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How to Make Glow in the Dark House Numbers or Objects
Painting an object with a glow coating for indoors and in darkness will give you a great result however if you are trying to achieve outstanding after glow performance you will never match a cast glow object. The purpose of this article is to provide you with the information on how to cast your own glow in the dark objects with very powerful afterglow properties.
Triple Layer Casting for High afterglow – I developed my triple layer casting method to give my glow coasters and glow numbers a very high performance level that is unmatched by any other casting method. I no longer have the time to make these products so I will explain how you can do it yourself and achieve great results.How triple layer casting works – The first layer as you see marked on the glow coaster day image here is the glow mass.
This needs to be a highly loaded blend of clear casting resin and a glow pigment which should have a glow rating of around 110 mcd/m2 @ 60minutes. The second layer needs to be a thin clear film that will allow the complete glow mass to charge fully and leave no uncharged areas or dead zones. The final layer needs to be a high opacity white resin bringing all of the combined glow light to the front of the glow casting and allowing the glow casting to be placed on any colour background with no loss of performance.
You can see how well this glow in the dark coaster performs from this photograph and it was taken 60 minutes after being removed from the light. If you where to just fill the exact same mould with a standard glow pigment mixture it would not even slightly match this performance.
I will not be giving information in this article on how to make moulds and casting resins as there is already a lot of online information for both so if you don’t already know how to make a mould or which resin to cast get onto google and find out 🙂
I am using a 2 part water clear urethane for this casting as it has a long outdoor life and will not yellow over time. I am also using a 75 micron blue green glow in the dark pigment with an afterglow rating of 120mcd @ 60 minutes and it is a non waterproof grade because it won’t need to be and provides a higher afterglow. I hit the pigment with a torch spot beam for just half a second before taking the shot so you can see the glow powder come to life. The mould is polypropylene and is something I made but I suggest you make a silicone mould which is far easier to make, do your own research on this. I am currently selling my full mould set see the end of this article for details and images.
Now I need to mix the first resin batch and I need 110mls of castable liquid for this mould in total but I want the high powered glow layer to be only 60% of that volume so I will mix roughly 80 mls allowing for resin that will stay in the mixing container. The amount of pigment you mix will depend on the resins ability to be loaded but if you do this right the material should not be easy to cast it should be quite sludgy and may even need a little help to get it flattened out evenly in the mould. This is a critical step in acheiving a super high intensity glow in the dark casting.
Make sure you shake the mould around a little to even out the sludge otherwise your glow casting will not be even when glowing. You can also see in this image that I have left enough casting space in the mould to add the thin clear charging layer at aproximatley 1mm thick and then the white final layer. This first high intensity glow layer should not exceed 5mm in thickness or it will have too much mass to charge correctly.
So now I am at 60 minutes after the initial layer casting and the resin has gone into it’s gel stage which is the perfect time to add the second thin clear resin layer. You want to add each layer in the gel stage as this ensures a perfect chemical bond between layers and has no possibility of delamination over time. For this layer I am only going to mix 30mls of the clear casting resin because I don’t want a thick layer and I need to have enough room left in the mould to add the final and very important white layer.
So at this stage it has been a further 60 minutes and the perfect time for the final high opacity white resin layer. It is critical that this layer is a very high opacity white as a transparent white will do a very poor job of reflecting the high intensity glow light forward and out of your casting. It’s also important because it ensures there will be no glow lost if the casting is placed on a dark surface.
You can see the type of result that is possible with my triple layer casting method it does take some time and is not simple but if you want to make glow in the dark castings with super high afterglow this is the way to do it. Here is an image of my high intensity glow in the dark house numbers I used to make showing the impressive glow even after several hours have elapsed.
Ok so here is a photograph of this articles casting and I cast a couple of glow markers at the same time. If you understand and follow my instructions above you may get the same result and it’s not hard to see the awesome glow power of the objects but I guarantee you will not get the same result with any other method. I did a high amount of R&D in making a glow object not only work outdoors but even against some degree of outside light and now you can benifit from this technology. The cost of this type of casting is quite high as both the clear casting urethane and the high mcd glow in the dark pigment are quite costly but you will not obtain this outstanding afterglow without them.
How to Make & Use Glow in the Dark Paint
So lets say you want to setup some glowing images for your room I will go through the stages here to make it easy to repeat this for yourself. Start by working out what your glow image will be? For the sake of this article I have taken a few snaps of my little dog and then drawn out a shadow image of him and yes the shadow was drawn from a different image.
For the second image I just grabbed a small cutting from a bush in the yard which will look great in glow paint and drew it out to a black image. It won’t matter what you decide to use for yourself as it is supposed to be something personal to you.
Ok so once I had my black images I simply printed them out on a4 card paper and used an exacto knife to cut them out – very time consuming if done neatly. Next I placed each cutout on it’s own transparency and used some removable double sided tape to hold the cutouts in place while spraying. You can see in the image that these templates are now ready to be sprayed with glow paint. Also note how I have back masked the full outer area of the plant because I do not want any glow paint overspray anywhere on that transparency. The pooch transparency is supposed to be unmasked because that’s where I want the glow paint to end up and not in the image.
Ok so two A4 size images are not going to need much glow paint but I mixed 200mls to make sure I had enough for multiple coats. You don’t need more than two coats if spraying over a white background but I want my images to be over a black background in A4 picture frames which will make each image visible day and night. Because of this the glow paint has to be much more intense as glow intensity will be greatly reduced on any black or dark surface. I also used Automotive Acrylic as my clear medium because it’s fast drying and durable.
The mixture I used was 190mls of clear and 30 grams of 20um glow powder in sky blue and the clear was thinned to the correct ratio for spraying as shown on the can. Mix only enough glow paint to get the job done you are better off running out and re-mixing a fresh batch than having left over but I was pressed for time so mixing twice was not an option. The combined clear and powder gave me 200mls of high intensity glow in the dark paint.
Don’t add your mixed glow paint to the spray gun until your job is fully ready to spray.
This is where you need to really pay attention: Mix your glow liquid well and transfer it to the spray pot then quickly place the pot on the spray gun. From this point on you want to keep splashing the glow liquid around inside the pot, never let the liquid inside sit still or almost instant settling will occur and your spray gun will block.
Spray one or two passes over your job and then while you are waiting for a couple of minutes between coats keep moving your pot around in a fast circular motion to keep the liquid inside constantly agitated and this will ensure it stays fully mixed and ready for the next coat. If you have to let your gun sit between spray coats take it off the pot straight after you finish spraying and flush some thinners through it, then when you are ready re-mix the glow paint and start painting again while keeping the liquid in full motion.
Multiple thin passes will give you a much brighter and consistent glow than one heavy coat. This type of paint is not as easy to use as the basic glow paints available in spray cans or ready mixed but it will give you a far better result, it just depends on what you are trying to achieve with your project?
The results – Both glow images had great effect overnight but the glowing plant cutting had much higher definition over the full night and this is simply because it has high definition as a day image as well so keep this in mind when setting up your own glow painted work. By following the steps in this how-to article you can make your own personalized glow paint images and enjoy them day and night. Also because the glow paint is sprayed on a transparency you can change the background colour by using white paper underneath and then you will have an awesome night image invisible by day!