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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life of an Artful Pen from beginning to end, part 2

Artful pen title with buttons

In my last post I demonstrated how I make my Artful Pens up to the point where I make a silicone mold of my original piece. And now the demo continues into the fun and challenging and sticky, messy process of working with silicone. Yay!

bee two part silicone

Here's my bee piece all ready to go under the silicone treatment. The next photo is the silicone I use. It comes in two parts. To make a mold, I scoop out equal amounts of part A (white) and part B (blue).

original piece with equal amounts of silicone back view of piece covered with silicone

After scooping out equal parts I then mix both parts together, making sure it is mixed evenly and done quickly. The silicone material sets quickly, so time is not your friend during this process. Once it's mixed evenly, I immediately press the silicone into the more detailed areas of my piece and the "deeper" areas on the surface. This is done in a thin quick layer to make sure the detail "sets" before the silicone cures. When I'm at this stage of the process, I always feel like I'm on some game show where you need to beat a clock counting down the seconds. I'm in a "hurry, hurry" mode and I try to work "lickety-split." There is no going back once the silicone is mixed and when it sets/cures, that's it, the time buzzer blares and you're outta luck.

pressing silicone onto original piece

After this first layer, I go back over it with a second layer to make sure the mold is thick enough. However, do not go too thick, otherwise you are just wasting your precious silicone, which does not come by cheap. And sometimes after I release the original piece from the mold, I hold it up to the light to see if there are any patches of light peering through my newly crafted mold. After making oodles of molds, I've gotten a better idea on how to make my molds and knowing a good thickness. It's hard to suggest a specific amount of thickness, as this depends on the size and detail of each individual piece. However, I would say that approximately a 1/8" thickness would be a good rule of thumb.

pieces in molds pieces released from the molds

The above photos show some pieces cast with Apoxie Sculpt. The first photo shows the Apoxie pieces as they're done curing and just before being released from the molds. And the next photo reveals how each piece looks after being released from the molds. Don't you want to start mold making now?

Stay tuned for the next post featuring the next phase in the life of an Artful Pen, it should be "colorful"! :-)

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