Making a Master
First step is to have a master with which to make the mold. I carved my masters for the belt buckles from wood. I also decided I needed belt stiffeners for belts I made with softer leather. I carved several from wood.
I also actually took a mold from a LOTR keychain medallion. This produced a copy of the medallion I could also use as a leather embosser die. I used a 2-part silicone mold compound that you mix for the molds.
Making the Mold
Making a container to hold the mold that is just larger than the mold needs to be (or find the perfect little box or container).
I used a two part Silicon rubber mode for these examples.
Mix your compound and pour it in the container and drop your master in the material. The wood masters will float on the silicone - however if your master is a metal one - you need to figure a way to suspend it or it will sink.
It is possible with these materials to make 2-part molds. All my belt buckle molds are one part molds.
The metal alloy is a tin-bismuth lead alloy that has a low enough melting temperature that you can use a propane torch to melt it. There are several casting metals available. The one that is just tin-bismuth is rather brittle. The alloys with lead in them are much less brittle but require higher temperatures- but, still in the propane torch range. These alloys are soft enough that you can carve in it and sand it smooth.
The higher temperatures affect the molds. Mold life is longer with lower temperature casting.
Remember LEAD IS A TOXIC MATERIAL- always use caution when handling this stuff!!! Melt it in an exhaust hood or outside!
If you use plastics like epoxy, it is a 2-part mixture and is able to take a pigment so you can color it. The plastic is just like model plastic - able to be carved and sanded and painted.
Molds should last a long time using plastic resin. All this is available from www.micromark.com .
To eliminate bubble problems in the bottom of your molds - sprinkle a very fine layer of talcum powder into the bottom of the mold. Poor gently.
Attaching the Castings & Finishing
Once the pieces are removed from the mold they will need sanding and finishing.
From these molds I can cast the 2-piece hinged buckle. I have cast some in plastic - which is surprisingly tough - and from a metal alloy . I use a four-penny nail in the hinge and to hold the bail . They actually work and hold up quite well as I have had no failures
Some of these pieces I actually attached with thread - just like sewing them on. If you are not too rough on your belt this would be fine.
Later I began to use small brass nails to attach them. Drill some holes in the buckle and pass the nail through and bend it over in the back.
The ideal attachment would be a rivet back. I am still working on this. The rivets would have to be suspended while the metal is poured. Harder than it sounds and nearly impossible on the smaller buckles.
See more of Ason's work in the Scrapbook...
See more about Casting...
This page was last updated 04/22/08