How to Get Started Making Dice
Interested in making dice? That's great! It's a rewarding and fun craft to pursue. It also has a relatively high barrier to entry versus other types of crafts, so I put together this guide to get you started on the path to learning the art of dicecraft.
Disclaimer: Links to Etsy in this article are affiliate links. Purchasing items linked here may result in a small commission for EWS, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work this way!
Step One: Learn to Work With Resin
Resin is a craft medium of its own, with dicemaking being a specific skill within that medium. It's a good idea to practice with some basic resin projects before jumping straight into making dice. Just as you would learn to sew by making a skirt or pajamas instead of jumping straight to corsetry, it's a great idea to make coasters, keychains, and other relatively simple resin pieces at first.
The most important thing when working with resin is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). You need, at minimum, a respirator with filters rated for VOCs (volatile organic compounds), nitrile gloves, and a well-ventilated area to work in. Long sleeves and additional filtration are also recommended. Never work with resin with children or pets around. Entropy Resins has a detailed article about resin safety with a lot of great information.
Once you've got your PPE and a safe work environment, it's time to get some resin, molds, and colorants! I recommend picking up a fun starter kit like this one, which has all you need to make a few coaster or keychain projects. Make sure the resin included in your kit is two part epoxy resin, NOT UV resin. Dice is made using epoxy resin that is mixed together and hardens over time (UV resin hardens in sunlight or other UV light).
Look up different techniques on YouTube for inspiration. There are so many ways to mix and add colors to resin and turn a simple keychain into something completely unique. Have fun with it!
Be sure to pay close attention to the curing times and optimal conditions suggested by the instructions that come with your resin. Some resin is more or less sensitive to temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors. In general, resin requires a warm and dry environment to cure best. Figuring out how to achieve the right curing conditions for your work now vs when you start to make dice will save you a lot of heartache and frustration!
Step Two: Buy a Dice Mold
Once you have a feel for working with resin, get yourself a dice mold. Here are a few suggestions of where to buy one:
WerpyDice on Etsy - Werpy is one of the most experienced dice mold makers out there and is many folks' go-to recommendation.
NanoLabMaker - NLM is another experienced mold maker who will also make molds of your custom masters for you (more on master dice later).
Handmade dice molds are far and away the way to go. Mass-produced dice molds such as those available on Amazon are difficult to use at best. It's better to spend a little more money on quality molds now that will let you get creating something cool immediately instead of having to wrestle with a poor quality mold.
Step Three: Make a Bunch of Dice!
First of all, join The Great Library of Dicecraft group on Facebook. It's an amazing group with tons of information and many helpful makers and artists.
If you've watched any dice making videos on YouTube or Tiktok (shameless plug!), you've likely seen someone mix up some resin, mix in colors, pour resin into their mold, and put the lid on the mold. And twenty-four hours later, flawless dice! But what you may not know is that many dice artists use a pressure pot to cure their dice. A casting pressure pot is not the same as a cooking pressure pot - a casting pressure pot uses air pressure to squeeze air bubbles out of resin as it cures. This tool is what allows artists to cast their design and have it cure almost completely bubble-free without too much extra work.
When you're making dice without a pressure pot, your technique needs to be different. As you've probably noticed in your earlier resin experiments, the more shallow your pour, the more easily the resin releases bubbles. For this reason, when making dice without a pressure pot, it's a good idea to do resin pours in layers separated by several hours, allowing each layer to partially cure and release all of those bubbles before adding more resin. For more tips, Kaitlin Pierce on YouTube has a great video packed with information.
The bubble struggle is endless, but above all, be sure to have fun and experiment. It will take some time to figure out the best techniques for your process, so be patient with yourself and don't be afraid to ask other artists for tips and advice.
Your dice will come out of the mold with extra bits of resin attached ("flashing"). You'll need to sand and polish them to get them perfect. Check out the many, many posts on sanding and polishing in The Great Library of Dicecraft--there are many methods to getting a mirror finish, so just find one that suits you!
Step Four: The Next Level
If you're still really loving dice making and want to take your craft further, here are some ideas for tools and equipment to invest in.
The Pressure Pot: There's only one pressure pot I can really recommend, and that's the California Air Tools Resin Casting Pot from Woodcraft.com. This pot comes ready to use for resin casting and is high quality. Other pressure pots require some kind of modification to use for casting. This is a topic I am not familiar with, so please do your research if you decide to get a different pressure pot. Please also note you need an air compressor and air hose to fill the pot. I have the Ryobi one which isn't too loud and is battery powered and portable.
The pressure pot will allow you to more easily cast bubble-free dice and is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have as a dice maker. Please observe all necessary safety precautions when working with contents under pressure!
Dice Masters: Dice masters are 3D printed dice shapes that are used to make molds for casting dice in resin. When ordering dice masters from a professional master maker, you can often select custom dice shapes and number fonts, as well as the option to have your logo on your dice. If you're going to sell your dice (vs making them as gifts or for yourself), it's highly recommended you have your own set of masters.
You will receive your masters in a raw or partially sanded state, and it will be up to you to polish them to a perfect shine in order to create molds that result in clear and shiny dice. The maker you order your masters from will have detailed information about sanding and polishing your dice masters.
There are a lot of great master makers out there, but I got my dice masters from Arcana Cast!
Of course, once you have your polished shiny masters, you will need to make molds from silicone. Working with silicone is outside the scope of this article, but there is plenty of great information out there (check out Rybonator's YouTube videos!).
Ultrasonic Cleaner: An ultrasonic cleaner can be found online starting at $20, and it's a great tool that I use all the time in dicemaking. After sanding and after polishing, give your dice a quick rinse and then pop them in the ultrasonic cleaner for a couple minutes to wash away all that resin debris and polish gunk. It sure beats using an old toothbrush!
Dremel: If you do other kinds of home crafting or DIY, it's possible you already have a dremel. This electric rotary tool can have cotton polishing heads attached to it for doing the final polish on your dice and getting that truly shiny mirror finish.
Pottery Wheel: Some folks like using a pottery wheel for sanding and polishing their dice, often instead of a dremel. I have one, but I don't often use it for dice because I find it too tricky to keep the small faces of a D20 (for example) perfectly flat on the surface. But I wanted to mention it because they are still a popular tool for dicemaking. Generally, the larger wheels that run $100-150 work better than the tiny tabletop wheels.
The Fun Stuff!
Just some extra resources for getting creative with your dice making!
Solar Color Dust - excellent resource for effects powders and colorants.
Glitter Hippo - GLITTER!
Mad Micas - ethically sourced mica powder perfect for creating stunning color in your dice.
Just Resin - incredibly vibrant pigment pastes and other resin crafting supplies (based in Australia, ships internationally).
Silicone "bits" molds (or stud earring molds) - cast tiny shapes that can fit inside dice!
Micro miniature figurines - tiny, painted, 3d printed figurines that can fit inside dice!