While looking on the internet for some interesting Mass Effect cross stitch on SpriteStitch I saw a post about a Mass Effect Award Pendant by Soupcan13 from DeviantART. I wanted to see if I could make something similar with what I had access to. So using the techniques I learnt from reading this instructable by Dipiazza
I created my own version out of pewter. Using 2D Design and a Laser Cutter.
I had already got the Romance Achievement image prepared from using it to make a cross stitch pattern.
But in these instructions I will start from the begining.
I ignored all the small spikey bits as when preparing the image as they would be too dangerous made out of Pewter.
Step 1: Design
I started by finding a picture of the Romance Achievement and copying it into 2D Design, where I traced over the top of it.
-When doing this if the picture you are using is symetrical you can just trace half of the picture then - copy, flip and place on the opposite side (make sure that the ends of all the lines meet up otherwise later in the process there could be some problems when you try to fill the areas).
Once you have the outline of the shape it is time to decide the size of your work then resize your drawing placing a box at least 5mm round it (I ignored all the small spikey bits as they would be too sharp made out of Pewter.). - mine ended up being just under 60mm by 60mm. I think it ended up a little larger than I would really want, but I am still not that good at Pewter Casting yet so it was this large to minimize the faults that I might encounter.
I made a printout of the basic design to work out how many layers I wanted and where the engraving was needed, just to get it straight in my own mind (this can be done however you wish i'm jus a more paper based person).When doing this remember that if you are engraving those bits will be raised on the final keyring so you will be working with an inverted image.
Once I had decided which bits were which and how many layers it would consist of I finished creating the mould designs. Filling in the areas that would be rastered and changing the colour of the lines that would be cut to those colours designated to the Laser Cutter (Black = Engraving, Red = Cutting, and Blue = Ignored).
Step 2: Cutting and Asembling the Mould
I used a Universal Laser Cutter X-660 to cut out the mould. The settings that I used were for the Mounting board.
Cutting - Power 60, Speed 10, PPI 300 (though this might need increasing to get a cleaner cutting line).
Engraving - Rastering Power 30, Speed 60, and PPI 500.
For the 3mm MDF Cutting - Power 100, Speed 4, PPI 200. (The guides that come with the material says to keep the PPI to a minimum when using MDF).
You could replace the Mounting Board levels with another material such as Greyboard but the finish on the Greyboard is a little less smooth and that transfers to the casting (I haven't done enough testing on this though).
Once all the pieces are cut out, assemble the mould using whichever technique you wish either by using a glue stick, Spray Mount, Double Sided Sticky Tape or with nothing (this does work, though there is a higher chance of the Pewter seeping between the layers if incorrect and there is a higher chance that they may not line up nicely).
Make sure all pieces are the right way around, and prepare for the casting!
Step 3: Casting
I have only recently started Pewter Casting so I don't know how to fix all of the problems that might arise - though I am getting better!
Place your mould into a clamp over your heat proof area.
Heat your Pewter until liquid and carefully pour into your mould.
Wait until it has hardened before removing it from the clamp. You can open the mould now, though the Pewter will be Very hot and there is a high chance that you will forget this and burn yourself more than you should (every single time).
Once the Pewter has cooled more, start to remove it from the mould checking to make sure that it has cast correctly. Unfortunately if it has not been successful, there is a high chance that you will be unable to use the Mounting Board portion of the mould again and will have to remake it.
Once fully cooled cut the excess off using a saw. I only have access to a Junior Hacksaw though there are better types out there. Then finish the edges off with a file and some wet and dry paper. This is where a higher PPI could reduce the amount of work you have to do to your Keyring.
Make a hole for your split ring using whichever type of drill you favour and your done!