cast polyester resin

Slab De Wain Valentine 1968 Cast polyester resin 70 3/ 8 x 23 1/ 2 x 17 ¼ in. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Gift of First Interstate Bank of California, Los Angeles.

Resin Jewelry Q&A

So, I recently received this message:

“hi, so I’m a total 100% beginner to resin jewellery. I think it looks beautiful and really want to give it a go myself. The problem is, I’m not quite sure where to start. What do I need and what do the items do? Obviously resin, bezels, stuff to put in resin. But What is the Mod Podge stuff you use and why? Can I use ice cube trays as moulds? any and all advice would be so so appreciated <3 I LOVE YOUR WORK!! <3”

First, I’d like to thank you, princess-epikion for your questions. I love to get feedback and questions from you guys. =) Now, I’ll address all your questions. Note: I used stock photos from Michaels’ and Hobby Lobby’s websites because a lot of my stuff has already been used and fashioned into something.

To make resin jewelry you will need: Resin (duh), mold(s) and mold release or bezel(s). 

I know you obviously realize you need resin but you should be aware that there are different types of resin available: Clear casting epoxy, clear polyester casting and casting resin. All of these are usually sold side-by-side in-store and you could get in a mess if you don’t know the differences.

Clear casting Epoxy is ideal for small decorative items and jewelry in molds. You may also encase small items in it. Dyes may be added for color. These dyes should be nearby the resin in-store (if available) and will indicate they are for resin casting crafts. This is what I use and what I’d recommend you use. It is available at most craft stores such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels as well as online.

Polyester casting resin is for deep mold casting. Not recommended for jewelry-making.

Casting resin dries within minutes (unlike the previous two which can take 24 hrs or more) but it dries white not clear. It can be painted, stained, dyed, tapped, drilled and machined, however. It is a viable option for jewelry making but it’s to make replicas from molds not to encase things. I’ve only seen this sold at Hobby Lobby.

There are a variety of molds available to make pendants, bracelets etc. Hobby Lobby has a small selection of generic molds in-store but I would highly recommend browsing Etsy for specialty molds.

Now, if you use molds you’ll need mold release. Do not try to save money and use cooking spray. The internet says you can but it’s a lie. Your piece will become cloudy and unusable. Also, don’t think you can just skip using the mold release. Your piece could get stuck in your mold permanently and then you’d have spent money for nothing. Buy mold release. It actually goes quite a long way.

Clear casting resin isn’t just for molds though. You can encase all sorts of neat things in it. In that case, you just need the resin and some bezels. Bezels come in all sorts of nifty shapes, sizes and colors. They even comes as rings. Also, I’d like to note that you can use something as simple as a bottle cap for your bezel.

You can also cast images on paper in resin - photographs, printed images, mini pieces of art etc. Because paper is so thin you’ll probably want to seal it on both sides or in your bezel with mod podge. This is to protect against the paper becoming somewhat transparent. It is also very important if you’re going to encase something that was done by hand with ink because otherwise the ink will bleed.  Mod podge is an all-in-one sealer, glue and finish. It works for wood, paper, fabric, and other porous surfaces as a glue, varnish, or to seal and protect items prior to use in craft projects. It’s just great to have in general - if you’re not using it yet, you should be!

There are mini kits for resin jewelry-making that include resin and mixing materials and just mixing materials. However, I don’t use any of those kits but rather buy large packs of Popsicle sticks and plastic bathroom cups from Wal-Mart. I requisitioned a mini glass measuring cup from my mother that I reuse though. You will need to find a small measuring cup; preferably reusable so you don’t have to keep buying those little kits.

Also, whatever you use for resin crafts should not ever be used for anything else. Resin is toxic. Also, you should wear gloves. Your skin won’t exactly burn off but it can mildly irritate your skin and it’s just plain obnoxious to wash off.

Lastly, I have never used an ice cube tray to cast resin so I cannot give you a definitive answer as to whether or not it would work. However, if you want to give it a try then by all means please do. If you have a disposable tray, mold release and resin then it might just work. The plastic may be too inflexible though. If you do attempt it, please let me know how it went.

Well, I hope I answered all your questions completely, princess-epikion. If you or anyone else has any further questions then please ask. I’m always happy to be of assistance.

Stay crafty, my friends.

-M

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So here are the successful parts of this void key candy project so far. Keep in mind that these are less than an inch tall, quite small!

Top left is my 3D print with the back filled with clay, the others in that row are test casts with Smooth-Cast 325 (the white ones purposely have too much of component B for testing purposes)

The second row contains my polyester resin tests. they look gorgeous in real life, and most like what is going to come out from the molds when I cast the hard candy. The surface isn’t perfect… all around the sides, the polyester got a little stringy for some reason, so I am hoping the candy versions come out even better.

Not pictured: The giant mess in my office.

[edit] Omg I posted this like an hour before prime time and it got featured tonight!! Wowww thank you so much gosh gosh

MAKEUP REHEARSAL!

Wig still needs a little fix and I gotta glue the eyes down better so they don’t look as derpy haha <3 otherwise I’m pretty much good to go!

The nose is casted in polyester resin and originally sculpted in clay. Also glued on a bit derpy I notice now lol

Tonight I’m doing the final leg walk test! It moves pretty good atm but gonna tweak it a bit more.

WHO’S EXCITED FOR NÄRCON? :D