The Garden

2008 “The Garden” by Mark Prent


Developed by Pink House Studios, Reducit and Reducit II are unique positive casting materials which will shrink uniformly, resulting in scale replicas from most molds.  In a single stage of reduction, a Reducit or Reducit II cast will shrink to approximately half of its original volume, or 2/3 its original size in linear dimensions. Further reductions can be achieved by taking a molds from the reduced cast and repeating the casting and drying process. (see image right: “The Garden,” made using elements cast in Pink House Studios’ Reducit II and Expandit.)

Pouring the Reducit Cast:

By volume, combine two-parts of water with 1-part Reducit. Add the Reducit to the water and blend the mixture with a Jiffy Mixer. The drill with the Jiffy Mixer will rotate in a clockwise direction, so from time to time, move the whole tool in a counter-clockwise direction, scraping the sides as the Reducit mixture blends. We very strongly recommend the use of a Jiffy Mixer (see our product sheet on Jiffy Mixer ) for this operation, since it is critical to the success of the reducing process that the Reducit and water are mixed until absolutely smooth. Mix for a minimum of one minute. The appearance of the mixture may be deceptively smooth, until you look more closely and discover that there are still many lumps of unblended material. If any of these lumps are allowed to remain unblended in the mixture, they will result in tiny raised points on the surface of the cast as it dries. The lumps will not be visible at first, when the cast is removed from the mold; they will only emerge later during the drying process, indicating that the Reducit was not thoroughly mixed. The consistency of the Reducit will be somewhat thick, but still fluid enough to be poured or brushed into your molds. It should be similar to the consistency of molasses, thicker than honey. You will want to work quickly, pouring all of the Reducit into the mold as you move it against the surface of the mold with your fingers or a brush, to ensure that you make good contact with your mold and avoid trapping air bubbles in the fine details. If you are filling a two-piece mold that includes lots of small details such as fingers and toes, you may coat each half of the mold separately, then join them and fill to the top; or, first close your mold and reach into it with a brush to coat the surface. For a hand mold, use a small brush with a long handle and push it into the finger tips. You have about ten-minutes of working time from the moment you dump your Reducit into the water, until it is no longer workable. For large or small pieces, wait at least one hour before unmolding.

Place your cast in a food dehydrator to dry. We have modified ours at Pink House Studios with a cylinder of Simplaflex that fits down inside the dehydrator and lines-up with the lid. This adaptation allows the dehydrator to accept forms as large as (or larger than) a life-size head. The dehydrator has a fixed diameter of 12-inches, but the height can be adapted to accommodate almost any piece up to 27-inches high (or slightly higher). The dehydrator is a convenient option for drying that speeds the process considerably without the adverse affects of drying in too intense heat. In the dehydrator, a life-size human head will reach its ideal shrunken proportions in about 3 1/2 days (84 hours) as opposed to anywhere from two weeks to a month, if allowed to air-dry. The speed of air drying depends upon the relative humidity of the environment.
In highly humid environments, mold may grow on the cast as it slowly air-dries. Pink House Studios does offer a mold-retarding product to prevent this, should you choose to air-dry your cast rather than place it in our dehydrator. If you have the time, air-drying works best; if you haven’t, the dehydrator provides a fast , controlled way to shrink our Reducit castings. It is important to remember that the use of excessive heat to speed drying will cause distortion of the Reducit cast. For this reason, the use of an oven or microwave should not even be considered. Besides the distortion factor, there is the safety and energy waste to consider.

Always position your Reducit casting upright in the dehydrator. If necessary, you can lay small wedges of wood under the sides to stabilize it. Once it is is in the dehydrator, you will have to monitor it carefully since it will dry quite rapidly. If a casting of a human head is allowed to over-dry, this can result in some minor distortion in the form of a slightly “sucked-in” appearance to the sides of the head. You really have to watch for this when you use a dehydrator, since the whole process speeds up so. It really is a judgment call. On a head, the ears, nose etc. will shrink first because they have less mass than the rest, and the water will evaporate most quickly from those areas; but the rest will eventually catch-up if you are patient. This is where your judgment comes in; when the entire head appears to have once again assumed fairly accurate proportions, it is time to remove the head from the dehydrator and make your mold of it. Of course, the Reducit dries so gradually at room temperature, that once it is removed from the dehydrator, there is no great rush to get the mold made immediately; eight hours outside of the chamber should not make any appreciable difference (unless the room environment is very hot and dry). So if you are about to call it a day and, upon inspecting your head in the dehydrator, you think it looks like it is about “there”, remove it from the chamber and just leave it overnight; do not leave it in the dehydrator any longer. In the dehydrator, eight hours can mean the difference between a good reduction and one that has the “sucked-in” distortion of over-drying. Once removed from the dehydrator, you can just watch it at room temperature until it reaches the proper proportions, then make your mold; or, you can always put it back into the dehydrator the next morning for a couple of hours, watching it closely.

With some objects, it doesn’t seem to make any difference whether or not they are allowed to dry-out completely. For instance, hands can be allowed to become bone dry, with very little distortion. The fingers and extremities still dry-out first, but then everything will catch-up. You can tell when the cast of a hand has reached a fully-dried state by the pale, uniform tint. The issue of “sucking-in” distortion really varies tremendously, depending upon the shape of the form being dried.

Thin medallion-type forms will generally warp as they dry. One of the things you can do to avoid the warpage is to build a wall around the edge of your mold, a couple of inches high, so that when you pour the Reducit into the mold, you will have added two inches of thickness to your cast. This will prevent warpage, but the casting will naturally take longer to dry-out and reduce. Another method is to pour beyond the edge of the mold in order to create a “lip” of excess material (about 1/2-inch thick). After removing the casting from the mold, this “lip” may be weighted-down to restrain the casting from warping while it dries.

If you are casting a small figure (animal or human) that has thin arms and legs, you may want to remove only one section of your mold once the cast is “set”, exposing a portion of the Reducit cast to the air. The casting should stay cradled in rest of the mold so that it is fully supported until it partially dries-out and becomes more rigid. Then the mold can be completely removed and the casting allowed to finish shrinking.

The Simplaflex material that is available from Pink House Studios can be cut to form a cylinder of whatever height you require (up to 27″) to contain any particular form in the dehydrator; but the object must always stand upright in the chamber. Since Reducit is somewhat flexibly soft, a tall casting should be supported in the upright position in the chamber. It will become more stable as it dries.

PLEASE NOTE: Always pour Reducit into a non-porous mold such as rubber (urethane, silicone or latex). If you must use a porous mold such as one of dried plaster or wood, it must be sealed before casting so that the Reducit will not stick to the surface of the mold.

Approximately 2-lbs. of Reducit is needed to fill a mold of a life-size human head.

1.25-lbs.  Reducit makes up into approx. one-and-one-half quarts of material.




Vancide 51 Mold Retardent 4-oz. bottle…… $3.50

If you are in no particular rush, air drying your Reducit cast is ideal since it does not require that one so closely monitor the progress of shrinkage as does the use of the Dehydrator. If you are air-drying a Reducit cast in a humid environment, you will want to add someVancide mold-retardant to the water before your blend in the Reducit ; 4-teaspoonsful are sufficient for the volume of a life-size head.