August has been a month of patient experimenting with a new creative medium - resin!
I wanted to have a go at creating my own 'crystals', specifically to work into phys-reps (for those unfamiliar with the term: physical representations of game items - a simple example being actually wearing chainmail rather than claiming you are and expecting everyone to remember) for PD's Empire larp. I regularly attend events, and a big part of my character is being an artisan (...play what you know, right?). Now, when I first started the character she was a straightforward armourer - so I could easily represent in game items with actual bits of leather work, or at least a bundle of leather bits which I had readily to hand.
As time has gone on my character has branched out into creating staffs for ritual mages. Now, as much as it's possible to just grab the nearest stick and call it a temporary phys-rep, I've been thinking for a while that I'd love to create a nice set wooden staves, complete with appropriate carvings and embellishments according to the game's item descriptions. After all, the idea that kit is aspirational is a big thing with Empire, and phys-repping the items you make as an artisan is just as important (to me anyway) as working on your character's costume.
In Empire, the items an artisan creates generally make use of a set of game specific materials. A staff might specifically be described as usually having an orb of swirling 'tempest jade' on the end, or have a coating of resinous 'ambergelt', or wrappings of 'weltsilver' wire. The point is, whereas I can probably represent the special metals of the world with various wires, metallic paints and pastes, the more crystalline materials - like tempest jade and ambergelt were a different matter.
So! How do you go about making yourself some custom shaped and appropriately coloured 'crystal' embellishments? Step 1: read up on casting resins, realise that polyester resin sounds troublesome and that you should probably start with an epoxy resin, then go throw money at Amazon.
Step 2: raid your old gem collection for a couple of nice crystals from which to make a bunch of latex moulds.
Step 3: Experiment! Vary the amount of pigment used, try stabbing just a hint of it into a clear cast, make some coloured inserts out of fimo and construct an overly complicated jig setup to hold everything in place because you added the inserts when the resin's viscosity was still rather low!
...Step 4: practice patience, because the resin you are using takes about 48 hours to reach a good solid state so you can remove the moulds and see what you've made.
Plenty of lessons learnt thus far. I think my next step is likely to be another round of mould making, as my original set are getting a bit scruffy and I have new ideas on how to make them so they work a little better. Then I need to get some sticks and see what I can make of the crystals I've already created whilst the next batch hardens.