It’s no secret that you can use silicone mold putty to create your own molds. But there are a few tricks that I can share which make it a wee bit easier. I’ll be sharing some cool projects in the coming weeks and you’ll need some molds for that. So here’s how you can make silicone molds from charms.
What is Silicone Mold Putty?
I wrote about silicone mold putty previously, so if you’re curious about silicone rubber and the kinds of molds you can make with it, make sure you read Silicone Rubber Mold Material, an Introduction. For today we’re going to use a two part silicone putty. In the US, the most commonly found brands are Easy Mold, which is purple, and Amazing Mold Putty, which is yellow. They’re pretty comparable (read a comparison here) but there are other brands which you can use that work just the same. Easy Mold and Amazing Mold Putty come in larger volumes. But if you need a smaller amount, there’s a lavender (pink + blue) one from Best Flexible Molds and even smaller amounts in Christi Friesen’s Mold Making Kits. Silgum Gedeo is available at HobbyCraft stores in the UK. I’ve used it as well and it’s a fine product. Plus it’s blue. 😉 It doesn’t really matter what brand of mold putty you use for making silicone molds from charms, so go with the best price and availability you can find where you are.
In my local craft store there are dozens upon dozens of interesting charms that are sold for jewelry making. You can certainly use the charms for that purpose. But because the charms are often specific to an interest or hobby, they can be a great source of motifs or 3-D images that you can use in other ways with polymer clay. For instance. Halloween is coming and I wanted to make a spooky skull pendant. I’m not very good at sculpting. But I could easily find a charm to copy, make a mold, and then use the mold to create a polymer clay motif for a pendant. Or maybe you have a neat jewelry charm that you want to replicate to make matching earrings.
This technique is going to work best with a flat charm. If it lies flat on the table, this how-to will work. For the old fashioned miniature charms (think a 1950’s charm bracelet) or for Pandora charms, you’ll need to use a different molding method because they’re not flat.
And please remember, unless you carved the image of the charm yourself, someone else owns the copyright, so please keep duplicated charms for personal use.
Remove the Loop
Most charms are made from a cheap metal alloy that my mother always called “pot metal“. I don’t know what it is, but it’s quite brittle and will usually break when you try to bend it. That means you can easily remove the loop, though. Just take a pair of pliers or cutters and just bend the loop off. It will usually snap cleanly, but if a jagged edge remains you can easily sand it off with some sandpaper. Or rub it on the sidewalk in front of your house. (I’m serious…sidewalks are cheap sandpaper, really.)
How to Make Silicone Molds from Charms
- Silicone Mold Putty, your choice of brand
- A flat backed charm to mold
- Pliers and sandpaper if you need to remove the loop
- A smooth work surface, such as a ceramic tile
- A clear, flat piece of something such as an acrylic sheet or a piece of picture frame glass, larger than your charm
- Determine how much mold putty you need. Use some scrap polymer clay or ball of ONE component of your mold putty to create a blob the right size for molding your charm. Flatten the blob so that the charm will fit down into it with room around so that the charm doesn’t break through the edges of the putty/clay.
- Remove the charm. Form a ball with the putty/clay and divide it in half. This is how much you’ll need of each part of the silicone mold putty.Tip: If you used polymer clay to test how much putty you’ll need, make sure you wipe the charm with alcohol. Polymer clay residue can inhibit the cure of silicone mold putty, leaving the surface of your mold sticky and soft.
- Form one ball of part A and part B of your mold putty, making sure they’re the size you gauged in the previous step. Both should be the same size. Note: I probably used way too much mold putty here, my mold is quite a bit larger than my charm.
- Mix thoroughly with your hands until there are no swirls of color remaining. Gloves are not required. It will feel a bit oily, but it’s safe for your skin. Do this step quickly. The mold putty will begin to set and needs to be completely cast within three minutes.
- Create a patty shape with the mold putty, make it slightly larger than your charm.
- Press the charm into the mold putty. Don’t press too deeply.
- Very important. Use your fingers to gently push the mold putty up to the edges of the charm. Push it in snug to the charm, but don’t push the mold material over the charm.Tip: When creating molds, it’s very tempting to push the item deeply into the mold material. Try to avoid this because the mold material is naturally pushed away from the charm as you push it in, the mold putty splaying outward. This leads to a poorly shaped impression that is far wider than the item you’re trying to cast.
- Now place the clear glass or acrylic over the charm and press down lightly so that you’re creating a flat surface on the mold putty that’s level with the back of the charm.
- Set aside until cured. For Easy Mold and Amazing Mold Putty, this is about 25 minutes (longer if cold, shorter if temperatures are warm). Silgum takes a bit longer, if I remember correctly.
- Once the mold putty is cured (and can’t be scraped with a fingernail), just pop off the glass, peel the mold off the work surface, and remove the charm. You should have a nice, detailed mold for an exact replica of your charm.
You can fill the mold with polymer clay, fondant, hot glue, UTEE, or even resin. Though I will have to say, I haven’t had the best results when using resin with silicone putty molds. I think the molds need time to cure and “age”. Older molds, apparently, are fine.
If you’re having trouble removing your unbaked polymer clay charm replica from the mold without distortion, remember that you can bake silicone molds with the polymer clay inside and remove after baking. Easy Mold and Amazing Mold Putty are both safe in the oven to 395°C (200°C). Other brands are similar, but please double-check the instructions to be sure exactly how hot you can bake the silicone mold.
Next post I’ll show you how I use my charm molds to make pendants and other interesting things. I’ll also show you how I fill commercially available molds and even cameos. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss the next post. Thanks!
Sources: I purchased charms for this article from Pink Supply and CMVision on Etsy. They both had a very nice selection. And also, for charms and metal stampings of all kinds, don’t miss B’Sue Boutiques. Brenda Sue does a great job.