1. THE START OF BREASTMILK JEWELLERY
1.1 FINDING THE WINNING FORMULA
Breastmilk jewellery has become more popular in the last decade with many aspiring breastmilk jewellery makers popping up all over the globe. The breastmilk maker community is very closed with successful keepsakers rigidly guarding their preservation methods. Whether using liquids similarly applied by the cosmetic industry, freeze drying, dehydration, adding craft glue or vinegar to unprocessed breastmilk, in 99 % of instances, the processed breastmilk in liquid form is mixed with resin and set in a mould or cast in a setting.
Many successful breastmilk keepsake jewellery makers conduct testing over a period of months to determine whether consistent results are obtained. Once the winning formula is determined, production usually starts and products are offered to the public for sale.
1.2 WHEN IT ALL GOES WRONG
Many of us have fallen victim to breastmilk jewellery that has discoloured, turned brown or gone rancid. Whilst conducting research and testing over several years, we can conclusively state that failure is as a result of the milk preparation and preservation process. Fortunately, discolouring usually shows as early as one month and it gets progressively worse. By month three it would start to turn brown.
In some instances, the discolouration process only becomes evident after 6 months or more.
1.3 OUR PRESERVATION PROCESS
Our breastmilk preservation process was developed in house over a period of years and bears no resemblance to any other breastmilk keepsake provider's process. Due to our very unique formula, we are able to create three dimensional shapes without moulds and graduated tinting can be added to the breastmilk to make it truly unique - our rainbow breastmilk spirals are an example of this. Our process does not allow mixing the milk into resin, but rather using the resin as an encasing method.
We have been actively marketing our products since November 2013 but we have successfully prepared breastmilk using our original formula that dates back to 2012.
NONE OF OUR PROCESSED BREASTMILK DISCOLOURS.
2. "PRESERVING" OR PLASTICISING BREASTMILK IN RESIN
2.1 WHAT IS RESIN EXACTLY?
In short, it is a liquid synthetic organic polymer used as the basis of plastics, adhesives, varnishes, or other products. Typically, synthetic resin is supplied in liquid form and when mixed with a chemical hardener, it cures to a hard plastic. Resin is further available in epoxy form, urethane, polyurethane and various others, requiring careful handling due to its carcinogenic properties in liquid form. Full protective gear needs to be worn when working with uncured resin, including respirator masks, eye protection, vinyl gloves and adequate ventilation.
We have found that even if a successful preservation method is found, using a different type of resin could vastly affect the result over time.
2.2 RESIN AND UV LIGHT
Once you have a successful preservation formula, the next obstacle is resin: UV light is to blame for changes to cured resin over time. When UV light hits the resin—either directly or indirectly—it degrades the polymers. Although this degradation from UV light is a natural process (UV light is typically always harmful to everything on earth over time), it causes observable, undesirable, aesthetically displeasing characteristics, such as gloss loss, de-lamination, cracking, chalking and yellowing.
UV stabilisers are very effective at preventing gloss loss, de-lamination, cracking and chalking, but they merely delay discolouration. In other words, yellowing is still inevitable with a UV stabiliser. Yellowing first presents as a light tone all over, then progressively darkens until it reaches a dark brownish-yellow hue. Yellowing will be accelerated with exposure to UV light. A resined piece that is placed outside will generally reach its dark brown-yellow colour within hours or even days. Discolouration has also been demonstrated in pieces that have been kept in complete darkness over a period of months or years.
2.3 BOTTOM LINE
Breastmilk encased in resin using a successful preservation method, may over time discolour due to the polymers in resin breaking down. This does not mean a flawed preservation process was used, but rather a natural degradation of resin when cured.
There is no way to preventing the resin from ageing or discolouring.
3. BREASTMILK ALCHEMY
3.1 BREASTMILK IN GLASS
Years of research, trial and development has made us the industry leader worldwide. Through our innovative and progressive preservation process we were able to successfully develop and implement a glass keepsake jewellery range that is not only functional but also recyclable, biodegradable and eco friendly.
Once set into glass, the design is permanently imbedded. There is no way it can change over time.
3.2 IT ALL STARTS WITH A CABOCHON
Every breastmilk creation starts with a fused glass cabochon (a domed glass gem that is flat on the bottom similar to a pebble). Cabochons are formed using a kiln cycle over a period of 12-16 hours in temperatures from room 20 °C to over 800 °C.
If the inclusions survives this extensive process, it is considered suitable for further fusing or lampworking.
3.3 TRANSFORMING RESIN PRESERVED BREASTMILK INTO GLASS
It is not possible to add resin directly into the kiln. Besides the toxic fumes created by melting resin, we have found that the resin leaves a black residue making the inclusion appear burnt and visually unappealing.
Using a variety of chemical and temperature controlled processes we are able to obtain a concentrated breastmilk extract from a previously resin set creation. Once a kiln made cabochon is created we can form it into a suitable shape and set it into a ring or pendant.
3.3.1 LAMPWOKED GLASS
Three dimensional items like orbs, eggs and charm beads are made using the lamp working process. Rods of glass are melted in an open flame using temperatures from 1,000 °C to over 3,000 °C.
Kiln formed inclusion cabochons are melted into stringers (1-2 mm thick rods that look like spaghetti), which is then added to clear or coloured glass to create a personalised unique breastmilk creation like an orb or charm bead.
We have found that with the resin to glass transformation process, the breastmilk will almost effervesce creating a multitude of bubbles. The bubbles do not affect the integrity of the item and it is visually appealing giving an almost galaxy like look.
All items below was made with breastmilk only, no white glass was used.
4. RESTORING YOUR RESIN CREATION
If your resin set breastmilk keepsake has turned brown, rancid or discoloured, we are able remake and reset* it using our Breastmilk Alchemy process.
*Remaking and resetting depends on the design and the ease of removing the setting. We would request that you liaise with us before placing your order if you would like something reset.
4.1 MOM'S OWN MILK RESIN SET ITEMS
We are able to recycle any of our resin set breastmilk creations into glass. Browse our website your new design and claim 15 % off your order. You will be required to send your resin item back to us for recycling.
Please discuss beforehand if you wish to use your existing settings and findings.
4.2 OTHER RESIN SET BREASTMILK ITEMS
4.2.1. The process of extracting a concentrated sample of breastmilk previously set in resin and creating a sample that can be transforming it into glass will carry a cost of £ 50.00.
4.2.2 Depending on the item being made (cabochon, orb, charm bead, etc), this needs to be purchased in addition to the Resin into Glass cost. Browse our website for the relevant design you are wanting.
4.2.3 With prior arrangement, your original setting and findings can be used and the new glass inclusion. There is a standard setting fee of £ 35.00 and it can be purchased from our website.