Introduction: Faux LifeSaver Candy Necklace

Candy is fun, but bad for your teeth and blood sugar.  It's also that case than any do-it-your-selfer likes to make things with stuff that is already in the house/garage etc....  Mmmm..... so I was cleaning my craft area and found some of those Makit & Bakit styrene plastic crystals - the kind that you put into metal frames and melt in the oven to make suncatchers.  I also had some two part silicone mold putty and some LifeSavers candy.  I played around and found a way to make nice 'no-calorie' (= inedible) LifeSaver candy for beads and focal components.

You will need:

* Makit & Bakit high flow styrene plastic crystals  see or type Makit &   Bakit in search engine of your choice and you will find lots of sources.
* 2 part silicone mold making compound (needs to be silicone so it can be baked in the oven at 375 F) or many other brands available at craft and jewelry supplies
* LifeSavers candy or any other candy you want to copy - it needs to be something with a flat side so you can make an open-faced mold.
* various gauge wire for wire wrap assembly (whatever you have on hand)
* aluminum foil
* baking sheet
* small spoon or plastic straw with the end cut at an angle
* oven - gas or electric - must be radiant heat - NOT a microwave, with an exhaust fan and/or open window nearby (ventillation)
* heat-proof bowl
* heat gun
* wire cutters
* small pliers, round nose, chain nose etc.

Step 1: Make Your Molds

1. Select several LifeSavers with well formed letters and no cracks or wrinkles on the surface.  Note that I found 2 sized, regular and some larger 'mint' LifeSavers, individually packaged in a plastic bag, not the standard roll.

2. Take two equal parts of silicone mold compound (usually they are different colors).  Mix until well blended, until only one solid color.  Work fast and know how much work time you have, usually 1-3 minutes, but check on your package.

3. Roll into a ball and pat it flat and smooth.  Press over the lettered side of the candy.  Smooth edges neatly and make them of even thickness.  Press putty into the center hole of the LifeSaver.  From the back side, make a small cone indentation with a pencil or pen tip.  Be careful not to push all the way through - you are just trying to reduce the density of the center part of the mold - I think it helps the mold warm up faster.  Flip over and gently press the mold onto a flat surface to form a level bottom. 

4. Let sit until putty is set (15-20 depending on brand).  Test back of mold by gently pushing a fingernail into the putty - if you can see a fresh indentaion, the putty is not set, so wait 5 minutes and try again.  When putty is firm, carfeully rmove the candy and inspect the mold for quality - good letter formation and smooth surface.  If you have pockets or wrinkles, make a new mold and discard the defective one (unless you WANT to make deformed LifeSaver shapes).

I'd suggest making at least 3 or 4 molds, or it will take a LONG time to make enough beads.

Step 2: Cast Your Plastic LifeSavers

Be careful of HOT surfaces, wear baking mitts or use a hot pad holder to protect your hands and fingers from heat.  DO NOT touch melted plastic while it is still molten, WAIT for it to COOL.

1. Preheat oven to 375 F & turn on exhaust fan or open window = ventillation

2. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil

3. Preheat molds for about 10 minutes.  (Be careful, for some reason the first cast of a mold has a poor surface - maybe the silicone needs to cure fully?  I found preheating the mold helps give a better surface.  I also preheat old molds because the crystals melt faster that way - silicone rubber retains heat, but also heats up more slowly than metal cake pans etc.)

4. Use a small spoon or cut straw to carefully scoop enough plastic crystals to cover the bottom of the mold.  Do not completely fill the mold at the start - this seems to capture more air bubbles in the plastic.  Try not to spill crystals onto the foil, remove any that do fall there.

5. Return baking sheet to hot oven and bake 5 minutes or until crystal soften and start to flow into the letters in the mold. 

6. Carefully add more crytals, now you can fill to the top of the mold.  Return to oven and bake 5-8 minutes more, or until crystals soften.  You can use a metal sppon to help press the melted plastic into the mold.  The crystals compress as they melt, so you will need to add more crystals to fill the mold.  Heap the crystal above the top of the mold.  Bake 5-8 more minutes and check mold.  The plastic should now be flat and smooth.  If not, press pellets flat and bake a little more.

7. When you are satisified, remove silicone molds from the oven using a spatula or metal spoon.  Place molds in a shallow dish of water to help cool the mold and melted plastic.  You can scoop water over the top of the mold to help it cool even faster. 
Carefully remove cast plastic, be gentle with the mold so you don't tear the rubber.

8. Repeat until you have enough plastic LifeSavers.

Step 3: Heat Polish the Plastic LifeSavers

When the plastic LifeSavers are removed from the mold, the surface will be dull/matte.  Use a heat source to 'polish' the surface.  I use a heat gun from the hardware store.

1. Place LifeSavers on a heat proof surface (metal tray, fire brick etc.)

2. Use heat gun to blow a gentle stream of hot air, constantly moving to heat the entire candy at once.  Soon the surface will start to melt and get glossy.  Immediately stop and remove heat.  Let the LifeSaver cool a few minutes before you try to move it - as it is flexible when partially melted.  DO NOT burn your self.

Step 4: Wire Wrap Your LifeSavers

Now for the best part - be really creative when using your plastic LifeSavers in jewelry.
For inspiration, here is what I did:

*  9 inches of lead free solder (solid, NO CORE, used for stained glass or plumbing - the thick stuff) OR really heavy gauge wire
* 18 inches of 24 gauge tinned copper wire (anything silver-colored is fine)
* 3 plastic LifeSavers of different colors, and sizes (if you used regular LifeSaver AND the larger 'Mint LifeSavers packaged in plastic bags)  Remember that people like 'odd' number of items in art , so I suggest you use 1, 3 or 5 life savers.

Note:  I just read the solder ring 'ible and the discussion on safety of solder against the skin.  My solder says it is only copper and tin, so I think it should be safe to wear.  To be really safe, coat the solder with clear nail polish or acrylic spray when you are done with everything else.  Or wear the pendant on top of your clothing, not  directly on your skin.

1.  Starting at the top, leave at least one inch of solder to form the bail.
Bend the solder into a curve around the first plastic LifeSaver.
Bend a reverse curve around the second plastic LifeSaver.
Bend a third curve around the last LifeSaver.

2.  Bend the bail at the top.  Trim excess solder with wire cutter and file end smooth.

3.  Use 24 gauge wire to secure the plastic LifeSavers.
Try to wrap your loops between the words Life and Saver so people can read the words.
Wrap 24 ga. wire at least 2 or 3 times to secure it to the curved solder wire. 
Wrap at least once through the center of the LifeSaver.  Be sure to tug wire snug (though not TOO hard, I pulled really hard and broke the wie- yikes)
Wrap or secure wire to the solder.
Attach each LifeSaver in two (or more) spots.

4. Repeat for remaining LifeSavers.

5. Trim and secure end of wire, hiding the end in between the wire coils.

6.  If necessary, tighten wire loops by adding kinks on the backside of the pendants.

7. Attach to cord or chain as desired.

8. Enjoy and please share your photos  

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