Please note that I do NOT sell these (for multiple reasons-see the comments below.) All requests to make rings will go unanswered so please don't ask! You can get nice Green Lantern rings from my friend Batjeepster here- http://www.facebook.com/batjeepster.rings
Now go make your ring and repeat after me:
"In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight! Let those who worship evil's might, beware my power.. Green Lantern's light!"
Step 1: Materials
All rings will require a wax pattern so for that you will need:
Jeweler's modeling wax (both ring carving shape and round sprue wax) - available from jeweler's supply stores or http://www.ottofrei.com
Dremel tool or flex shaft tool
Fine sandpaper/steel wool
For the resin ring:
X-Acto knife or scalpel with curved blade
Silicone RTV molding compound
Urethane casting resin- I use Alumilite casting resins and RTV silicone but Smooth-On is also a good company
For the glowing ring:
Clear casting resin- I've used both epoxy resin and polyester resin made by Cast'n Craft- it's sold at craft stores like Michael's and Hobby Lobby
Silicone RTV molding compound
Transparent green dye- Cast'n Craft produces this for its clear resins
3v watch battery- I used a CR1025 lithium cell
Green LED- I used a 5000mcd super bright 3mm LED (part #NTE30031)
Clear 5 minute epoxy
For the cast silver ring:
Burn out furnace
Ceramic casting investment
These are just the basics- I'll get more into materials in greater detail in the individual sections.
A note about safety- Many of these procedures require the use of proper safety equipment as well as adequate ventilation. Please follow the manufacturer's recommendations reagrding safety and health warnings on all resins, paints and casting supplies.
Step 2: Wax pattern
The wax is carved using a dremel type tool to first rough out the shape and then this is refined using scraping/carving tools and small files. For scraping and smoothing small flat areas (such as the top of the ring) an old small screwdriver works really well. Wax carving is something that requires a fair bit of patience- remember that the better your wax model is the better your finished casting will be.
Here are the basic steps on how to carve a Hal Jordan wax ring (this is the easiest wax of the three to carve.)
1) To carve the wax ring first slice off a section of ring wax that is slightly wider than what the finished ring will be
2) Now open up the hole in the wax until it approximates your finger size- it's better to have it too tight than too loose at this point as you can always remove a little material later on. Then use a Sharpie pen or scribe to draw the profile of the ring on the wax and cut that out of the wax.
3) Now rotate the wax so you're looking at the end of the ring. Now draw the shape of the ring on the wax and remove the excess material. At this point you're only trying to establish the general shape of the ring and thickness of the ring shank.
4) Now switch to the top of the ring. Draw the circular shape on the top of the ring and remove the extra material. Now is when you have to start blending all the contours of the ring using a scraping tool- just work at it slowly until you get the final shape you want.
5) Now cut the symbol into the top of the ring using a Dremel tool and then refine it using a small flat scraping tool.
Once you're happy with the look of the ring you can smooth the finish with some fine sandpaper and steel wool. Wax carving is something that is hard to learn- there have been whole books written about it. You just have to jump in and start carving and go from there.
If you're going to make a glowing ring you have to remember to make the ring tall enough to house the LED and watch battery- this will more than likely require you to carve the wax from a larger block of solid wax (unless you have really small hands.) I've listed a supplier and part numbers for both types of wax below.
The insignia area of the ring should be somewhere around 10mm to 12mm tall, depending on the exact battery and LED you are using and how deep your pattern is cut into the top of the ring. If you need it to be lower you can carefully sand down the top of the LED to reduce the height but unless you find an extremely low profile LED and battery I think it'll be very difficult to get the total height down under 7.5mm to 8mm at the very lowest.
The best way to figure it out is bend the leads on your LED and then hold your battery underneath it. Measure the height of the LED and battery together and then add a little extra for the engraved pattern on the top of the ring. This is of course assuming you're making a Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner style ring- the Alan Scott ring as I made it would have to be slightly different as I didn't make the band thick enough or wide enough to hold the 3v battery.
I ended up making three wax patterns for the Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner and Alan Scott rings.
Here's a detailed list of tools/materials:
Ferris green ring wax (T200 flat side with hole) part# 121.369
Block of green wax for carving light up ring (this is needed due to the added height for the LED and battery)- part# 121.0706
Saw frame- part# 149.740
Wax sprue wire (6ga.)- part# 121.560
Large carving burr- part# 120.205
Wax file- part# 131.384
Wax saw blades- part# 149.300D
Wax carvers- these are a better combination (one flat and one detail carver) than the blue handled carvers I show in the photos and they're half the cost- part# 121.851 & 121.852
Not all of the tools are absolutely necessary- you can substitute a couple of small flat bladed screwdriver for the wax carvers and you can use regular Dremel burrs for carving as well. Wax files are nice to work with but wood files and coarse metal files will also work.
Otto Frei is a great company to deal with and you don't have to be a professional jeweler to buy from them. I've been dealing with them for nine years and the service is always first rate.
Step 3: Molding
There are many different ways in which the sprue can be attached. It's often a trade off between what will make the finished casting easier to clean and what will make the mold easier to cut. There is also the issue of which method uses the largest mold as RTV silicone isn't cheap. In the photo below I've shown varius methods of attaching the sprues. To attach the sprue simply heat the end of it and press it onto the wax model.
#1 shows a variation of the way my Hal Jordan ring wax is sprued. It will make the mold much easier to cut open but will require a little bit more clean up work to the finished casting.
#2 shows the sprue going directly to the top of the same ring wax. The mold will be very easy to cut open but the finished casting will require a bit of cutting/shaping to the pattern in the top of the finished cast ring. The mold will be slightly larger and will therefore require more silicone.
#3 and #4 show the Kyle Rayner and Alan Scott rings. These ring waxes should be sprued in this method to because the finished casting would otherwise be very difficult to clean up and/or the quality of the finished casting will suffer due to bad fill.
The important thing to remember is that the fill sprue must be attached to whatever will be the lowest point of the wax model in order to help remove air from the mold during casting.
Once the wax model is sprued I make a mold frame for it by bending some thin aluminum into a squared off "U" shape. Then I superglue the wax model to the bottom of the "U"- this prevents the wax model from the likelyhood of it falling over in the mold during the process of pouring the RTV silicone.
Next I cover the sides of the "U" with some aluminum sheet and wrap a couple of rubberbands around the mold frame. At this point it's important to make sure that the sides of the mold frame are completely sealed- if they aren't use a glue gun to seal any gaps.
This is only one way of making a mold frame/box. You can also use plastic sheet or foam core board or even Legos to make a box for your wax model to sit in. All that matters is that it is taller than the wax model and that it is sealed so the silicone doesn't seep out during molding.
Now I mix the silicone. This is usually where things will go wrong for first timers- you need to mix the RTV exactly according to the manufacturer's instructions and make sure that the rubber and catalyst are thoroughly stirred. I've always used Alumilite HS II RTV silicone to mold wax models and it's worked very well for me- it's very flexible, holds up really well and doesn't require the use of a vacuum chamber. Unless you have access to a vacuum chamber make sure you use a silicone that doesn't require you to vacuum it during the molding process.- otherwise you'll have a thousand tiny air bubbles in your mold.
After mixing the silicone, pour it into the mold by holding it so that a thin strip of silicone can pour down into the mold- this wil help to reduce air bubbles in your mold. I always pour slowly into one corner of the mold and then keep slowly pouring until the entire wax model is covered. After pouring let the mold sit for 24 hours (or as long as the brand of silicone that you are using says to wait) before cutting open the mold.
More info about RTV silicone/where to buy it:
I've used Alumilite products for a long time and have always been very happy with the results. You can buy it directly online from them at- http://www.alumilite.com
For RTV silicone the best choices are the Dow Corning HSII and HSIII. The main difference is the HSIII is a little more flexible, which works well for detailed molds with severe undercuts. The HSII is a little more durable/tear resistant and that's what I used. The 1lb. kit is enough to make three ring molds, unless you have bannana hands, in which case it's good for two molds.
Step 4: Cutting open the mold
To cut the mold open I use a scalpel with a #12 curved blade (there is an X Acto blade that is similar.)
The curved blade makes cutting the mold open easier because you want to make small up and down curves as you cut. These cuts will help the mold halves lock together after the wax model has been removed.
Begin by cutting a shallow line across the bottom of the mold and then cut a shallow line down each side of the mold, stopping before you get to the end. Now slowly cut the mold open by cutting from the inside center of the mold and working your way outward towards the side of the mold. Remember to cut with a slight up and down motion, like you're trying to cut tiny hills and valleys in the mold. Use your fingers to pry apart the mold as you cut.
Keep cutting until you get to the top of the ring. You don't want to cut the mold entirely in half- by leaving it together it will help realign the mold for casting.
If you sprued your wax model the same way I did mine you'll also find that you will have to cut slots as you go so that the ring shank will be able to be released from the mold. The mold rubber is plenty flexible and the ring will pull right out. Spruing the wax so the ring faces sideways will make cutting the mold open much easier.
Step 5: Resin casting
First lightly dust the inside of the mold with baby powder (talcum powder) and blow off any excess. This will reduce surface tension in the mold and you'll get a cleaner casting. No mold release is required with silicone molds.
Now put some flat sheets on the sides of the mold and put a rubber band around the mold to help hold the mold halves together. It doesn't have to be super tight- you don't want to deform the mold.
Next mix your resin according to the manufacturer's instructions. I use Alumilite regular urethane casting resin. This stuff sets up fast- you have a pouring time of about 90 seconds and after 5 minutes it's completely cured.
Pour the resin slowly into the larger hole- the resin will flow down into the bottom of the mold and then rise up from the bottom, forcing air out of the mold through the vent hole. As you pour give the mold a couple of firm taps down on a table to help release any trapped air. The resin will soon begin to cure and after a few minutes you can remove your ring from the mold. Wait until the resin is fully cured before cutting the sprues off so you don't deform the ring. After the sprues are cut off you can lightly sand the resin casting and paint the ring. Make sure to check that the ring fits first! If it's a bit too tight you can ream out the inside of the ring with a Dremel tool.
Painting is covered later but it is also possible to mix opaque green dye in with the resin during casting to eliminate the need for painting, which makes for a less pretty but far more durable finish.
After casting my resin ring I decided to cast a transparent ring using a clear casting resin with some transparent green dye mixed in. The casting procedure is exactly the same but the clear resin I used takes 24 hours to cure. I've used both clear polyester casting resin as well as two part epoxy casting resin and both have worked well. Clear urethane resin is also available but it can be more difficult to work with as some types of clear urethane require a special type of silicone be used for the mold and/or vacuuming the resin to reduce air bubbles.
All resins are slightly different so make sure to follow the manufacturer's directions reagarding the brand of resin you use. The ring I made used less than 1/4 ounce of resin in each casting so you can make a lot of rings from a small supply of resin.
More info about resins/where to buy it:
For opaque resin castings I use the Alumilite Regular urethane casting resin- it makes great castings that are really durable. The 28oz. kit will make more rings than you can shake a stick at. Alumilite also makes a green dye in one ounce bottles so you can color your resin and avoid the hassle of painting.
For clear casting resin there are three options; epoxy resin, polyester resin and urethane resin.
A company called Cast'n Craft makes both epoxy resin and polyester resin in small kits as well as transparent green dye. Cast'n Craft is sold at places like Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Epoxy resin is a little trickier to mix than polyester resin but it doesn't smell as bad- it does take a lot longer to cure than polyester resin. Alumilite makes a clear urethane resin but they recommend vacuuming to reduce bubbles during casting- urethane resin would ultimately produce the best quality casting but I have yet to try it without vacuuming so I can't really recommend at this time unless you have access to a vacuum chamber.
Step 6: Light it up!
Now make sure that the LED and battery can fit into the underside of the ring with the LED lighting up. You want the watch battery to essentially press fit into place in the underside of the ring. After testing the fit, remove the watch battery and glue the LED into place with some clear epoxy. Make sure the leads for the watch battery are exposed. After the epoxy dries just insert the watch battery into place and you now have a glowing ring! The battery is easily removed with a small flat bladed screwdriver to preserve battery life when the ring isn't being worn.
Step 7: Casting the silver ring
It's pretty uncommon for people to have this type of specialized casting equipment so I'm keeping this part pretty short- it's really just here to give people some idea of the processes involved. My recommendation is to carve your wax model and take it to a local jeweler or trade school and see if they will cast it for you.
To cast the ring in sterling silver first the wax model of the ring is attached to a sprue base. Unlike resin casting there is only one sprue attached to the bottom of the ring. This then has a steel flask placed around it.
Next a ceramic casting investment is mixed, vacuumed and poured into the flask and then the flask is again placed in a vacuum chamber to remove any air bubbles.
After an hour, the rubber base is removed and the steel flask is placed into a burnout furnace overnight. The wax will melt out of the ceramic, leaving a cavity for the molten metal to flow into.
The next morning the flask is pulled from the oven and is placed into a centrifugal caster. The proper amount of silver is placed into the crucible in the caster and is heated with a torch until molten.
The caster is then spun and the centrifugal force throws the metal into the ceramic mold. The steel flask is then removed from the caster and is set aside to cool.
After a couple of minutes the flask is placed in a large bucket of water and the ceramic dissolves, leaving a cast silver ring.
The rough casting then has the casting sprue cut off and is cleaned up using a Dremel/flexshaft tool and sandpaper.
Step 8: Polishing and painting
If you want a polished finish that's all you need to do.
To paint the ring you have to get rid of the high polish finish- paint won't stick to it! It's important to still polish the ring first to get a nice smooth finish.
First rub the entire ring with a coarse Scotchbrite pad. Now spray the ring with a primer and follow this with a silver base coat. After the silver base coat has dried spray the ring with several coats of translucent green. Then give the ring a final clear coat to protect it.
All the paints I used were made by House of Kolor. The particular colors are:
FBC-02 Orion Silver fine metallic base
K0902 Organic Green Kandy
The paint is available in small quantities here:
It's important to stay with only one type of paint as certain types of paint can melt previous layers.
That's it! There are advantages and disadvantages to each method of ring construction- just choose the right one for you and go for it.