Monday, June 4, 2012

Mastering 2-Part Resin - Tips and Advice

Dancing Dragonflies Pendant
Over the last year I have happily earned the title of "resin expert" here at Beadaholique. When there is a question about how to use this versatile product, it ends up with me. I also receive a lot of questions describing challenges people are having with their resin pours. With so many wanting to learn and master this technique, I thought I would put together this little blog with hard-earned tips and advice.

Dreams in Flight Necklace



First off, do NOT expect your first pour to be great. If it is, that is wonderful, but expect there to be a little glitch here or there. Was the first wrapped wire loop you ever made perfect? How about the first time you tried bead weaving? All these disciplines took time, patience, and practice to master - resin is no different. It took me at least 6 pours before I was truly happy with my resin results. Hopefully with the information in this blog, it won't take you as many, but think of your mistakes as learning experiences and allow yourself some slack. TIP: For your first pour, choose an inexpensive bezel or bottle cap to pour into, even a mold would be a good option. Do not use sterling silver or spend a lot of time making a gorgeous piece. Think of this first pour strictly as practice.  

Work Area:
Before pouring resin, set up a pouring station. It should be an area that is relatively dust free with a flat plastic covered surface, where the cat can not jump onto, and the temperature of the room should be around 78 degrees (you must keep it around this temperature for at least 12 hours after the pour). Pouring in a cold environment can create a cloudiness to your finished piece and the bubbles will be more difficult to remove. High humidity can also affect the curing. I actually try to avoid pouring when it's raining out if possible, just to be on the safe side. TIP: pour your pieces on a piece of card board cut out of a box you were going to throw away. This way if any spills over, you can just discard the board. It also gives you the ability to move your resin (not recommended) if you absolutely must. Also have on hand some type of lid or platform to cover your resin once you have poured it. This prevents dust from settling on it.  



Prepping Your Pieces:
If you are using a collage image set down into a bezel setting, you must first prep your piece before pouring. To do this, it is important that you glue the image to the bezel. A "white" glue is recommended for this. Do not use E6000, it is too thick and will most likely seep through your image. After the glue is dry, paint 3 coats of sealant ontop of the image, letting each layer dry thoroughly before applying the next. I repeat - 3 LAYERS! Trust me on this one, it is tempting to skip the third coat, but doing so can and most likely will result in a bit of the resin seeping into the paper at random places and causing a spotted blotchiness to your artwork. I prefer Nunn Sealant for this application if you are using images you printed yourself. Let all these layers completely dry before pouring your resin. If you are using molds, make sure to use a mold release spray, this will help you pieces come out more easily. TIP: Print on a 100# white card stock if you are making your own images. A laser is best, but ink jet printers work fine too.  



The Mixing:
Resin hardens because a chemical reaction takes place between part A and part B. If you do not mix exactly equal amounts, this chemical reaction can not occur properly and your resin will end up either not curing at all, being squishy and flexible, or hard but not solid. That is why the number 1 thing to remember with resin is to measure carefully. Also make sure that you have not stored your resin in a cold place. If you have, place your sealed resin in a warm bowl of water for 20 minutes to bring it up to room temperature. After you have measured exactly, stir your resin for 2 full minutes until all striations are gone. If you whip your resin, more of those pesky little bubbles will appear - so give it a good stir and scrape the sides of the container, but do not be over zealous. Never mix less then 1/2 ounce, it needs this much for the chemical reaction to take place. TIP: After mixing, let your resin sit for 5 minutes before pouring. This allows a good deal of the bubbles to rise to the surface and pop on their own.  



Dyes and Pigments:
Remember that there is a chemical reaction that needs to occur for your resin to set up properly. Any liquid you add to the mixture will affect this. A couple drops of dye or pigment per ounce of resin will not affect the curing process, however, an abundance of color will off-balance the mixture and cause the resin to not cure properly. Glitters and other dry substances are fine to add in quantity.  



The Pouring:
If you have a large area you are covering, by all means pour directly from your mixing cup. However, if you are making pendants or smaller items, then use your popsicle stick as an applicator to transfer your resin to the bezel or mold. Just grab some on the tip of the stick and then let it drip from there into the bezel. Also use that stick to push the resin to the edges versus trying to directly pour near an edge where you run the risk of spilling over the side. TIP: You have approximately 30 - 45 minutes of work time, go slowly and be patient.

Learn To Soar Necklace

Air Bubbles:
There always seem to be air bubbles in resin. With all the pours I have done, I have never not had to deal with air bubbles. That said, I am happy to report that only rarely does one slip by me and end up in the cured finished piece. I prefer to use a micro torch or a bbq lighter to remove my bubbles. Do not get the flame too close as it can burn the piece. In a pinch, I have used a lighter. For molds which you can not apply flame to, you can try breathing your hot breath over the top surface, this does actually remove some bubbles. Vibration also works to bring the bubbles to the surface where they can easily be popped with a pin.  


Chocolate Hearts Magnet Set
Curing:
You can actually start to work with your piece after 24 hours, but allow 3 days for it to fully cure.  


Things to keep in mind:
  • Most resins have a shelf life of about 12 months. It will turn bad after awhile so only get as much as you will use in this time frame. Resin which has turned will appear much more yellow in its unmixed state and the resulting pieces will usually be flexible or maintain that yellowed look. 
  • You can not reuse your mixing cup
  • You can not store mixed resin for a later use
  • You can sand, file, and drill resin 


I hope these tips help you along your creative journey! 

Happy Resin Making,
Julie

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