Epoxy resin can add a beautiful and protective shiny coating to handcrafted jewelry and other items.
BUT it can also be scary to work with for someone who hasn’t used it before.
This instructable aims to reduce some of that fear while also reminding the user that these are chemicals and need to be used with respect.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
You will need:
2-part epoxy resin mix
I used Easycast Clear Casting Epoxy, others that are popular include Envirotex lite, ICE Resin and Glaze Coat Epoxy Sealer.
Disposable stir sticks
I usually use (unused) popsicle sticks but as you can see from the pictures, I also use the other end of the paint brushes I used the last time I coated jewelry. I also use either sticks or paint brushes to smooth the resin out to the edges of the item I am covering.
Find ones that have ridges so that it is easy to get an equal amount of each part of the epoxy mix. Others use cups like those used at the Dentist office.
Epoxy resin is not suppose to stick to it, though I have found that if it gets warm enough it will stick to the bottom of the item, and is then easily sanded off.
This is used to hold items so that they don't float in the resin and also helps to seal in any paper so that you don't get a translucent look if you weren't looking for it.
Craft heat gun
This is used to remove bubbles. If you want to be even surer of bubble removal, a small propane torch or even gently blowing through a straw works as the carbon dioxide draws out the bubbles.
To be even safer protective glasses and a mask are recommended by some, though I haven’t used them.
Or base to put the resin on.
Not shown but is a great idea as resin is self-leveling.
Step 2: Gather Items to Be Covered
I love working with polymer clay and vintage laces and fabrics but also have used large beads or wood shapes. Anything that won't be affected by heat (such as Styrofoam and some light plastics) can be used. The resin warms up as it cures and can ruin things with a low melting point.
This time I am coating items with resin, not using molds. If I were using molds I might use things such as small pieces of candy or bits of glitter. One favorite of mine is to use a mixture of cinnamon and chilli powders. The pieces are still translucent but have a rich look. I have an example on the last step of this instructable.
Step 3: Mixing the Resin
Place a couple of sheets of wax paper on a level surface (remember, epoxy resin is self leveling!)
Take out 3 cups. I like to use ones that have ridges or lines so that I can easily see that I have an equal amount of each ingredient.
PUT ON GLOVES (Not meaning to yell, but it is very important, I have gotten some of the resin on my skin and it left a painful mark for several days.
Pour the resin and the hardener into separate cups. Once they are equal, pour them into the third cup. I usually do this at the same time to start the mixing. I then scrape the sides and the bottom of each cup to make sure that I have gotten everything. At this point I usually throw away the used cups to avoid spilling.
Gently stir, making sure to scrape the sides and the bottom often. You need to do this for at least a minute. You will see the mixture get cloudy and you should feel it start to warm up. The larger the amount, the warmer it gets. As you can see from the bottom picture, you can't avoid getting bubbles, but stirring carefully can reduce it. Keeping both the room and the resin warm also helps to reduce bubbles. I try to have the room around 75 and often heat the resin bottle in some warm water a few minutes before I am going to use it.
Step 4: Covering Your Jewelry
Now comes the fun part, covering the pieces.
Depending on the size of the piece I may simply pour a bit from the cup and then push it out to the sides with a paint brush (making sure it is one that doesn't lose it's hairs) or a toothpick. Dipping the paint brush into the cup and let it drip onto smaller pieces or when adding a bit more to a piece works well also.
The resin does dome but it also has a tendency to pull away from the edges so make sure that you brush it all the way out to the edges. I will sometimes let it drip over the side if I know that I can sand the edges, just to make sure that it covers the complete item. If it doesn't, no fears, simply put on another coat when you do your next batch. It makes a thicker coat and doesn't show that it was applied in two steps.
The top picture shows a heat gun being gently waved over the top, making sure not to spread dust or push the resin off the pieces. This doesn't work as well at getting out bubbles as the torch or blowing on them gently with a straw but is much simpler. If need be you can always go back with a straw after the heat gun to get any stubborn bubbles. As you can see, I cover several items at a time. The resin works better if it is in a slightly larger mix, thus I usually use about 2 tablespoons worth to cover about 20 or more pieces.
The bottom picture shows my makeshift cat hair and dust protector. I have a warm light bulb shining on it also as it cures faster in warmer temps.
Step 5: Finished Product
Here are some examples of the different things I have covered in resin. I love working with vintage laces, homemade stickers of old Victorian calling cards and organic materials such as handmade paper, rocks and spices.
The majority of the pieces have polymer clay as the base as I find the resin brings out the beauty of the clay, however, I also have some wood bases and the earring necklace set was created using a mold along with some old spices.
For more examples of my work you can visit my Etsy shop at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ForgetmenotsCreation