Who's Afraid of Big, Bad Resin? Not Me!
It seems that among jewelry-makers and beaders, nothing strikes fear into the heart as quickly as the suggestion of using resin for making mixed media jewelry. I'm a little perplexed by this — I've seen people who are completely fearless when seated in front of a flaming hot glass torch burning at around 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit, but who shrink away when I suggest that maybe we get some bezels and make a few pieces of resin jewelry.
After a few of my own experiments with resin, I've found that resin really isn't scary at all! In fact, I love how easy it is to create heirloom-style mixed media jewelry using resin and copies of old family photographs. And resin-filled bezels make great focal points for both stringing and bead-weaving projects! It's affordable, and most of the resin supplies you need to get started are available at your local craft store. Are you ready to learn how to make resin jewelry? Check out these fifteen fabulous tips from Jewelry Making Daily's Tammy Jones!
I have a confession to make: I get nervous when I'm going to make jewelry with resin. My fears are totally unfounded–I was taught by experts, use the best materials, and follow instructions exactly–but I still inexplicably hold my breath when I'm using resin. Yesterday, I realized why. I hate to waste.
Waste? What does that have to do with resin, right? When I'm drawn to work with resin, it's because I have something special to encase in it, a prized memento or souvenir . . . which, of course, there's only one of, so if something goes wrong, the bezel is wasted and my treasure is ruined.
But not always. In addition to tips that help scaredy-cats like me avoid common resin pitfalls (such as bubbles, cloudiness, and tackiness) and ensure that resin sets properly and clearly, there are ways to fix some resin mishaps, too.
1. Work in a dust-free area with good ventilation and turn off fans in the area that could blow dust, etc., into your resin.
2. Wear gloves that fit well and snugly. You don't need saggy glove tips dragging resin around and messing up your work!
3. Mix resins very carefully. If the ratios are off even a little, you risk resin that will not cure and set up properly.
4. Work in good lighting. I've found that good overall, all-around light as well as a small lamp with direct light are best for me. The all-around light helps me make resin jewelry without making sloppy mistakes, of course, and the direct light really highlights tiny bubbles in resin, like inclusions in a gemstone. The lamp's warmth will come in handy for curing, too.
5. Scrape the sides and bottom of the cup when you're mixing resin, mixing for about two minutes, but avoid working it too much–no need to create extra bubbles to deal with. Mix until there are no streaks or cloudiness.
6. Pour resin into your mold or bezel slowly to avoid spillover and prevent trapping air around your encapsulated treasures, which causes those pesky bubbles.
7. For deep bezels or layered designs, work in layers to create the look of floating. Items will likely sink to the bottom and appear all on one layer if you don't work in steps, adding a base layer of resin and putting items in place one layer at a time, allowing layers to almost completely set in between.
8. Cover your resin masterpiece with an overturned cup or similar and place it under your lamp. The warmth from the light will help the resin cure. Resist touching or moving it until morning!
1. Ideally, gravity will work the bubbles to the top and out of your resin. If it needs some help, you have a few options. For deep bubbles (in wet resin), pop with a pin or fine toothpick. (Do this before the resin starts to set or you'll ruin it.)
2. For bubbles closer to the surface, a little hot breath can sometimes give them the last bit of encouragement they need to rise. You can also apply heat with a torch, passing it VERY briefly over the surface. Don't linger or you'll burn it! Heat guns and hair dryers aren't recommended as they can blow dust and who-knows-what into your work.
3. If your resin doesn't set up in the bezel, even after giving it a couple of days to be sure, you can use Attack! to remove the resin from the bezel. Anything you put in the resin is most likely gone, however, so consider this a last resort.
4. If your resin doesn't set up in a mold, just clean it out as best you can and then use rubbing alcohol to clean the mold before trying again.
5. If your resin looks foamy after setting, unfortunately there's nothing that you can do. This foaminess is caused when moisture gets trapped in the resin, usually from plants that aren't completely dry or sealed. Make sure organic matter is dry and that porous materials are well sealed with gel medium before encasing them in resin.
6. If your papers and artwork look blurry after the resin has cured, it's heartbreaking. Avoid blurred inks by sealing papers well with gel medium.
7. Ideally, resin dries to a glossy, perfect glass-like finish. To create a satin or matte finish–or to hide imperfections–buff the surface with fine- and gradually finer-grit sandpapers.
So now, whenever I sit down to work with resin, I have a new strategy. I make something using slightly less precious materials first and get out my jitters–then let my second piece be the more precious piece . . . and I reread these tips to remind myself that it's not rocket science, it's way more fun!
Of course, a great resin resource is always handy to have, and Susan Lenart Kazmer's new book, Resin Alchemy, is one of the best I've seen. Susan takes your mixed media jewelry projects from drab to fab with comprehensive and fully illustrated techniques, including detailed basics for newbies. Learn how to incorporate just about anything into spectacular resin jewelry with your copy of Resin Alchemy.
Already have your resin supplies and can't wait to get started? You can download the digital version of Resin Alchemy onto your favorite desktop or laptop computer and be ready to create in just minutes!
Have you tried resin for mixed media jewelry making projects yet? Do you incorporate resin jewelry-making components into your bead-weaving projects? What other great tips and hints do you have for someone (like me) who's just getting started? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your expertise with us!