In this tutorial, you will learn about basic resin casting - the types of resins, how to measure them and how to work with them. You will also learn about different types of molds and how to mix them. We even cover how you should cleanup!
Resin is used in lots of craft work. You don't normally make it at home so search results for how to make resin are misleading. So remember to handle store bought resins with care as per manufacturers directions and only use reputable suppliers. Resin can be a fun project, whether you are working with it for professional or hobby crafts, and you should always take basic precautions.
What you need
Let’s start with the basic types of resins, shall we?
Types of Resins
Polyester Resin : is a liquid plastic that hardens when a few drops of the catalyst are added to create a chemical reaction. Polyester Resin is durable and is the resin of choice for industrial applications and serious crafters who are experienced in resin casting. This resin is highly toxic and should be used in a well ventilated area using protective masks to avoid inhalation. One main advantage of Polyester Resin is the depth in which it can be poured for larger embed projects. Polyester Resin is cheaper to buy than Epoxy resin as it is generally purchased in larger quantities such as 1lt + tins.
Epoxy resins also come in two parts: resin and hardener. The two parts must be mixed in the precise ratio given in the manufacturer’s instructions. Imprecise measuring and mixing prevents the epoxy resin from solidifying or curing. Epoxy resin is also self leveling, giving your project a glass like finish without too much technique. More expensive than the polyester resin but a great way to get started for a small batch of projects.
Always handle resins with care, and follow the proper use that is recommended by the manufacturer.
Pigments and Dyes These come in liquids, powders and pastes . You will need to purchase color dyes that are suitable for your brand of resin. Dye’s are added during the mixing process.
Now let’s move to the different types of molds.
Molds and how to pour your resin
Dimensional Molds: These are molds that create a 3D object, such as a heart shaped pendant, bangle or coaster etc. Latex and Plastic Molds can be purchased for resin casting or you can make your own molds, or use items you have around the home. When choosing molds consider the process for pouring resin into molds. You need to have a mold that is stable and can hold the weight of the resin.
Plastic molds: You can use store-bought chocolate molds, specific pendant molds or other similar molds. again these are great to use due to the flexibility.
Home molds: Ice cube trays work well for pendants, chocolate box inlays are a great source of small rounded molds. You can use any durable (heat-proof) plastic item you find in your home. You can also use inflexible molds that can be cut or broken away from the casting, such as a glass jar or plastic lunch container.
Mold Release : If you are using a flexible mold there really is no need to add a mold release agent. However, a perfect inexpensive release agent is spray cooking oil. Simply give your mold a quick spray and wipe it over and it’s ready to use.
Flat Objects: You can also pour your resin over flat objects such as scrabble pieces, decorated coasters, trays and flat jewelry pieces.
Ok, so we know about types of resins and the different molds, but how do we mix and use?
How to mix
Your resin will come with its very own set of instructions which you should follow strictly. Basically you will measure the two parts (as per the instructions provided on your product) together and then pour into your mold.
For mixing and measuring use baking spoons and measuring jugs as these will give you an accurate measurement.
Wipe out your measuring tools after each use, making sure you have separate tools for the resin and hardener parts.
Plastic disposable bowls, spoons or cups work well as you can discard them after each use. Do not over mix or your resin will be filled with air bubbles. Let your resin rest for a few moments before pouring to avoid extra air.
Air Bubbles: Can be gently tapped out or use a straw and your warm breath to blow over the bubble, this disperses the soft resin and releases the air trapped underneath the surface. Larger projects use a warm setting on your hair dryer or embossing gun.
You can embed all sorts of items to make your resin exciting, from plastic toys to coins, dried foliage, and even cake sprinkles.
Photos and images can easily be embedded into your resin but it is advised to coat your image and photo with a sealer first to prevent the ink dyes from running in your resin. Using white clear drying craft glue is one way to seal your image, you can also use a spray varnish or other archival sealer. Make sure it is completely dried before pouring.
And now, the dreaded cleanup.
If you have spilled your image, use an acetone cleaner, such as nail varnish remover or methylated spirits before it cures. Cured resin can be chipped away with knives or chisels. The easiest way to clean up resin is not to spill it in the first place. The best way to remove resin from hands Is acetone.