Today’s post is about common mistakes when casting clear resin. I’m sure that many of you who have experimented with resin crafting know exactly what I’m talking about. I can’t even tell you how many resin pieces I have had to fix, coddle and baby into something worth saving, or flat out throw away over the years. So, in the course of my various failures, amid all the cursing and gnashing of teeth and banging of fists, I have come up with a short list of things NOT to do when it comes to resin casting.
1. Do NOT skimp on sealer.
If you are casting resin over paper or any other porous material, you will need to use something to seal it off from the resin; to essentially make it watertight. If you skip this step, your paper will simply dissolve into the wet resin and become really yucky and greasy looking. If there is print on the backside, you’ll see right through it and lose your intended image entirely. I have had this happen with comic book pages and ended up with a double image of the next comic page. No good. We don’t want that.
The right way? Always apply at least (3) three coats of Mod Podge or (5) five coats of Elmer’s Glue to your paper images. I recommend Mod Podge because it is thicker, but you can also use Elmer’s; just make sure you apply more coats to account for the thinner consistency. Note: Lots of thin coats are best, as opposed to a few thicker coats. Now, I have gotten impatient in the past and did only 2 coats, or even 1 thick coat. DO NOT DO THIS. Once you pour your resin, that’s it, there’s no going back! Once you have that greasy spot in the paper because you skimped on glue, it’s done. Your piece is ruined. So take the extra step and make sure your image is properly sealed before you jump to the resin pouring. You’ll be glad you did.
2. Resist the urge to touch your resin “To see if it’s done”
Again, I’m saying this because I’ve done this. And guess what? If it wasn’t done? You just ruined it. Good job. Now it’s trash. Lol, just leave it alone for at least a day and a half before you even look at it. You’ll be glad you were patient.
3. Do NOT pour directly from the stirring cup
This was a big noobie mistake of mine, and it’s something I’ve gradually taught myself to avoid. This isn’t so much of a problem if you are working in thicker molds, but if you are pouring resin either into shallow bezel charms or working in smaller molds, you definitely don’t want to pour right out of your stirring cup. Why? Well, for one it can be difficult to control where the resin will go when using this method. Because you have a big stream of resin coming out of a cup, and because it is flowing quickly, it can be far too easy to get overflows or to end up with drips outside of where you actually want the resin to go.
The right way? Use a popsicle stick or other flat tool to dip small portions of resin out of your stirring cup, and let it drizzle into your smaller mold or bezel piece. Always be sure to scrape the bottom of the stick along the edge of your stirring cup to remove any potential drips from the underside. Working carefully in this way, you can avoid a big mess! Also important: Always make sure to cover your work area in tin foil or some other tablecloth in case you do drip a little. Messes happen, and resin can ruin your furniture and/or clothes… and/or.. pretty much anything else it comes into contact with. ;B
4. Do NOT try new inclusions on an elaborate piece before testing them first
So you’ve got a really cute sticker you think will be the finishing touch on your resin piece? If possible (i.e. if you have multiples of the sticker in question) test it on a throwaway piece first!
Some things just don’t play nice with resin. So say you’re on that final layer of your 6 layer masterpiece and you decide to throw something cute in as the cherry on top. But, surprise! That cute cherry on top just reacted strangely to the resin and has now dissolved into a goop pile. Your entire piece is ruined. This fate might have been prevented with a little product testing.
The right way? If you are trying out something new, test it out on a throwaway piece before embedding it into your masterpiece. Things that I know for a fact don’t work well in resin: Rhinestones that are made of anything other than cut glass. Go right for the Swarovski, folks. You’ll be glad you did. Cheap plastic rhinestones will just turn to a dull spot in your resin because they dissolve on contact. Epoxy stickers? Unless you test them out and find them successful, don’t do it. Depending on what type of plastic is used in the stickers, they will either float to the surface of your resin or curl up into a ball of goop upon contact with it. I have had some few work, but most don’t. Any of those thick “puffy” stickers are the ones I’m talking about. If you can, it’s best to test it or avoid them entirely. Also test out any kind of food inclusions like sprinkles or any type of sugary candy. Some will just dissolve.
5. When doming, do at least 3 separate pours to avoid overflows
And here we come to the very thing that prompted this post. I did this today. And I had a very frustrating evening as a result. I’m still pretty new to bezel charms and doming resin. I used to work exclusively in molds, but recently started working in bezels, and I really love them. That being said, they can be really annoying because they require more precision than molds. With a mold, you can fill to anywhere below the edge of the mold and get a perfect piece. However, with a bezel, you must fill to JUST the right level, or it’s no good. So here’s how to do it.
The first pour is just to create a base level of resin to fill most of the bezel. Let that sit for several hours until it is solid enough not to flow when tipped to one side. Now comes your second pour. The second pour should bring the resin level to the edge of the bezel, BUT BE VERY CAREFUL ON THIS STEP. Resin tends to expand slightly as it cures, so if you go too far up the edge, guess what’s going to happen? Your resin is going to overflow and create a sticky mess on the back of your bezel. So you get something like this:
Sad Bones is sad.
These particular charms have built in loops at the top, which causes them not to lie flat when set on a table. So to make them level, I laid each one on top of a coin, in this case a nickel. Yeah. That nickel and the charm are now best friends and never want to part from one another’s company.
The right way? To avoid this resin tragedy, I recommend being super careful with your second pour and leveling off your pour at the edge without creating a dome in this step. Leave your charm for another couple of hours, and then come back for a third and final VERY thin layer of resin, probably just a few drops. Just enough to create that all desired dome effect. Then don’t touch it, don’t move it, don’t even look at it for at least a day. Tada! You’re done.
I hope these tips will be helpful to some of you in your future resin crafting adventures! Just remember there is always something to learn and you never stop making mistakes. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes (and the mistakes of others!) to make your craft even better every time you do it.
Much love and happy crafting!