Milk Bead and Pendant: Experimenting with breastmilk!

Update as of October 2017:
I’ve begun another trial of preservation methods. Find the post here! 

 

 

Update as of April 2017:
I haven’t tried any more experimentation with milk jewelry. The first picture you will see on this page is an accurate representation of the milk bead I created in resin years ago! It may be slightly more yellow due to the yellowing of the poor quality resin, other than that it looks fabulous.

Update as of March 2016:
The two experiments that have stood the test of nearly a year are the homemade plasticising of the milk and the dehydrated flake method.
1. Homemade Milk Plastic: If you go with this method, it is IMPERATIVE that you completely and absolutely seal the milk-plastic in airproof resin casing. I created a bead using this method and the bead was the only thing to last. All my other efforts where I left the plastic to the air or did not completely encase the plastic failed. They yellowed and discolored. I’m pretty amazed that nearly a year later, the milk-plastic bead is still its original color and looks amazing.
2. My dehydrated milk flake bead still looks phenomenal. I see no discoloration there either.

Pictures of the Milk-Plastic encased in resin & Dehydrated Milk Flakes in resin nearly a year after creation:
20160317_15413620160317_15412120160317_154043

Experiments:

*** Final Test Results with pictures posted at the end of the post!***

Let’s create!

Breastmilk beads and pendants are amazing and sentimental pieces of jewelry to have. I never would have thought of myself as someone who would be into that kind of thing. A breastmilk bead? A necklace with my boob juice? Yep! I struggled immensely with breastfeeding Daphne, my first child, and have been so thankful that breastfeeding Penny, my second child, has been a success so far. I’m so proud of Penny and myself.

Breastmilk jewelry can be absolutely stunning. There are many men and women who offer their services and diy kits. I am one to try it myself before having someone else create for me.

So. Off to creating.

How I prepped my milk: I used a few different methods, but overall, my milk was either frozen & dehydrated or freshly pumped.
For Fresh: I pumped and created right away while the milk was still warm. You could probably thaw frozen milk and not dehydrate it if you wanted to try another method.
For Frozen:
My milk was frozen for 2 months. I boiled it for a few minutes and poured it into my Nesco Dehydrator on the fruit leather/liquid insert. I dehydrated it at around 135-150F for 12 hours, then broke it up (some pieces were sticky) and stirred it up. I dehydrated again for another 12 hours(overnight) at 135-150. It was flaky and came up from the tray with ease. BIG Thanks to Victoria at  Breastfeedingvic.com for the videos and invaluable input!

I pulsed the flakes of dehydrated milk and used a blunt end of a whisk as a mock mortar & pestle. I really think I needed a nutribullet or some sort of ultra fine blender here to make an actual powder as opposed to just a fine flake.

This is the breastmilk after it has been dehydrated for 24 hours, pulsed in a food processor, and ground slightly with a mortar & pestle. It really should have been a fine powder, but I didn’t have the resources.

The test batches!

My first test batch (the two silicone molds and the bottlecap on the left hand side) was to mix the dehydrated powdered milk straight into resin. I used Ice Resin (a 2 part mix of equal parts of hardener and resin). I stirred and stirred and stirred but the milk didn’t seem to mix with the resin at all. I tried pouring resin into the silicone mold first, a little bit of dehydrated flakes mixed with resin to make a paste, and then a layer of more resin. The milk stayed in flakes,separated from the layers I had poured, and sank to the bottom of the silicone mold. Even if I had poured the clear resin, let it dry, and then pour my milk over the top of it using this method, the flakes still would have separated to give that cloudy flaky look.

The second test turned out a little better. I mixed the dehydrated frozen milk with apple cider vinegar, strained it through a tea towel (very little was caught in the towel, for the most part it was liquid), and added it to the clear resin. To be fair, I could have done a better job of stirring it up and incorporating the two. The darker color in the bottle cap is the resin that didn’t mix. Also, as you can see in the bottlecap to the left, there is a filmy bubble foam and the liquid has separated.This was from the 1st test batch of straight flakes into resin. This was after an hour of pouring it.

My third test batch (the amber colored one on the left in the following picture) is dehydrated frozen milk with a lot of apple cider vinegar, I’m talking more vinegar than milk. The amber color is due to the apple cider vinegar, I think. I didn’t have white vinegar on hand to use. I bet the white vinegar would have been better. There’s no resin in this one and it is straight liquid, as opposed to the thicker formulas I had tested previously. This will take a long time to dry—if it even does. I’m not even sure that it will.

My fourth test batch (the light cream colored one on the right) is fresh milk with a little vinegar. I did not boil it (probably should have). I used 1/4 cup of fresh milk and 3/4 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.


Third and fourth test batch.

Thoughts:
Basically, what I’m trying to do is preserve the milk by method of dehydration, via resin, or by plasticizing the milk (vinegar added to milk).

There are many science experiments where you can separate the milk into liquid and casein to make milk-plastic. Whether I added just a little vinegar or a lot to my fresh breastmilk, the clumps didn’t really form like it did in this video for cows milk.

I wonder if very little vinegar mixed with my dehydrated milk flakes would prove a better method? I think this is closer to the result I want to yield. A hard plastic-like substance that can be preserved in resin form. I want to avoid discoloration/molding/separation.

So, off to more experimenting and creating! I hope to find a method that works!

*****************UPDATE 24 HOURS LATER WITH MORE TESTS!!!! ****************

 

I’ve been playing with some more recipes and am getting closer to figuring it out. The test batches I have listed above, as expected, aren’t turning out good. Gotta keep trying though! It’s so interesting to see what happened with each one.

First test batch results 24 hours later:

All of these are dehydrated breastmilk flakes mixed with resin. They sank and did not mix well with the resin.

The next batch here is another test run. We’ll call it Test Batch 5. This was to add straight up breastmilk to resin. It separated like oil and water. Here’s the shot I got right after pouring…..

And here it is after drying. The resin hardened like a charm but the breastmilk, obviously, didn’t set up with it at ALL. That’s why the heart is misshapen and broken looking—that’s where the breastmilk was. After I popped it out of the mold, the breastmilk spilled and I was left with this:

So that was a flop, which I knew it would be. I had to try it out anyway!

Now. Here’s some results after 24 hours of curing and setting of my other test batches:

The one on the far left, Test Batch 1, still has that foamy weird look to it. It set up hard, but it isn’t appealing to look at. This one was dehydrated frozen breastmilk added to resin and poured.

Test batch 2 (dehydrated frozen milk with apple cider vinegar, strained it through a tea towel (very little was caught in the towel, for the most part it was liquid), and added it to the clear resin) is still curing. It’s the 2nd bottlecap from the left.

Test batch 3 (dehydrated frozen milk with a lot of apple cider vinegar, I’m talking more vinegar than milk) is the dark amber color in the silver pendant. It’s soft. Definitely a transformation from the original pour.

Test batch 4 (3/4tsp vinegar to 1/4cup fresh liquid milk) is nearly dried up.

So that’s fun. None of them came out how I thought they would, and it’s been a good learning experience!

I’ve tried another few test batches… Test batch 6 & 7. They are using the same idea but a little different execution.

Test batch 6: I researched creating plastic materials at home. What I found was this:

So, I asked myself why I couldn’t just substitute milk for water. I’m definitely not a scientist and was excited to see how milk would do in substitution for water.

Here is my initial pour with *just* 4 tbsp fresh breast milk, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, and 1 tsp bubble solution (yea yea, I didn’t have glycerin on hand!!) I mixed the ingredients in a saucepan, stirred stirred stirred, and after about 4-6 minutes, it became thick VERY suddenly to an almost wet paste look. I poured it into my molds and smoothed it out as best as I could. You can see in the pictures how it held up. The ones where I poured resin over the top are sealed and didn’t seem to crack very much. The resin and Bio-Milk-Plastic mix looks very interesting in the bead. It’s a little chunky for my taste, as you’ll see. I would prefer it to be smoother, which I tried to accomplish in test batch 7.


This shot was taken 24 hours later. The same thing happened to a few more that weren’t sealed in resin. Definitely some shrinking going on.

Test batch 7: I made it exactly the same way as test 6 except I did not let it cook as long. I didn’t cook it as long in hopes that the liquid state of it would be easier to pour and better incorporate with the resin.


(24 Hrs later, it wasn’t fully set up)


(24 Hrs later, it still wasn’t set up. If I  had given it more time in the molds, it probably would have set up)


 L to R: Bio-Milk-Plastic with resin poured all over and on top of it, Resin poured around the BMP with the BMP Exposed in the middle, and fully exposed liquid BMP inside a wet resin coated bottlecap.


L to R: Bio-Milk-Plastic with resin poured all over and on top of it, Resin poured around the BMP with the BMP Exposed in the middle, and fully exposed liquid BMP inside a wet resin coated bottlecap.

How did I do it? Here’s a peek.


My setup with mixed resin and my silicone molds.


Original Milk color for reference.


Stirring…stirring….

This was taken between pours on test batch 7. You can see it is a thick thick liquid. We’ll see if it solidifies any after curing for a while.

*************************FINAL RESULTS!!!!***************************

My first few test batches didn’t turn out. Maybe with some more tweaking they would.
The ones with the most promise were the ones where I made my own bio-plastic with the milk, batches 6 & 7.
I created a final batch (Batch 8) and I’m very happy with the results.

Here are the updated final pictures.

 These are from Test Batch 7. Far left: Untreated biomilk only. Middle Two: Half resin/half biomilk. Far Right: Biomilk with resin on top, bottlecap not coated in resin. I think coating the bottlecap/container with resin would have sealed it all in and protected the biomilk.


These were from test 6. I added resin to completely coat the biomilk. Even now, a week later, the coating is holding up beautifully. The color is true to the original. 


This is the difference between NOT fully coating the biomilk in resin (Left) and fully coating the biomilk in resin (Right).

There are a few imperfections, but otherwise it’s smooth!

 

 Results from Test 6 and Test 8. The Bead on the left is from test 6, biomilk mixed with resin and then poured into a silicone mold. I then added clear resin and mixed to give the mottled effect. The color of the milk changed from cream to white once I added the resin. The Heart shaped pendant and the bead on the right are both from my new test, Test 8. Before I did anything with my milk, I coated my molds in clear resin and let it sit for about 15 minutes. I wanted a nice little coat of resin around the mold to protect the milk. Then, I cooked the biomilk as long as I possibly could, making sure it was at a final consistency of a thick gel. At this point, the gel is unable to hold a nice perfect ball form, so I couldn’t create balls like I wanted.I then molded pieces as best I could into ball – like shapes and added them to my prepared silicone molds.


Original milk color for reference.

 Test 8 results. This biomilk retained the color of the original milk.

From Test 8.

 

From Test 8.

Color Comparison of the biomilk mixed with resin before adding to the mold (L) and just the biomilk added to the mold (R). Adding clear resin to the biomilk turned the milk a whiter color, altering it from the original color. 

Overall, Coating the final molds with resin and using biomilk yields the best results!! I look forward to seeing how this holds up over time. I think the only thing I would change would be to make the biomilk more liquid so that it could be poured evenly and create smoother looks in the final product.

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59 thoughts on “Milk Bead and Pendant: Experimenting with breastmilk!

  1. Jenna says:

    Some of the vendors state that the milk becomes a solid that they can mold. I wonder if there is a method that turns it solid. Because this method I would assume would yellow over time? Because cooking or pasteurizing doesn’t kill all bacteria, just enough to make it ok to consume. Eventually the bacteria would cause it to yellow. Very interesting.

    1. laece says:

      Right— I’m just wondering about the yellowing too. Adding Resin to the milk made it white, altering the original color. I’m sure there are chemicals that would help solidify, but there really isn’t much info on it as it seems to be a trade secret!

  2. Morgan says:

    Hello! This post made me smile 🙂 I create breastmilk jewellery professionally & I really wanted to commend you on all of the work and research you’ve done trying to come up with a working method. I would never have thought of most of these ideas, really brilliant thinking!

    1. laece says:

      That’s wonderful! I’ll admit that only one or two are currently still the original color and the rest didn’t pan out. But that’s how it works, right?! Trial and error!

      Thanks Morgan!

      1. laece says:

        Hi Breia, I haven’t experimented with creating any more milk-plastic since my last update, but I am having a baby in a few months and will most likely try again when I have some milk to test! Thank you!

    1. laece says:

      I tried this with dehydrated milk. I used a dehydrator to dry out mine and I then crushed it as finely as I could. It yielded a cloudy mottled spotty effect. If you could grind your milk fine enough into a powder, you may not see the flakes. Dehydrated milk yielded the best look in my resin pieces and it still holds up to this day!

      Thank you! Best of luck!

    2. Breia says:

      I cant wait to see what you find if you play around again! congratulations!! i just had a baby and am also playing around with this and i love your blog post!

    1. laece says:

      Bubble solution = bubbles in a bottle. I didn’t have the glycerin initially, but I knew that most bubble solutions contain glycerin. Hope that answers your question!

  3. nikkikamminga says:

    I’d never have thought of using the BioMilk method. I think you’re onto a possibility there. I know of at least four different methods used by the top artists around the world. PM me and I’ll add you to the secret breastmilk artist group on Facebook

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi there, I seen your comment about a forum, I make breastmilk jewellery, I’d love to chat with some others and exchange ideas!

      1. Tasha says:

        Do you make it for fun or professionally? I’m still trying out ideas and would love to talk with someone about what they have tried.

    2. Kristi says:

      I would love to be added! I’m currently experimenting and trying to figure things out. I’m a jeweler in the US and would love to try my hand at breastmilk jewelry. I have tons of my own I’ve been testing but can’t quite get it right.

    3. Dalesha Bowman says:

      I came across this post while doing some research. I am in the process of setting up a jewelry making studio (just waiting on some of my supplies to dig in and get my feet wet so to speak). My goal is to focus on baby wearing keepsakes (which I’ve already started on) and making breastmilk jewelry. I actually have a dozen local women who have donated their precious milk for me to start testing the process. There is a large market for it locally (Virginia, USA) and I really want to concentrate on that and see where it goes from there. I have been trying to find information online, but everything I have found so far indicates that this is “proprietary” and I respect and appreciate every aspect of that. I’m just wondering how to find out more information on getting started in this field. I recently acquired some local contacts in the medical/pharmacological industry and am preparing to meet with them to discuss possible processes, but don’t know if this is even necessary or desirable. And I sincerely hope this doesn’t come across as too forward nor do I wish to step on anyone’s toes, I’d just really like to shoot ideas off others who doing the same thing and have a possible support network on this journey. Is there more information I can obtain about this secret artists group? Thanks in advance on any information you can give me.

    4. briteiz01 says:

      I’m a doula and I’m trying to learn how to create breastmilk and placenta jewelry for my clients. Could you please add me to the secret Facebook group for breastmilk artists? I would be so grateful for your help! Thank you! 🙂

      1. Kate says:

        I too am a doula and would love to create keepsakes for my clients and myself who have used milk sharing as a method to feed our babies, as a thank you to our donors. I would really love and appreciate any help. I’m not looking to make a profit, just heartfelt gifts.

      1. Nic Kamminga says:

        Hi everyone the group has been changed from secret to closed now and I’m accepting newbies. I want to stress it’s for *professionals* looking to support their families and not for DIY use. I don’t think the chemicals involved should be used for fun, especially resin. So to join just search Facebook for “Breastmilk Jewellery Group” (the English spelling).

      2. Dalesha Bowman says:

        This is exciting! Thanks Nic for sharing! We spoke at the beginning of the year and I’m still in the process of experimenting. Would love the opportunity for some additional support. Requested to join. Thanks!

  4. Tasha says:

    Just wondering if you tried to just mix the milk directly with the resin? I tried and came up with a good result. I wonder if I cast it in clear resin now if the color will hold??

    1. laece says:

      If I remember, it altered the color of the milk from it’s original color. It would be great if it kept its color! Best of luck!!

  5. Gabrielle says:

    You said in the comments only a few of your experiments haven’t yellowed since. Has your most successful Test 8 yellowed since? This is so fascinating. You really did a lovely job testing.

  6. Gabrielle says:

    Look like you monitor comments. I realized right after I asked my question this morning that you had already answered it at the top and I had completely forgot about it by the time I finished reading the post. So sorry about that. You can just delete that question and this one as well. Blushes.

  7. Kate says:

    I’m not sure I understand how exactly you’re coating the biomilk in resin. Any luck with those trade secrets? I’m dying to create but feel so lost.

  8. Nicole says:

    Is it possible for you to list out the steps of your best result? I have read through this numerous times and am very confused. I need step by step instructions lol. I am eager to try this, thanks for doing all the experiments!!!

  9. Tasha Chorba says:

    I’m still following this post. I’ve had some trials that I’ve done and can let you know the results if you are working on some. You can find me on facebook and message me if interested. Tasha Dawn Chorba.

  10. Kate says:

    Ugh. All this secrecy really annoys me, so well done for sharing your experiments! I’d love to just make my own bead by myself from my own milk, then never do it again, but this is the only thing I can find! I don’t have time to mess about experimenting. All this secrecy also make me suspicious that these “artists” are just scammers.

  11. Rod says:

    do you originally pour the milk directly into the resin ? or dehydratated and then pour it have u achieved to get the pearl white or totally white bead ? i wanted to make this to my wife but still getting to the part of the mixing already have the gold mounting and all ready

    1. laece says:

      Hi Rod, I have not gotten a all white/pearl colored bead from mixing my milk with the resin, I will have to experiment with that! I’d do some tests of your own to see! The dehydrated was great for a flake result!

  12. Mary wagner says:

    I have just done all of this on my own…funny I couldn’t find this page before I started experimenting. Anyway I’ve tried all these methods with addition of using corn starch and glue mixed with concentrated breast milk to make a clay. I’ve mixed the “clay” with a pearlizing powder and just mixed the straight breast milk with pearlizing powder. I’m thinking of making a page myself..

  13. Tasha Chorba says:

    So I’ve had some good results from the dehydrated milk method. I recently decided to add some titanium dioxide (a food additive) to see if it will help preserve the whiteness of my piece as some have yellowed in the past.

    I also mixed milk directly with resin and those yellow very quickly.

    I’m friends with a R&D in the dairy industry and she is the one that suggested adding the titanium dioxide to it and to dehydrate it. Also put your milk in the fridge first until it separates. Then use the more clear stuff and not the white fatty stuff. She explained why, but I don’t really understand. I’ve also seen people use the titanium dioxide in goats milk soap to make it more white looking so maybe it will work.

    To dehydrate I just used a medicine dropper and took the milk from the bottom of one of my bottles. Then I put it on like a cookie sheet. Just a think layer and put it in the over. (don’t preheat) Then I turned the oven on like 200 degrees and shut it off in 10 minutes, but left the milk in until it was dry. Then just use a pan scrapper to get the “stuck” dried milk off. Then crush it up good and add just a pinch of the titanium dioxide too it.

    I wish I could upload some pics to show you my results!

    1. laece says:

      Wow Tasha! Thank you for sharing! I had no idea about the titanium dioxide! Definitely update how it holds up over time!! My third baby is due in a few weeks and I can’t wait to start experimenting again with different methods to see what works!

      Cheers!

      1. Tasha Chorba says:

        I will. I fear my breastfeeding days may be nearing the end as my baby is 13 months now, but my sister will be starting her’s in a month so I’ll have more milk to work with! I’ll update when I see how these hold up. I molded my pieces as little hands and put it in a pendant with my baby’s name and birth stone in it!

      2. laece says:

        Aww, I know that’s so hard! I haven’t made it past around 6 months with both my girls, hopefully this time will be different! And That is just too cool!! It sounds awesome!

  14. Jenny says:

    I have tried quite a few methods at home just out of curiosity. I’m still perfecting my methods and unfortunately haven’t gotten any results that have held up over time. I have a few more methods to try out that I’m hoping will yield good results. I would love to be added to the Facebook group, but I’m sure they don’t want to add everyone. If I find anything that works well I will share!

  15. Sandra says:

    Does anyone have a picture of a result with the titanium dioxide? I have been experimenting at home and am having a hard time finding the right mix! Thanks 🙂

  16. sass says:

    what is titanium dioxide? an acid? Im not even sure where to get that, I keep experimenting with more organic items

    1. Tasha Chorba says:

      It is a food additive. Is used in alot of candies to keep them white. Also I’ve seen it used in goat milk soap and other similar items to make it whiter.

  17. Elle Jay says:

    I am very interested in any updates. i have been trying to make pieces for my doula clients as gifts and practicing on my own milk right now. any direction would be much appreciated

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