Hi! I would love to take you through my making process to show you how your Mono & Lena pieces come into existence.
The below video gives a good idea of the different steps I go through from beginning to finish. I hope you enjoy this look behind the scenes.
All my accessories are made from Jesmonite, which consists of 2 parts: a liquid and a powder to which pigment can be added if desired. Each of these parts has to be measured out carefully, if the ratio is out of balance then this will affect the curing process and the strength and durability of the objects. Once these parts have been measured and combined, they start to react with each other, and the curing process starts, so working quickly is key here. The mixture is then poured into moulds. At the beginning of my Mono & Lena journey, I purchased a few moulds which I thought would fit the brand’s aesthetic. Now I make my own which allows me to design and create accessories from scratch and offer you unique and authentic pieces to enjoy.
Once the Jesmonite mixture is cast, it stays in the mould for a couple of hours until it’s strong enough to be removed from the mould without breaking. After that, I leave the casting for 24 hours to air dry to aid the curing process. This is also the stage where the Jesmonite develops its strength for which it is known and becomes a durable object.
After this time, I give the casting a quick sanding to remove any imperfections, but as each piece is hand cast individually, there will always be some imperfections that are inherent to the casting process, and this also adds to the appearance’s beauty and uniqueness.
After sanding, I wash off the dust, and the casting is put into a solution that will etch the surface. This solution is similar to a hydrochloric acid used to etch concrete but is also known to be very harmful to the environment, plant and wildlife. So this was not something I wanted to use, I tried a few naturally acidic options like vinegar and lemons, but unfortunately, the result was not satisfactory. After more research, I came across a gentle cement remover made up of a safer formula that is environmentally friendly, biodegradable, water-based and solvent-free. It works very well in exposing the aggregate within the Jesmonite. Due to the fact this isn’t as strong as a standard hydrochloric acid, the castings need a good scrub after having sat in the solution to help create the lovely stone-like surface texture.
After this, the casting will be left alone for another 24 hours to dry fully.
Surface before and after treatment
When fully dry, I apply a sealer to protect the finished pieces from water. The sealer is water-based, solvent and VOC free and contains no harmful chemicals. When the sealer is fully absorbed, it’s time to apply the cork bottom and finish the casting. I love this stage as the object is transformed from being a casting to a fully finished piece. It’s such a simple thing to do, but somehow highly transformative. I had quite a long think about how I would apply the cork. I wanted a high-level finish for this, not just a piece of cut cork stuck to the bottom. So after experimenting, I decided to file the edges of the cork, it evolves a bit more work, but it’s so satisfying to do and to see the end result. By filing the edges, the cork is slightly bevelled and sits flush with the edge of the pieces. After this, I stamp my logo on it, and there you have it, a fully finished piece ready to find a new home!