November 1, 2011

make it yourself: learn how to cast resin

Let's begin November in a very diy way, shall we? Some of you may know that many moons ago I was big into resin. I made resin belt buckles all-dang-day and all-dang-night. I loved it. But then I met this handsome fellow, got knocked up and he incessantly went on and on about "toxic chemicals" and "fetal deformities". Although with the right precautions and a less paranoid partner you can cast resin safely I decided to forget the buckle business and only cast resin on occasion.

I know this is a craft that lots of people are intimidated by so I thought that I would offer an introductory lesson in how to do it. There are normally directions on the side of the box but sometimes a single paragraph doesn't cut it. Keep in mind that this isn't a project where we'll be making a certain thing - we're just picking up a new skill today. I'll offer more specific projects in the future.

First you'll need your supplies:

Easy Cast resin (this is an epoxy resin)*
4 disposable plastic cups (cannot be lined with wax)
2 wooden stir sticks
molds (for best results use a polyethelene or silicone mold)**
newspaper or paper towel
heat gun (not pictured)
face mask (not pictured)

Your box of epoxy resin will include a bottle of 'hardener' and 'resin'. Measure out equal parts in separate plastic cups.

Combine the equal parts into one cup.

Stir well for 2 minutes. Don't stir so hard as to create lots of bubbles.

Pour stirred resin into a fresh cup. Be sure to scrape out every last bit that you can. Stir for 1 minute.

Prep your pouring station and molds. Make sure that your work surface is covered in newspaper, your molds are dust-free, you have your heat gun plugged in and any embellishments close by.

Fill your mold about half way with resin. If you have bubbles you'll want to blast the resin with a heat gun. Be sure to keep the gun moving and not to concentrate the heat anywhere for an extended period. These molds are plastic and melt relatively quickly under the hot, hot heat.

Add embellishments. You can use a clean stir stick to reposition if needed. Be sure not to add your embellishments to a naked mold because they probably won't be covered in resin when this is all finished. That's why we added a touch of resin before adding the decorations.

Allow your resin to cure for at least 24 hours in a well ventilated area. When I shot this tutorial it was the perfect time of year to have an open window - not too hot or cold. If weather temps are extreme consider using a fan to disperse the smell.

Your resin should be fully cured after 24 hours. However, if the surface feels tacky at all you should leave it for another day. If after two days the surface is still sticky it's probably because something went wrong in the process. Most likely the mixing ratio was not correct or the two parts were not thoroughly mixed. I've done it all. Live and learn.

Pop your pieces out of the mold. If you're having a hard time getting the pieces out you can pop the mold into the fridge for 15 minutes or more. That always helped me.

If you were really sloppy when you were pouring your cured pieces may look like this...

Have no fear! Grab a pair of scissors and a fine grit nail file and you're good to go.

And there you have it - you're a bona fide resin caster!

*I've found that epoxy resin is the easiest kind to find. I know you can find it at Michaels but it's best to wait for their coupons because what they charge for resin is ridiculous! If you can't find it there check with your local art stores. Even if they don't have it on the shelf they may be able to order it in. I also like this type of resin the best because of the mixing ratios. Makes the whole thing a lot easier.

**I purchased almost all of my molds from Resin Obsession, but I've also made special orders with Snew (she is amazing!!).

Keep in mind that not all silicone is created equal. There are a lot of cheap options at the dollar store now that silicone ice trays are available but I've found that sometimes you'll get a cloudy or matte finish with these. I'm not saying don't try them I'm just saying be prepared and maybe do a test run first. However some of the higher end ice trays have worked out perfectly for me - like this one for example.

Okay, so that's all for today's lesson. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I'll leave the answer here and I'll try my best to email you back well.

Thanks for stopping by!