Sunday, January 31, 2010

Experiment - Resin Casting Part 1 - Making the Mold

I've been wanting to use my polymer clay jewelry as molds for casting resin jewelry so I went through my jewelry-making library and found I had a copy of Sherri Haab's book, The Art of Resin Jewelry . Sherri's book inspired me to go out and get the supplies needed to make resin bracelets including the silicone rubber compound and the resin. There are lots of types of mold makers and resins so since I'm inexperienced I'm starting with what is readily available in my local area. I usually shop Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Meiningers in the Denver area. So, first I need to make a mold of my polymer clay bracelet.

Based on Sherri's recommendation for mold making material, I purchased Smooth-On Oomoo 30 Silicone at Meiningers. You can see the bracelet I'll use to make the mold and a plastic container to serve as the mold form. This isn't one of my favorite bracelet so I'm ok if I run into a problem and have to discard the whole thing. So, here's my process:

Step 1 Gather your supplies and materials
OOMOO 30 Silicone, Rubber Gloves, Craft stir sticks. disposable plastic cups (I'm using the 3oz plastic bathroom cups - not wax!) and a larger plastic container to mix it all together.

Step 2 Prepare your original
Select the piece to be molded and a container that is larger on the sides and top, but not too large so you don't waste material. You can cut the plastic mold container down as I did to get it the right size. Practice with how you will place your piece in the mold container so you know how to position it when it's time to pour. Keep in mind that there is lots of negative space so you may want to add a polymer clay plug to take up some of the space to keep from wasting material.  Here's how I prepared my original.

To ensure a good seal between the mold container and the bracelet, I made a snake of scrap clay (it may be hard to see but it is the gold colored clay) and added it to the bottom of the original bradelet.  The clay is added to make a seal between the bracelet and the plastic lid of my mold container. This will keep the silicone from seeping under the bracelet and destroying the mold and help level the bracelet in the mold.

Next, I made a plug of scrap clay for the center of the bracelet to save on the amount of silicone rubber I would need to use. If I didn't use the plug, I'd just end up with a large part of the silicone mold with no purpose. No need to waste this stuff - it's not cheap. So now I have my original prepared to accept the silicone.

Step 3 Prepare the mold material
Use your manufacturer's instructions to mix the mold material. The OOMOO I used has two parts that are mixed in equal proportions. This is where all the plastic cups come in. I used a new 3oz cup for each part of the silicone and poured them into a third plastic bowl (with all the plastic I'm using, I shop for these at the dollar store). For the mold I'm making I used approximately 6 oz of each part of the OOMOO and had just enough! This means I used approx. 1/4 of my original purchase on the one mold.

Step 4 Pour the mold
Pour the mold material slowly to avoid bubbles and pour so you have about 1/2 inch above the top of your original mold. Here's my poured mold waiting for full curing.

Step 5 Cure the Mold
Use your manufacturer's instructions to let the mold cure.  With the mold making material I'm using it will take 6 hours to cure.

I'm off for my travels, but I'll be back in a few days to see how the mold worked and hopefully cast a piece. Let's see how it goes - there's a first time for everything.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Studio Sneak Peek

I made a list of all the things I'd like to post to my blog during the year and the first is a series of pictures and descriptions of my studio. The following picture is of my main work space.  This picture is somewhat staged -- I'm not nearly so neat -- I set this up for a future post on using color.  Anyway, I used the following colors and inspiration for a set of polymer clay bracelet beads. 

My studio is like a haven and I spend as much of my free time as I can creating in this space.  In the large, open basement of my 1969 ranch home in Lakewood, Colorado, I've carved out quite a lot of room for my tools, supplies and work tables. Here's a picture of my work table from a different angle (OK, now you see the usual state of my work table - a jumble of stuff) with one of my primary tools -- my polymer clay oven. Sometime during the year I'll upgrade the oven.

Behind my worktable are all of my tools and supplies, so you can see my bead stash, clay, wire, stringing supplies and the like.

I've set up an Etsy site and am excited to say that I've sold 3 of the 7 items I've listed. Another goal this year, in addition to keeping up this blog, is to keep my Etsy site refreshed. Here's a picture of my table top photo studio. I made the light box myself by using a plastic box covered by nylon ripstock. I just added the Ott lights so I hope they improve my pictures. I'm using a Sony Cybershop point and click. Right now that's working just fine and definitely suits my limited photo skills.

Well, more to come. Here's a list of some of the topics I'll be covering in future posts.
  • Developing a color palette the easy way
  • Unusual findings
  • Creative jewelry displays
Oh, by the way, check out my favorite polymer clay links. You'll find lots of inspiration. Happy creating.