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 start working with resin? 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
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
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
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
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
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
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!