These detailed instructions for making resin jewelry will get you started making gorgeous projects and help you to solve any problems you have encountered.
It may take a little bit of trial and error to work out all of the details, but once you have experimented with a few batches of jewelry resin, youll be amazed at what you can make with just a few simple and inexpensive supplies and pieces of equipment.
I use polyurethane casting resin (just check the label on the bottle carefully to ensure this is what you are buying).
You can also buy polyester casting resin, but I like to stay away from this type of resin. It is supposed to be better for casting large pieces, but Ive only made small jewelry-sized resin pieces, so I cant comment on that from experience.
I once accidentally bought polyester resin, and decided to try it out. It had an extremely strong odour, which lingered on my pendants forever. In spite of working with all the windows open, it gave me an awful headache, and it was difficult to use (my pieces never fully cured).
So, Id suggest sticking with polyurethane. It should meet your needs well if youre making resin jewelry.
Also, you can buy resin that you mix at a one to one ratio, that is, you combine equal amounts of resin and catalyst, or you can buy resin that requires adding just a few drops of catalyst.
By far, I prefer using the one to one mix. It is much easier to use, and, while you do have to measure carefully, the one to one mixes are a little more forgiving if your measurements are off by a little bit.
Since writing this tutorial, I have noticed that some of my resin pieces have yellowed over time, especially the ones with a very clear design. It does seem to take a while to yellow.
If youre making something fun for the short term, and you dont mind that the piece might not last for years to come, that might be fine. However, if youre making something that you want to last for years and years, or youre making a product to sell, do be aware that yellowing can be an issue with resin.
It is because of the yellowing issue that Im not recommending a specific brand of resin. If you are concerned about your resin yellowing over time, Id suggest buying from a jewelry supply store that knows their products, and contacting them to determine how the brand will stand up over time.
Related: Full description of supplies needed to work with jewelry resin and links to online stores that sell those supplies
1. Protect your work surface and yourself.
Cover your work surface with waxed paper. Resin spilled on furniture can result in a big mess.
Latex gloves will protect your hands, safety goggles will protect your eyes, and its recommended that you also use a respirator designed for fumes.
2. Prepare any items that you will be embedding.
If you are including images printed on paper or transparencies, cut them out to the desired shape. If you want your images to fully cover the bottom of a bezel, be very careful to cut them out at exactly the right size.
You must also coat the paper (front and back) with Mod Podge. This step prevents discoloration of your paper images. Be sure to let them dry completely.
3. Decide what you will use to shape your resin.
For the easiest resin jewelry project, you can use empty bezels.
If you dont want to use a bezel, you can buy molds made specifically for casting resin jewelry. This is a slightly more advanced project.
If you want to get really creative, you can create your own molds. I useOomoo for making molds.
Oomoo is inexpensive and fun and easy to work with. It opens up a whole new world of jewelry making options.
4. If you are using molds, use mold release. If you are using bezels, skip ahead to step 5.
Ensure your molds are perfectly clean, then spray the mold with mold release and let it dry.
If you are using bezels instead of molds, do not spray them with mold release. The purpose of mold release is to help the piece easily pop out of the molds, you do not want it to pop out if you are using bezels!
5. Put your paper images in the bezels (optional).This step is only necessary if you are embedding paper images in bezels. Set your paper image in each bezel. Press it firmly to the bottom of the bezel, and ensure it is flat, it completely covers the bottom of the bezel and it is not crooked.6. Mix the resin and the catalystI use smallgraduated medicine cups(the kind you use to give medicine to little kids) to measure and mix. They are inexpensive and allow you to accurately measure for small batches. Pour the resin and the catalyst into a medicine cup in the proportions specified on the package.For example:
If you wanted to make one ounce of resin using a product that was mixed using a one to one ratio, first youd pour one half ounce of resin into the medicine cup. Bend down so the cup is at eye level; this will help you measure more accurately.
Next, youd pour one half once of catalyst into the same measuring cup.
The cup will already contain one half ounce of resin, so youll just add the catalyst until the mixture reaches the one ounce mark, that way youll have one half ounce of resin and one half ounce of catalyst in the same medicine cup.
Measuring each component in the same cup is much more accurate than measuring them in separate cups, and accuracy is crucial.
If you measure in separate cups, youll then have to pour one component into the other and youll lose some of the poured component because it will stick to the sides of its original cup.
Although its not necessary, you may also add color at this stage. Instructions vary depending on the brand you are using, so carefully follow the manufacturers instructions for adding color.
Stir slowly with a clean popsicle stick for two minutes. Do not stir fast, or you will create air bubbles, which are difficult to get rid of and will ruin the look of your jewelry (unless you want air bubbles as an effect).
Also, be careful to scrape the popsicle stick along the edges and bottom of the cup so everything is well mixed.
Slowly pour your mixture into another medicine cup and stir a little bit more. This step will ensure everything is well mixed and will eliminate any chance that resin sticking to the sides of the first cup did not get mixed.
Slowly pour the resin into the bezels or molds.
The best cure for air bubbles is prevention. That is why it is so important to mix and pour your resin slowly. However, a few air bubbles are inevitable.
If you look around, youll find plenty of tips for getting rid of air bubbles. Im sure Ive tried them all, and the best strategy is to use a heat gun. Briefly hold the heat gun just above the resin, and youll see tiny bubbles rise to the top and pop.
9. Including treasures in your resin
If you are going to include any treasures, nows the time to do it.
If you are including light items that will float, like glitter or images printed on transparency paper, you can include them right away, you dont have to let the resin cure at all.
If you do include an image on a transparency (some people use shrink plastic, I have always used transparency sheets), use a pair of tweezers to hold the transparency and dip it in the leftover resin in the medicine cup. You may want to pass a heat gun over this resin first to avoid air bubbles.
Coating the transparency in resin before you place it in the mold or bezel will help eliminate air bubbles between the resin and the transparency. Place the transparency face down if you are using a mold, or face up if you are using a bezel.
If you are adding a 3D element to your mold (like a little plastic toy) you must do it in layers.
Pour your first thin layer of resin, let it harden, cover the element you are embedding and then arrange it face down on the cured first layer. Pour more resin; ensure that your item is completely covered in resin. Get out your heat gun again to get rid of any bubbles in the second layer.
Cover your items with aperfectly cleanbox (this will keep any dust from sticking to your uncured resin) and let it cure. Follow the manufacturers instructions for curing times. Generally, your pieces will be cured to the touch in 24 hours, but it takes several days to be fully cured.
If you want to drill a hole in your resin jewelry, you must use a hand drill. Do not use a regular drill. Even set at a low speed, a power drill will generate too much heat and melt your resin jewelry.
If youd like to sand your resin jewelry, you can start with more coarse sandpaper (100-180 grit) to sand out large-ish bumps (for example, if you want to smooth the edges of a piece that you have not set in a bezel).
Work your way down to finer grit (600-1500 grit) wet/dry sandpaper to finish the piece. You will find fine grit wet/dry sandpaper in the automotive section of many department stores.
Sand your item underwater (to reduce dust) using gentle pressure.
Be aware that sanding your jewelry will turn the very clear finish into a more cloudy finish, so be certain that this effect is what you want before you start sanding.
You can also polish up your work with a little bit of carnauba wax, which you will also find in the automotive department. I use Mothers brand, which comes in a red bottle, but there are several brands to choose from. Simply cover the resin with a thin layer of carnauba wax. Let it dry for a few minutes, and then use a soft cloth to polish off the excess carnauba wax.
Supplies- All the Supplies Youll Need for a Resin Jewelry Project
bezels, commercial resinjewelry molds
orSmooth-On Silicone Mold Making Rubber OOMOO 30
medicine cups – Make sure there are measurements on the side of the cups. You can buy packages of these at most drugstores. You can also buy the same thing at art supply stores, but dont get them there; youll pay way too much.
Castin Craft Mold Release and Conditioner
– Some people use cooking spray as mold release. I have never tried this; Ive always used CastinCraft mold release, so I cant comment on how well cooking spray works.
small treasures to include (optional)
(only required if you are using items that need to be sealed)
Since it can be helpful to see a process in action, Ive included a series of videos that shows the process of making resin jewelry (just scroll down a bit). The music in the videos may start to grate on you a bit, but the instructions are detailed and excellent.
There are a few things you may want to do a bit differently than the videos suggest:
A fairly big batch of resin is mixed in the video. I like working with smaller batches so it doesnt start to set before Im finished. If youre new to making resin jewelry, you wont be very efficient the first few times you try it, and if your mixture starts to set before youre finished pouring, you can get funny swirls and lines, so smaller batches are often better. You can always mix more if you need to, but if you mix too much and it sets too soon, youll end up wasting that resin.
Medicine cups are ideal for mixing small, manageable batches, and pouring the resin into a condiment bottle is not necessary if youre doing small batches.
The video recommends breathing through a straw or using a hair dryer to get rid of air bubbles. In my experience, I find a heat gun is a much better tool for getting rid of air bubbles. Id avoid using a hair dryer. The problem with hair dryers is that they blow air too forcefully and can easily blow your resin all over and cause messes or strange waves if it has started to thicken. A heat gun expels warm air without forcefully blowing that air; it is a much safer and more effective way to get rid of air bubbles.
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