Here is a simple way to make custom shaped pulp beads with ready made holes in them. It is not a fast method bearing in mind drying times for pulp of course but that is part of the deal with pulps. By using a plaster base (slab of plaster) you can create any number of custom shaped beads.
METHOD 1: PRE-CASTING THE BEAD SHAPES.
To start i have already sunk some rubber balls into plaster then allowed these to dry. I used 2 sizes for some veriaty here.
As you can see i have ONLY sunk the rubber balls half way down into the wet plaster.
I would normally make my own box to contain the plaster here, but a shortage of carboard card stock in this case means i used a thick foil baking tray instead. They can be purchased quite cheaply in packets of two or more. When you remove these BE CAREFUL they can be quite thick & WILL cut deeply if you slip up. You WILL need to remove these i will explain why shortly.
Make sure the plaster is dried ALL the way through to the bottom before you carry on. Glass or rubber balls by nature WILL 'pop free' of the plaster very easily. Simply push them out with your thumb.
18 perfect mixed sized half spheres.
Now using a flat electrical sander sand the surface level. If you do not have an electrical sander then a large wooden block with sand paper wrapped around it will do nicely. Even sculpting plaster will sand down relatively easily since you only require the surface smoothed out it should not take long.
ALWAYS USE A DUST MASK & GOGGLES. If like me you wear glasses then they will give 'some' protection, the correct protective goggles ARE reccomended however.
If you have one then have a fan blowing the dust AWAY from you too. A small desk top fan is all you require to help keep the fine plaster dust away from you if you do not have the sufficient face protection. As you can see from the angle of the fine plaster dust here try to have the dust going into a corner or off away from you generally if working with an open bench etc.
Work left to right or in circular motions, but KEEP the pressure 'even' all the time. All you are trying to do here is make ALL the half spheres the same even depth.
Plaster tends to NOT absorb spray paint evenly. Since i want to seal these molds with high gloss silver spray (colours optional at all time here) I am going to have to give the plaster something to soak up to reduce the soaking up of the gloss spray. Here i am using a simple water based paint (pre-mixed) mixed with undilluted PVA glue. I am going to spray these molds with a final coating of high gloss metalic spray for several reasons. They mainly being: the plaster mold will last longer by not soaking up the water from the constant use of wet pulp & it will also soak up less (no) releasing agent extending the life of the mold & making releasing the dried pulp beads much easier.
A single coat is sufficiant, give it two if you like. Just make sure you cover the 'whole' surface.
Leave this to FULLY DRY.
METHOD 2: CUTTING THE BEAD SHAPES BY HAND.
Again start with a slab of plaster. This time without the rubber or glass balls added to it.
As before remove the foil casing. Also make sure it is FULLY dried out.
You CAN use absolutely 'anything' you wish to cut YOUR custom bead shapes out of the plaster as long as it is metal or very tough plastic & relatively thin/sharp edged plastic forms. The plaster (if you used basic builders dry wall 'finishing' plaster as i did) will be soft enough so you can easily carve out some great shapes.
Here how ever I am using some shaped grinding tools that slot into any standard electrical hand drill. They come in all sorts of shapes & sizes. You can use them each as they come or you can combine them for new shapes. The possibilities for great & 'original' custom bead shapes is endless here.
When using an electrical drill start slowly to guage how the drill is going to cope/cut through the plaster. The drill WILL have NO trouble of course BUT you do not want to go blasting through the other side now do you. Notice the plaster dust ON the grinding tool too. This will be an excellent marker when guaging the depth of the other beads your going to cut with each new shaped grindling tool.
Now as with method 1 give the plaster mold an undercoating of paint.
FROM NOW ON BOTH METHODS FOLLOW EXACTLY THE SAME STEPS.
On the 'underside' of BOTH my plaster molds i sank 4 paper legs. These were simply 80gsm white A4 printer paper 'pegs' i glued up.
I also drilled out 1/2mm holes in the base of each half sphere base all the way out the bottom of the plaster slab. This is why i said to remove the boxing or foil baking tray earlier. I then sprayed the whole surface of BOTH molds with high gloss silver metalic spray paint.
These are NOW ready for adding my pulp to make my custom beads. I want to ensure how ever that my holes i made stay there when i pop the dried pulp bead halves out. I also need to carry this hole ALL the way through my newly formed beads too!.
To make sure the hole goes all the way through my newly formed beads i simply insert a pre-measured & cut length of wooden skewer into the hole in the base of my half spheres.
The pulp WILL of course fix itself to the wooden skewer making removal quite impossible or at least relatively difficult. SO, cover the piece of wooden skewer with a piece of thin foil. When the pulp is dry the wooden skewer will easily slide out of the foil wrapping you gave it. Any foil that is extruding from the pulp when you remove it from the plaster mold can easily be pulled off by hand or cut off afterwards.