Have you ever seen a paper weight with a bug inside? Or a picture?
If you have ever wanted to learn how to make one, now is the time!
- Remember to always wear a respirator when working with resin or catalyst.
- Remember to always wear gloves, too.
- Do not get any materials in your eyes, mouth, or other bodily holes.
Step 1: Materials
Acetone (Item #SVAT at Fiberglass Hawaii)
Clear Casting Resin (Item #RPCC at Fiberglass Hawaii)
Catalyst (Item #CAHP at Fiberglass Hawaii)
Baby Food Jar
2 Empty Soda Cans (Lids cut off)
Insert (What you are putting in the paperweight)
Step 2: Work Space
Find a space that is outside, but under cover. Lay out a 3' by 3' square of news paper that is at least three ply. Lay out all materials around the space that you have created.
Step 3: Preparing the Jar
*Put on a set of gloves to work with any resin, catalyst, or acetone. Also wear a respirator.
In order to prepare the jar, I soaked a paper towel in acetone, a solvent, and scrubbed the inside, outside, and lid of the jar.
Step 4: Mixing Containers
Cut the lids off of the soda cans with the scissors. Make sure that there are no sharp edges and throw away all shavings and the lid. Also, clean them with acetone, the same way you cleaned the baby jar.
Step 5: Mixing Resin
Mixing resin is a relatively simple process. I always have all of my materials laid out in front of me before I start mixing. Pour resin into one of the cans until it is 1/2 full. This should be about 6 fl oz. Then add the specified amount of catalyst to the resin and mix thoroughly with a chop stick, but do it slowly as to avoid introducing bubbles to the mixture. The amount of catalyst changes based on the temperature of the environment, so check the labels on the resin and catalyst containers.
If you need more information on resin, this is a link that explains how to use all types of polyester resin.
Step 6: Pouring
Pour the resin into the jar until it is 1/3 full. It is very important to go slow to prevent bubbles and not get any resin on the mouth or sides of the jar. In order to have a more direct stream of resin, pinch the can so that the mouth gets skinnier.
Step 7: Cure Time
Different types of resin have different cure times and work times. The work time (which is indicated on the labels of the resin can) is the time until the resin "goes off", or starts a chemical process where the catalyst bonds with the resin and they change from a liquid form to a solid form. Depending on the quantity of resin, the work time can change. It will also not go off if the catalyst is not mixed well enough. When resin goes off, the result is heat. Depending on the heat, humidity, and quantity, resin can have different cure times. Just to be safe, let the resin cure until it has cooled off with the lid resting on top of the jar. Not screwed tight! If the lid is put on, the jar will crack. To diffuse heat, it is good to put the jar on a dense surface like wood. Once it is cold, it will still be a little tacky, but that is normal.
Step 8: Second Pour
For the second pour, the second mixing can must be cleaned (Steps 3-4 explain how to do this). Once that is done, I mix another batch of resin the same way as in Step 4. Then position the insert in the direct middle of the jar. Hold it in place with the chopstick and pour the resin in until the insert is covered. Then remove the chopstick and let the paperweight cure again.
Step 9: Break Out
Wrap the jar in the jeans tightly and break it with the hammer. Make sure all of the glass comes off the paperweight. Then carefully take out the paperweight and wipe off any imperfections with paper towels. Make an effort not to scratch or crack the paperweight when breaking the jar.
Step 10: Felt Pad
The meniscus of the resin in the jar will have hardened by now, so instead of trying to remove it, I put felt on the bottom. Trace the outline of the paperweight on the felt and then cut it out. Now mix up a small batch of resin and spread some on both surfaces, the paperweight and the felt. Position the felt on the bottom of the paperweight and let it cure. This time it should not take nearly as much time as it did before.
Step 11: Clean Up and Polishing
Cleaning up is very simple. Just roll up the news papers and throw them in the trash without spilling any glass. Make sure that the catalyst is closed and in a ziplock bag and the lid is on the resin. Keep them separate! Even if a molecule of the catalyst gets into the resin it will begin curing, so I keep my catalyst in a different room from my resin. If you want, you can polish the paperweight with a soft cloth and some resin polish. Do not use sand paper because even at a super high grit it will still not match the finish that the jar created.
Step 12: Testing My Instructions
I had my Mom complete my instructions. She did not clean the jar well enough, so there were some old food particles ingrained in the paper weight. Otherwise, my instructions were good. I wish I took better videos of my process because it would be another way to see my techniques for each step.