In February of this year, my family had to say goodbye to my grandfather just a few months shy of his 91st birthday. He had spent the majority of his life finding the best fishing spots along the rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest and countless hours sitting at his desk, tying fishing flies to take on his adventures to catch “The Big One.”
After he passed away, I wanted to make something special for my grandmother, myself, my sister, aunts, and cousins to celebrate him and honor his memory by using his hand-tied fly fishing flies, to create a memorial mobile that would ensure what brought him joy in his life, would help us all heal in our grief.
Being able to take something that he had made, and turn it into something new that I had made in his honor, was a huge healing process for me in my grief journey and I am excited to be able to share these pieces of his art with my cousins and extended family who all loved him too.
In this video below, I share my very personal story of my “Papa”, his love for fishing, and how I used my laser cutter and Mayku FormBox vacuum former to make memorial mobiles out of resin and some of his fly fishing flies.
Creating a Fly Fishing Mobile with a Vacuum Former and Resin
This project started with finding his box of special fly fishin flies he had tied and wanted to figure out how to share them with family in a way that would preserve them and also keep them from accidentally stabbing themselves while rummaging through memory boxes or drawers!
I had just gotten my Mayku FormBox vacuum former and had tried making soap as my first project and that led me to think about how I could possibly do something similar for the flies and fish hooks, but instead of soap, use resin.
So I created some heart shapes on my laser cutter that were just big enough to put one fishing fly into each heart shape. With 10 cousins, 23 second cousins, and a lot of others who might want even a single heart for a keychain or tree ornament, I knew I needed to make some molds that would allow me to make multiple in one round.
The MDF I used on my laser cutter was not thick enough to allow for resin as a base and also to fully encase the flies, so I had to glue two together to make my form deep enough that my mold would work.
I didn’t have any small clamps around the house so I just used rubber bands to hold them together while they dried so that I could use them on the Mayku FormBox once they were ready.
For this project, I used the Mayku FormBox Resin sheets and attached the heat shield to my Mayku, as I was working with resin and wanted the resin sheets to be able to reuse my molds easily due to a large number of hearts I needed to make for my family.
The heart molds turned out beautifully and after letting them cool completely, I was able to remove the sheet from the Mayku and pop the forms out easily.
Now it was time to mix my resin and get ready to pour into my molds. I used a basic first-timer resin pour kit from the local craft store for this as I had never worked with resin before but once I got it mixed, I was able to pour a base layer down, place the fly fishing flies in that layer, then pour a top layer over so that they were fully encased in resin.
It took about 48 hours for the resin to dry completely before I could remove the hearts from the mold but they turned out beautiful and I was eager to get to the next phase!
I had to use a small Dremel tool to drill holes in each of the heart shapes to prepare for the project and then I searched for beads that looked like river rock, as that is where my Papa loved fishing the most, down by the river. I used a fishing line to string them together.
I also went to the beach where we used to go look for rocks with him when I was a kid and found some driftwood to use as my base.
I searched in his garden shed for the twine to use for the string to hold it all up and finally, had a beautiful mobile to gift to my grandmother and one for myself to take with me in my van on my travels, as well as many hearts ready for my aunts, sister, cousins, and others to create their own memory pendants with.
This is by far, my favorite project I have done with my Mayku FormBox and now I have ideas for all kinds of other things I want to make and potentially help others with memorial pieces of their own.