Have you ever wanted to try 2-part resin? Let me show you exactly how to do it!
Resin is awesome, and will take your game to a higher level, but it can be downright intimidating at first. You are creating a chemical reaction, and it’s a little tricky because it is absolutely imperative that you mix equal parts of resin & hardener or it will not set up right. If it doesn’t set properly, you are basically screwed, there is no salvaging the project. But, if you follow these steps it should greatly increase your chance of success. And we all hate fails, so let’s get going.
The first resin I started playing around with was 2-part epoxy from the 99¢ store. They had this contraption which was basically 2 syringes, one full of resin and one of hardener, and you pushed down the plungers to squirt them out in equal amounts. Kinda cool as long as you don’t accidental squeeze out a huge air bubble and jack up your ratio (I did this). Also this type of resin almost always dries yellow or amber. That would actually work well for some projects, but then the store stopped carrying it so onto Plan B. After some Internet research, I discovered ICE jewelers’ resin, and so that’s what I use now. It’s pretty easy to use & give nice consistent results. I am a big believer in reading the directions first, however there are no instructions on the package. I sort of winged it at first, then I found their website & followed the instructions there. This tutorial is based on the manufacturers’ instructions with some helpful tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Step One: Be very prepared! Resin is messy, sticky and permanent. It becomes unworkable within a few minutes. Once you start, you must keep rolling or abort the mission. Cover your work surface with several layers of paper, wear scroungy clothes, have everything you need within arms reach. Glove up (with nice snug gloves) & tie your hair back.
Step Two: Make sure your area is as dust free as possible and have something clean to cover your project as soon as you finish. Make sure your materials are dust free as well. I have sadly watched dust settle on pieces while I was still working on them. Dust is your #1 enemy when playing with resin. I happen to live in Southern California so there is no escape from dust, I just try to minimize it as best I can. When working on a project that has to be perfect (such as a custom photo bracelet) I always keep the piece covered, even in between steps. Also, doors closed and NO FANS, no matter how hot it gets. I’ve had to do this on days when it was so hot, sweat was literally pooling in my gloves. Try not to sweat onto your project.
Step Three: Have your materials prepped. If you are using paper ephemera or photos, pre-seal with something like Mod Podge or gel medium. Resin will soak into your paper, sometimes in arbitrary spots, and can ruin the whole project. Sometimes it can work to your favor, if it looks nice and antique-y, but why chance it?
Step Four: Everything ready? Let’s go! Glove up before you even touch the resin bottles. Pour equal parts of resin & hardener into your measuring cups. I use disposable portion cups which are readily available & pretty cheap at Smart & Final. They are easy to measure with and give me just the right amount of resin for my projects. If you are molding with resin, you may need to mix more that just 2 ounces. Let the 2 parts settle before mixing to make absolutely sure they are equal. The hardener is less viscous than the resin and will settle faster, and therefore will hit the measuring mark faster. Give the resin a second to settle at the measuring mark before proceeding.
Step Five: Pour the hardener in the mixing cup first and scrape out every bit. The resin is stiffer and stickier, so if you pour it into the measuring cup first it tends to stick to the bottom and makes it that much harder to get it good and blended. Mix carefully but completely for 2 minutes, but try not to get it to bubbly. Bubbles are your #2 enemy when playing with resin. Scrape the bottom and sides to be 100% sure it is well blended. The resin may look milky-ish when you first start stirring, but after mixing for 2 minutes, it will become clear.
Step Six: Let it sit undisturbed and covered for a minute or 2 so that some of the bubbles work themselves out. It will begin to get a little warm. Get psyched to start pouring.
Step Seven: Carefully pour the resin into the mold or bezel of your choice. Get bubbles out by gently blowing on your resined piece through a straw. You can also use resin to seal flat surfaces, as I do with my bracelets. In that case, make sure the resin is evenly coating your piece. You can use a stir stick or paint brush to spread the resin around (use a burner brush, there’s no way you will be able to use it again after this). Immediately cover your work. Also, resin works best when the temperature is above 72º, so if you are doing this on a cold day, you can help the process by putting your work under a desk lamp that gives off some heat. I have a couple of high-watt light bulbs that I use just for this purpose.
That’s it, now just wait 24 hours for your resin to be completely hard and you are golden. Here are some pix of me using resin to make rings and/or magnets from bottle caps. Fun, and so easy you can fill your jewelry box with fancy custom rings. Impressive!