Making Dice—Day One: Molds
You’ve reached the point as a Dice Goblin that you’re out of viable choices for your next 7-set of dice. You have collected every set that calls to you, curated sets from random dice bins, matched sets up to every single one of your D&D characters that you could think of.
But now what? There’s nothing left to catch your eye and you’re still making characters that you might never get to play (but they still deserve a matching set because you love them that much). What could you possibly do now to really sate the need for more dice?
You make them. Recently, this author has acted on the urge to make more shiny clack clacks in even more shades of pink and green and blue because she hasn’t felt personally catered to in a short while. In that journey of self-servitude, I will be sharing with you the true next set of dice collecting.
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT an exhaustive guide. I’ve only recently started this journey, so my experience is limited – but don’t be afraid to join online dice-making groups! They’ll have so many tips and tricks to share that I don’t have room for here. Like with any hobby, you should be scouring books and the internet for as much information as possible before starting because materials used in the process can be dangerous if not used correctly.
To start with, you need molds. Whatever material you’re casting can’t just be poured out onto the table and have it take form out of sheer will. It needs a mold!
You can choose the slightly pricier route of buying them premade – you’ll normally find them on Etsy, sold by others who make dice regularly on their own. But, as I said, they tend to be a bit pricier and while they tend to be of good quality, it’s also easy to find that you’ve purchased a dud.
The other option is to make the molds yourself. There’s so many choices for the novice dice maker to sift through, but my personal favorite brand is Smooth-On’s silicone rubber. They make for molds that are strong enough to withstand multiple castings (or pouring of your material), but soft and stretchy enough that popping the dice out won’t be the biggest issue. It’s easy to mix too – just mix, pour, and let sit. Be sure to follow the directions though! Different types of Smooth-On might have different ratios or curing times.
Pick out some old dice of yours that you don’t mind temporarily suffocating in silicone, get them cleaned, and prepare your workspace.
As for the mold itself, I’m still testing out types that work for me. Open faced molds have one dice side open to the air for an easy pour. Squish molds are two-part molds that require a bit more time to do since you have to pour in two parts. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works for you! I personally prefer the open-faced molds as it allows air bubbles to easily escape from my casting medium without having to use a vacuum chamber or pressure pot.
For any type mold, you’re going to need a container to put the dice in so that you can pour the mold mix in. No matter the material of the container, we’ve found that shot sized cups work perfectly for individual die (think Dixie cup sized).
For just an open faced mold, use a bit of clay to cover up exactly one face, like the 1 or 20 face, and give it enough height and strength so that it stands up on its own. Don’t feel like it has to be really tall. Half an inch at most will work just fine. Stick that into the bottom of the cup, pour in the silicon and wait. And wait. And wait. Most mixes will have a cure time of hours, so use this time to start daydreaming of the kind of dice you want to see pop out of those molds in the future.
Don’t forget, that’s just the first part – the real fun has yet to begin!