts for each moulding material and cross references them with the most appropriate releasing agent for any particular model, including different food stuffs, even chocolate!

This practical handbook contains an impressive amount of detailed information. Each chapter of the book is packed with high quality photographic illustrations, diagrams, highlighted 'Tips' and 'Cautions' and step-by-step instructions on manageable projects. The inclusion of the photographic illustrations for each stage of the mouldmaking process makes the book very easy to follow and visually attractive, as do the frequent diagrams. My only criticism of The Mouldmaker's Handbook lies with the quality of the objects and artefacts used to illustrate the projects. These objects vary greatly in quality and in some instances are rather naff, which gives an amateur appearance to parts of the book.

Although The Mouldmaker's Handbook contains references to clay and slip casting and thorough sections on plaster and plaster bandage as moulding materials, this book is not a specific guide to traditional ceramic moulding techniques, press moulding or slip casting. The book has a far broader appeal and would be useful for those who wish to diversify and explore a range of techniques, materials and processes more frequently associated to the practice of sculpture. It would be invaluable to a beginner wishing to complete one of the specific projects, however, it would also be extremely useful as a reference guide or workshop companion to those with more experience, students, teachers and professionals, due to the comprehensive content of technical information.

Review 2 by Paul Gunning

The French mouldmaking charter printed at the front of this book indicates the seriousness with which the authors approach their subject. Along with mouldmaking, Depech and Figueres give guidance on creating original models, casting techniques and briefly cover surface treatments for the resulting cast.

The comprehensive range of materials and techniques covered can at first seem daunting but the text is backed up by useful tables in the appendices which indicate suitable combinations of modelling and moulding materials along with appropriate release agents.

As well as clear cut-away diagrams, techniques are often illustrated by photographic sequences which give a real feel for how the processes work 'in the flesh'. There are also many photos of finished results to inspire the beginner with the kind of thing they might achieve. There is a useful list of suppliers (all English) and a glossary of terms, as well as an expanded contents in lieu of an index.

Anyone new to the discipline will no doubt only make use of a small percentage of this book but I feel sure it would continue to prove invaluable as projects become more ambitious and varied. The price of £25.00 at first seems a lot for a comparatively thin volume (160 pp) but the comprehensive nature of the information and its potential for future use I think would justify the investment.


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Book Reviews • Issue 6