Duplicating Carvings & Gothic Panels

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Forum topic by Mark A. DeCou posted 11-10-2006 04:44 PM 4014 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4430 days

11-10-2006 04:44 PM

Hey jocks:
I am working through the process of how to do two complicated tasks associated with traditional church furniture. The first is how to duplicate the carved corner column tops that are painted gold. I could carve out of wood the four copies I need, but I have been wanting to try my hands at poured resin castings. I have never done this casting work, only watched the videos. If you have experience with this, and you would like to share some tips, materials to use, etc., please let me know.

Also, I am looking for someone that has duplicated traditional Gothic trim panels. These panels are not just simple routered shapes cut to a template, as each point of the intersecting arcs comes to a sharp point. If you have done this type of work before, I would appreciate hearing how you did it.

Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

5 replies so far

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4271 days

#1 posted 11-13-2006 07:35 PM

Mark, do you need a contractors license to do what you do? I would assume so, but assumming makes an ass of you and me. By the by again, don’t worry about it, you got the talent and the time. Let his hand be your guide. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4430 days

#2 posted 11-13-2006 09:09 PM

Nope, no contractor’s license is needed. I am pretty picky about what I take on to build, and keeping away from residential and commercial property remodeling is pretty high on my “don’ts” list. I had a contractor’s residential license one time in Wichita when I used to do remodeling in between furniture jobs. In those days, I even had to have permits pulled to put up a privacy fence, and so now I try to say no to remodeling. Additionally, I live in sort of a “throw-back” style county, as there are no inspections, no permits, no anything needed in my county to build or remodel. There are some local city rules, but not in the county, so the issue doesn’t come up around here. Also, I try to only do jobs that I can build in my shop, so that I don’t have to haul tools around, or work at a job site. That work does seem to pay better, and has a better market for work, but it isn’t what I enjoy doing the most.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4338 days

#3 posted 11-15-2006 01:06 AM

Good luck with the casting. That sounds very interesting.

View Carl's profile


1 post in 4222 days

#4 posted 11-27-2006 08:52 PM


You may have the information you need by now, but here goes anyway.

I have replicated moldings and column capitols in a couple of different ways, including carving them straight out (for simple things) casting them in fiberglass/resin, casting them in plaster, and casting them in very hard plaster and then copying them with a carving duplicator. All of the methods take time, but for complicated parts, I think that casting in plaster is the most efficient.

You need to make a mold of the model, which can be a challenge by itself. Here are the basics (or at least how I’ve done it). You need to have one of whatever you are planning to copy available to take with you. Making the mold “on-site” would be difficult (but not impossible, I’m sure). The mold-making process involves a flexible inner mold to capture the detail, and an outer mold, or “mother mold” to keep the flexible inner mold in the correct shape during the casting.

I prefer silicone to urethane for the inner mold. It’s much easier to work with, but more expensive. The outer mold can be made out of plaster. For a casting of something that’s going to stay indoors, plain plaster with hemp fiber reinforcement is sufficient and much easier and less toxic than resin/fiberglass. Outdoors, you either need to use a “polymer modified” plaster or, what some decorative casting companies do is to thoroughly seal the plaster part with linseed.

It can be an undertaking, to be sure. Getting a casting book would be a good idea. And making the mold is not exactly cheap, especially if you go the silicone route. If there is a scupture supply company in your area, they can probably help you get going.

Good luck.

-- --

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Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4430 days

#5 posted 05-09-2007 03:52 PM

Hey folks:
I am finished with this project now. I blogged the completion today at:

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

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