You may have seen Lucite embedments in retail stores: shiny, free-standing, crystal-like plaques or paperweights that often have brand logos suspended within them. Or, you may have seen Lucites used to make decorative gift items. Often, Lucite embedments are used by investment banking firms to acknowledge the completion of a deal and are awarded to those who have participated.
Lucite, an acrylic product made by Dupont, has a unique chemical composition that allows it to be formed into a wide variety of shapes, colors, textures and sizes. Two ingredients are mixed to produce Lucite–an acrylic resin powder and a clear liquid called a monomer. The combination results in a thick, opaque liquid, which is hand poured into molds and allowed to partially set. The Lucite mold is made larger than the desired size of the completed object to allow for shrinkage during curing and sanding and polishing of the object during final production.
Many types of objects can be embedded in Lucite, although there are limitations. The objects to be embedded are placed by hand into a first Lucite layer. It’s a bit like placing fruit in Jell-O: if you put the fruit in the mold before the Jell-O has thickened sufficiently, it will sink to the bottom. On the other hand, if you wait too long, the Jell-O sets up too much and the fruit will stay on the top. Once the embedment is in place, another layer of Lucite is poured over it and is again allowed to harden. Because the Lucite is opaque, it takes skill to place embedded objects exactly as desired.
After the Lucite has set, the molds are placed in an oven for several hours where high heat hardens the piece and pressure forces out any air bubbles. The baking process changes the Lucite from an opaque white to the clear state characteristic of custom Lucite awards.
Finally, the deal gift is sanded and polished. Sanding is done by hand in three steps, using increasingly fine grit sandpaper. Polishing, the next step, is particularly important because it creates the shiny, jewel-like finish. The completed Lucite deal toys are then hand-inspected, individually boxed, and sent to you or your recipients. Creating a Lucite takes a lot of time and hand-craftsmanship. Each custom Lucite embedment is truly unique – in fact, it will even be just a little bit different than the other toys in the same order.
Whether you call them Lucites, tombstones, embedments, deal toys, closing gifts or acrylic awards, they are luxurious, fun and they bring a sense of joy and accomplishment to all who receive them.