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dinsdag 22 juli 2014

Lovecraftian coasters

A while ago, I made a silicone mold of the Sigil of the Gateway. I used it to make a medallion, as part of my costume for Fantasy Fair, but I didn't write a blog post about it. I still have the mold, and silicone resin is a bit too expensive to use just once. So I decided to use it to make something that's actually useful: a set of coasters!


  • Cardboard (3mm thick and 1 mm thick)
  • Oil-based modelling clay
  • Silicone resin
  • Acrylic resin
  • Paint

Creating the mold
A long time ago I already made a mold of the Sigil of the Gateway, but this was such piece of junk I decided to make another one. The new one was made a few months ago, but luckily I still have the pictures!
For starters, I created the sigil using cardboard. I cut a disk from 3 mm thick cardboard, and then the sigil shape itself from 1 mm thick cardboard. The two pieces were then glued together, forming a Gateway-medallion.

 The cardboard master shape was then used to create a silicone mold. I made a pedestal for the cardboard using oil-based clay, so the mold would be deep enough, and then a clay wall around it.

I still had the old mold, wich was too crappy to use again. I cut this up and used it as filler for this mold. This is one of the huge advantages of silicone: you can use old molds as filler for new ones. The liquid resin bonds perfectly with cured resin. I placed the chunks of silicone in the mold and poured the liquid resin around it.
A day later, the resin was fully cured and I could remove the cardboard and clay from the mold. Looks a lot better than the first one!

Creating the coasters
I made four coasters, using acrylic resin. I still had some left from my Dwarven hammer project, so I used that. After pouring the resin, I waited an hour and then removed it from the mold. At that point, they were already quite hard but still a bit wet. The next day, they were completely dry.

The next step was painting them. Now, I didn't want to have any brush strokes on them, so I used many thin layers of diluted paint. First, I painted them completely black. This required about five layers of paint!
After painting them black, I applied a thin wash of grey. By using very diluted paint, it tends to collect near edges and ridges, wich makes them stand out nicely.

And finally, I drybrushed them using silver paint. The paint mostly got on the edges, wich made the sigil stand out even more, and gave the entire piece a nice metallic look, a bit like cast iron. To finish it, a layer of matte varnish.

I didn't paint most of the bottom, instead I glued a piece of black felt to it. This makes sure the coasters are stable, without wobbling, and don't scratch the surface they're used on.

The box
For the box, I bought a simple wooden box with a hinged lid. Most art supply stores sell these. I wanted to burn an occult looking sigil in the lid, and make some sort of padding to keep the coasters in place when they're in the box.
First, the lid. I searched online for some designs of magic circles, sigils and other stuff. I combined several things I found, drew them on the lid with a pencil and then started burning away. My wood burning tool has only one tip, wich is fine for simple lines, but not really for larger areas. I should really get some more tips!

Next up, the padding. I made it by cutting a piece of styrofoam into the correct shape, and then glueing felt over it. This was a job that required a bit of concentration, because the insert had to fit in the box very precisely, and the coasters had to fit in them without wobbling and shifting. I cut the styrofoam using a hot wire cutter, and then glued the felt to it. Very important: use a solvent-free glue for this, or it will melt the foam!

I first glued a strip of felt to the inside, and made it overlap the top. Next, the same for the outside.

Finally, I cut a piece of felt for the top, and a piece for the bottom of the box. I carefully inserted the padding in the box, with a few drops of glue, and voila!

I did the same thing for the top, except there it's just a single piece of styrofoam, without any holes cut in it.

Aging the wood
The box already looked nice, but it looked way too new. There's a technique to artificially age wood, wich I found on a website about restoring furniture. What you do is dissolve a steel wool sponge in vinegar. It takes about a week, and the solution will turn dark brown, with bits of iron oxide floating in it. When you paint the wood with this stuff, it oxidizes the wood, making it look older and darker.
You should first try it on a piece of scrap wood, though, because the results are different for each kind of wood. I experimented using the bottom of the box (wich is hidden under felt). Some tutorial also tell you to paint the wood with strong tea. In my case, the wood turned dark gray, wich wasn't what I was looking for. Simply the vinegar solution worked fine. The following pictures show the box before and after aging.

I thinly applied the solution to the wood, and it immediately started working. In about ten minutes, the wood had darkened a lot. I wasn't really satisfied with the result, because the color wasn't exactly even. This can easily be solved by rubbing the wood with a wet sponge, wich evens out the colors. When the color was ok, I applied two layers of satin varnish and voila!

Here are a few pictures of the completed set. I really like how it turned out!

I will definitely do more projects involving woodburning in the future. If you're interested in this set, it is for sale in my Etsy store!

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