Encasing a child's art project in lucite.
March 29, 2006 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I would like to encase something my daughter made in lucite. Here's an example of the kind of thing we're talking about: bugs in lucite 1, bugs in lucite 2.

Can I do this at home and make it look nice? Or is there someplace I could send my treasure to have it preserved for the ages? It's a small piece of paper (4" x 6") with a robot printed on it that she then glued colored rice to. I think it's wonderful, but it is delicate and we are a very non-delicate friendly family.
posted by Irontom to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That's a cool idea. I think the instructions on this page will work for you. Here is another option, maybe more practical. Bugs are harder because they've got the fragile wings, but a picture and rice would work. Note: make sure you find out if the materials they use will screw up whatever it was that your daughter used to make the image with. Alternately you could consider putting it in something that would be on the wall and out of reach like a shadowbox frame.
posted by jessamyn at 2:32 PM on March 29, 2006

I would "awww" at you but then I'd have to duck.

I like jessamyn's suggestion of the shadowbox. That would allow you to hang it in the office and not worry about trapped air bubbles.
posted by onhazier at 2:37 PM on March 29, 2006

I worked with Lucite a long time ago. It's fun, and rather simple. But it can be tricky the first few times. I would suggest trying with something other than the "special item" a couple times first.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:44 PM on March 29, 2006

As Jessamyn alluded to... encasing anything like paper in a material where it'll no longer be reachable, will prevent any type of preservation or restoration of the item in the future. One of the worse things you can do to a document you want to protect is to laminate it. I would believe the same holds true for lucite, if only because it traps the destructive agents in with the paper. Over time they will cause a deterioration of the item and leave you no option but to watch it slowly go to pieces.

I'd third the shadowbox, or some other type of frame or case, if you want to protect it from clumsy hands, etc. At worse, buy some sort of glass display case and simply put it on display within it. Also, keep it out of direct sunlight. ;)
posted by Atreides at 3:10 PM on March 29, 2006

I've encased stuff in plastic resin (lucite?) before -- and if you have a TAP Plastics near you, they can help (apparently they have a very thorough training program there, so most of the employees have at least tried once or twice most of the techniques that you can use their products for) -- but for something that's largely 2D, I'd go shadowbox.

If you screw up the embedding process (easy to do, especially the first time you try), whatever's inside is pretty much toast. I don't want to dissuade you from giving it a shot, if you're set on it -- just do a couple test runs first with similar materials, and ask the guys at TAP how the weather, etc, will affect the process. Also, the resin/fumes are fairly toxic, IIRC. The stuff I did is mostly ok, but definitely doesn't look professional. The first one was a very large piece (I used the bottom of a plastic storage bin as the mold) and has mad bubbles and other problems with it (an impression of the bin logo, for example).
posted by fishfucker at 3:50 PM on March 29, 2006

Second Tap plastics as a source. They usually also sell "attractive1" molds for the process. You basically, fill the mold halfway with resin, float the object in it, trying to urge bubbles out and let it set. Then pour on the next layer to seal it in. You might be able to also do this in one go.

I did this when I was 12 and had mixed results trying to do butterflies. Some came out great, some were foggy or had bubbles. All of them discolored to a certain degree.
1Some were basic domes or disks, but I have a vivd recollection of a full toilet seat mold. You could really creep out your family is you cast bugs in that.
posted by plinth at 6:10 PM on March 29, 2006

If you decide to go the shadowbox route and want to drop some cash on it, you might want to drop in at a framer and ask about UV-protective glass and such. Here's a page that talks about preserving artwork.

A framer probably would have other suggestions on what you could do besides a shadowbox or lucite (and be more than willing to charge you to do it.)
posted by divka at 6:58 PM on March 29, 2006

Thanks everyone for the great resources! Not sure exactly how I am going to proceed. I really like the idea of this thing as a big lucite paperweight, but that seems like it might be a problem.
posted by Irontom at 6:55 AM on March 30, 2006

I don't want to discourage you. It's doable, but it'll take some attention and time to do it right -- however, it'll be well worth it -- i still have some of the random shit that I embedded -- and you'll learn a new skill.

Looks like you're not on the coast, so you'll probably have to call TAP, but give them a ring and see what they say. Just tell them exactly what you told us. They should be able to tell you if it's doable or not.
posted by fishfucker at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2006

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