Resin casting (mis)adventures

I decided to try my hand at casting resin in order to make Pyrrha some eye chips myself.  Ironically, the mold for her eye chips still hasn’t arrived, but I’ve gone ahead with some resin experiments anyway.  I got two kinds of resin — both in “simple” versions that seemed like they’d be easy to use — one kind clear, for the eye chips, and one kind an opaque white.

I started with the opaque white, and one of my primary goals with that first experiment was to make a pull ring for Pyrrha, along with various other things, some in molds I’d made myself, and some in purchased molds.

Pull ring fail
Pull ring fail

I’d made the mold off Pyrrha’s pull ring, but the mold-making stuff hadn’t been cooperating very well, and was already drying out by the time I was working with it.  (It’s this compound where you mix equal quantities of two materials, and then have a set amount of time to work with it to make the mold.  The molds are really nice and flexible, so you can get the stuff you’ve cast back out again, but the time limit can be oppressive.)  So for this mold, it’s only half the ring:

Pull ring fail reversed
Pull ring fail reversed

See, this is the other side of that same casting.  Also, I put too much glitter in the mold, but that’s somewhat irrelevant to the overall problem, which is that the mold itself rather sucked.

Of course, if you wanna see something where I put too much glitter in the mold, you oughta see the one I made in a purchased mold!

Ginko leaf
Ginko leaf

On top of all the other massive problems, ginko leaves don’t even turn orange; they turn yellow. 😛  There’s more glitter than resin in this one, but the resin was drying out and I didn’t have time to dump out the glitter before pouring it into the mold.

One of my other hopes in resin casting — and the main reason I’d wanted to get some opaque white resin, really — was to be able to cast some new Monster High arms, as at this point I have a couple of Create-A-Monster girls who have everything except upper arms.  (Due to a mermaid tail and a genie-style whirlwind, I’m okay on legs, but those arms!)  A long time ago, I’d made a mold off the arm parts, for use with the CaM add-on sets, and it worked okay as a polymer clay mold, except for the serious problem that I have to attach the arms with wires, which looks rather lame the way I do it.  (Have I posted pictures of my daughter of the Dormouse for the mad tea party?  She’s got polymer clay arms I made…)  So I wanted to try out the mold with resin.

The results were not pretty.

Arm attempt, angle 1
Arm attempt, angle 1

In addition to a huge mess of additional resin that would need to be filed, sanded or otherwise removed, there’s no hole for the lower arm peg, and I have no idea how I would have done the shoulder joint.

Arm fail, angle 2
Arm fail, angle 2

I’m not sure how well it shows up in the photo, but this shot also illuminates something that’s clearly always a problem with casting in resin:  there’s a huge air bubble up there near the shoulder.  A thin skin of resin is on top of the bubble — in this case — but obviously it’s something one has to know how to avoid, or it’s going to wreck up a lot of projects.  In this case, the result was entirely unviable anyway, so it hardly matters.  (I’m just going to have to watch Plastic Curves like a hawk in the hopes that they start selling some arms, clearly.  Because this is way too complicated for me.  I’d have to disassemble an arm at the joint and make a very complicated and precise mold from it, and…yeah, no way do I have the ability — or even the knowledge — to be able to do that.)

Now, before I move on to the last failure of the first resin experiment, let me take a break by showing the one success.

Mokona!
Mokona!

One of the reasons Mokona here worked is that the mold was simple — just a push-in, with no attempt at three-dimensionality — and there wasn’t any glitter in it.

Mokona's back
Mokona’s back

The upper surface of the resin is a bit bowed and uneven; I’m not sure how I would go about using Mokona here as an object.  Clean off the edges (paint the face, obviously) and then glue something to the back, I guess.

Mokona once more
Mokona once more

There’s a slight flaw on the right foot, as you can see; there had been a hole in the mold, and when I patched it up, the patch went through the hole.  I’ve managed to cut off most of the excess now, so I think future castings of Mokona will probably turn out even better.  If I can think of any reason to make said castings, anyway.  (I suppose he could be used as a charm, if there was a jump ring glued to his back?)

Anyway, Mokona here is pure Rayearth/XXXholic/Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles fan art, made in a mold that I made for use with polymer clay, back in the brief span when I thought I might be able to make money selling polymer clay fan art at anime cons.

Polymer clay Mokona earrings
Polymer clay Mokona earrings

These are the only two pairs of Mokona earrings I could still find.  (I dumped most of my inventory into the local anime store to sell on commission, but the store owner didn’t want the fan art.  I had two plastic thingies filled with merchandise, but I could only find one of them.  There should be more merch in the other one…)  You may notice a big difference in these two pairs of earrings, right?  The upper pair, on the salmony-colored card, that one I made entirely by hand.  The lower pair was made in this mold.  Unfortunately, the Sculpey glaze on the white one of the lower pair is sticky.  That’s not good.  I need to re-glaze it, I guess.  (BTW, suppose anyone would buy these if I sold them on Etsy?  I also found one of my Dragon Quest slime earrings, too…)

Okay, anyway, back to the last fail of the original casting experiment.

Ack.
Ack.

It’s hard to even tell what it is, right?  Well, it’s part of a shoe.  Since I had found a pair of flats that Pyrrha could wear, I was anxious to make her some new shoes.  So I made a mold off one of the shoes.  (I have no idea what kind of shoes they even are, btw.)  But I only got a little bit of resin into the mold.  Because this was going on:

Hardened!
Hardened!

The instructions tell you that you have maybe half an hour to work with the resin after you get it mixed.  More like ten minutes, if even that.  I barely got any of the resin into the shoe mold, because it had decided it liked being in the plastic cup.  I had pulled part of it away from the side of the cup like that in the hopes that there was still some liquid resin hiding behind the hardened “skin,” but no such luck; it was hard all the way through.

However, what little got into the mold made the shoe shape so perfectly that I figured there was a good chance that the mold would actually work, so I determined to make that one of the main goals of my second experiment, with the clear resin.

Success!  (More or less.)
Success! (More or less.)

I practically had to turn the mold inside out to get the shoe back out (and it’s amazing that you can do that, btw) but the shoe came out pretty nicely.  If you overlook the wing of crud I’m going to have to clean off, and the fact that some of the mold is still sticking to the shoe.

Shoe, other angle.
Shoe, other angle.

Of course, it’s not terribly useful to me as a shoe, because the original shoes were already silver.  (I intended to put gold glitter in the resin for the shoes, but the batch of resin I mixed up with the silver glitter in it was more than enough for my whole experiment…)  Also there’s an air bubble at the back of the shoe.  But the important thing is that once it’s hit its “Full Cure” time (7 days!) then I’m going to experiment with cleaning it off and seeing if it actually fits Pyrrha.  And if it does, then I can make some opaque shoes (the opaque stuff is fully cured within a few hours) for her in any color I want.  (If I can figure out how to dye the stuff rather than painting it, anyway.)

Obviously, the other primary task in the clear experiment was to see if the new pull ring mold I had made was going to work.

Clear resin pull ring
Clear resin pull ring

I’m not sure if I can call it a failure or a success.  It needs a lot of trimming and cleaning, and the hole is filled with the mold material, but…well, right now it’s still not fully cured, so it bends pliably in my fingers, which is unsettling, to say the least.  And I’m not sure how to make it all look pretty and nice; if I sand the parts that look foggy, will they become clear like the rest, or will they get worse?  (Obviously, I’ll just have to experiment to find out.  Once the week is up.)

Side view
Side view

Again, I’m not sure how well it shows up in the photo (on top of everything else, my camera was fighting with me on this) but there’s also a massive air bubble out of the side.  😦  So long as everything else cleans up all right, it won’t hamper it from working as a pull ring (which is important, because I actually damaged Pyrrha’s original pull ring trying to cut it back out of the mold) but it certainly doesn’t look terribly attractive.  Again, though, if everything else about the ring can be cleaned up and salvaged, then at least I’ll be able to use the mold to make future pull rings.  (Which is important, ’cause a cursory look through Etsy earlier today revealed zero TARDIS-blue pull rings for Romana….)

Gladius
Gladius

And while we’re on the subject of awesome companions, one of the molds I made for resin experiments was off of Rory’s sword.  Once the sword is fully cured and dried up, I’m probably going to use some wire to make it into a charm for Pyrrha’s pull ring.

The dark side of the sword
The dark side of the sword

Trying to photograph it was a bear, but this is supposed to show the fact that there’s actually still a flap of resin on one side of the sword, which is of course what’s going to need to be cleaned up eventually.  At present, not only is the sword still pliable, but the resin at the flap is literally still sticky.  And I did this casting on Tuesday afternoon.  That week for full cure is definitely annoying.  If I decide to do a lot of casting, I think I’ll have to look into different types of resin; maybe one of them will be less persnickety.

So, one last item from the casting experiment.  And I don’t even know quite what to call it, other than the most massive failure of all.

Rosette, in mold
Rosette, in mold

This is another mold I made from my polymer clay days, but it’s a different type of mold, not flexible.  I can’t get the resin back out. 😦

Like a silvery lake...
Like a silvery lake…

Looks like it’s about to flow right over the edge, doesn’t it?  In part because it kept doing that while I was trying to cast the dang thing.  The clear resin has a much longer working time, and it’s very, very liquid.  I mean, much more so than the opaque stuff, which was kind of thick and slow even when it was at its most liquid.  The clear stuff was rolling all over everything and making the most horrible mess.  (The fact that I was working on a plastic grocery bag on my kitchen counter did not help, of course…)

Rosette and original
Rosette and original

For some reason I’d kept the original bead in the same place as the mold I’d made off of it, so you can see what it was sort of supposed to look like.  Once the full cure time is up, I’m going to make one last attempt to extricate the resin before pitching it, but…I have a feeling it’s not going anywhere.

Anyway, so that’s the extent of my current resin-casting experiments.  I need a better place to work before I try with the clear stuff again; it’s too messy.  (My parents are going out of town soon, though; I think I’ll probably hijack some space in their place while helping my brother house-sit and try there.  They have a lot more space than I do.)  But I found two more nice pairs of shoes that I’d like to make molds from (one for Romana’s high-heeled feet, and one for Pyrrha’s flat feet) so I’m probably going to do more with the opaque stuff, despite its super-fast dry-in-your-workspace nature.

My plan at the moment is to find some time this weekend — my reading in one of my classes is pretty light this week — to go back to polymer clay and make up some charms for Romana’s pull ring.  At least a TARDIS and K-9, and probably a 4th Doctor scarf as well, though that may be harder to pull off in polymer clay.  Once I’ve made those in polymer clay, I want to make molds from them and try casting them in resin.  I’d need some new tools to be able to convert them into proper charms — especially a drill to put holes in for the jump ring — but if I can pull it off, I’d love it if I could make charms that were decent enough to be sold.  Because if I make a mold off a polymer clay fan art, then it’s still my own work, and I can sell it, right?  (After all, the pull rings, shoes and sword are molds I made off of something someone else made, so I couldn’t sell them, no matter how good I get at them.  I think.  I don’t know entirely how that works…but it seems ethically questionable, even if it isn’t legally questionable.)

I should make some polymer clay charms for Pyrrha’s pull ring, too.  A Boeotian shield, definitely, and maybe a spear, if I can manage it.  Ooh, no, it’d have to be a double-tipped spear, and I’m not entirely sure what that would look like.  Well, I can try…

Hmm, any other ideas for charms for their pull rings?  I’m not coming up with much else for Romana’s.  (A sonic screwdriver would be too fiddly and difficult, and certainly wouldn’t cast well.  Though the 4th Doctor’s screwdriver is a lot simpler than the new ones, so it’s not quite as difficult as it might be.)  Of course, there’s always the “stand-by” type charms.  Stars and other geometric shapes, that kind of thing.  I guess I should wait and see how much I can get done in what amount of time before I start thinking too deeply on the whole polymer clay thing.  I haven’t done any polymer clay work in a long time, and I had a better work space last time.

So, bottom line is that it’s a lot more work than I was really expecting, but it seems like there are some definitely possibilities here.  And I’m still chuffed at how nicely Mokona turned out. 😀

(Oh, there are actually more shots of the resin sword in the gallery for this.  I had a lot of trouble finding an angle that would give any hint of showing that flap of the back of the sword.  I think there are a few other pictures there that didn’t make the post, too…)

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