Mixed-Media Jewelry-Making with Resin: Five Things NOT to Do With Resin

Nov 22, 2011

This summer, I started playing around with resin after seeing some absolutely beautiful resin pendants and earrings at my local farmer's markets and craft shows. It seemed easy enough: measure, mix, and pour. My first few resin pendants and earrings were successful, so I thought I'd venture out into some new mixed-media jewelry-making techniques using resin and see what I could do.

I wouldn't say that this most recent batch of resin projects was successful. In fact, I'd have to call them "successful failures" in that I didn't come away with any nice-looking resin pendants and earrings, but I did learn a whole lot about what not to do when it comes to using resin for mixed-media jewelry-making!

mixed-media-jewelry-project
These two bezel pendants illustrate what NOT to do when using resin for mixed media jewelry-making!
1. Let your sealer dry completely. I should have seen this one coming. But, being in a hurry and working on a deadline, I decided to put my sealed papers into the frames and pour my resin in before the sealer was completely dry. Resin and damp paper do not mix well together, and it totally destroyed the patterns on my fancy papers! Not good.

2. Work in a warm room. Living in upstate New York, we have some chilly mornings. I discovered that when you pour resin in a cool environment (under 70°F) not only does it take longer for that resin to cure without a UV light, but I also noticed more bubbles in the resin that stayed there after the resin cured.

3. Pour resin on a level surface. I figured that my dining room table would work nicely for pouring resin, but I was wrong. I had no idea that the table was actually slightly tilted, which made my resin slide over one side of my pendant bezels.

4. Pour resin slowly. Okay, so resin is NOT like working with metal clay where it dries out in about three seconds. You can take your time when pouring resin, and you should. Pouring your resin too quickly can make you overfill your bezels, and if you aren't pouring on a level surface (see point number three above), you'll end up with a lot of sloppy resin over the edges of your bezels.

mixed-media-jewelry
I called this glitter and resin filled bezel a "successful failure". The resin part didn't exactly come out how I had planned, but I can still use it to perfect other resin techniques.

5. When using glitter, you CAN add too much sparkle. I thought some glitter might look lovely mixed in with the last of my resin, so I poured in some sparkly black glitter that I found at my local craft supply store. I poured on the sparkle, thinking that more would be better. What I discovered was that adding too much glitter effectively blocked out everything that I wanted to see on the bottom of my bezel. On a bright note, however, I can now test my techniques for making rounded domes on these pendants the next time I mix up a batch of resin!

mixed-media-jewelry
Are you looking for expert advice when using resin in your mixed media jewelry-making projects? Check out Kristal Wick's Beaded Bracelets with Fiber, Beads, Crystals, Resin and Wire DVD. You'll get to sample four different mixed media jewelry-making techniques including epoxy clay, resin, fiber beads and wire work, and you'll get to combine them all into a spectacular one-of-a-kind bracelet! Mix up your jewelry-making projects with some fun new mixed media techniques with Kristal Wick in Beaded Bracelets with Fiber, Beads, Crystals, Resin and Wire.

Have you learned how to make resin jewelry yet? What are your questions about using resin? Do you have any tips for others who are starting out with resin? Leave a comment and share your questions and tips here on the blog!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

on Nov 23, 2011 5:05 AM

Was the resin you used a two part mix?  You mention working in a warm room, but I wanted to add a note of caution.  My daughter had a very unpleasant experience working with two part resin which can be very fumy and quite toxic.  Over a period of three weeks or so of intensive working with the resin each evening, she came out in a very red and itchy rash on both arms, face and throat.  At first we didn't associate it with the resin, but after stopping work with it and undergoing treatment from the doctor the rash subsided.  Then, when she did start using it again, the rash flared up again.  She is now working with other types of resin including non mix varieties, with no ill effects.

lessing wrote
on Nov 23, 2011 5:49 AM

Do you have suppliers / distributors in South Africa

Kreations3 wrote
on Nov 23, 2011 6:29 AM

I have tried to use resin once with limited success. I want to make colored backs for beaded glass pieces. Any suggestions what I could use for a mold? I do not want to use a bezel on the back.

Kathi

Nuttermom1 wrote
on Nov 23, 2011 6:32 AM

Just a note to help with bubbles - I bought a heat gun at Michaels ($10 with 50% off coupon) and I just lightly blow the heat over the resin pieces after I pour them. This gets rid of bubbles and makes beautifully clear pieces. It also helps start the curing process.

As for sealing - if you use an inkjet printer you definitely need a good sealer. I use PYM II spray and print on cardstock paper. PYM II dries very quickly and seals waterproof. I also try to use a laser printer whenever possible because it tends to look better and soak up less resin.

Resin is awesome!!! There are so many options that the possibilities are endless!

Deanna (Nuttermom)

on Nov 23, 2011 7:01 AM

Thank you for highlighting your resin failures!  I also had to learn the hard way about sealer.  I have found you can use just about any glue for sealing, but you HAVE to let it dry really, really well.  I also learned in a class that if you wave a lit match above the piece, it pulls out any bubbles.  And you need to pour the resin very s-l-o-w-l-y!  Its a great medium to work with and wow, I'm having so much fun with it!

on Nov 23, 2011 7:02 AM

Thank you for highlighting your resin failures!  I also had to learn the hard way about sealer.  I have found you can use just about any glue for sealing, but you HAVE to let it dry really, really well.  I also learned in a class that if you wave a lit match above the piece, it pulls out any bubbles.  And you need to pour the resin very s-l-o-w-l-y!  Its a great medium to work with and wow, I'm having so much fun with it!

skaresearch wrote
on Nov 23, 2011 12:03 PM

I discovered resin on the shelves of Michaels and whoohooo! Ran around sticking anything that'd fit in a little mold into resin! Stunk up the whole house, drove my husband to hide in the back of the house and made the guinnea pig VERY nervous.

This is what I learned: stuff in the spice cabinet makes very pretty baubles. Especially red chili flakes. Stuff from the garden? notsomuch. The resin eats the colors and you end up with sad looking off-white or dead-looking things. Put the oven on very low, put your resin trays on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper ('cause I'm not only impatient, I'm CLUMSY) and you can leave your baubles there for a couple hours for drying. But don't touch until they really ARE dry or you have baubles with fingerprints and all those tips for removing flaws don't work nearly as well as the how-to's say they do. Those little lego heads are fun to resin but they do trap air in odd places. Bits of old toys are also fun to resin and sometimes, they even work with their bits sticking OUT of the resin.

mskillasmile wrote
on Nov 23, 2011 10:23 PM

This is a very worthwhile article. I have a two part resin system that I have been hesitant to experiment with because I've heard horror stories about it, but now I want to try it.

on Nov 24, 2011 1:09 AM

I use a lot of resin for adding that beautiful glass-like finish on my polymer clay pieces. I have found the easiest way to pour resin is to mix it one of those little zip lock bags. i use a plastic spoon & add a spoonfull of resin & a spoonfull of hardener to the bag. I then knead the little bag for about 5 minutes, ensuring the resin is thoroughly mixed. Then I snip off a tiny corner of the bag and "pour" This tecnique gives great control over how much you use. You can go drop by drop if you need to and their is hardly any drips or spills!!

sharferrin wrote
on Nov 27, 2011 4:30 PM

What kind/type/brand of resin do you use?

Cjacrba wrote
on Mar 7, 2012 6:26 AM

I just started working with resin as well and am having so much fun with it.  The only problems I have encountered is the sanding and polishing.  The peices never turn out as nice as alot I see on-line.  I do have a question, how can I get some of the smaller peices from the molds to look like they are whole and not a half peices?

on Oct 13, 2014 7:19 AM

You wanted to know about successes and failures with using resin?

Okay here's what happened to me:

I've only used resin twice, the first time was an utter and complete failure, even after reading as much as I could about it, I started out completely wrong!

So my first lesson is, make sure you are not in a rush, and that you have plenty of time to go back and check on your resin.  I didn't, I set up the resin jobs I had planned and then rushed off to cook dinner with an anxious dog wondering what I was doing dashing off out of the kitchen without him.

Result the precious pendant I had taken months carefully creating at each step was ruined, and the gorgeous piece of copper with fantastic verdigris on it, was also ruined as was the polymer clay frame I had made for it.

I made too much resin causing me to over-fill both pendants, I had set the pendants on a tilted surface (who knew the workbench wasn't level?  I didn't, but I should have checked with a spirit level), and I set both pendants in a large glass petrie dish – which with the lip around it made it impossible to remove the damaged pendants without damaging them even further, one of them so much as to totally destroy it.

The good points about this and the lessons I learned are:

1) Use a level surface.

2) Use a wide surface, preferably a heat resistant craft mat, so that you can peal it off resin afterwards if you do have an overspill.

(I also damaged the glass of the petrie dish when hacking the ruins off it).

3) Yes, you can bake resin at 135 degrees C without damaging it. (I used one of the ruined pieces of clay with resin still attached as a test for this, and on another occasion was thus confident when baking a new clay design with resin pieces inbedded into it – worked beautifully!)

4) Adding resin over verdigrised copper brings the verdigris back to life, the pale flaky, light, faded, minty colour deepens to a richer darker green – as it was when I first lifted it out of the verdigrising solution.

I then tried using resin a 2nd time – this time by pouring it into round moulds to attempt to make Faux Opals with cellophane glitter flakes.

I bought 2 white plastic painting palettes, one for 50p and one for 30p.  I set a saucepan on to heat some water, very low heat just 2 or 4 on my hob, set the two bottles of resin and hardener into the water filled pan, and left them for about 20 mns to half an hour, then I mixed the resin in some old plastic pots that garlic dip came in, then I poured resin into the moulds, then I pushed flakes of glitter and fusible film into the resin with a cocktail stick.

I also tried out some PerfectFX Essence of Pearl mica flakes too.

All 3 worked well.

Here are the rest of the resin lessons I learned:

5) Yes, using cellophane glitter flakes gives a wonderfully colourful result.  These flakes look okay before you immerse them in resin but a fantastic transformation takes place as they are pushed into just poured resin, the colours come alive!

Even more so when the back of the moulded and cured resin is painted black, or if you place a circle of kitchen foil on the back, dark fire or white fire results – fabulous!

6) As baking resin is now proved to be okay, I might be able to rescue the less damaged pendant from the first resin session, I can add clay to the damaged back and rebake it.

7) You can also use fusible film in resin, if you cut it up small and thin it can look like rutile forms in rock crystal.

8) You can also use other mica flakes like Essence of Pearl. These merged so well with the mica it almost looked like the flakes had dissolved leaving just the pearl, this too catches the light well.  I might try one with just these mica flakes in it, so I can more easily see what it looks like.

My first attempt was with Ice Resin in a syringe, my 2nd was with Envirotex Lite.  I do wonder if it would be okay to add Envirotex Lite to the Ice Resin in a new layer?