Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Crazy Easy, Crazy Cheap Way To Make A Silicone Mold

I've wanted to try this DIY for a while now, and I am PUMPED for you guys to see the results. If you've ever been intimidated by mold-making, then trust me, watch this:


OR, for you non-video-watching peeps who don't have 20 minutes and just want the basics, lemme sum up:

YOU WILL NEED:


- 1 tube of 100% silicone caulking (Walmart carries it, or any hardware store)
- dish soap, any brand
- a large bucket or bowl you never use for food prep
- something to mold (should be non-porous & something you can press in)

Please note this technique is NOT my own creation: all credit goes to Audrey Obscura over on Instructables. Since her final product is made of clear resin, though, I couldn't tell how much detail her mold actually captured. John and I decided to find out, so we tested several different items - and then painted & aged the results -  to get the most detailed comparisons possible for you guys. I think you'll be impressed; I was honestly quite shocked how well this works.

Right, here we go. Prepare to be amazed by how simple this is:

Step 1: Fill a bucket about halfway with water

Step 2: Add "lots" of dish soap - a tablespoon or more. This doesn't have to be exact, you just want the water super soapy.

Step 3: Squeeze some silicone directly into the water. Add just enough to make your mold - you don't need to squeeze the whole tube in at once.


Step 4: Knead the caulking with your bare hands, keeping it under the water as much as possible. This feels VERY FUNKY and is VERY FUN. 
Wheeeeee!

 (The dish soap forms a barrier on your skin, so the silicone won't stick.)


 Step 5: Once the caulking is firm enough, smooth out a small ball of it onto a non-stick surface (I used a clear transparency sheet) and press in the item you want to mold:
 

Step 6: Wait about 20 minutes, or until the silicone feels like hard rubber.

IMPORTANT SMELLINESS WARNING: You'll notice a vinegar smell while you're working with the silicone, which get exponentially stronger as it cures. Set the mold(s) outside for a few hours to air out, or at least work by an open window & later store them in an airtight ziploc.

Step 7: Peel out your item, and boom. YOU HAVE A MOLD.


Told you it was easy! Now you're ready to pour some resin and test out your new mold. Or use it for clay! Just no food items, please; this is NOT food safe.


I molded several objects with increasingly subtle, hard-to-capture designs, and there IS a limit to what will work -  but I think you'll be surprised where it is.  I recommend watching the last 5 minutes of the video up there to see all our results in action, but I'll also walk you through them here:


 Removing the resin cast from the mold.
(This is Amazing casting resin, btw, which is about $16 on Amazon or closer to $20 in local craft stores.)

 Side-by-side with fresh cast.

I sanded all my casts before painting, since my molds weren't all level. (Sanding tip: Put your sandpaper on a table and slide the casting around on it. It's easier that way, and will automatically level the back.)

Here they are sanded and sprayed gold:

It's still hard to see the detail with that shiny gold, though, so next I aged them with black acrylic.

Here we go, side-by-side comparisons after painting & finishing the resin cast

 The seahorse pin turned out perfect, zero loss of detail. It even looks better than the original.


 The resin snowflake DID lose a little detail, but only in the very middle:


This could be user error, though; maybe I didn't push the piece into the silicone hard enough?

 Another look:
 

The Mardi Gras coin was the worst of all my results, but honestly I'm still impressed:

 This design is incredibly shallow, so the fact that ANY of it came through is surprising. (As is the fact that I have a 2002 Mardi Gras coin hanging around my office. I mean, whaaaa?)

 The owl pin also ended up looking better than the original:

 You can bet I'll be using this on something steampunky in the future.


 And finally, the smallest and most detailed item I molded:

 The "Hufflepuff" at the bottom didn't QUITE come through, so there's a slight loss there. Overall, though, and given it's size? Awesome sauce.

Especially since the gold and black looks better than the silver, am I right?


Please note I am in NO WAY advocating you mold licensed merchandise or other people's work for resale, by the way. These things are just for me, and if/when I use them on new projects, they won't be for sale.

 I'm thinking these would make cool buttons on a vest for John. Eh?

In fact, this is a great tool for cosplayers and crafters alike. Keep an eye out for antique medals and brooches - or how about tiny frames with great scroll work? You could mold just the face of your favorite vinyl toy and turn it into a 3D pin. Or try sculpting something of your own and making copies! (Just make sure you seal the clay with a clear coat, so it's non-porous.)

I'm still brainstorming, so tell me: What else would you mold? 

Hope you guys give this a try! If/when you do, be sure to post a photo on Instagram and tag me so I can see! Then share this post or video with your friends so I can love you forever. ::MWAH:: (The FB & IG algorithms are kicking all our butts, so fight back - and keep the Pages you follow in your feed  - by commenting & sharing!) 

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Want MORE fun tutorials? Then check out my Craft Page! Over 150 geeky projects, all ready and waiting to waste your time!

30 comments:

  1. I wonder if you can use two of these to make three-dimensional poured castings? I have a few animal fangs that I'd love to make copies of, but they don't look very good if you only cast one side. Hmmm ... Time to make a trip to the hardware store, methinks!

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    1. I tried that once, with this method, it turned out okay, but the detail problem was, naturally, doubled because there were two sides. It can definitely work, but for what I was doing, the standard silicone mold worked better. I think a fang might be easier. :)

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  2. Personally, I think the coin turned out great. A pile of aged coins in a chest? Awesome. And coin naturally lose detail through being handled :)

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  3. What kind of resin are you using for the molding?

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    1. This was the Amazing brand casting resin. You can find it at some craft stores or here on Amazon for about $16.

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  4. JEN & JOHN!!!! I was JUST sitting here thinking "I wish I had some AWESOMESAUCE buttons for these cool dresses I'm making for my daughter for our Disney trip in November and maybe something for the adults to wear to tie-in with her outfit every day. We want to do coordinating but not matching. (And it's us, my in-laws, my parents, and my daughter's godmother)... and NOW I KNOW! I'm going to find something SWEET for the buttons for her dresses, and then I'm going to find some cool stuff so we can have matching buttons or pins or doo-dads for the entire crew!

    YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST - and I'm starting to get my craft room cleaned out so it's totally a do-able thing shortly!

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  5. FYI, the Mardi Gras coins are called doubloons. :)

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  6. This is soooo cool!

    The way I beat FB and ensured I see your posts (at least I THINK I see them all now) - clicked on your page and made sure both "Liked" and "Following" were highlighted blue; hit the down arrow on "Following" and made sure under "In Your News Feed" that "See First" was clicked; and under "Notifications" that "On (Posts) was clicked; then the real difference maker turned out to be this - beside "Notifications" is a pencil (?); I clicked on the pencil and a pop-up came up; originally it was set to "Highlights" so I changed it to "Standard". Whew! They sure make it hard on us don't they!

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    1. They really do! Thank you for working so hard to keep up with all my ramblings! <3

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  7. Do you think the molds could be safe for molding chocolate? There are silicone foods mats and bakeware, but I don't know if they have something different in them to make them food-safe. Because, seriously, how awesome would it be to make your own chocolate molds?

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    1. I wouldn't try it, but there is food safe silicone you can buy. I'm about to give it a shot myself. If you're on Facebook I'll eventually post my results on the Fans of Epbot page, if you're interested.

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    2. Yeah I'd look for food safe silicone. This type is called a tin cure. It's not food safe or long term contact safe (so no making mermaid bracers out of it for all day wear.) There's a lot of info out there about different types! Most of the wearable silicone things are made with platinum cure. It's really neat.

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    3. I wonder if the fish-tank safe silicone (usually available at the hardware store) would be okay for food once cured properly? I mean, if it won't hurt fish it's got to be fairly benign...
      Kahurangi, New Zealand

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  8. I'm so excited to see your success! I'm getting into chocolate molding, and I eventually want to make my own molds (with food safe silicone), so I'm happy to see these things working so well for you!

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  9. I haven't used the dish soap method, but I have tried the corn starch one. I like the smooth texture the dish soap version gets so I may have to try that next! The crystals I made from my last batch weren't as smooth as I liked.

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  10. Shut the front door! That's awesome. I'm definitely going to be pinning and saving this fabulous tutorial for sure. Thank you for sharing!

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  11. Hmm, for items with fine detail, it might be better if the caulking was a little softer - less working in the water? And rather than putting the caulking on the mat and then pressing the item in, maybe 'roll' the item onto the ball of caulking first (to minimize air pockets) then flatten the lot onto the mat...
    Kahurangi, New Zealand

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  12. That is brilliant! The Hufflepuff medallions would make amazing vest buttons.

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  13. Does the soap make a barrier to help with chemical burns too? I was using silicone caulk for a project once and burned my thumb just by touching it. (very light, but still painful) I'm just scared to start kneading a ball of the stuff when I know it's caused chemical burns on my skin before. :)

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  14. Wowzie-kazowzie, this is incredible! Thanks for the tutorial! I'll have to try this someday!
    Pinkie Welborne, 17(and a half!)
    Indiana

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  15. Another great video! Love this! You should ”advertise” these videos on Twitter and Instagram too, so more people can enjoy your awesomeness! :D

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  16. I wasn't able to watch the video yet, but do you have to put any type of release agent on the piece before you push it into the silicone?

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  17. This IS pretty brilliant all right. Very cheap and clever.
    I can see the issue with fine detail, since the homemade mold material is sort of doughy -- easy to trap pockets of air or little bubbles. The more liquid molding material (about the consistency of corn syrup), poured on very slowly and from several inches above the surface, produces very good detail results. Just takes extra $$. We need to find some chemical engineers to produce that from moth balls and Dr Pepper.

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  18. Just want to THANK YOU for doing a write-up with pictures in addition to posting the video. I end up reading most of your posts while trying to get the baby to sleep, which makes watching the videos a no-go most of the time.

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  19. This is so cool and after watching the video, I really want to try it. But I can never think of anything I want to make a mold of.

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  20. So this sounds a little silly, but I play a noblewoman at the local renaissance festival who prides herself on being a patroness of the arts. Now I want to make a bunch of personalized coins for her to hand out to guests she's had particularly amazing interactions with!

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    1. Not only is that period-appropriate [royals/nobles handing coins to commoners], kids in particular would love it -- I'm sure they'd be thrilled if someone they look up to/admire gave them something to keep. I'd do it -- I made [completely hand-sewn out of heavy linen (without a sewing machine!)] a 12th-century bliaut to wear to our local Faire and once had a tiny child come up to me and say, "Excuse me, lady, you're beautiful" -- after all that work I did, I was so appreciative that I would've handed that kid a coin so fast if I'd had one, lol. :-D

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  21. Might be able to mold your own soaps!

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  22. How much of the silicone and dish soap would you need to use for a soccer bear about 7" tall please Jacqueline mcclurg

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