“I enjoy the magic of plaster casting to create fossils from everyday life — whether it’s a shell found on holiday, your grandmother’s treasured lace, a Christening gown, or the flowers from your wedding”
Rachel Dein’s method of plaster casting captures everyday objects in a unique and delicate way. She makes impressions in wet clay, and then pours plaster directly over it. The clay captures the most intricate details, subtly colouring the plaster as it sets. Each clay mould can only be used once, making every piece unique. Casts are then finished and refined by hand, some casts are then painted.
Rachel studied Fine Art at Middlesex University, followed by a propmaking apprenticeship at the English National Opera.
She has worked as a propmaker for…
The Royal Opera House
English National Opera
The Globe Theatre
West End Theatres
London Transport Museum
Selfridges Christmas windows
Rothschild Villa, Corfu
Artist Gavin Turk
The Cambridge Darkroom Gallery
Ben Uri Gallery
Raymond’s Revue Bar
St Pancras Chambers
Garden Suburb Gallery
“Sometimes literal recordings of life are the most elegant and honest of all depictions….which is not to say that the art and craft of embellishment is inferior (or worse, irrelevant) because it’s not. It’s why Rachel Dein’s minimal plaster casts of mundane objects are so charming. Dresses, grasses, flowers – all reflected in relief – take on a preciousness found in old lockets, holding sepia toned photos or locks of hair. These items are not spectacular by any means, but are meaningful. And meaning, by the way is something you simply can’t fake.” ‘Life Cast’, Furniturea, October 2012
“About a year ago I had been in to Moyses Stevens, the very elegant long-established flower shop that had recently opened a branch at the bottom of our road. I wanted to buy the same type of flowers that I’d had in my wedding bouquet 10 years earlier.
At the counter I told the manager that I was an artist, and I planned to cast the flowers. She was intrigued, and asked if I could come in once I’d made the tile, to show her senior manager. Once completed, I went back with the tile, and mentioned that I’d love to be able to cast the bouquets for brides. They both said there had been many times when brides-to-be had asked about preserving their wedding bouquet. Since then, largely through word of mouth, I’ve been commissioned to make wedding flower tiles.
When I was at art college I came across this very basic form of reproduction (casting) when doing a class in glass blowing. We were told to press shapes into wet sand into which we then poured the molten glass. I went back to our college studio and started experimenting with pressing things into clay and then pouring plaster onto the clay to make pieces of sculpture. I was amazed and fascinated at the detail achieved yet the simplicity of the process. After college I rented a space in Spitalfields Market for a few months to carry on making artwork, and then I was lucky enough to get a prop making apprenticeship at the English National Opera. This was the beginning of my prop making career, which I loved, and it developed my knowledge of casting, mould making and other techniques.
When my youngest child started school, having turned our loft in North London into a studio, I began to make small tiles from home and established Tactile Studio. The local church put a call out for creative people in the area to show their work. A gallery saw my tiles there, and invited me to exhibit with them. That Summer I’d taken a stall at London’s Dandy Lion Market where I met a lady who bought a small tile. She commissioned me to make four large tiles using the favourite things that she and her husband and their children had chosen.
Since then, I’ve worked to various commissions, and I’ve been making new pieces, experimenting with different compositions of plants and flowers, and different combinations of plaster and concrete.”
Rachel Dein, 2013