In 2023, we added silicone molds to our Etsy store, Resin and Paper.
We wanted to make supplies for other artists—yet we also wanted our silicone molds to feel like works of art unto themselves.
When we design silicone molds in colorful palettes, we create art for other artists to enjoy.
While we appreciate several mold makers, we draw inspiration from shops like Narwhal Star Studio and Mermaid Island Co. At the height of the 2020-22 pandemic, when we focused exclusively on resin art, we gravitated towards their molds because of the colorful swirls in their silicone.
We wanted to provide a colorful experience for other artists to enjoy, too.
Every mold maker interacts with silicone differently. Although we appreciate and admire the swirling patterns from Narwhal Star Studio and Mermaid Island Co, Resin and Paper takes a slightly different approach by working in bars and stripes. At the end of the mold-making process, we might include a bit of a swirl, but it’s the order and layering of colors that guides our practice.
How to Make Colorful Silicone Molds
Before pouring molds, we prep the clear silicone.
We mix the two-part silicone for 3 minutes, then separate it into cups. Make sure to leave some of the clear silicone behind in the mixing cup. If using a degasser, the clear silicone can go in for de-bubbling while we mix colors; otherwise, set the mixing cup aside for bubbles to rise to the surface. Some clear silicones work all right when set aside, while others benefit from degassing.
For rainbow pours, we’ll need six additional cups, plus the cup we mixed the clear silicone in. That said, most of our pours are three to four colors, so they require less cups. We recommend practicing with two to three colors until you get comfortable with your workflow.
Add mica powder to the additional cups and stir until no clumps are visible.
From there, either (a) go to the degasser to swap the colored silicone for the clear silicone, or (b) set the colored silicone aside for de-bubbling while working with your clear silicone. In both cases, make sure your clear silicone is bubble-free before moving on.
Once you have your prepped clear silicone, it’s time to pour:
- Pour a thin layer of clear silicone into an acrylic blank.
- Chase bubbles out of etchings with toothpicks. Bubbles naturally want to move, but some of them will choose to cling to the etching, rather than rise to the top. Use the toothpick to carefully guide the bubble towards the surface. You don’t need to pop it; you just need to help it ascend. Applying pressure to the toothpick could scratch the blank, so gentleness is essential during this step.
- Once the etchings are bubble-free, retrieve the colored silicone.
- Pour your colors into the clear silicone. The more mica added, the heavier the silicone; also, the faster you pour, the deeper it will plunge into the clear silicone. Experiment with different weights and pouring speeds to achieve the desired color bloom in the clear silicone base. Ideally, the colored silicone was mixed from the same batch as the clear silicone, ensuring they are curing at the same rate.
If the pour does not fill the mold, mix more silicone ASAP to add to the blank. In this situation, we typically add white or black mica powder to the mixing process, depending on what vibes best with our color palette. Add the additional silicone in a thin stream; the first layer is curing and could be compromised from the second pour. Note that, while the colors may interact, the second layer will rarely be visible from the front of the mold.
After the first layer cures, you can risk adding more layers, but they may separate. Because we don’t want our molds splitting on buyers, we keep molds that are made in fully cured layers for our personal use. Separation is rare, so it’s still worth finishing the mold.
For larger batches, you may choose to stagger your clear and colored silicone. If you choose to do this, mix the clear first. While the clear is degassing or set aside for bubbles to rise, mix a second batch for your colors. The closer the batches are mixed, the better; leave too much time between mixing batches, and it will negatively impact the curing process. Staggering is best when two or more artists are collaborating on the same pour, since that frees one person to work on the colored silicones while the other tends to the clear base.