Seal Matrix Making

The reign is over, all the calligraphy stuff has been handed off to the new Sable Scroll (my apprentice sister!), and it’s time to get back to work projects that had to take a back seat to my duties. The research and learning I’ve been doing on documents with the big pendant seals has been some of the most fascinating fun stuff I’ve done in a while scribally. There are three Pelican scrolls awaiting one from me, and it’s time to get to making the matrices so I can make the seals. It seemed like a relatively easy idea a few months ago when I spoke with some Laurels about it, asked a friend in art school some questions about modern methods of making molds and casting in pewter, and took myself to Harbor Freight after a paycheck day to pick up some tools.

Many hours of research, drafting in Photoshop, and experimenting with trial materials later, I have my doubts about my ability to do this well. I think an experienced stone carver or jewelry maker would be better suited to doing this, but here we are. I’ve been wanting to learn to carve and sculpt, and this is a good opportunity. Here’s the seal face for our kingdom’s soon to be royal pendant seal matrix – their majesties enthroned. The opposite side will be their majesties armed and on horseback. The original royal seals all follow this model – king by divine and legal right and by right of arms. I’ve copied existing seals and modified them slightly to get the figures and arrangement right, then simplified them a fair bit.
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Wood works well with making silicone molds, so I’m going to try it first, especially since I found carving rounds in just the right size! Worst case, I get some practice that I can transfer to a harder or finer material, like sculpting putty. My husband’s grandfather is an incredible carver of animals in wood and recently gave us his set of fine carving chisels and small hand tools. I’m ready to put them to use on this and see what I can do with good tools… my lone carving experiment before was with a set of 10 tools for $6 on bad wood, and the results were less than ideal. My experiments sculpting this instead of carving it using Sculpey were also a challenge, but worth revisiting if I actually am horrible at carving with both hand tools and Dremel.

When this is done, It will be placed in a form, silicone will be poured around it, and a mold will be made in that fashion. You can buy silicone that stands up to temperatures well above the melting point of pewter relatively inexpensively, and it’s a very simple process. If I can figure it out, then I can also use it to do things like make myself a plaque belt, largesse, etc.