Inspired by this delightful resin embedment project I decided to get a few supplies and try it out. With my new TechShop membership I should be able to get to furniture pieces soon, but until then I will get to know my materials.
In this project: (Sourced mostly from my local TAP Plastics)
EasyCast clear casting epoxy
Resin Mold silicone or plastic
Nail art packets (tiny roses, etc)
Coffee stirrers and other mixing tools
Cover tray (deeper than your molds. Clear is helpful)
Heat gun or flame (not a hair dryer)
Paper towels and acetone
Before you start, inspect your mold carefully. The mold surface will determine the finish of your piece. You can see above a semi-gloss/matte finish on the gold star earrings made from the jewelry molds. The mold is very subtly textured, which helps it hold on to the mold release better and thus release better. I also used the ultra-smooth plastic packaging from a glitter pack, the 3 large squares above. These resulted in a perfectly glossy finish, but I had to cut the mold off – the mold release slid right off the sides.
Preparing your work space:
Cover a wide radius around your work area with wax paper or a large piece of reusable plastic sheet. Keep paper towels close. Condition your molds – follow directions on mold release. Vegetable oil may work in a pinch, but you’ll have to fix up the surface of your pieces afterwards.
Plan your pour:
Are you embedding? Are you making multiple colors? Are you planning to layer things? How deep is each embedded piece supposed to be? What is the working time of your resin after mixing? What volume do you need in total? If you aren’t sure about volume, try filling your mold with water and then pouring the water into a measuring cup. Remember you are using a two part epoxy, so each part is half* of the total. If you are planning a project in multiple layers, you will need to let the first layer harden at least 4 hours before you can prepare the second pour. Once mixed, resin cannot be stored, so only prepare as much as you need for a single layer. Remember the bottom of the mold is the top of your piece, so build your piece up backwards.
*EasyCast is mixed in equal amounts, many resins are not.
Measure your resin components carefully. Use a separate cup for each part, then scrape contents of one cup into the other. The reactant is usually quite thick and viscous – often the hardener flows more freely. Use the flat side of your mixing tool and get every drop out of the cup. A cup with a pour spout can be harder to scrape.
Mix thoroughly , then wait 5 minutes (some resins need to be poured instantly, but not EasyCast). This resin appears light yellow at first, but lightens to clear. It will be bubbly, most bubbles will settle after pouring. If you are mixing multiple colors, pour some resin into each mixing cup. Use a separate stir stick for each. If using powder pigment, put it on TOP of the resin, do not put it in the cup and pour resin on top – you will never get the lumps out!
Do you just want a solid background layer of glitter or color? Do not mix pigment – let resin cure for 3-4 hours until tacky, then brush or sprinkle pigment on surface.
Bubbles can be popped with a flame (0-20 minutes after pour) or a toothpick (20+ minutes after pour).
Embedments. Do this in the first 5-40 minutes of your pour. Clear bubbles with heat. Make sure your embedding piece will not leak dye or discolor when wet – seal with ModPodge or spray seal if you have any doubts. I should have sealed the Googley Eyes, so they would not leak air over time. If your piece is flat like a punched out paper, slide it in diagonally like it is dipping into a hot tub. Use a toothpick to reposition. You can check later for bubbles trapped underneath. Want your piece embedded farther back? Leave the first layer clear, then embed during your next pour. Embedding into pigmented resin is not recommended.
Cover your molds with a tray while curing. You don’t want dust and fluff in the air to mar your pieces! Cure 24 hrs before attempting to pop piece out of mold.
Clean up your space. Now is the time to clean your mixing cups. Wipe out each cup with a clean paper towel, then wipe again with a towel soaked in acetone. Wipe off your work surface and dispose of the gloves.
Coloring the background? 4-8 hrs after the pour is a good time to add pigment. 8 hrs in you can pour the second layer. Recover with tray.
Removing pieces from mold. Hopefully you can pop or push them out like ice cubes. Never pry out with a tool, you will damage the mold surface. Pieces that are too thin may not come out. You may need to pour a final backing layer that goes to the top of the mold and let that cure again before you can remove it. This is especially an issue with tiny molds.
*If you mixed your resin in the wrong proportions, it may never harden or may take longer than expected. Gently test with a gloved hand to see if it is still soft before attempting to remove!
Your pieces are still soft. Use caution – do not squeeze or clamp hard. Put them aside and give another 24-48 hrs before sanding, clamping, or drilling holes. Now is a good time to trim away excess material.
This piece was clamped and drilled immediately after removal, the clamp left a dent.
Final polish, drilling, etc. Will be covered in next lesson!