Sunday, June 12, 2011
Latex Mold and Resin Casting Tutorial
Sometimes, you can't always find the right kind of gems to add to a very specific and unique piece of jewelery available pre-made at your local stores. In such a case, you could always cast your own from clear craft resin. In Ganon's case, he has many pieces of jewelery that all have their own different sizes of gems. The problem with purchasing seperate gems at a craft store may mean that you could get many jewels with different sizes, colors, or styles. Sometimes, it can make your costume look a bit tacky. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make your very own custom gems to fit perfectly into your jewelery.
- Liquid latex
- Clear craft resin
- Resin mixing cup
- Super sculpey
- Acrylic paints or *glass paint*
- Foam brush
- Baby powder
Total Cost Estimate: $60
(based off what I had to buy)
Currently selling for: $40
Project Duration Estimate: 3 days
Many of these materials can be found at your local craft store. Items such as the liquid latex may need to be purchased online.
This tutorial explains how to create a very specific type of gem to fit a piece using a liquid latex mold. Depending on what type of latex you get and how much, the price will vary. The duration estimate is influenced on the dry times of both the liquid latex and the craft resin, as well as the paperclay.
RESIN of ANY type is extremely dangerous when handled without following proper guidelines. Resin is not only unsafe to touch, but it has a very strong smell and it's vapors will cause very serious damage if inhaled. You MUST work in a well ventilated area AND wear a breathing respirator to filter the harmful airborne chemicals it releases. ALWAYS wear gloves when handling it. If it gets onto your clothing you MUST remove and dispose of the contaminated clothing piece. Do not attempt to use resin if you are under 18 years old. Please ask a parent for help.
LIQUID LATEX may or may not be a harmful substance because latex varies from person to person. Some people are allergic to it and cannot touch, handle, or even smell it, while others can come into contact with it and they will not develop rashes. You should always wear gloves when handling wet liquid latex, wear a respirator, and work in a well ventilated area. Since allergies can arise spontaneously, it's important that you take the extra step to prevent any unneccessary contact.
ALWAYS read the warning labels on products you are unfamiliar with.
Always make sure you read through the entire process before beginning to avoid mistakes and to get a general idea of how the project will progress.
Now, let's get started:
Step 1: Sculpting your piece
When it comes to creating your unique piece of jewelery, chances are, you'll need to create the "rim" or surrounding jewelery before you can get started on the gem. If it's a very custom piece of jewelery, the surrounding area around the gem may take a while to craft. If you already have a rim pre-made, you can skip this step. If not, to make it, take a piece of super sculpey and form it into the surrounding area. Since I've already covered how to make complex jewelery in a tutorial beforehand (you can find it here), I'm not going to go into too much detail in this one. But for those of you who may be freaking out, it's alright. Just find a decent reference picture and sculpt it to the best of your ability. Use pencils, pens, or sculpting tools to make the very fine details, and remember to leave a space in it for the gem you will be installing later on. DON'T bake your jewelery yet! You want to be absolutely certain that your gem will fit perfectly inside, and alterations may need to be made to the rim later on depending on how the gem comes out.
Step 2: Making your Master part
Once you have a basic idea on how you want your jewelery rim to look, take a pencil and trace the inside of the rim on a piece of paper. Lift the rim off the paper, and then retrace the shape in marker. This will help you see the line better. Take a bit of air-dry clay (I used paperclay) and form it into the shape you traced on the paper. This may take a while, so don't rush it. You'll need a good shape or else your gem may look a bit strange. Another thing, make sure you have the bottom of the piece laying down FLAT along the paper. This will be necessary for your mold to work since if the bottom is not larger than the top, you will not be able to remove the gem from the mold.
When you've finished with the shape, round off the top of the clay into a desirable shape. Dipping your fingers in water usually helps smooth out the clay. Work it into a smooth shape, but don't press too hard or the bottom of the clay may expand outside the traced shape on the paper. If you can't get it completely smooth, don't worry. You can always sand the piece once it dries off. This clay piece will be known as your "master". It will be the original piece used to make your mold. Once done shaping it, allow it to dry completely. Paperclay usually dries completely overnight.
Step 3: Coating with Latex
As mentioned in the warnings (which I hope you read), it's necessary for you to work with the latex in a highly ventilated area. Liquid latex releases ammonia as it dries, so not only does it smell gross, but if you breathe it in too much, you can actually become allergic to it (and trust me, being allergic to latex sucks). IF you're ALREADY allergic to latex, then you may need to purchase silicone instead. I personally know little about buying mold silicone, but on some websites they sell certain kinds that are used for mold making. In the case that you get silicone, take the same precautions you would take with the latex. Wear gloves, a respirator, etc.
When it comes to actually USING the latex, you're going to need a sponge brush, or really any disposable brush that you don't care for. Once liquid latex gets onto the brush, it will dry and you won't be able to use it again, so make sure you use a brush you don't care about. Sponge brushes are ideal because they're so cheap.
Anyway, to get started, lay out a piece of foil on a flat working surface. Place your master flat onto the foil and pour some liquid latex into a disposable cup. Dip your sponge brush into the latex and coat your master with a thin layer, and coat AROUND the master about an inch. This extra coat around the actual piece will make it easier to peel the latex off later on. Make sure your first coat has no air bubbles! The first coat is the coat that captures all of the details of your master, so you want it to be as clean and even as possible! To get rid of bubbles, blow on the latex gently. Once you've coated the latex onto the master, wait about an hour for it to dry. Make sure you complete each layer of latex within a day of the previous one. If not, the latex may not adhere to the following layer very well. This step requires a bit of patience and time, but it's vital to the outcome of your mold.
After about 7-10 coats of latex, the mold will be strong enough that it can hold features and withstand tearring as you remove it. Make sure it's dry, but DON'T peel it off just yet.
Step 4: Making your mold
Once your liquid latex is ready, mix up some plaster. An ideal type of plaster is Plaster of Paris. It usually comes in very large buckets for only about $10. Mix it up into a seperate cup and smooth it onto the latex. I used a plastic cup to shape my mold into a small disc shape, but generally plaster of paris stays in place and won't melt all over the surface you're working with. As simple as that, just apply the plaster and wait for it to dry. Unlike latex, plaster usually dries pretty quickly.
If you're a loser and you used a cup like me, when the plaster dries you will find it difficult to shake the plaster out of your plastic cup. Simply take a knife or some scissors and cut it away. The end result is pretty nice, actually.
Step 5: Disassembling the mold
Once your plaster is nice and dry, you can take your mold apart. First, peel the latex out of the plaster and then peel the latex layer off your master part. My latex gave me a hard time and I had to really tug on it, but it still held out alright. Just be careful around this part. Also, if you're clay is annoying like mine was, you might still have some clay residue on your latex piece. If so, don't worry. Simply wet a toothbrush and scrub the latex gently in a circular pattern. Once the clay gets wet enough, it should just melt off. Depending on the type of latex, it's important to dust it with baby powder as you remove it from the mold so it doesn't stick to itself. The latex I used didn't have much of a problem, but it's an easy step and you should do it just incase. Wasting latex and all the time waiting for it to dry sucks. First, get a paintbrush or makeup brush and use it to coat the latex generously with powder. As you begin to peel the latex, get your brush and dust more powder onto the inside of the mold as you remove it. Generally, you won't need a TON of powder, just a nice even coating will prevent it from sticking. After you're done, place the latex layer into the plaster mold and you're ready to begin!
Step 6: Dying the resin and filling the mold
Now that you're done with your mold, you can begin casting your resin! WARNING: I cannot stress enough how dangerous resin can be. You MUST wear gloves and you MUST wear a respirator. Resin is NOT a toy.
Anyhow, though. Before we break out the resin, you'll need to figure out what color you'd like it to be. Placing color inside the resin is ideal, so that it can be that color inside and out. So if it gets scratched or damaged, the layer underneath won't be a different color. Since craft resin is clear, it's ideal for dying. It is also a bit pricier than normal resin, but sometimes it's a sacrifice that's necessary. Normal fiberglass resin is a tint of nasty piss yellow, so it's not exactly a flattering color. To dye the resin, it's very simple. I use acrylic paint, but you can really use anything. Mix the paints on a piece of paper to make sure you get the right ratio of colors for the color you want to make. If it's a single color, you can skip this step, since it's only one color lol.
Before we start mixing the colors, make sure you pour your resin into a resin mixing cup. These are the same thing you use to mix paint and plaster. Actually MEASURE out the resin, because it's necessary to know when it comes to adding the hardnener. Once you have that down, take a popsicle stick and get a little drop of your desired color and mix it into the RESIN only. If you add too much paint, your gem will be a dark solid color. If you want it partially opaque, then only a small amount of color is needed.
For those of you who splurged a little and got the glass paint, amazing. Glass paint is usually used for stained glass or window projects and is amazing for dying resin. Since it's opaque, the color spreads much nicer and more even than acrylics would. Also, you won't get those tiny specs of paint in the resin like you would using acrylics. I didn't use glass paint for my gems, but if you bought some, don't go crazy with it. You only need a little, so add just a drop or two into the resin and mix. If you feel you need some more, then add a bit more, but it's always better to start out with less and add more than to add too much.
Now, for those who don't know much about resin, there's usually 2 parts. There's the actual resin, which comes in the big bottle or container and is thick like maple syrup, and then there's the hardener that usually comes in a much smaller tube or dropper and is very runny. Mix the color thoroughly into the resin so that it's even and then add the hardnener. Be sure to read the instructions on the resin to know how much hardener to add per resin measure. Mix it all up until it's even consistency and pour it into your mold.
Resin usually takes a full 24 hours to harden and cure and it's extremely necessary to wait!
Step 7: Fitting the gem into the rim
Now that your gem is nice and finished, you have to check how well it fits back into the rim. GOOD THING YOU DIDN'T BAKE THE CLAY! Simply slide the gem into the rim and see how well it fits. Chances are, you may need to press it down to make an indent in the rim so it fits EXACTLY. This is where the clay being unbaked is very nice. Once you make this indent, edit the jewelery around it so that it looks nice. Then, remove the gem, leaving it's imprint in the rim. Make sure you can easily remove and add the gem into the rim without messing it up, because we need to bake the rim without the gem in it. Now, I'm not sure if resin can withstand being baked very well, (I've never tried it, nor do I want to stick resin in my oven) so I would avoid that. Instead just let your nice little resin gem sit outside the oven and watch. Bake your rim to the according sculpey time and temperature (275º F is normal sculpey temp).
Once your rim is complete, don't stick the gem in just yet! You need to paint it first! Painting the rim now is best so you won't accidentally paint the gem. So paint it nice and wait for it to dry! Then FINALLY, the moment you've been waiting for. Hot glue the surrounding areas of the rim that will make contact with the gem and go on and stick the gem in there. Hold it firmly in place for a few seconds until it's secured.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT!
A custom made piece of jewelery with a CUSTOM MADE GEM!! WOWZERS
The great part is, you can now make many many many more gems with your nice new mold!
To see more of this finished costume, check it out here!
For more information on purchasing jewelery and other props in my tutorials, requesting a custom item, or an idea for a new tutorial, feel free to email me at Kanti-Kane@hotmail.com (: