Introduction: Making Resin Jewelry
I did this at TechShop Menlo Park. http://www.techshop.com
Using resin and foraged natural items we made fun jewelry! You can also make paper weights, fridge magnets, belt buckles, wall pieces, etc.
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Step 1: Make Molds
I used the vacuum former to heat and form sheets of plastic (from Tap Plastics you can get sheets of Polypropeline) to make molds. I like working with nature so I used pieces of wood, bark and pine cones cut in half lengthwise. I had to cut the pinecones or else the plastic would wrap around them and I wouldn't be able to get them out. No undercuts. I also got one pre-formed mold sheet to accomodate many small resin pieces to be made.
Step 2: List of Ingredients
This is what I got in preparation for casting day: Clear lite casting resin, catalyst, blue nitrile gloves (make sure to not use thin latex gloves as the resin will burn through them and end up on your hands), measuring cups of different sizes, wooden stir sticks, resin spray and resin dye. All these items are conveniently found at Tap Plastics. I set everything up outside because resin smells toxic and does give off toxic fumes especially once catalyst is introduced.
Step 3: What to Cast?
Once again I love working with nature so I went foraging for natural items. I gathered a bunch of dried leaves, flowers, branches fuzies, grasses, puff balls, feathers, prickly balls, etc.. You can resin cast pretty much anything as long as it is dry. Moist items will interfere with the curing process and with change color when casted.
Step 4: Mix Resin Mixture
Mix resin and catalyst which is MEK (very toxic stuff, definitely be aware to not get it on your face, eyes, mouth.. Casting occurs in at least 3 layers of poured resin, waiting for each layer to begin curing before pouring another. Otherwise the objects embedded tend to either sink to the bottom or the mold or float on top and being fully incasted and surrounded by resin. For the first layer use 5 drops of catalyst per ounce of resin. For second layer use 4 drops of catalyst and third layer uses 3 drops per ounce. Mix thoroughly using a wooden stir stick and scraping the walls and bottom of the mixing cup.
Step 5: The Pour
After pouring the first layer wait for it to cure and solidify at least somewhat before placing objects to be casted into it. Second layer is the one into which objects are placed. It will be the thickest layer of the casting. The third layer doesn't need to be thick it is only going to fully cover the items that tried to float to the surface. The curing time highly depends on the temperature,humidity and amount of direct sunlight. On a sunny day such as this lovely summer day in Menlo Park, this work happens quite quick, it will take about 5- 10 minutes to cure each layer. In the foggy cold evenings of San Francisco where I live and create art as well, I sometimes have to use the oven to help the thermal curing process or otherwise it takes a whole night for a layer to fully cure.
Step 6: Dipping Technique
Sometimes a little resin mixture is left after pouring, I usually use it to dip items into. This is quite simple and fun and it will preserve and harden your object, the more layers the better.
Step 7: Dye
There are differnt colors of dye available. Most of them are liquid and transparent and the number of drops you mix into the resin mixture determines the saturation and intensity of the color. Also there are opaque powders available that you can mix in. I like the glow in the dark powder and I use it in the last layer of my castings. Fun stuff.
Step 8: Pop Out of Mold
The plastic molds are somewhat flexible and as you bend them the resin castings pop right out. At this point they are ready to be sprayed with resin spray with makes them as clear and shiny as can be.
Step 9: Make Jewelry
Now the beautiful resin castings are ready to be drilled into with a very tiny drill bit and hung on a chain or earring hooks or striged together to make jewelry.
Fun in the sun! :) Try it out!