What I’ve learned so far…
1. What type of resin to use?
According to Resin Obsession (an online shop with a great blog on all things to do with using resin), there are four types of resin commonly used in jewellery making. These are; Polyester, Epoxy, Polyurethanes and Silicone. (A great rundown of all the pros and cons of these can be found here on their fantastic site).
There’s also the strong smelling UV Resin which, when placed under a UV lamp, can be cured very quickly. I’m only just starting with this type of resin so I can’t tell you much about it yet as I’m still learning. What I do know is that it really, REALLY, does smell. Bad. I’ve made many mistakes with this type of resin, from it remaining sticky to hardening too quick 🙂 I’m learning though and when I get the hang of it I will share my thoughts with you.
My main go-to resin is epoxy. I particularly love the Gedeo Resin which I buy from Amazon. You can get it here. This isn’t an affiliate link, just me sharing with you what I use at the moment. I’ve stuck with it because, so far, I haven’t had too many problems with it and it’s easy to use.
You can also get resin from Resin8, a UK company which specialises in all things resin. See their website here. I haven’t used their resin yet, but, I have ordered some pigments off them and their customer service is second to none.
2. A tale of two parts.
Resin comes in two parts; Part A, the resin, and Part B, the Hardener. The amounts you need differs from resin to resin. The Gedeo resin I currently use is a 2:1 ratio, meaning that I need two parts of resin (Part A), to one part of hardener (Part B). So, for example, if I use 20ml of resin (Part A) I will need 10ml of hardener (Part B) which means 30ml of product in all. Some resins use a 1:1 ratio, others you have to mix by weight. It sounds complicated but, I promise you, once you start using it, it will become second nature.
3. Stir. Then stir some more.
When you put the two parts together you need to stir it up really well. Then stir some more. It probably takes about three minutes to stir and you have to scrape the bottom and the sides of the pot you’re mixing it in to make sure it’s all thoroughly combined. The Gedeo resin I use is helpful because it turns from cloudy to clear when it’s mixed properly.
4. Follow the instructions on the packet.
Don’t be tempted into putting more hardener into the mixture to make it cure better, or quicker. It won’t. It will just ruin your resin and it won’t cure properly. I made this mistake and all I was left with was a sticky gooey mess. Don’t do it. I did it so you don’t have to!
5. The fun bit!
You can colour the resin with glitter, pigment powders, and alcoholic inks. Resin loves glitter! As do I! You can add as much glitter as you want. You need to be a bit more cautious with the alcoholic inks though. They can affect the resin so it won’t cure properly. Caution is needed here. Experiment and have some fun.
You can also pour clear resin into a mould and add embellishments such as charms or plastic stars or confetti snowflakes.
6. Moisture is the enemy!
Resin hates moisture, or water. Or acrylic paint for that matter. You can colour your resin with acrylic paint but use only a smidge. Too much will stop the resin from curing.
7. So now you’ve mixed it, and coloured it, what next?
You can put the resin into moulds. I use silicone moulds because the cured resin pops out really easily. You can even use silicone moulds for baking cakes. Here is a small selection of my moulds:
However, silicone moulds don’t last forever as the resin eats away at the silicone. I’ve just found this out with a pink heart my daughter has just cast. We can’t get it out of the mould!
Other types of moulds can be used but if they’re not silicone you will need to invest in some release spray. This is sprayed on the mould prior to pouring the resin in.
You can also use metal trays called bezels which you tip the resin into and it dries hard in the tray. You can use these suspended on a necklace or as a key ring, or whatever you want. You can also get open-backed bezels. I’m not going to talk too much about them here because I’m going to devote a post to the topic of bezels. Open-backed bezels don’t have a back and need to be stuck down on to tape when you put the resin in. Once it dries, you can peel the bezel off the tape and the resin is transparent. Here are a selection of bezels:
8. Embed paper and dried flowers.
You can also embed paper and dried flowers in the resin. However, this can be a little tricky. Paper needs to be sealed and protected by a layer of resin which has dried before you embed it, or the paper will soak up moisture and become transparent. Although, sometimes, I do this on purpose because I like the way the paper looks when it soaks up the resin. It depends on the look you want. Flowers too need to be sealed after drying. I still haven’t perfected this. In fact, I haven’t come anywhere close to working with flowers successfully. Hey, it’s a journey and a work in progress.
As I’m not very successful with embedding flowers into resin, you can check out Buttonsy Jewellery on Etsy. Their stuff is to die for. I’m so jealous. I wish I could do that kind of stuff.
9. Resin is a messy business!
Resin is toxic! Please protect surfaces and, more importantly, yourself. It is advisable to use a mask to protect yourself from the fumes. And, most importantly, protect your hands by using gloves. I use the disposable latex free gloves that you can get at most supermarkets. Only wear clothes that you don’t mind ruining because, believe me, resin gets EVERYWHERE, even when you’re really careful.
Protect your work surface with a cover and, a very good tip, is to use wax paper under your moulds and where you’re working. This is great because, if any gets spilt, you can throw the paper away. OR sometimes, the resin waste, if left to cure, can be cut up and used in a bezel.
10. Great for those with chronic illnesses.
I love using epoxy resin, especially as a crafter with a chronic illness. The beauty of resin is that you can mix up as much, or as little as you want, so if you’re tired you can do a little bit. Not only that, if you feel tired after you’ve got all your supplies and mixed the resin up, you have got a little time to play with so you can have a rest. Epoxy resin usually cures in around 24 hours (give or take with conditions such as the weather and temperature etc.) but it takes a few hours before it starts going gloopy. You can add glitter and stuff after a few hours. It will produce a different effect to if you put it in at the beginning but it’s still a viable option. Also, if your embedding charms, it’s better to put them in after a few hours because they tend to move if you put them in right at the beginning in the really runny resin.
What tips would you give to someone just beginning resin jewellery making?