Monday, April 18, 2011

Mass Production on a Small Scale

A couple weeks ago I wrote a little post/essay thing about mass production. And I do mean I wrote it...on paper...with a pencil. That concept would probably be foreign to most kids today. They would probably say that it was too much work to physically write something and give up before they even started. But I digress. I wrote the post...then lost it. To the best of my recollection it went something like this.

I recently got a comission to make a number of magnets for a local living history museum type thing (Saxon Luthern Memorial...check it out, good stuff). This year is the memorial's 50th anniversary and they wanted to "celebrate" it by giving away commemorative magnets at their major events. Since I already have some work in their gift shop (including magnets) and since my mom is the curator, they asked if I would be able to come up with something. Yay for nepotism!

So how many magnets do they plan on giving away? Over the course of the year they estimated 2000-3000. Whoa. That's a lot of magnets. Being the agreeable chap that I am, though, I said I would take a run at it. I started out doing some sketches and carving up a prototype. After that got the ok I made a plaster mold.

Plaster press molds for magnets

Now this was the first time I had ever made a plaster mold, so I was delving into new territory. It didn't seem too complicated, though, and I think the first mold turned out pretty good. I have since made six more to speed production, but they didn't turn out as well. I think the plaster was too thick. They work, though; the casts that come out of them just require a little more cleaning up.

Cast of the commemorative magnets...fancy.

Thus far I have finished 150 magnets. The glaze did not turn out anything like it was supposed to, so I am not going to post a picture of that. Suffice it to say that it was supposed to turn out gold, and silvery black is not the same thing as gold. But I have quite a few left to make, so I will get it worked out.

Later I will post more about the actual production part of it. How exactly does one man make that many magnets by himself? Is he Superman? Tune in next time to find out!


  1. Love to learn about your mass production and the plaster molds, I've never made any either, but your magnet looks great.

  2. Cool mold and those are awesome magnets!

  3. I agree, your magnet looks great and what a great adventure it will be! I personally wouldn't worry about the colors too much, unless they specified a color of course. I think it would be great to have a multitude of colors available. I hope this turns into more commissions for you. Your doing a fabulous job!