I know I've been gone for quite some time but it isn't because I'm not making any jewelry or working on projects. It's because the studio has undergone major changes in the last 6 months. First, we had to sell my mother-in-law's house in California, then she bought a house here in Lincolnton and finally my husband and I sold our house in Charlotte. We are officially residents of Lincolnton and live with "mom". This is a good thing. For one, we've combined our resources and are now less dependent on lots of different things. Second, and probably more important, the studio is now in its own 2,400 square foot space! Yes, I said 2400!
The studio is huge and I've spent the last 2 months unpacking and trying to get organized between all the sale, buy & sell activities and the whole idea of unpacking the house and studio. Yes, it has been crazy to say the least, but it's all over now. No more boxes and no more packing paper! Finally!!!!
Anyway, I've been working on lots of projects and have kept a photo journal of the processes and decided to share one of them with you. This project is all about using room temperature silicone molding rubber. It is an excellent way to make copies of things you want to repeat in jewelry designs. Whether its purpose is for wax pouring or resin curing, this mold rubber is easy to use and extremely durable.
Here's what you need:
- Liquid Rubber Molding Compound - SORTA-Clear
- Polystyrene cup
- latex gloves
- something to use as your model
- wooden/plastic stirring stick or a glass stir rod
- container to hold model and liquid rubber for curing - glass is preferred or acrylic plates with an aluminum insert
- butcher paper to protect your tabletop or workbench
I purchased SORTA-Clear from my local special effects warehouse. Yes, I did have to travel to Charlotte to get this, but it was well worth the trip. If I can, I try to support local businesses so a short ride on "Sunshine" (my Sportster for those that don't know) was well worth the trip. The wind therapy is sometimes all you need to escape.
I had a small wax flower that I was planning to use for a sterling silver casting that was just a bit too thick, so I decided to use it as my model for the rubber mold. Next, I gathered some latex gloves, a polystyrene cup and a wooden stir stick.
NOTE: I use SORTA-Clear 37 which is a 4 hour curing compound. I chose this option because, to put it simply, I'm an impatient artist. I want to work with my molds as soon as chemically possible. It has about a 25 minute pot life, meaning you have a maximum of 25 minutes before you must have it poured after mixing the compound.
The great thing about SORTA-Clear is that it is a 1:1 ratio, so 1 part rubber and 1 part activator. And, it's either done by volume or by weight. I chose to use the weight option for this particular model because of it's small size.
The images below in the gallery are the step by step visuals. Click on each to open a larger version for a more up-close-and-personal look at the process.
First, find a small container to hold your wax model. I used a 2-inch in diameter votive holder as my container because I knew it would be easy to clean and re-use. Next, I super-glued my wax model to the bottom of the container. Since this is going to be a one part or "push" mold, I chose to put my model at the bottom and pour my rubber over the top. When gluing your piece to the bottom be sure to remember that you want the side you're molding to be on the top. So glue the non-decorative side down. While the glue is drying you can move on to preparing your compound.
Second, pour Part A into the polystyrene cup in the amount you need to completely cover your model. Then, add an equal portion of Part B and begin to stir the compound. There will be lots of bubbles, but don't worry about that just yet, keep stirring. You'll also notice a slight cloudiness in the mixture and that's what you want. Keep stirring until you see the mixture begin to clear up once again. It usually takes about a minute or so.
Third, slowly pour your liquid rubber over the top of your model and make sure it is completely covered by rubber and thick enough to withstand the twisting and bending you'll need to do in order to remove your objects. Gently tap the container on your table top or use a vibrating table to coax the bubbles to the top of the pour. If you have access to a vacuum table, I recommend a short vacuum to help remove the bubbles. I usually go about 20 seconds AFTER the rise and fall of the boil.
Let your container cure over the next four hours. While my rubber was curing I worked on some chocolate cake. Not great for my nutrition but oh so great for my soul! Come on... Everyone needs a little treat now and then and this was one of those "now" moments. After all of the decision-making, paper-signing and key-giving, I DESERVED this cake.
Now that your wonderfully, delicious cake is gone it's time to get back to work. Check your mold and make sure it isn't tacky to the touch. Yes, it's okay to do this without your gloves. If the rubber is cured, remove it from the container and gently bend the mold to remove your model. You can see in the gallery above, my clear rubber is a bit difficult to see, but all of the bubbles had risen to the top of the container and therefore left my mold cavity bubble-free during that 4 hour cure.
Your mold is now ready for your next project. I used a clear resin colored with red fabric dye to test out my mold and the piece came out beautifully. All of the gorgeous detail is there and now all I have to do is make more and create some fun, funky jewelry with my new mold.
One other note, make sure to store your rubber mold in an airtight, dust-free container. This will lengthen the life of your mold significantly so you will have it for hundreds of duplicates to come.
Try it! Really, it's a fun process and I'm sure you'll have fun. And, if it's not perfect the first time, try it again. You can only get better at making molds if you practice. Plus, it gives you plenty of time to eat cake!
What do you think of this quick tutorial? Leave a comment below or use the envelope icon at the very bottom of the page to send me a private email. Thank you so much for reading this tutorial!