You may have seen Lucite embedments in retail stores: the shiny, free-standing, crystal-like signs which hold brand name logos suspended within them. Or you may have seen Lucites as decorative gift items. Many times Lucite embedments are used by investment banking firms to acknowledge the completion of a deal and are awarded to those who have participated. Known as Lucite deal toys, it is in this area that the most creativity and ingenuity have been employed.
Lucite is an acrylic product with a unique chemical composition that allows it to be formed into a variety of shapes and sizes. Two ingredients are mixed to produce Lucites, an acrylic resin powder and a crystal 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 Lucites 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 place the fruit in Jell-O before it is the correct consistency, the fruit will sink to the bottom. On the other hand, if you wait too long, and if the Jell-O sets up too much, all the fruit will stay on the top. Another layer of Lucite is poured over the embedded object and is again allowed to harden. Because the Lucite is opaque, it is difficult to place objects exactly as desired.
After the Lucite has hardened, the molds are placed in an oven for several hours where heat hardens the piece and pressure forces out air bubbles. The heat process changes the Lucite from an opaque white to the clear state characteristic of custom Lucite awards.
Then the custom Lucite embedment must be sized by sanding and polishing. Sanding is done in three steps. With each step the grit on the sandpaper is finer. Polishing is particularly important because it is responsible for creating the jewel-like quality of custom Lucite awards. The completed Lucite deal toys are then hand-inspected, individually boxed, and sent to you. Creating a Lucite takes a lot of craftsmanship. A lot of the work is done by hand. Each custom Lucite embedment is truly unique – it will even be just a little bit different than the other toys from its same order.
Whether you call them Lucites, Lucite embedments, deal toys, deal closing gifts or Lucite tombstones, they are unique, fun and bring a sense of joy and accomplishment to all who receive them.