Artisan keycaps is a separate segment craft in which artists design and produce keycaps for mechanical keyboards. It will obliterate the way various crafting techniques (which include, but are not limited to, polymer clay, 3D printing, resin-casting, metal-casting, injection molding, CNC machining, and more) have been incorporated.
I have written an article on how to make a polymer clay keycap. I’ve also written about how to paint keycaps. Now it’s time to speak about sculpting, mold-making, and casting resin keycaps, and start making your own on the way!
This series of articles generally assumes the reader’s familiarity with mechanical keyboards and artisan keycaps. I assume that if you’re trying to figure out how to make them, you own a mechanical keyboard (or five) and have already collected some artisan keycaps from other manufacturers.
This article also assumes no prior experience with resin-casting. If you are already an experienced resin craftsman, just be happy reading the parts related to keycap specifications and skip the other sections.
What we will cover during this series
This series will be exclusively about handmade, resin artisan keycaps. Note that there are many other types of keycaps (such as 3D printed keycaps, encapsulation, blanks, etc.). I’ll write more articles about other types of keycaps, but we’ll start with hand-crafted keycaps.
I’ll do my best to hide each step and go deep into the ingredients, supplies, security, and more. I will release blog posts one by one as I also have the bandwidth to write them. Here we will cover the whole series as a whole:
- Security! (Resin is toxic, and so the first and foremost thing about casting resin is safety and proper handling.)
- Minimal Tools and Materials (Basic tools and supplies needed to get started, experiment, and build your first sculpture, the Resin Artisan Keycap)
- Enthusiast equipment and materials (more than double what is needed to travel and do a variety of high-quality castings)
- Creating a master sculpture (techniques, tools, clearances, design ideas, etc.).
- Synthetic Rubber Mold Making (for making resin castings of your master sculpture)
- Single-shot resin casting (types of resin, colored, cold casting, etc.)
- Hand-painting resin (priming, types of paints and washes, casting considerations, finishing, and varnishing, etc.)
- Casting Multi-shot Resins (Types of Resins, Techniques, and Considerations, Tips and Tricks for Multi-shot Casting, etc.)
- Finishing Keycaps (Sanding, Polishing, Varnishing, etc.)
Resin casting is dangerous!
In order to get started with resin casting, there are some crucial things to take under consideration. The first priority is safety. I am listing this above any other equipment lists because it is so important.
Resin casting is VERY HAZARDOUS. This is the absolute most important thing to understand. Never, ever cut corners on safety. Much of the absolutely mandatory equipment minimums have to do with protecting yourself and your loved ones from dangerous materials and toxic fumes. But it takes more than PPE and safety equipment: you must be diligent, always.