I've wanted to make resin jewelry for years, and this past week I finally got down to trying.
After my first two batches of experiments, I can now proudly say I've had one or two successes, three flat-out failures, and a few not-too-horrible learning experiences.
Let's start with my one true success, so my ego can bear the rest.
I started with broken bits of jewelry:
(The flowers came from a separate necklace, if you can believe it. I just clipped off the back loops & the top loop from the drop pendant.)
I super-glued these bits together quite precariously:
Dropped them in the mold with some mixed resin:
Waited 24 hours, flexed the tray, popped out the pendant, and squealed and jumped around like a little girl:
How cool is this??
Resin is a dream to drill through - like buttah! - so I didn't really *need* to use my new Dremel drill press, but I've been waiting for just this excuse to give it a test spin:
Once the pin hole was drilled, I attached a silver bail, strung it on a spare chain, and rushed out into the 95 degree heat to take some photos in the sunlight:
Now to balance things out, let's take a look at my three failures, and what went wrong with each:
All three were ruined on two counts, the first of which being that I must have mixed my resin with just slightly off proportions, because all three never hardened completely. They're rubbery, and you can bend them almost in half with your fingers. The annoying thing was this was my second batch of resin, and the first cured perfectly. I did everything exactly the same, so I'm not sure how I got my proportions off - but then, I was mixing such small amounts it'd only take a tiny discrepancy either way to get it wrong.
Even if the resin had cured correctly, though, each has additional fatal flaws. Here's what I learned:
Considering how much I adore crystals and was looking forward to dumping them in every resin piece I make, this was a major bummer for me.
LESSON LEARNED: Loose crystals and resin do not mix. (Dang it.)
Btw, I think the crystals in my first pendant still sparkle because their backs and sides are in a metal setting, with only the fronts of the crystals exposed to the resin. But that's just a theory.
In a similar fashion, the plastic green crystal button also looks melted in the resin - but again, it's not; just obscured. You can still kind of see the large facets. The button also kept bobbing up and poking through the back of the resin, forcing me to push down one side or another every hour for several hours, but even after it started to harden it STILL managed to cure at a wonky angle. Grrr.
LESSON LEARNED: Light stuff floats in resin. A LOT.
My largest pendant was the closest to being a success, in that at least all the elements inside look great together in the resin:
The problem is that all the elements shifted and floated and bobbed around, and since I couldn't see past the bird charm from above, I had no idea my large gear had floated directly in front of its face. Boops.
The bird charm is actually paper card stock, so it, too, wanted to bob to the surface and shift position constantly, forcing me to push it back down into the resin, causing all the other bits - my gears & wire coils - to shift as well. It also caused more bubbles each time I pushed it down, which was a pain.
You might recognize the bird charm from this Jolee's Boutique sticker set:
(Sorry for all the crappy night shots; as usual, I was crafting at 3AM. Hee.)
You can find them at Wal-Mart or your local craft store for just a few dollars, and the photo corners they're attached to pop off easily. The metallic finish is *gorgeous* in resin, so you can bet I'll be trying this one again.
LESSON LEARNED: To get a layered affect with several elements, do two separate pours: one for the front (in this case, my gears), and another for the back, once the front cures. So far as I know, this *should* work - and it's what I'll be trying next. Cross your fingers for me!
I have a few more resin experiments to share, but I want to get another batch under my belt before I show them to you.
In the meantime, I've really been enjoying the blog and tutorial videos over at Little Windows Photo Jewelry. There are tons of great ideas on the blog, and the videos are beautifully done.
As for materials, the resin I used is called EasyCast clear casting epoxy. I don't know yet if I can recommend it, since one out of my two batches never cured - though I realize that was probably my own fault somehow. It does dry crystal clear, though, and I didn't find bubbles to be much of a problem; breathing on the surface and some careful swipes with a toothpick seemed to take care of almost all of them. It's also super cheap on Amazon right now; less than $12 for 16 oz, which I paid $22 for at Hobby Lobby. (And yes, I feel like a dolt now.)(Oh, but shipping is an extra $7, so that makes me feel better.)
I've heard a lot about ICE Resin, but with a single ounce costing nearly $25, I'm just too cheap to try it.
Little Windows also sells her own, home-bottled epoxy, which is unusual in that it has a 2:1 ratio, unlike the others which are 1:1. Her 12 oz kit, which includes mixing cups & stir sticks, is $36. I may end up buying some of her molds, if nothing else, since she has some nice simple shapes in multiples, which allows you to make from 3 to 8 of the same shape at a time:
This set of molds with a template for cutting inserts is $15, plus $2.55 shipping.
You can also use candy molds for resin, so check your local bakery goods supply for options. (Just make sure you never use them for anything edible again!)
When I mentioned all these different epoxy options to John, he pointed out (with all due incredulity) that an entire *gallon* of bar-top epoxy (which dries crystal clear) is only about $65. I have to wonder what, if any, difference there is between that and these "jewelry-grade" epoxies. Anyone know? Or is this just some giant re-packaging scam?
I'd love suggestions and advice from you resin crafters, so if you know of other brands or resin resources, please, tell me in the comments! And if you've used any of the ones I've mentioned, I hope you'll share your reviews, too. This is one of those crafts that can get expensive fast, so I'm counting on you guys to steer me in the right direction!