A couple of people have asked me for some advice when it comes to making resin jewellery, so I decided to write it all up. Settle in kids, cause it turns out I have a LOT to say about resin.
Firstly, understand that making resin jewellery the way I do requires a lot of equipment, a lot of planning, and a LOT of patience. If you want to just knock something out quickly in an afternoon, this is not for you. But if you're prepared to put the time and effort in, you can get some truly awesome results.
Secondly, there are a LOT of opinons out there about the "best" way to handle resin - it's an unpredictable and capricious material to work with, and a lot of the advice will be contradictorary depending on local weather conditions, what resin they're using, and a myriad array of other factors. These particular posts here are going to be detailing the way *I* do it - I would advise you read some other posts as well before jumping in, and mixing all the advice with a good dose of observation and common sense. Your mileage may vary, etc.
So, what will you need to start making resin jewellery the Femmecraft way? Let's begin.
1. Jewellery Bases
(Image shows four jewellery bases - one deep round pendant base, a shallow round brooch base, a deep oval pendant base and a shallow round pendant base with stars)
There are aproximately eleventy billion different places to buy jewellery bases these days, and about six billion different kinds to choose from. If you've never poured resin into bases before, I would recommend starting with something a couple of millimeters deep, like the round base at the top in the picture above. If you don't know what you're doing (and even sometimes when you do) it's really easy to overfill the base and get resin everywhere. A nice deep base means the resin can run off safely and you can still end up with a decent piece, whereas a shallow base like the brooch base seen on the left in the picture above will be totally overrun by a spill and ruined.
Like I said, there are about eleventy billion places to get this sort of thing now - a quick search in Etsy will provide you with more than enough options. But there are a couple of places I shop at reguarly and would recommend both in terms of price and reliability.
8 Seasons looks incredibly dodgy, but I've had nothing but good experiences with them for over two years. The one time a parcel went astray they went out of their way to make it right, and they have very affordable shipping options that will get you your goods in around a week - most Chinese suppliers have a turnaround of three weeks to a month from order to delivery, so that makes 8 Seasons are REALLY fast by comparison.
Rose Beading offer a lot of lead and nickel free options, and often have designs that 8 Seasons don't. They are reliable in that your package will definitely show up, but they are slow. Often it takes a couple of days to a week for my order to even be packed, then it takes three weeks to arrive. So use this one when you're planning well ahead!
For the Australians in the audience, Over The Rainbow often have a lot of interesting stuff, and they ship relatively quickly - I'll often get an order from them on my doorstep within a week, or just over. However, they are also CRAZY expensive compared to the Chinese suppliers, and a lot of what they're selling is exactly the same, so I tend to only use Over The Rainbow when I need something RIGHT NOW, or I can't find it anywhere else.
For the Americans in the audience, I can recommend Rings'n'Things - the international shipping is appalling, so I don't shop there often, but their range is good, their prices are reasonable, and their international shipping was relatively swift so I imagine domestic shipping would also be good.
(Image shows two bottles of Solid Solutions Solid Cast 607 epoxy resin)
I get asked a lot, "What's the best resin?" and to be honest, that's an entirely unanswerable question. I don't know if any of you have ever been in a beauty community when someone asks what's the "best" foundation, but it's a lot like that. Everyone has an opinion, and honestly, it just depends. How much of it do you want to buy? How much can you spend? How quickly do you want it to cure? Do you live somewhere humid, or somewhere dry? All these things and more come into play when choosing a resin.
I've tried a bunch, and personally I've settled on Solid Solutions Solid Cast 607 for my jewellery. I can get it locally, which is important because shipping something flammable like epoxy resin internationally is damn near impossible. It does take two days to cure hard, which isn't exactly ideal, but is workable. Because it's designed for exterior use, it's UV stable - meaning it won't yellow or cloud over if you leave it in the sun too long, which a lot of resins will. That's important to me because I make a lot of jewellery with little paintings embedded in them, and any yellowing in the resin totally ruins them. However, if you're just pouring the resin directly over a polish background, yellowing might not be a problem at all, so you might go for something else.
If you're not in Australia, or you just don't want to wait two days for your resin to cure, there's always ICE resin.
(Image shows two bottles of ICE resin)
ICE resin is probably the best known of all the jewellery resins on the market, and you can get it almost anywhere. It's...well, look, it's fine. It works. It's easy to mix up because the ratio is 1:1 (meaning you get equal parts from each bottle and mix them), it cures hard in about 24 hours, and it has to be left in direct sunlight quite a bit to yellow. However, I've personally found it to be bubbly as fuck - like, whole irritating waves of miniscule unpoppable bubbles in every damn thing no matter how carefully I stir it. But as with all the advice in this post, your mileage may vary. You can get a little kit that's a small amount of resin, some mixing cups, and some stir sticks, so if you just want to stick a tentative toe in the resin waters that kit is super convenient.
3. Mixing Tools
(Image shows a measuring/medicine cup, a plastic knife, and a digital scale)
Once you've got your resin, you're going to need something to mix it in, and stir it with. Most epoxy resin is two part, meaning you'll have to mix two liquids together in a certain ratio. Sometimes it's 1:1, sometimes it's 2:1, so be sure to read the directions on the resin carefully.
Depending on what resin you choose, you might also need a digital scale. Some resins need to be measured by volume - meaning you pour 10ml or whatever into the cup by using the little lines on the measuring cup. But some resins need to be mixed by weight, which means you'll need a little digital scale to weigh the cup of resin to make sure you're mixing the right amount. These little digital scales are very easy to get online, but if you have any dodgy tobacconists around you, they will also probably have a selection for you to choose from.
You'll also need some measuring cups. These are usually sold as medicine cups, and you can get them in a variety of sizes. 30ml are the easiest size to get, and a perfectly reasonable size for most projects. If you're colouring the resin, I would also reccomend picking up some of these bad boys.
(Image shows small plastic cups)
They're sold as single serve cups for sauces, and you can get them at any dollar store. They're cheap, easy to use, and the perfect size to mix up small batches of coloured resin when you want to mix up several colours at once.
Once you have your cups, and possibly a scale, you'll need something to mix your resin with. Excuse me while I shout for a second - DO NOT USE WOODEN STICKS. JUST DON'T.
Wood has trapped air bubbles and pockets of fluids, and all kinds of random stuff you do not want in your resin - use a plastic stir stick instead. As you can see from the picture, I personally just got a massive bag of plastic picnic knives from the dollar store and use those. You can buy purpose made plastic stir sticks from anywhere that sells resin, but honestly I've never noticed any difference in the results.
4. Nail Polish
(Image shows several bottles of nail polish)
Nail polish is integral to what I do here at Femmecraft. I started the business largely because I had too much nail polish to ever wear, and wanted to do something useful with it. Well, relatively useful anyway. I use nail polish for backgrounds under all my drawings, and sometimes as an accent on my paintings.
Personally, I'm obsessed with indie nail polish, particuarly Australian indie nail polish. We have some amazing people here making breathtaking polish, and I can't recommend the local indie makers heartily enough. I won't list them all here because honestly, that would be a whole post in itself. But swing past Femme Fatale Cosmetics sometime and take a gander - they have a fantastic selection of indie brands as well as their own in house brand, and they ship internationally.
But anyway, my own personal obsessions aside, all you really need is some nice sparkly polish. I find creme (plain, not glittery) polishes tend to go a bit funny under resin - the pigments in the polish tend to react, and the colours end up darker and sometimes annoyingly yellow. This is particuarly noticeable with pastel cremes. However, glitter polish doesn't seem to have this problem to nearly the same extent, which is brilliant for me because I prefer glitters anyway.
(Image shows bottle of Liquitex Gloss Medium and a bottle of Sally Hansen white nail polish)
Paper has all kinds of air bubbles and chemicals and icky bullshit you want to keep out of your resin. Resin is a picky, persnickety baby and needs to be coddled, so if you're putting paper in it you'll want to lay down a good layer of swaddling first.
(Image shows two drawings with lots of white space)
Because a lot of the images I use have a lot of white space, I start the swaddling by putting two coats of white nail polish on the back. Any white polish will do, but I use Sally Hansen Hard As Nails because it's cheap as chips. This helps keep the white spaces white by not only waterproofing the back of the image, the pigment in the white polish seems to provide a "solid" layer that helps the whites really pop.
If you're using images like digital photos or ones without much white space, you can probably skip this step. However, DO NOT skip sealing the front! For this step you'll need a clear, non yellowing sealant. Personally, I like to use Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish - it sinks into the paper nicely to swaddle it properly, but also leaves a slightly glossy finish. However, Mod Podge or even Elmer's Glue will also work.
6. Pipettes and Glue
(Image shows disposable 5ml pipette and a bottle of Micro Krystal Klear glue)
Once you've swaddled your paper inserts nice and cosy, you'll need something to hold them to the base, otherwise they'll float in the resin. Micro Krystal Klear is actually designed for minature enthusiasts to hold together all their tiny pieces and make tiny windows in tiny buildings, but it works a treat under resin as well. It dries clear, cleans up easily, and doesn't interact with the resin in any noticeable way. You can experiment with different glues, but this is one I know works, and works well. It's available at most hobby shops, but also from places like Amazon.
To use with the glue, you can get disposable brushes, but they're kind of rubbish and also relatively expensive. I started using cotton tips instead, when I found a kind that are designed for makeup application. They have one flat, wide end which is PERFECT for glue application, and a pointy end which is perfect for cleaning up edges. Plus it's a couple of dollars for 150, so I highly reccommend!
(Image shows a tub of cotton tip applicators)
I would also strongly recommend investing in some disposable pipettes. You CAN pour resin directly from the mixing cup into the base, but unless you have a super steady hand the risk of spills and overfilling is huge. Pipettes allow you to control the flow much more effectively, and are also the easiest tool to remove bubbles from curing resin. I get mine from Barnes, a local specialist moulding and casting store, but if you google "disposable pipette" online they're pretty easy to find.
So that's everything you'll need - next time I'll cover the prep required before pouring the resin.