I LOVE this idea, since I generally steer away from mass-marketed molds. That's because, well, they're MOLDS, as in, someone else's creation. BUT, before I hear angry cries, let me fully admit that there are some fabulous commercial molds out there, some by talented people in the polymer community. I admit to owning and using a few of these, as well as others from more obscure sources. I just try to "make them my own" in some way during the creation process, getting away from a (sometimes very recognizable) carbon copy of the original.
Here are some molds/plates that I've made over the years:
The lower left was the first, carved on cured polymer at a Tory Hughes workshop. It shows how tentative I was using her suggested carving tool, a #23 craft blade. I'm better with the lino tool on cured polymer! I did learn some important pointers from Tory, like keeping the blade still and moving/rotating the polymer substrate.
The upper right are molds taken with Sculpey Mold Maker from pieces of Debbie Jackson's coral collection.
The upper left are from antique buttons in my Mom's stash.
The middle bottom are reverse molds from a commercial rubber set (also Sculpey MM) - I wanted "innies" so that I could fill them for Sutton Slice techniques.
Making your own texture plate is fun, rewarding, and a bit "zen", if you take your time and think of it as doodling! My Challenge plate started as a 4"x 5"x 1/4" slab of scrap polymer. I "buffed" the raw surface with baking powder to smooth it as much as possible before starting to texture. Then I went crazy, mainly with some of my favorite tools, ball tip styluses. I left some areas blank and cured for 60 min. Then, I went back and carved some curves with my Speedball lino tool. Cured polymer holds sharper edges than raw and I didn't want any depressions along the edges of the curves.
Here is my actual entry piece for the Challenge - a set of compact mirror and key fob. I would have liked to have done something a bit more complex with the stamped sheet, but as many of you know, I've had some time constraints over the last 10 months :)
I started with a custom coppery-bronzing metallic polymer mix, made my impression and cured. Then, I antiqued with dark brown acrylic, and hit the high spots with bronze Gilder's Paste. I don't normally like to final coat pieces in any way, but since these will be handled a lot, a satin sealer is probably a smart idea to protect the Gilder's Paste over time.
Can't you just imagine pulling this elegant pair from a handbag, and having friends say, "Oooohh! Let me see that!"