Three more pewter pendants

Three moulded pendants

Three moulded pendants

In my previous post I showed off my very first cast pewter pendant. Today I’ll share the remaining three pendants I made for the project I’m working on.

These pendants were part of my “stretch goal” for my project, and I’m thrilled that with help from Craig (known in the SCA as Caiaphus) I was able to accomplish this!

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Casting pewter pendants (Triangle pendant)

Tapping the design into the triangle pendant

Tapping the design into the triangle pendant

For a project I’m working on for the SCA, I wanted to make a necklace, and as a stretch goal, decided that I’d like to make the pendants to go along with the necklace as well. This meant I needed to learn more about metal work!

I contacted an acquaintance from the SCA who does pewter work, and he offered to teach me!

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Anubis – Collar

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to do the collar for the Anubis costume.  Really, I started working on the scarabs before I actually knew how I was going to do the collar, not really knowing how I was going to use them….

Options

I thought of a few ways to do the collar/necklace, such as:

I didn’t want to go with the cardboard/craft foam option that was the method of choice on some of the costume/craft sites… when I was looking at real collars/necklaces, they were fully beaded, which was the option I was leaning towards if I could find a huge amount of beads for cheap…

Focal beads

I knew that regardless of how I did the collar, I wanted to use some ‘focal’ beads or cabochons for the collar.  I really wanted gold or turqoise scarabs for these focal beads.  I have a brass stamping that I thought I would incorporate as well.

Necklace Base

To start off, I started making some scarabs – but while I was waiting for the resin to set up, I made the necklace base.   I used pictures from Zarifas site to get an idea of what it looks like – but wasn’t making mine with wire and tiny beads like they do.

Three diferent kinds of golden ‘etched’ beads. This is what was in one package – you can see the proportions are in no way even.

I knew I was going to need a LOT of beads, so I picked up 5 packages of gold beads from Michaels. These are three different golden beads in one package – but the numbers aren’t even, so it’s hard to say how much of each style you’ll get.  Since I had the curve to deal with, different sizes actually worked really well.  I ended up only using one and a half packages of the beads actually, and was able to take the remaining three packages back.  (I have no idea when I’ll need cheap, plastic, gold beads again…)  I also picked up one LARGE package of black plastic faceted beads.  Like the gold beads, I ended up using a LOT less than I thought I would – and could have bought a much smaller package if I had known.  Finally I picked up some turqoise beads with two-holes.  I had been looking for spacer bars all over the place with no luck, so these would have to do in their place, plus they added back the turqoise colour I was looking for.

Most of the supplies for the collar/necklace

Additional supplies:  thread (to test the design) and a needle, a clasp, beading wire, crimps, and pliers.

I used my bust form to start the necklace (to shape the curve) and then cut it apart and re-did it again, before putting it together in wire.  The photos probably show more than I can with just text… Basically it is one inner necklace bound to the next layer with the bar-beads, then another layer, another, and finally the fifth layer.  It looks quite big on my bust form, but isn’t nearly so big on me (since I’m a lot larger than my form!)

The finished collar/necklace

Scarabs

Clay originals

To make the scarabs, I started with some “Pluffy” – a foam-like modeling clay by Sculpey.  I just rolled out ovals, and then with two of them I pressed the details in with the broken off tine of a plastic fork, and with another I added details on with extra clay. I was surprised how easy the clay was to condition and shape – although it was harder to get firm exact edges as with regular Sculpey clay.  It reminded me a LOT of Model Magic – though apparently if you don’t bake it it will stay soft and shapeable.  Neat! The shaped item was pretty soft  – but upon baking it firmed up not terribly unlike regular oven-baked clay. I also love how LIGHT the final piece is.

clay scarabs on top of the clay package

Note: I don’t know how this clay lasts (in terms of how fragile it might be long-term), but it was so much easier to work with than regular Fimo/Sculpey, that I think I’d prefer to use it in future.  It doesn’t come in nearly as many colours, but since they’re blendable and paintable, it should be ok…

I just looked at online photos of scarab cabochons for the idea of what they should look like.  I had looked in a number of bead and Egyptian shops for beads -but found nothing.

Molding

Next I grabbed some two-part molding putty and molded the three scarabs.  This is so fast and easy – though once you mix up the putty, it sets up in about 10 minutes, so the working time is pretty short.  Because of this, I had a few other shapes to mold at the same time – whatever else I want to mold at some point, if I have some spare putty.  In this case I molded the ankh for the pendant for this costume, and a cog button I got in Vancouver a year or two ago.

Casting

Doh – this was NOT a successful attempt – I went to my resin, and the catalyst had glued itself shut.. so I used a different catalyst, and it never did seize up.

So… I had to wait, and headed back to the hobby shop to get more resin casting chemicals.  The hobby shop I went to before – didn’t have any of what I had used before. *headdesk*

So, I went off to WalMart and found a clear-drying acrylic resin… I prepared the mold by brushing in copper powder for cast pieces to start, then mixed up the resin along with a small amount of black resin dye.

Brushing the copper powder into the mold, getting ready to cast the pieces

 The previous resin set up quickly – within 10 minutes. This stuff said on the package that it would take 24-48 hours.  Doh!  I just couldn’t win! I waited more than 24 hours and it STILL hadn’t hardened.

Waiting for the resin to cure

I actually ended up waiting WAY longer than 48 hours – I waited about 6 days, and the resin never did cure.  I finally got so frustrated that I pulled the pieces out of their molds to see what happened.  I talked a little about this in the Acrylic Water Kit post back in November, and could only think at that point that the dye had been the problem. (I later realized that this stuff just wasn’t what I needed it to be through additional trial-and-error.)

A cast item – you can see how parts are still ‘wet’ and how significant residue was left behind in the mold.

Above is one of the pieces – you can see that parts of the cog are still wet, and significant residue is left behind in the mold.

What I’m looking for…

I was super bummed, and went out hunting for the resin that I had (very successfully) used before – Amazing Casting Resin.  Unfortunately I never did find it. (Though as an aside, after the project I found another shop where I might be able to get some, and if worse comes to worst, I could always order some in too. However I did find another product – but it would also take 72 hours to cure… which makes making multiple items really annoying… At this point I was so frustrated, that I decided just to forgo casting my pieces in resin, and switched back to clay.

I ended up re-molding the two essential items (the ankh for the pendant and one of the three original scarabs) using a different mold material (I had used up all of my original mold material). Once again the molding part of this worked nearly perfectly, which is good – because there was only just enough molding material to do the items I absolutely needed!

Re-molding the most-needed pieces

From there I just went back to the “Pluffy” modeling clay, and cast the ankh (I actually made two, just in case..) as well as four of the one scarab that I made a mold from. One challenge is removing the sof, molded clay from the old. With resin, the items harden in the mold, and can be easily removed.  Since this isn’t air-dry clay (and frankly I didn’t want to wait that long either) I needed to pull the items very carefully from the mold, and then set them aside to bake. For the scarabs I also ran a toothpick through them to make a hole so they could be easily strung. These were baked as normal, and then painted. 

To paint the scarabs, I started off with a layer of navy blue mixed with metallic turquoise acrylic paint, then dry brushed them with gold mixed with copper. Then they all got a coat of clear, glossy varnish.  My original intention had been to try to paint them to look like turqoise, but I actually really like the final result.

The finished scarabs

Adding the scarabs to the necklace

… well… I didn’t.

Yep. After all of that work, I decided I liked the collar the way it was, and the scarabs didn’t really match the blue beads well enough anyways, so I totally didn’t use them. BOO. I hung on to them though for something else….

Acrylic Water Kit

I picked up the Acrylic Water Kit from Wal-Mart while making my Masquarade Ball costume.  I wanted to write a quick post about what a total, and utter failure it was for casting small parts. It is a fair bit cheaper than getting a similar resin kit from the craft store, and Wal-Mart is usually easier to get to (even if the customer service is way less useful) so I had hoped it would be a good option at least…

First attempt

A cast item – you can see how parts are still ‘wet’ and how significant residue was left behind in the mold.

I don’t know if the failure was a temperature issue (I cast things in my kitchen, in the winter, but it still should have been warm enough to set up…) but the instructions said that it would set “hard” in 24-48 hours.  I mixed and poured on Sunday night, and by the following Saturday (well beyond 48 hours) the items were firm enough to remove from the molds, but were completely sticky on the back sides.  Totally unusable, and they left so much sticky residue behind that I also had to throw out all of the molds.  (It was REALLY hard to remove the residue, and I wouldn’t have trusted the small details to release all of the acrylic – nor the other materials I’d put in there later being affected by any residue.)

Complete failure.

Now, in the kit’s defense, I did add a colourant intended for this kind of product, and it’s entirely possible that the colourant affected the mix.  I will discuss this a little more in an upcoming post about the mold and cast pieces themselves, but I figured I would post about the kit first.

Second attempt

Well, with the thought that the colourant might be to blame, I figured that I would try it again without the colourant.  (Which would kind of defeat the purpose that I need this stuff for – since ultimately it has to be coloured… but.. whatever…)

I didn’t want to ruin a mold, so I first mixed it in one disposable container, and then poured it into a second disposable container to set up.

I poured in the evening, and by the morning the material was much more firm, but still sticky and not useable.  Still… that’s only 12 (give or take…) hours instead of the 24-48…

After waiting the 48 hours, the item was still a TINY bit tacky (not sticky, but tacky) on the top (the back of the piece), but mostly firm. I unmolded it from the disposable container, and the bottom was still sticky and gooey.  I left the item out to dry further, but basically am considering this a total failure. 

Conclusion

I think that this material is best left to it’s original purpose – pretending to be water in a vase, where it will never be removed from the vase. I wouldn’t consider getting it for making small parts for costumes/crafting. Boo.