Intro: Casting Resin Cabochons, Keepsakes and Cremation Jewelry
In this tutorial you will see how simple it is to cast resin for jewelry. Casting resin allows you to create beautiful cast pieces in any shape and size you desire.
This tutorial uses cosmetic grade mineral colorants and also shows how to use cremation ashes of a loved one, or a pet, for an extra special project that really touches the heart. Also pictured are examples of how casting clear resin with found items such as leaves and feathers can create beautiful jewelry.
Step 1: MATERIALS
First gather all of your materials:
Silicone molds or other easy to release mold in any shape desired
Clear (non yellowing) 2-part resin or epoxy
Vessel for mixing - shown, tiny cup or paper plate
Cosmetic grade mica powder (shown) - or other non toxic fine powder colorants
Small mixing/scooping utensil - shown, cosmetic spatula or bamboo skewer
When choosing resin or epoxy, 2 part products have a curing time on the package label.
I personally felt comfortable with a quicker setting resin, but I would suggest at least 30 min product for first time use. Also, be sure to allow the piece to cure for at least 24 hours before un-molding. Adding products to the resin can change how it sets and it would be a shame to pop them out and have the bottoms be uncured.
You may search the internet for different coloring options, use makeup from home, charcoal powder, powdered colorants from plants, etc... Here we used cosmetic mica that is non toxic. Non toxic is our preference, so choose your colorants as safely as possible. Also shown is the use of cremation ashes. Some folks may not be comfortable with this, while others may want to try this solely for this purpose. Either way, you can see here how it looks to use cremation ashes while casting resin for jewelry.
One other thing to touch on again is that when adding anything to resin, it can change how it reacts, and how quickly it sets and cures. Do not try to un-mold the pieces for a minimum of 24 hours. Many times the deepest area in the mold will be last to set and if you take it out too soon the entire piece is ruined. If you want to be safe, mixing a tiny amount and testing the mold first ensures you will know what to potentially expect when you use your sentimental additives like ashes.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN - Read through the entire tutorial completely. NO REALLY. Reading all the instructions FIRST, ensures you don't accidentally miss something when you realize that you added too much mica, right as your resin is setting up too quickly, the cat barfed, the dog tried to eat it and the doorbell rings. On top of that, you suddenly need to pee - don't be that person! Read the instructions!
Step 2: MIXING AND MOLDING
Read and follow the instructions on your resin label. Here, this resin squeezes out equal amounts of the 2-part product, which ensures the proper amounts are being used.
Express as much resin as you expect to use for your mold, a little goes a long way. DO NOT MIX YET! If in doubt, less is more and you can always mix a little more and try another color once you use your initial mix.
Add your colorant to the center of the pool of resin. VERY carefully begin to mix your resin pool, moving the edges of the pool from the outside edges, to the inside. This keeps the resin contained in a small pool and slowly incorporates the mica. Once the micah is saturated by the fluidity of the resin, you may swirl in whatever way you want. Just proceed slowly and scrape the mixture into a small pool once it's all incorporated. This also prevents bubbles! (I find that mixing in a cup incorporated a lot of air and you get more bubbles this way - if you WANT bubbles, now ya know!)
Use your mixing tool to lift up small amounts of resin to drop into the molds. These mold cavities are very small so filling one mold at a time went quickly. If you are filling a larger mold you can scrape it directly off into the mold. Just be sure to go slowly and drip into the deepest places first to prevent bubbles. Unless you want bubbles, then proceed recklessly as desired.
Step 3: USING ASHES
Here you can see the cremation ash variation of the resin casting. If you mix ashes into your resin use the same slow movement, pulling the outer edges of the pool to the center until the powder is all saturated. Here I added VERY TINY amounts of mica colorants at a time as I was mixing. I intentionally wanted the ash color to be dominant, but the shimmer in the mica to compliment it very gently. I think it worked just right for what I was trying to achieve and you may add or omit colorants to fit your desires and fill your molds as you see fit.
Here is the REALLY important part: Set it somewhere flat to set up and cure -
AND DON'T TOUCH IT!
No really, don't touch it for AT LEAST 24 hours - you do not want to prematurely un-mold something that is still fluid underneath. The air side cures fastest and the undersides that are not exposed will cure slower. As stated in the intro, adding ash or mica CAN change how quickly it cures. In my case it made it cure more slowly, but it could also cause it to cure very quickly. Just resist the urge to peek, fiddle or poke around - if you ruin it you've got nobody to blame but yourself! ;)
Step 4: NEXT DAY - UN-MOLDING
Fast forward through the magic of internet!
Day 2 un-molding! THIS is the EXCITING PART!
Gather your molds on a clean surface. You can see I had poured the remaining ash resin into a different mold, so that it did not go to waste. It is a good idea to have something on hand in case you mix a little too much. This mold is meant for candy or baking. I have used it before with this resin (bubbly feather cabochons in the photos!) so I knew it would be ok. It is just REALLY hard to get the cured and hardened resin out - so keep that in mind! Silicone IS SO EASY to un-mold!!!!
Most silicone molds just flex and bend freely, so you can loosen it up by flexing your mold. I did not find it necessary, just move slowly and patiently. Lift loosen and reveal your piece with care and IF for some reason your resin is not cured yet, just press it back into place, very carefully and hope for no bubbles! Try it again in another 24 hours.
If your pieces are cured, proceed with reckless abandon.
AKA Get those beauties out of there so you can admire them!
Step 5: ADMIRE YOUR FINISHED PIECES
Here you can see all of my finished resin cabochons! They turned out perfect, although one of the ash pieces had a wet spot where there was a thick granule against the surface of the mold. I was really fortunate that it dried almost instantly when exposed to the air. This is why it is important to SLOWLY un-mold your first pieces!
You can also see here what embedding found items in resin looks like! Same basic process, no colorants.
For the tiny feather cabochons: Just pour the resin in the mold, press the feather into place using pins or toothpicks. Allow it to cure for 24 hours.
For the leaves, they were glued down first with either a tiny drip of resin, or E6000 glue. Then covered slowly with resin to encase and preserve them. Here, getting them nice and flat is key. You can see that the yellow oak leaf has a curl that pokes out of the cured resin. Then the green oak leaf, which was pressed very flat in a book, was quite smooth, so it laid perfectly flat beneath the resin. Consider this when you use these items, and accept that sometimes it it all trial and error!
If you WANT bubbles, mixing in a little cup (tiny dixie cup or even a medicine cup) and quickly stirring creates bubbles. Some bubbles will dissipate and some will stay. It is up to you how bubbly it becomes, but again, trial and error and accept the possibilities. If you DO NOT want bubbles, mix on something flat like we did here today. Paper plates are great for this and you may cut it with scissors, getting near to the pool, to be able to pour it more easily.
Enjoy your resin keepsake casting and try something new. The possibilities are endless!!!!