Frequently Asked Questions


Q What do you pour into the molds?
A The simple answer is plaster of Paris, but there are many other better stronger materials to use. To find out more, go to our casting instructions page.

Q Can you pour resin into the molds?
A Yes, but resin will damage the molds whereas plaster materials (or anything that mixes with water) will not. Resin is also much more expensive. For more information on casting using resin, look at our resin casting instructions page.

Q What kind of glue do you use?
A Elmer's wood glue, but I prefer Tacky glue (it's a thick craft glue used for cloth which comes in a gold bottle). Elmer's white glue will work but you have to wait forever for it to dry. Actually, any glue that will work on wood will work on plaster.

You can also use a solvent based glue like liquid nails but I prefer water based glues because they don't stink and are easier to clean up. For more details on kinds of glue, look at our building instructions page.

Q What do you paint the blocks with?
A I use latex house paint. It's cheap and holds up really well. You don't have to prime or undercoat the blocks either - just paint directly on the bare blocks after you glue the building together. For more information, go to our painting instructions page.

Q Can you tint the plaster instead of painting the blocks?
A Yes. Some types of dental stone (plaster) is available in colors but you can also color white plaster yourself. You can use concrete colorant found at your local lumber yard which is used to color concrete for sidewalks. Others have had good luck using powdered tempra paint found in craft stores. You will have to experiment to find out how much colorant to add to your plaster.

Keep in mind that even if you color the plaster, it won't look nearly as good as painting the model. When you paint the model (using house paint), you bring out all of the highlights and shadows of the texture. Most people tint the plaster so that if their model chips at the corners, you won't end up with white plaster showing through.

Q How difficult is it to build these models if you've never done anything like this before?
A It's not difficult. It takes about as much skill as putting together a plastic model car. As with any hobby, you'll learn to do it better as you go. Remember that first model car? You probably put it together ok, but afterwards realized where those extra parts were supposed to go and saw how it could have been done a little better.

Each time you mix a batch of plaster you get better at it. After you paint your first building, you'll see what colors may have worked a little better. There's a learning curve with any hobby, but overall anyone 8 years old and up could build something with the molds and it would come out fairly well.

Q What scale are these molds designed for?
A The molds were originally designed to work with 25-30mm scaled figures. However, they can work for different scales depending on how you use them. For 16mm figures, use the windows as doorways instead. For larger scales, the blocks could be used as small bricks in a large wall.

Q Will blocks from different molds fit together?
A Yes. Any block from any mold will fit together with another. All blocks are created in 1/4" increments or multiples of 1/4".

Q I'm looking over all the molds and I'm not sure what to get. Which molds are the best ones to buy?
A That depends on what project you want to build. My suggestion is to start out with a basic mold like the #50 wizard's tower or #51 dragon's inn. Once you build something small, you'll get a better idea how the blocks work.

After that you'll start getting lots of ideas for stairways, multiple towers, etc. and be able to see how it all works together. From that point I think you can look over the list of molds and make a good choice depending on what your next project is.

Q How long do the molds last, and what is the best way to clean and store them?
A As long as you use gypsum products (such as plaster, hydrocal or dental plaster) the molds will last for years and hundreds of casts. I've never had a mold wear out yet and I've used some as long as 10 years.

Usually the molds don't need to be cleaned. If mixed properly, the plaster will pop out of the mold leaving no residue. Sometimes you will have plaster on the face of the mold which you can simply rub off with the palm of your hand. If you do need to clean them (maybe after 10-15 casts) use soap and water. An old toothbrush works well to get down into the mold cavities. Do not clean them with paint thinner or solvents! They will soften or dissolve the mold.

If you're going to store the molds, give them a light coat of talcum powder (baby powder) and store them laying flat. If stored on their side for several months they may warp slightly and won't straighten back up. One person had their mold stack fall over while in the drawer for several months which left a couple of molds bent and couldn't be straightened.

Q I can't find your molds available at my local hobby shop. Do you sell to retailers?
A I'm not able to sell to retailers. I price the molds starting from how much rubber it uses, plus the cost per hour it's worth for me to make. If the price were any higher (due to the mark-up that retailers must have), I don't think anyone would buy the molds. Keep in mind that it's only me and my wife that run this business. I make all the molds myself and she handles the office work and order processing.

We do have an online shopping cart and we usually send the molds out the next day. After that it takes about 3-4 days for the molds to show up at your house (if you live in the U.S.).

Q Do you have a schedule of which molds will be released next?
A I have several new projects in the works. Most are in the design stages and I work on each one as the inspiration hits me. Each mold has its own design and building problems to overcome. If I hit a road block on solving its specific problems, I move onto the next mold and come back to it later.

Because of this method of solving problems, there's no way to tell specifically which mold will be next or when it will happen. I refuse to release a new mold design until I am confident that it's well designed and easy to use.

Q Can I make a bunch of stuff and sell it on Ebay?
A Yes, but there are rules. I want people to be able to sell off their old models without a hassle. However, I have to protect my copyright with those peolple who have the sole purpose of making a quick buck. For more specifics of what you can and can't do (legally anyway), take a look at our Legal Statement .

Q On some of your models I see statues that aren't in your molds section. Can you reproduce miniatures with your molds?
A Casting miniatures is a whole different ball game. On the gallery page is a castle called the "tower of the teeth". The little devil dogs you see on the castle I created using a 2-piece mold. The little sucker took me 2 hours to carve. The 2-piece mold took me 6 hours to make (not including cure time).

Even after I made the mold, the casting plastic wouldn't flow into the mold correctly. I had to cut so many vents in the mold (which turns into a sprue when you pour the plastic in) that trimming the piece was a nightmare. Needless to say, I'm not making 2-piece molds to sell. To do miniatures any justice, you need a spin casting machine that uses centrifugal force to push the casting material into the mold. Gravity itself isn't enough.

The other bad thing about reproducing miniatures is violating the copyright. Most miniatures are considered artwork and are copyrighted by the designer. Even my molds are copyrighted in my name. If you make duplicate miniatures and sell them, you're infringing on the artist's copyright. For information about copying our molds or selling models made from our molds, refer to the Legal Statement page.

Q Can you make me a special mold if I have something in mind?
A I usually don't do that because there is simply no time. It takes me about a 40 hour week to create the original blocks for a kit. That's not including planning the pieces, designing the model, test building the model, making building instructions, adding the new mold to the web page along with the specs of the mold. And that's if everything works out right the first time.

Q On your large castle "Tower of the Teeth", I see pieces not available on your molds page like decorative braces, spikes and the large rounded wall section.
A That's right. When I started making molds, they were for my own use exclusively. So many people wanted copies of my molds that I decided to sell them. I've experimented with lots of things that just aren't set up for duplicate molds.

The large curved wall is made from special curved bricks I created just for that project. While stacking them up, I found the wall wouldn't line up straight and I had to do a lot of sanding to get them to fit. That's why I haven't offered it to anyone else.


If you have any questions, please e-mail me at bruce@hirstarts.com.

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http://www.hirstarts.com. All photos, articles and plans are copyrighted by Bruce Hirst and may not be used without permission.
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For more information contact bruce@hirstarts.com.