At the end of the Rainbow
There is no magic spell to make dreams come true. But there are steps that anyone can follow to materialise an idea. And with a little bit of planning, determination, persistence and the right connections, dreams can be made reality. Mine was to design products that I can sell in my webshop for creators to buy and grow their businesses.
I got really into silicone mould making in the past couple of months and I learnt a lot. You can read more about the beginnings in my previous blog post. This one is going to be about the journey of an idea that went through some exciting milestones and became a best seller product on my webshop.
I knew what I wanted: to come up with new shapes that would bring a little variety into the eco-resin casting community. But what shapes should they be? I am often looking for inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest and lately couldn’t help but notice a new trend: rainbows. They were everywhere. In home decor, clothing, jewelry, print making! I wanted to create something that could become popular so obviously I needed to go with a trendy shape. So I decided to make a mould for a rainbow shaped tray.
To make moulds I needed a prototype. I tried the hand made approach and experimented with many different materials I could shape without needing complicated tools: rubber was a bad idea, it sticks to silicone and they become inseparable. Clay doesn't stick but it’s too uneven. Silicone picked up all the little bumps and imperfections. I needed something more smooth and uniform. So I contacted my friends who own a CNC machine. Shout out to Hereford CNC! :) I sent them a simple 2D drawing I made in illustrator, and they transferred it into a 3D image then let the machine do its magic. The shapes got posted to me and they looked (and smelled) absolutely amazing. They already looked like finished products! But for my plan this was just one of the first steps.
Now, as I said before silicone picks up every little detail on a surface so I knew I couldn't just pour it over these wooden prototypes. Even after sanding wood still has its natural patterns that I didn’t want to pass on to my finished product. And that is exactly what silicone does. It’s like cloning... kinda. 😊 So I contacted a fellow creator on Instagram, Tawking Point and talked her into helping me out. She didn’t need a lot of persuasion, she was very happy to help! She owns a magical vacuum form making machine that creates plastic moulds, the kind that is perfectly smooth and uniform enough for what I had in mind. A few weeks later I received the vacuum forms and they looked fantastic! Just what I needed for the next step, which was to make prototypes with them using jesmonite. They worked perfectly but unfortunately these vacuum forms were single use. Luckily Rachel sent me a bunch so I could play around with them!
I made a few jesmonite pieces and they turned out so nice that it was almost a sin not to sell them right away. But their mission was to serve as models for the silicon moulds. Just like me, silicone too loves jesmonite. The sticky nuisance I experienced when I poured silicone over ceramic pieces - was gone. No more stressing about how the casting will turn out – they all turned out gorgeous! De-moulding was satisfying and fun again! It was time to share my ambitious plans with the community. Snapped a few pics of the first prototypes and announced a new product: the silicone rubber mould for rainbow tray. The support and interest was so overwhelming that I had to start a waiting list for the moulds.
I realised if I wanted to meet the expectations I had to find a way to make more than one mould a day and I needed to find a way to save time making them every day. I needed a proper frame. So far I made frames out of cardboard sheets because they were flexible enough to form a semi-circle shape with them. But I had to re-do them after every de-moulding. I stumbled across a creator on Etsy, CraftyThreeD, who makes and sells 3D printed cookie cutters and asked if he could do me a favour: customise them to the shapes and sizes I wanted. He was super helpful and a few days later I had my „professional” plastic, reusable frames made out of customised cookie cutters!
Mould making became a daily ritual in my little factory. I stocked up on postal boxes, wrapping paper, recyclable tape, and currently spending the mornings moulding, de-moulding, and the afternoons wrapping, boxing, packing, and posting orders. So many orders! In a few days I found myself running low on silicone so I ordered another 5kg – already planning to order more – if only I had the space to store them.