Lets be honest here, making dice is not a cheap hobby but it is really rewarding. Opening up moulds to see what creations have come together inside is exciting. Seeing if that colour scheme worked well, or if I managed to get just the right amount of each colour in there. Opening up moulds to see disasters is also disheartening… I have a pile of dice fails sat next to me that came from five different sets and I only have 10 usable dice to show for it.
These fails also helped me work out what was going to work and what wasn’t, if I liked the colour scheme or not, where I could improve etc… And on the plus side, I can always add them to my own dice collection or sell them as singles later on as some are still very pretty.
From this, I wanted to share all the things that I have that I use to make my dice. How I store them, and how I photograph them.
The chest of drawers of wonders…
This bad boy is where I store most of my supplies. I say most as it doesn’t all fit in there so things have to suffice with living near it. My lolly sticks and pipettes are laying around on my desk, the beads just live outside of it and I have another tiny chest of drawers that holds mountains of glitter.
I’ve tried to organise it all into some sort of regimented chaos. Pigments are all on the right, everything else is on the left. I bought this organiser from Aldi as I was, at the time, swamped in ‘stuff’. There were boxes all over the floor with piles of supplies here, there and everywhere. In the end it took me just as long to locate one thing as it did to pour the dice themselves. The smaller set of drawers were courtesy of Tiger., as were all the glitter in them!
Now it doesn’t take as long… but that’s only because I can never remember where the blue is in the three drawers it could be. So that is very definitely a ‘me problem’.
Most of the pigments came from Amazon and as I am impatient, I opted for Prime ready ones. A few of them came from Wish, like random iridescent ones but the shipping times put me off… for now!
Pigment storage is my greatest problem currently. I have so many of them and I’m sure I can decant one into another. However, my brain recoils at the possibility that those two colours might not actually be identical. So I’ve ended up with a lot of half filled tubs and oodles of packets of mica. I’ve even picked up a cheap activity book from the supermarket while feeding my pigment addiction. I didn’t need the book, just the matt coral mica it had with it as part of the bath bomb making activity.
I also have liquid pigment, while there are some that make translucent colours, a lot are opaque. This requires less than a drop in the resin to get a semi-translucent mix. I have seen a lot that claim to be translucent for all colours. The reviews are a great place to look though as people quickly say if they are not!
Dice Paint problem
I also have a paint problem! I have bought a lot of paints and it’s not entirely without good reason. As I like rainbow numbers on dice and for that you need at least five colours in a ‘theme’. It just so happened that I picked neons and brights so naturally, that’s 10 paints off the bat. Others are colours that I think will look great on dice, but I’m not sure what colour dice. There is a selection of artist acrylic and craft acrylic in the mix, and yes, there is a difference.
Artists acrylic is thicker, meaning that it will fill in the numbers like using polly-filla. You can smooth it in and not worry about wiping it all out again on the paper towel. When I have used the craft acrylic (the smaller pots) it has taken several coats. The rose gold used on a few sets has needed three coats to fill it in enough to be even. This can be mitigated somewhat by laying down some white beforehand. On the downside, it would usually still require another two coats of colour. Sometimes the inking can take as long as the mixing and casting. Which on a happy note, does give me time to catch up on Crit Roll.
Most of my paints came from Hobbycraft, so can be found at a similar hobby store. They have sales on paints quite often so you can pick up a bunch of them quite cheap. The black bottled ones were three-for-two for example. If I had bought a similar thing on Amazon, the same amount of money would have got me less colours. So its worth not relying on our commerce overlords too much!
Making shiny maths rocks bags
My bags are all created from fat quarter fabric. One fat quarter makes one large bag where the lining matches the exterior. Most of my fabric comes in pre-packaged ‘themes’ so I find busy fabric for the outside and plainer fabric for the lining. By pairing it up into interior/exterior, I can easily see what future bags I have and what I might be missing. I don’t keep my fabric anywhere special, but it’s somewhere I can see it so I don’t go on a fabric buying spree. By doing this I stop myself coming home and realise that I have something similar already.
I use paracord and plastic toggles on my bags, both of which I did get from Amazon (via Prime!) I have tried ribbon and leather but nothing seems to slip as easily through as nylon. It also comes in such a wide range of colours that I can easily match it up with the bag colours.
Cost of the components is also a big factor. Personally, I want a bag that’s nice to look at but I don’t want to spend more on that than my dice! There are some great dnd themed fabrics available but it’s really expensive and that cost would have to be taken into consideration if I used it.
I made my moulds with two part silicone in little espresso take-out cups. I used my least favourite dice (in case they didn’t survive) and glued them on a corner to a d6.
The d6 that I used were ones that I had ordered from Amazon and I didn’t read the description properly… so they were tiny! This has meant that my sprues are quite small so I need to make sure that the resin fills up the inside really, really well.
I also use the squeezy pipettes that hold 3ml of liquid to get the resin into the moulds. If you use squish moulds then you can just pour from whatever you’re mixing the resin and other goodies into.
I don’t actually tape mine closed unless they are going in a pressure pot. Ordinarially I just leave them untaped and just pipette the resin in. To let the the air to escape I just keep the nozzle to one side, then lift the pipette out when the resin starts to back up. Pressure pots are handy for getting rid of bubbles but the air compressor is so noisy. Seeing as I make most of my dice in the evening after University, it’s not really fair on the neighbours!
Before going any further though…
By gloves, I mean double layer them and have the blue nitrile ones on touching your skin and then a vinyl ones on top. Nitrile gloves take longer for the resin to break through them if you get them on your hands but are more expensive. I use vinyl ones on top as a first barrier that I can pull off and then put a new pair on if needed. This then preserves the nitrile ones for longer.
I can’t stress how important gloves are. I have contact dermititus caused by exposure to resin. This developed through the use of UV resin and now any form can set it off. Not to gross anyone out but if I get it on my fingers it creates a living nightmare for weeks. My fingers go numb, then they itch like crazy and then the skin blisters and weeps… They looked like I had a flesh eating disease and I couldn’t touch anything as it hurt. It is absolutely horrendous. It also means that I cant use UV top coat on my nails anymore, or even get them done at a salon… so be warned.
On a lighter note, my resin of choice is a 1:1 quick set. I have a set of digital scales that I use to ensure that I measure out the right amounts and then mix for five minutes. If I’m using glitter, I mix it all in and then let it sit for about 20 minutes. This makes the resin a little thicker and stops all of the glitter dropping to the bottom. If you leave it too long though, you will struggle to get it into the pipette. I have had lots of fails because I got carried away watching something and left the resin too long.
This I do after 24 hours. It can vary on the length of time your resin of choice needs to set but I always have a small sillicone dish with the excess in that I uses to test the hardness of the resin without having to poke the moulds. If the dish resin seems hard, then I demould the dice.
More often than not, the dice themselves will be slightly soft. If I squeezed them, they would feel like they had some give to them. This is fine, it just means that they need to harden a little further. I use this time to cut off the sprues and then leave them. Cutting them off now means that the resin is softer for your craft knife to go through.
Doing this, It will be less likely to snap off or slip and gouge a line in your dice. Once they are cut off, leave them to one side to firm up.
For polishing, I have two secret weapons. 10,000 grit polishing disks and nail files. I bought the disks due to the high grit level but I thought about it and decided to buy nail files and buffers. Nail techs use the buffers to get a gloss shine on UV resin nails, so its also going to work on your dice. I also bought two cheap nail ‘dremels’ that work on batteries. They came with buffing attachments which I use with car polish (yes car polish!) to get a glossy shine. Nail files with the buffers are great as they are fine enough that they create shine on natural nails, and nail is quite easy to mark. The downside is that due to the super fine micro-grit, they do wear out quickly. I order them in bulk to ensure that I have enough to finish my sets off.
From this, please remember that what works for me may not work for you straight off the bat. It is a really big case of try it out and then adjust the method to suit you. Making dice is a hugely rewarding hobby but don’t get discouraged if there are some bumps along the road!
Crit Happens Dice.