Kristina Ortega and Sarah McLellan Make Gemstones
The magic of the jewelry that the Mctega girls Sarah McLellan and Kristina Ortega create lies in the little plastic sculptures they develop for every piece. They’ve come up with what they call a chunk technique and a stalagmite one (the latter of which involves dripping layers and layers of colored polyester resin). And for the stand-out bracelet they dreamt up for Of a Kind, they imitated nature with homemade gems. Here, Sarah walks us through the process.
“We use clay to mold the mini gems from scratch—Kristina made each one! We use an acrylic finish (in the little clear bottle) to make them shiny, and then we use the clay pieces to create the silicone mold. The silicone mold-making process requires another group of supplies entirely and a 24-hour hardening period before you can use the mold to make the gems that we use in our jewelry.”
“Once you have the silicone mold, you start making the gems by pouring resin into a mixing cut and adding the catalyst to start the reaction. You have to stir until everything is completely mixed. This ensures a proper reaction and eventually fully formed gems”
“Then you add the dye of your choice and mix thoroughly: Neon green!”
“Next, you pour the colored resin into the mold and repeat with other colors: turquoise! Then you allow the resin to harden. The speed of this process is dependent on a lot of factors including the amount of catalyst and the temperature. On a warm day with plenty of catalyst, we can de-mold in under an hour.”
“After gem formation is complete—and they are dry—we drill them, string them up, and dip them into epoxy resin to give them a protective and shiny coat. Here they are hanging out to dry. Epoxy takes longer to harden, so give give them a full 24-hour drying time before we take them down and re-drill before chaining them together.”