Special - Notes on Gemstone Making

THE FOLLOWING ARE A SERIES OF GEMSTONE-RELATED POSTS THAT I MADE ON MY LIVEJOURNAL BLOG:



I figured out a way to get my gemstones to have absolutely clear-looking mirror smoothed backs. Before I was using clear tacky glue to put tinfoil on the back of my gems. The problem with doing that is the back of the resin gem itself is frequently pockmarked and slightly concave, meaning it didn't stick to the tinfoil very well. The foil would frequently start to lift off leaving a cloudy finish on the back of the gem.

In my new method, I chuck the tinfoil and use silver foil tagboard (the kind you can buy at Michael's or at any other store that sells fancy paper) instead. And instead of clear tacky glue, I now use this stuff:



Adhesive Tech's High Temp Better Bonding Hotglue. (You can find it selling in the hotglue stick section at JoAnn Fabrics.) The thing about this hotglue is that it's a lot more transparent than other kinds of hotglue, meaning it won't obscure the mirror backing of the gem and will fill in any imperfections the gem might have. It's best to squeeze out a large amount of the heated glue onto the back of the gem and then press the gem onto the foil tagboard surface. Slowly apply pressure until all of the air bubbles and excess hotglue have been squeezed out from under the gem. Once the hotglue has cooled, just cut the finished gemstone free of the tagboard and you should have a gem with a mirror-perfect backing.

Here's a comparison shot:



The gem on the left has been made with tinfoil and the one on the right has a hotglue and foil backing. Big difference eh?

*******

I just discovered this great new resin for casting gemstones. It's called Easy Cast Clear Casting Epoxy. You can find it at TAP plastics, and Michael's craft stores also sell it now in the resins section. The nice thing about it is that, unlike clear polyester resin, this stuff doesn't smell bad or leave a sticky backing to your gems. (It does take a bit longer to solidify, so you might have to wait an extra day before removing your gems from your mold.) Unlike other kinds of epoxy resin, EasyCast doesn't leave huge air bubbles embedded in your gemstones (which is the reason you CAN'T use ordinary types of epoxy resin like Pour On.) EasyCast does leave a FEW bubbles in your gemstones, but they're really too small to notice.

The really good part about this resin is that you can use a silicone mold to cast it. (You can't use silicone to cast polyester resin, since the surface of your gemstones will remain perpetually sticky. But such is NOT the case for EasyCast. You can pour it into a silicone mold and it will set perfectly. The tri-stone gem in the middle was cast using a silicone mold. The faceted diamond gemstone on the left was also cast using a mold that I made out of strips of vinyl plastic hotglued together. (I think I'll stick to silicone as a moldmaking agent, as the strips of plastic were hard to pull away from the resin's surface.)



*******

I've made a new discovery. Cool Jewel ice cube molds are great for resin casting:





I was worried that, since it as made of what looked like foodsafe silicone, it might not work, creating gems that were sticky or dull. I've only used clearcast epoxy resin with it so far and don't know how well it would work with polyester resin. (Which I'm NOT testing since Polyester resin smells like a bear's bare ass on a bad day.) So if you want to make faceted gemstones, this ice cube mold is definitely the way to go (although you should NOT use it for ice cubes once you've poured resin into it. )

Questions? Comments? Leave 'em below or e-mail me at dietzt@REMOVEMEcloudnet.com
(Address is spambot-protected. Remember to remove the "REMOVEME" before you send it.)

Thank you.