Continuing my resin experiments, I attempted to make a simple bracelet mold. This is Part 1 of my experiment. Read Part 2 here.
I gotta say: This process was not very pretty. Sorry, it’s hard to take aesthetically pleasing photos of silicone mix.
Enjoy the grittiness- crafting is real!
I should really write a dedicated silicone post. Since starting in this particular crafting direction, I have tried several brands and types of silicone, and there are different aspects of working with each kind (putty vs. liquid, vs. clear liquid) that would be fun to compare and contrast.
But that’s for another time!
For this project, my guinea pig was a clear silicone I bought from Smooth-On, a company that manufactures an astonishing variety of crafting products (I got a resin from them, too).
Before I could make a mold, I needed a dummy bracelet (a form) to make the mold with.
For that, I turned to the very detailed and educational how-to by Rona Phillips: How to make your own bangle bracelet form for molding in silicone, which she wrote for the Resin Obsession website.
Note: It’s probably not a complete beginner DIY. I have worked with polymer clays before, so I found the shaping and sanding process pretty self-explanatory, but your story may vary based on your experience level.
In any case, I would recommend any crafter to get acquainted (or reacquainted!) with polymer clay. It’s a fun and versatile medium, and you can make pretty much anything with it. Or use it to make other things, as you are about to see.
Assembling The Mold Container
That’s okay, since it won’t be durable enough to actually wear as a bracelet (I used original Sculpey, which is wonderful, but much too fragile for jewelry). So it’s only a dummy for mold making.
Do you see the 3 little nubbins on the edge? Were you going to ask about those?
I’ll tell you!
When you make a silicone mold, the object you’re molding has to be attached to a level surface. When the mold is complete, that site of attachment is where the open space will be, and this is where you will pour your resin. Most tutorials out there show you how to attach the form to the flat surface (usually the bottom of the mold container) using glue or paste.
Problem? That leaves an entire raw edge where you’ll have to sand it down when you de-mold your resin, AND the bracelet will have a flat edge there. I thought about that, and came up with this cunning plan:
I am attaching it by just these three points. The rest of the bracelet will be completely encased in silicone. So the resin bracelets coming out of this mold will have just these three little spots to sand down, and the edge will be a nice rounded edge, instead of flat. Just like I wanted!
I feel very clever, but I have yet to see if this actually works.
I used an old takeout container to house the mold. In this case, the lid is actually the bottom of the mold (the level surface the bracelet sits on), and I cut out a hole in the takeout container to be able to pour the silicone.
Since a bracelet is empty in the middle, I wanted to make the mold empty in the middle- purely to reduce the amount of silicone needed (it’s expensive!), so I put an egg cup in the center. Nothing special about this particular egg cup- it just happened to fit!
This is the assembled mold container- ready to pour the silicone!
Now for the Silicone
I prepared the mix according to instructions, but ended up with bubbles all over the place. There was no getting rid of them, and they just seemed to multiply the more I stirred.
Those of you familiar with resin know the frustration- but this was somehow even worse! Silicone is very thick, almost a pancake batter consistency, so the bubbles just stick around, and nothing gets rid of them.
Next time I will try to mix in such a way as to introduce as little air as possible. Seems to be easier to avoid them from the start, rather than try to get rid of them after- but really, I could use a vacuum pump. A girl can dream!
This brand of silicone has a 4 hour cure time, and it de-molded very nicely.
Because (as described above) I tried to encase the entire bracelet in silicone, I had to cut it out with an X-acto knife.
The dummy bracelet was so fragile that it broke coming out of the mold (some types of polymer are just very easy to break- it’s disappointing, but I knew it would probably happen). That’s okay though- it didn’t damage the mold.
The final product had to be trimmed a lot- there was a ton of stray silicone bits all over, and it was not very neat.
Here it all is: remains of the bracelet, trimmings, and the finished mold itself!
See- this is where I cut the bracelet out of the mold, and the little hole left by the nubbin that the bracelet was resting on (to the right of my thumb, looks like a large bubble). There are only three such holes. Otherwise, the edges come flush together, leaving (what I hope!) a nice clean edge.
Testing The Mold
At this point it was very late in the day, but I couldn’t resist testing it straight away. I used resin lightly colored with oil paints. I was able to separate the edges of the mold and pour it in, but you can also use the three holes, and inject the resin with a small funnel or pipette.
This is still very wet, and won’t be ready for a good 24 hours. Ah, the wait!
I’ll let you know what comes out in the next post!