I began the upcycling project by brainstorming different ideas, and they were:
- Cardboard structure
- DVD/CD Sculpture
- Acrylic casting using silicone mold
I picked the last option which was to create a silicone mold and melt down acrylic to cast. As I did more research on how to melt down acrylic and create silicone molds, I found that the cons outweighed the pros. Acrylic produces toxic fumes when heated and burns instead of melting. However, making silicone products turned out to be easier than I thought.
Silicone can be produced using a mixture found in stores or it can also be cheaply produced using silicone caulk. My brother had leftover silicone caulk from remodeling the house, so I was in luck.
- Silicone Caulk
- Caulk Gun
- Paper Plates
- Mixing Stick
- Food Coloring
- Corn Starch
For safety, uncured silicone gives off pungent fumes so a safety mask was used.
What I wanted to create was both molds and sculptures. I picked out a poker chip and a flame game piece to make a mold out of. I also used my phone to create a phone case.
Creating Silicone Putty
Step 1: Mix Silicone and Food Coloring
Step 2: Stir
The silicone used is 100% Silicone and starts to cure when exposed to water. The catalyst in this project is the food coloring. Once they both start to mix, the silicone will completely set in 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 3: Mix with Cornstarch
Uncured silicone is gooey and sticky. This makes uncured silicone hard to work with. To be able to work with the silicone, cornstarch can be added to the mixture until it turns into a putty like substance. This allows the silicone to be held and formed with hands.
Step 4: Form the Putty
After the putty has been created, the mold or sculpture has to be formed in 10-15 minutes.
Step 5: Silicone Mold
The mold is set with the flame game piece on top and a poker chip at the bottom. The flame piece ended up being difficult to remove from the silicone and resulted in an unusable mold. I should have chose an object that would come out of the mold easily or made the mold thinner so that it could be cut out efficiently.
Step 6: Silicone Product
The last thing I made was a silicone phone case. I didn’t want the phone case to be damaged, so I wrapped it in saran wrap before enclosing it in silicone. This phone case turned out really well. The only downside to this was that the silicone was not as stretchy as I hoped it would be. I hypothesize that the silicone looses its elasticity as more cornstarch is used. Next time, I can try using less corn starch to increase elasticity.
Special thanks to:
- Photography: Kabita Ghale
- Silicone Idea and Information: Grant Thompson