Welcome to Resin 101! These are a set of supplemental notes for my students in Resin Pendants and Resin Coasters, but will also be a helpful resource for anyone who is just getting started with making resin jewelry or molding.
The resin we are using is class is EasyCast brand, though I'm not married to the brand name. Clear Cast, ICE Resin, and anything chemically similar is great. I like EasyCast for its price point and because I can get it by the gallon on Amazon. I don't recommend buying such a large amount if you aren't doing a lot of projects, as the shelf life is nine months maximum, and that is if it is stored in ideal temperatures and out of direct light. Eventually the hardener will yellow and you will have a hard time getting a nice, clear cast.
You can buy much smaller resin kits based on how much you will use in a few months. These are all available on Amazon, and the smallest kits are available at Michael's and Hobby Lobby locally. Tripp Plastics also carries all kinds of resins and plastics, but do know what you are looking for when you go.
When mixing, measure precisely. Use clean, wax free cups. Do not use Styrofoam cups! Resin reacts with many kinds of Styrofoam and may melt it and cause fumes. In class we use medicine cups to measure and either 2 ounce or 3 ounce plastic cups to mix in. The 2 ounce cups are available at Costco by the case. The 3 ounce cups I order, again, from Amazon. They seem to be harder to find. We use wooden popsicle sticks, available at any craft store. Mix for one to two minutes at a medium speed.
If your resin is a little cold or it's a cold day, it's a good idea to warm it up a bit. This can be a warm water bath for the resin and hardener prior to mixing or using a candle warmer before and as you mix. You will have better results with resin at full room temperature.
While you can just "pour" your mixed resin straight from the cup, I strongly prefer the control of a syringe. I use 5 ml medicine syringes, which can be ordered in sets of 5 or 250 depending on how many you need. This is strongly a preference issue, but I haven't found another method that allows me the control of flow and direction of the medical syringe. If you do get them, be sure to order them without needles. 3 ml works just as well for pendants, but is frustratingly small for larger projects like coasters and large molds.
Go slow until you get a feel for how your resin flows. Let it settle often and, as a beginner, know that doming techniques are hard. You may want to use a thicker resin, designed for easy doming, or an additive before you try that effect Be happy and satisfied of you can get a smooth, glassy finish.
You can gently blow on your piece with or without a straw, use a pin or a toothpick, and tap your piece on a hard surface to eliminate bubbles if you don't have heat gun. The torch we use in class is a Benzomatic Butane Torch. It comes with a heat gun attachment. Please read all safety information before using this tool, but as you saw in the workshop, using a heat gun or low flame torch is a very effective way to remove the bubbles in your resin.
Do not touch the flame to your piece. Do not use a forced air heat gun or hair dryer, as they will move the resin, potentially right out of your mold or bezel! I have heard of using an embossing heat gun. I haven't been able to get my hands on one, but when I do I will try it and amend this. I have seen that they cost as much as the torch, so unless you own one already, there isn't any benefit to purchasing it over the torch.
Your project will get tacky like taffy or sticky candy after only an hour or two. But don't be tempted to touch it! It is very sticky at this point, and will grab hard to anything and everything. If you have pets or a dusty area, it's a good idea to cover it with a glass dome, such as a cake dome. I use a curio cabinet at my home studio. I move pieces on a cookies tray, and it's important to keep them level.
After 12 hours, it will seem done. The project will be pretty hard to the light touch. It is deceptive, as a firm press can leave a permanent mark, and stacking pieces can stick them together in such a way that they will never recover!
For best results, leave projects to cure for at least 36 hours.
We have not gone over demolding much in the workshops, but I'm going to give you a brief rundown in case you want to purchase and work on your own projects at home.
Molds can be either plastic of silicone. Both kinds have a shelf life and require care. This will be a future post, but do be aware that you are making an investment in your projects wen you buy molds, and that you should take care of your investments to get the most out of them. If they are feeling a little less than easy to demold, give them a spray of mold release and let it dry before using (something done prior to class time). Store them out of extremes.
Molds release easier if the project is completely cured. Gently pull the edges away. There is resistance, and this may take some strength, but if the mold feels like it will not let go, it is better to try another side than to force it. Once you get the edges loose, carefully twist until you feel the mold let go. On large pieces like coaster, it can take several turns and twists to work the piece out. On small cameos and designs, the release is usually easy and instant.
In the case of a mold that will not let go, it can help to place the piece in an icebox for a short time. This is also a sign that the resin may not have cured, so be prepared to have some extra work! It is also a sign that the mold may be getting tired or needing maintenance.
Pendants are usually finished upon curing! Hooray! They sometimes need a little toubleshooting, and I will cover some common problems in another post.
Molded pieces sometimes need a little something extra to give them a shiny finish. We use a few layers of spray resin to fill in any chinks and give them a great sheen.
Places to get resin: Micheals, Hobby Lobby, Amazon, Tripp Plastic
Places to get Molds: Creativity By Carol, Sugar Skull Molds, Kreative Koala
Note that these are just a few of my favorites. Search for "Resin Molds" for lots of choices on Etsy or Amazon
Places to get Bezels: Sun and Moon Craft Kits, Purple Mountain
Again, these are just some of my favorites. Search for "Bezels" and have fun with all of the choices!
Happy creating! Next time, I will touch on some troubleshooting of common problems and share some fun online community resources.