Tutorial: How to Make Resin Jewelry
Get Started Making Resin Jewelry
I had a difficult time finding a well written and thorough "how to" guide when I first began working with resin. Once I ironed out the details, I decided to share what I learned. By that I mean I am going to tell you what NOT to do.
First, supplies. I use Envirotex lite resin, which you can buy online or at a paint store (I found mine at Sherwin-Williams). It comes in two jugs that are mixed together 1/1. There are many resin brands available, but Envirotex Lite is very easy to use and does not emit fumes. Since I try to be as environmentally friendly as possible, that is what I chose to use! Plus, you can work with it inside with no ventilation. Which is awesome. And important.
For molds (you have to pour that resin somewhere!) I found I like Deep-Flex Resin molds. Pieces come out easily and are nice and shiny. Cheaper molds will make your pieces look dull and do not flex as easily so the molds only last a few pours.
Mixing it up!
If you are planning on embedding something inside your resin piece, have this prepped. If you are just getting started, you might want to make a few plain pieces to try it out your skills before getting too fancy!
Again, the resin I use is mixed 1/1, so there are two parts that need to be mixed equally. I use three plastic shot cups. (you really want to use three to keep the mix just right). To keep everything organized, I have labeled my bottles and my cups 1,2, and three just so there is no confusion!
Pour equal amounts from each resin bottle into two (different!) cups. Measure and mark a line on each cup will help make sure you mix properly. Then, pour cup 1 and 2 into the third cup and mix really well. Do not mix too roughly or you will end up with tons of air bubbles. Some air bubbles are normal and we will get there in a minute. Stir the cup for a minute or two, making sure you scrape the sides of the cup.
Want to add color?
If you are looking to add color to your piece, I found using good old acrylic paint works really well! Here is a few things I learned by trial and error.
- You only need a drop for most colors. The more paint you use, the longer it will take for your work to dry. Sometimes a piece will have to dry a long time to get an intense color, some times too much paint will result in the piece NEVER drying.
- Black requires two or three drops or it will be grey.
- Red tends to look pink no matter how much paint you add, but adding the tiniest drip of black darken it up. I just dipped a toothpick in the black paint and mixed it in.
-Avoid yellow!!! I tried using yellow once and it NEVER dried. Honestly, a week later it was still wet. It nearly ruined some of my favorite molds. Perhaps it was me, maybe the paint was bad, I don't know. Yellow pigment tends to make anything it is added to softer, so experiment with care!
- Don't be afraid to mix, swirl or layer colors. As you get more confident experiment!
Time to pour!
So, now your resin is mixed and colored (if you like). Keep in mind that the time from mixing to pouring in the mold should be between 5 and 10 minutes for Envirotex lite (and 10 is stretching it) . Other resin brands start setting much quicker, so make sure you read your directions and pour quickly.
If you want to add bauble (such as a bead or picture) pour a tiny bit of resin in first, then place your addition in. Otherwise, you can end up with an air bubble. Also, seal pictures or paper with Modge Podge before hand to protect the image.
Pouring needs to be done with a steady hand. Try really hard not to over pour or under pour. Over pouring can be fixed by filing the piece, but under pouring leaves a dip in the back of your work. So be careful, and pour slow.
A few minutes after you pour the resin into the molds you will notice air bubbles start to surface. Don't worry this is normal! Most will pop on their own, but you will need to watch you resin for the first twenty minutes or so. (You don't have to sit there and stare at it, just check in every few minutes for new air bubbles!)
To get rid of the air bubbles lightly blow on the resin. Keep in mind it is the CO2 in your breath that pops the bubbles, not how hard you blow.
If you are creating necklace charms, be sure to add a hook before it dries. I find adding the hook after the resin has started to set a little bit works best. I have lost some of my favorite works in the making when the hook slipped down into the resin. Jewelry wire and even guitar strings work well as hooks. Make a U shape and bend over the end so it can stick in the resin.
Now all you have to do is wait. Drying time will vary depending on the amount of paint you add and temperature. Your best bet is to let them dry at least overnight. Sometimes it can take up to 12 hours to completely dry. A heater set on low under the table your pieces are on will help speed up dry time. DO NOT use direct heat.
After your pieces have dried, they should pop out of their molds easily. If not (and you are sure they are dry!), try flipping the mold over and lightly tapping each piece with the butt of a screwdriver or a rubber mallet.
Filing the edges of the resin pieces creates a cleaner, more professional look. I used a nail file, but you could use fine sandpaper.
I hope you find my tutorial on how to make resin jewelry useful. Have fun, and feel free to ask questions or leave comments about what works for you!