My Large Humpty Mould

James Oughtibridge says he first made large curved moulds for his sculptural garden seats during his MA.  Helped by the technician, he used large gym balls as formers.  I have a medium size gym ball, so I thought I’d have a go.

Day 1: Tuesday

First I lost the valve stop for the ball in the car park, so had to improvise with a paint brush – didn’t bode well! I stood the ball on a bucket and tried a few ways of covering the top with clay – tricky, but I finally got there.  Then I started building a gallery around as a stop for the plaster.  The clay was too wet and we couldn’t get the heat gun to work in our room – no sockets working. Clay is heavy – the ball wanted to tip over so I struggled to stabilise it. But I managed to complete the gallery.  Micaela helped me transfer the ball to a larger garden bucket and carry it to the plaster room.


Wait to apply plaster or go for it now?

Problem – the clay was too wet, but I wasn’t in uni the next day and the ball was deflating. I’ve since discovered that the socket in the plaster room was working, so I could have used the heat gun to firm the clay.   But, at the time I didn’t know, so I decided to go for it as it was. I added the first layer of runny plaster and the gallery absorbed the excess and partially collapsed.  It was re-attached with Micaela’s help.  Once the plaster was set the problem was much easier to control. I continued building layers, adding a layer of glass fibre for strength.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a ball, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

As I added more and more plaster, the mould became heavier and heavier until the bucket could stand no more. It suddenly buckled tipping the ball and mould head-first onto the concrete floor.  SPLAT!  CRACK!

download (1)

All the King’s Horses, all the King’s men, can they put Humpty together again?

Well, it didn’t look good, but maybe I can salvage it?  I repaired the outer shell of the mould, reinforcing with more fibre glass.  Ball and mould are now sitting on the plaster room floor, propped up against a table leg.

Will the ball deflate and cause more damage?  Will I be able to repair the internal surface of the mould?  Will I have to start again?  To be contnd…..

Day 2

Surprise – the ball hasn’t deflated.  I finished the outer surface, then de-moulded it.  The inside, as expected, was badly damaged with cracks radiating from the central point of impact.  I’ve repaired it with plaster and sanded twice.  It now needs to dry before repeating the repair/sand process.  It doesn’t have to be perfect as the slabs will be scraped and sanded, so I’m hopeful that it will be okay.

Day 112 (Hyperbole!)

It’s till not dry enough to sand.  Geoff has put it in the kiln room where he is about to do a biscuit firing.


More layers, more sanding ….. and I think it’s going to be okay.  I love the form.  Wish I had a serving platter like it.

Spoke too soon. I guess the mould had been too near the kiln, and it has sustained damage to the outer surface:

IMG_20170420_120427Is it a coincidence that the burn mark is a fried egg?

So, more plaster, more sanding….. and it’s going to be absolutely fine. I love Humpty!

22nd April

Pleased to report that the mould is now ready to roll.

Update 8th Oct 2017

I know where I went wrong.  When I saw James he said he was going to make some even larger moulds from the largest size of execise ball.  Here is his assistant preparing it:

JO making big mould

The retaining wall seems to be foam wrapped in tape – not clay, as I used. No wonder mine collapsed! Below are some pics of James using the moulds and some of the new forms he is making:


5 thoughts on “My Large Humpty Mould

  1. Looking forward to how you’ll be putting it to use (and building an even more meaningful relationship with Humptymould). ; )

    1. 🙂 Me too! I lay awake last night, thinking of things I can build. Many thanks for all your help, Micaela, from Humps and me xx
      PS for the benefit of non-potters, do you think I should mention hump moulds as a ceramic method?

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