This is a follow up to my Faux LifeSaver candy necklace. My daughter wanted me to make her some 'Personalized' LifeSaver 'candies' with her school name. I made a mold of the backside of a LifeSaver (plain), made a few polymer clay casts and used alphabet pasta letters to spell the name of her school. Made some new molds of the custom LifeSavers and we now have a bunch of school LifeSavers for her class mates.
I made some school rings, using two methods: A wirewrap ring band and an embedded metal ring band.
You will need:
* Makit & Bakit high flow styrene plastic crystals see http://craftsuppliesforless.com/kidscraftsupplies_makitbakit.html 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) http://amazingmoldputty.com/ 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 ring band OR thin pieces of stiff metal, old watch hands, thin metal tube or simlilar for embedded ring band.
* 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.
* alphabet pasta for making raised letters (I found English letter pasta and even Hebrew letter pasta!)
* white glue, paint or some kind of sealant for the pasta letters
Step 1: Make Custom LifeSaver Candy
You need to make a master customized LifeSaver candy so you can make several molds for casting lots of customized LifeSavers.
1. Select a LifeSavers candy with a smooth back.
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 to make your mold - check product packaging).
3. Roll into a ball and pat it flat and smooth. Press over the PLAIN side of the candy. Smooth edges neatly and make the side walls even. Press putty into the center hole of the LifeSaver. From the back side, make a small cone indentation with a pencil or pen tip. Flip over and gently press the mold onto a flat surface to form a level bottom.
4. Wait until silicone 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 - smooth surface.
5. Take polymer clay and prepare for use (I knead it by hand, check internet for other methods for conditioning polymer clay). Press softened clay into the mold and press flat. Carefully remove the plain candy base.
6. Decide your on you word and select the necessary letters from your bag or box of alphabet pasta shapes.
7. Carefully place your letters in a circle on top of your LifeSavers blank. Use a flat surface (butter knife, craft stick etc.) to gently push letters into the polymer clay. Press letters about halfway into the clay. Depending on number of letters and candy size, you may need to place letters closer to the edge of the cirlce to get them to fit. Keep working until you are happy with how your master look. Smooth clay around the base of the letters.
8. Bake polymer clay according to package directions. Don't worry if the pasta letters brown a little, as long as they don't turn black.
9. Cool. Coat the pasta letters with some kind of sealant - white glue, modge podge, varnish, acrylic paint etc. and let dry.
10. Use silicone putty to make a mold of your custom LifeSaver Candy
Step 2: Cast Custom Lifesavers
Make casts using your new custom molds. I used meltable plastic crystals from Makit-Bakit - these molds also work with castable resins, polymer clay and low-melt metal alloys.
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.
Short version of casting with plastic crystals - see Faux LifeSaver Candy Necklace instructable for more details
1. Preheat oven to 375 F & turn on exhaust fan or open window = ventillation
2. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat the molds for 5 or 10 minutes.
3. Fill molds using a small spoon or cut straw to carefully scoop plastic crystals into the mold.
4. Bake until plastic is all melted and smooth on top. If needed, flatten plastic with a metal or wood spoon.
5. Cool cast LifeSavers in water or demold and wait.....
6. 'Heat Polish' the lettered side of your LifeSaver using a heat gun. Heat until the plastic surns glossy. Let cool.
Step 3: Make LifeSaver Ring
I tried two ways to make rings - both work with makit-bakit crystal casts.
Method 1: Wire wrap
1. Take 10-11 inches of wire (20-24 gauge). Bend in half, but don't crimp the fold - keep the bend slightly rounded.
2. Insert bend through the middle of the LifeSaver (down from the top side), and to the side. Insert the two tail ends of the wire across the top of the candy and through the bent end of the wire. Pull snug, until the loop is tight around the candy.
3. Curve the tail ends of the wire to form the ring shank. Measure against your finger, a dowel or ring mandrel. Bend wire over the rop of the candy and down through the middle. Spread the two wires apart and put one on each side of the ring shank.
4. Use pliers to tightly grasp one wire end and tightly wrap it two times around the ring shank, pulling snug. Push loops up against the bottom of the candy. Trim end with wire cutter and file end smooth and round (or at least so it is not sharp)
5. Grasp remaining wire and wrap it tightly around the ring shank, going down. Push the loops tightly against the loops from step 4. Wrap at least two loops, trim and file smooth. (If you want a coiled shank, use a longer wire and you can wrap coils around the entire ring shank.
Method 2: Heat set shank
This is much faster, but a little tricky to get an exact ring size.
Be SAFE, this is hot and you can burn yourself.
I only used this method with 'meltable' plastic, not sure if it would work with cast resins. Polymer clay should work if you embed the ring shank BEFORE you bake the polymer clay.
1. Find a thin, stiff piece of wire (clock hands), metal tube or heavy guage wire.
2. Bend into a u-shape to fit desired ring size or finger. Add 1/8-1/4 inch of extra material for each leg of the u-shape.
3. Plcae polished plastic LifeSaver face downon a heat resistant surface.
4. Grasp the center of the u-shape with long nose pliers. Heat the ends of the u-shape in a gas flame or with a torch - get them pretty hot, glowing a dull orange or red. Quickly press the hot end into the back of the plastic LifeSaver. Be careful no to push the end all the way through the candy. I had a little trouble getting a specific ring size - sometimes I pushed the metal ring shank in too far and got a smaller ring than intended. Maybe try using a wood dowel to hold the shank in place, (You'd have to use something heat resistant and light that you can move fast before the metal cools too much).
5. Lightly sand ring shank to remove any heat patina. Polish if desired, or leave it as is.
Rember that copper, brass and bronze wire and metal may turn your fingers green. If this happens, try sealing the CLEAN ring with wax, varnish or nail polish.