Impressions of Prague

Impressions of Prague
by Christi Friesen, Multimedia Artist, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

I'm allergic to molds. They make me break out in excited anticipation! I'm talking about silicone molds, of course ... the ones that can be used to make impressions for art/craft projects. I work with polymer clay, so molds come in very handy for adding details and embellishments to my jewelry pieces.

Impressions of Prague Where do you get silicone molds? Well, there are lots for sale, of course, and I always recommend adding any interesting molds to your crafting stash as you come across them. But one of my very favorite ways to get molds is to make them myself! It's very easy to do. Any two-part silicone mold-making material will work (it's a putty-like substance that is mixed together with your fingers when you're ready to use it).

Molds can be created from anything. I've made molds from crystals, old jewelry findings, cactus skeletons, even a piece of dried-up armadillo road kill! (It did have an interesting pattern to its shell, poor thing.)

My favorite things to mold, though, involve a little bit of sneakiness to obtain. I travel a lot, all over the world. In my travels I see beautiful things--marble carvings, metal statues,
wooden architectural flourishes. I want to take them all home with me. But of course, there's only so much room in a suitcase, and the caretakers of cathedrals and castles and museums don't really like tourists carrying off chunks of the artwork. But I can make molds of some of that lovely stuff, sometimes.

It's not as easy as it sounds. Although the mold-making material I use comes pre-measured in handy little containers (so I can carry some with me in my purse), it takes up to 20 minutes to set, and it shouldn't be disturbed while it's hardening. Also, it looks a bit like plastic explosive, so that's a problem. I don't really want to end up in jail in a country where I don't speak the language, trying to explain all about my innocent jewelry-making activities. So, it's a good idea to have a lookout.

Recently, I and fellow jewelry artist Lisa Pavelka were in Prague (Czech Republic) to teach, and then spent several days sightseeing with friends. There were so many things we wanted to make molds of, but most were too big, inaccessible, or in areas under the watchful eye of authority types. But we're resourceful gals. We found a wonderful little man face, worn down over the centuries, on the handle of an old church door.

Making an Impression Shhhhh ...

I whipped out the mold material and got to work while Lisa and our friends blocked me from view with maps and guide books, while pretending to be having a long and detailed discussion. We got a few odd looks when someone wanted to go into the church (they used the other door after seeing that we were totally blocking and seemingly not paying any attention). So that little subterfuge worked well, and we got away with our fun little mold.

Later we were in a restaurant, and downstairs in the bathroom there was a beautiful old clock, with a carved woman's face--just the perfect size! I think the servers at the restaurant must have wondered if we were having digestive issues, since we went back and forth to the bathroom so many times (to discover the piece, then we each had to go look at it, then I had to find a chair in order to get up to the clock so I could mold it, then go get my mold material and back again to use it, then check on the mold a couple times to see if it was cured, and finally retrieve it. Whew!). But the Art Nouveau lady face is lovely. Totally worth the trots!
Lady of Prague

Jedi Mind Tricks We also had to use a Jedi mind trick to get another impression we wanted. At a classy shop that sold amber pieces, there was a lovely carved wooden strip that ran all around the wall. Of course I wanted a mold of that! But the shop was too small and well lit and the attendants were, well, attentive! So we decided to try and explain what we wanted to do. You try to explain that to someone who only understands a small bit of your language. Buying a piece of amber, no problem. Pointing out jewelry for a closer look, easy peasy! But explaining that you want to stick some weird gummy goo on the wall and it's ok, it won't hurt a thing ... not so simple. In the end, Lisa dazzled him with Lisa-glamour and I stuck the mold on the wall and did a lot of
smiling and nodding. I don't think the poor sales attendant ever really knew exactly what we were up to. But, we got our mold, and I presume he got a story to share with his friends. Crazy Americans.

I guess you can say that we made an impression on Prague.

I use those molds often, and I enjoy the textures and lines of the images we preserved. I don't necessarily recommend that you try the same on your trip ... I'd hate to be the cause of anyone being thrown in the slammer! But with my "impressions of Prague" I get to remember a beautiful city, good times with friends, and the thrill of getting away with a little sneaky fun.

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