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how do i embed an object in a large transparent block (think jeff koons or damien hirst)? Answered

hi there,
if i want to embed an object (say a pair of sneakers or a football) in a square transparent block using a material that i could pour into a mold as a liquid and which would cure relatively slowly as to let a bottom layer begin to dry as one puts the object in so that it won't sink to the bottom, what would be the best option for doing this AND the most cost effective if i wanted to do larger projects?

originally, i assumed that fiberglass resin was the only option, but it's VERY expensive ($60+ per cubic foot... or so) and i'm hoping that there may be a more cost effective, easy to use material.

thanks in advance,


Large masses of fibreglass resin can get very hot while curing. It can damage the mold, develop cracks, or burn something.

true indeed. One needs to add the activator EXACTLY as the resin mfg states. I learned that when I was young, when I become impatient at the curing time and added more activator than recommended.

There's an instructable about "how to encapsulate insects in resin"; you might want to check that out.

Note that getting the object cast in its block, without air bubbles, is only the first step. After that you should expect to spend a significant amount of time polishing the plastic's surface. I don't know whether "fire polishing" can be made to work on any of these materials; when I did it, we just used progressively finer abrasives and lots of elbow grease.

There are clear casting materials that will work much better than fg resin. Google "clear casting medium". One of them is Lucite. They may not be much cheaper than what you've already priced.

The main problem after the price is going to be getting a good pour without getting bubbles in it.

Several members of the site have experience with these materials and will chime in soon.

Seconded. To get the bubbles out I've seen the pros use 2 techniques with atmospheric pressure -- put the container of mixed resin in a vacuum chamber for a short time. This expands the bubbles and they are much more buoyant and float the surface. Once the air is purged from the mixture, pour slowly over the object in a thin stream to fill the mold.

Take the full (still fluid) mold and expose it to high atmospheric pressure while the lucite cures in another pressure vessel. This will contract any remaining air bubbles to 'near invisible'. Once the resin hardens it will hold the shape and keep the internal pressure. This also infuses the fabric of objects with the resin so you don't get that air-bubble layer under them. Be advised this technique may distort hollow objects.

As redesign said lucite is one such material.

As I learned when I was just a boy, back in the early 1970s, To ensure that an object doesn't float to the bottom, one pours an initial layer, allows it to partial cure, then adds the object in question and continues with the pour. It's much like doing a parfait (sp?) with Jello