So if you haven’t been paying attention, I’ve got a bit of a Semi-Secret Project going on. Once the website is up and running, I’ll go full-on public with it, but for now, I’m still putting the pieces together slowly, one at a time. One of the pieces of that plan happened today, and I’m going to share it with you.
Part of what I’m working on is a Small Business, tentatively named Lionheart… something. Might end being Lionheart Crafts, or Lionheart Smithy, or… any number of other ideas, but one of the main things I want to be offering is custom crafts made for gamer type folk, and in order to do that I have to learn how to mold, cast and sculpt stuff in order to facilitate that endeavor. Which, while being deployed to Afghanistan, is a bit of a challenge. I have decided to work on the skills and knowledge necessary for the work while I’m here, in my free time. That way I’m ahead of the curve when I get home stateside and can jump into production…that’s the plan, anyway.
So today– Memorial Day Monday which also happens to be my 32nd Birthday, I decided to really get started on that project. The first thing I have to learn how to do is make a silicone mold of an item. I am, at heart, an uber-geek, so I figured a tower of dice would be really appropriate. For this project, I’m using the Smooth-On Starter Kit I acquired from The Engineer Guy— I’ve got something like 50 emails back and forth with their customer Service department making sure all of this would work getting shipped to A-stan, etc. Great people.
Next step is to put a light coat of Mold Release (to keep the silicone from sticking to the dice) on the dice tower and let it dry.
Next gets to the cool part– the liquid silicone. Chemically, the silicone that will eventually make up the mold is a two-part equation, in this case measured by volume: 1 unit of Part A (blue) and 1 unit of part B (pink) are measured out into separate cups. As soon as they are combined, the chemical reaction starts, so it pays to measure first and pour once (to steal a carpenter’s adage.)
After the component materials are measured, you pour them into a single mixing container together and then stir…
And then continue mixing for three minutes. It seems like FOREVER, but when you stop having steaks of individual pink and blue in the liquid and have a uniform lavender color, you’re doing it right.
Once the components start mixing, you’ve got about 30 minutes of working time before the silicone begins to really set up. So, it’s pouring time!!
Pour into the lowest part of the mold. This lets bubbles surface easier. With a slightly conical coffee cup as a mold box, this wasn’t really an option for me, so I just did the best I could. This is a Proof of Concept, after all. I’m not all that concerned with getting it “perfect” yet.
More pouring… also, showing off my tattoos from Done-Rite Tattoos in Kansas City. Ben there is an AMAZING artist, and his work on my arms is almost a year old but looks BRAND new. The sword handle is perfectly straight when my arm isn’t bent.
Now… we wait. For 16 hours, for the silicone to solidify and cure. So tomorrow morning, I’m going to see how well I followed the directions, and then hopefully pour some liquid resin epoxy into the mold and make a replica dice tower!
The whole process outlined in these pictures took me less than 30 minutes. Once I have practice, I can see it taking less than 10 minutes.