Those beads depict matroshkas (also spelled matryoshkas), NOT babushkas. The word babushka means grandmother and is also used to refer to nice ladies who are old enough to be somebody's grandmothers. (Mean old ladies may be called baba or babka.)
P.S. Those other things whose name you don't know are called bag charms.
The problem with a one-part mould I was having is pouring the exact amount carefully enough (since I'm just heating it in a saucepan with a wide spout), BUT by making the mould deeper than it needs to be I leave room for error/a little over/underfill and it works as a one part. Is that the idea?
I cast the mould from a polymer clay charm I made, so all I have to do is make the clay version thicker than I want the pewter - awesome beans! But what do you mean by cutting excess from the swan's neck?
It might just be the picture, but it looks to me like the swan's neck is not level with the swan's body - so, if you make the body flat on a table, the neck won't touch the table. Sometimes, stuff is made that way when one part is supposed to look like it's in front of something else - for example, the lamb's front and back legs in this picture. Since pewter at room temperature & pressure is viscous, it wouldn't flow into the neck part of the mold if there was silicone in the back of the neck (kinda like a sleeve), so you'd have to make the neck extra thick by adding stuff to its back before making the mold, and then after casting, you'd have to remove some of that thickness from the back by filing it off. But since you made it from polymer clay, that's probably just the picture and it's actually level on the back, in which case, it's much easier, so nevermind. Good luck!
I don't remember the seller, but I got some of these domes on eBay a while back, and you know what, TheTinyTiara? - the domes were packaged with the same exact ring blanks that you're using. So, how can one use these domes with these ring blanks in a way that's different from clear magnifying cabochons? I know - by enclosing something that's not flat. I mean, if that isn't what they were designed for, then what is? Ok, well now, how would one use them in a way you wouldn't find objectionable? Omit glitter? ...
aisy, here's a supplier I found for you with a quick google search. Have fun - that's what this website is about
This doesn't answer your question since I'm not familiar with pewter, but you should be able to make a 1-part mold for your charm, since it's just a cabochon. (You'd just have to remove a bit of pewter from the back of the swan's neck after casting.) You just have to be very careful that the back of the original you're molding is completely filled and that it's level with the base. I find it helpful to actually make the mold a couple mm deeper than the final cast: after everything in the back is filled in with clay, I roll out some more clay, put the object on the clay, and cut around to remove excess material. Since it looks like you're working with putty type silicone, the clay for the back should be polymer since you'd need to cure it to make it hard (so it doesn't smush out from the sides when you apply the silicone). (You COULD also make a 1-part mold that goes all around the object, with a seam that goes most of the way around, but those are much more annoying.)
30-50 casts is about normal for most molds. (Obviously, molds with more detail and texture will not last as long.) Does that book talk about jewelry scale stuff at all? IMO it's so different from casting larger objects and I could use some tips, like things to use as tiny mold straps, etc...
I don't think you can get a mirror finish on resin by buffing. Your best bet is either keeping the interface that resin forms with air when it's still liquid or using a very smooth mold. People have gotten good results by using plastic packaging, but the down side is that it can only be used once and most of it is too big for jewelry. I can't speak to it myself, though, since I'm quite a fan of the matte finish.
You can get hexagonal coaster molds that are made especially for resin here. I don't remember if they're polyethylene or polypropylene, but they'll definitely release. You should still use mold release with them, though, since all molds stick to some degree.
Did it work? I don't know of any solvent that would remove epoxy. (Theoretically, you can't dissolve it, but you can swell it, which would make it possible to remove it mechanically. That's also how paint thinners work, since it's not possible to dissolve many paints once they are set. The difficulty is finding a good enough solvent that would do that.)
The seller doesn't list polymer clay in materials, so there's probably resin on both sides of the image. The easiest way to make the backing from resin it is probably with epoxy clay - but it's not something you can just get at Michael's, so after you factor in the shipping and how much of it you'll have to buy and never use, it would be kinda too expensive to make it worth it unless you're making a lot of these plugs. With liquid resin, you can put the plug on tape, adhesive side up, or on modeling clay to keep resin from running out - and when it's cured, you'll be able to remove the tape/modeling clay and proceed as you described. (Don't forget to seal the picture, though.) However, if you do it that way, the back is going to be a bit cloudy, so if you want it shiny, you'll have to do another thin layer of resin... In short, that's a lot of work unless you're making a lot of them at a time (to sell), so if I was making just a couple, I'd do what you wrote.
Clay: I'm not sure of the brand name since I got it a long time ago, but it's a sulfur-free modeling clay. I'm looking at the clays sold by The Compleat Sculptor, where I got it, and I think it might be Chavant, Medium NSP in brown. It's a really great store if you are in New York. For the clays, they have little samples out of the package, so you can play with them and figure out which one is the right texture for your task. It can be made very smooth with water and a paintbrush, but from what I recall, even those parts came out cloudy when cast. Still, polymer clay is probably more smooth.
Resin: Any one should work, though I probably always used Easy Cast.
Seams: You are correct, I wasn't talking about a cabochon. If you just have a big block of clay and you're pushing something simple into it, then there are no seams. Actually, what I wrote makes no sense: "resin" should be replaced with "mold-making compound" (e.g. liquid silicone). I had sculpted a flatback object from clay and I wanted to cast it because I needed 6 copies of it, so I needed to make a mold - so I also built a wall around to make a mold box. It looked secure, but as I found out, it wasn't, so I had to wait for it to gel and then cast some more on top. Lesson: mold boxes are usually made with a hot glue gun because there's just no better way