Using resin has been something that I’ve wanted to do for ages across many of my crafting activities: for making clear resin jewellery with botanicals, using it to give a glossy finish to jewellery and other items and to provide a protective surface for coasters (e.g. alcohol ink on tiles with a resin finish). But it has always seemed a bit daunting and I didn’t really know where to start. The materials are expensive so I was a bit wary of making too many mistakes. This is my journey with the eventual discovery of UV Resin that was my saviour.
Earlier this year I was given a birthday voucher to attend a craft course of my choice, so I finally got to find out more about using resin. I attended an introductory short course on making resin jewellery which gave me a good insight into different types of resin, dyes, tools and more. I knew that what we were actually making wasn’t what I ultimately wanted to make, but even just getting used to handling and mixing resins (and what not to do) was valuable. That course focused on 2 part opaque resin that was quick setting and perfect for basic moulds and dyes.
From this initial course, I booked another full day course with the same tutor where she would have time to teach us much more about using clear resins. I knew that her style (big chunky colourful jewellery) wasn’t my thing but, as she said, she would be teaching us the basics and hoped that we would go off and use them in very different directions. I’ve previously shared a post on making silicon moulds that we learnt that day.
Although I learnt a lot that day, I mostly learned that mixing up the resins was tricky and you got bad results if you didn’t do it right: two part epoxy resin relies on mixing a resin and a hardener in specific ratios and mixing thoroughly to set off the chemical reaction that hardens it (not mixing properly can cause it not to set and/or bubbles to form); that using botanicals (and even shells) was very tricky because they generally contained or released air bubbles as the resin hardened, and if you placed a dried flower for example on the bottom of the mould (so that it would be on the top when you unmoulded it) resin may not get underneath it and so leave it exposed; some things sink and other things float which gives a strange result. I came away thinking that perhaps using resins wasn’t for me as the results seemed very uncertain and with not much ability to control things.
Thankfully I didn’t just stop there. In frustration, and thinking that it really couldn’t be that difficult or people wouldn’t use it for so many things, I resorted to watching YouTube videos of people making the sorts of things I wanted to make … and discovered UV Activated Art Resin. UV Art Resin comes in one container so you don’t have to mix it together and uses UV-light to harden the resin. This makes it soooo much easier to use! You can purchase an inexpensive UV light source.
UV Art Resin can be layered, setting it in-between and then adding more without leaving any lines or stripes. This means that you can easily put a thin layer down first and then add a dried flower for example. You can much more easily position inclusions within a mould so that you can manage where things are going to end up rather than sinking or floating. You have more flexibility to manage both the top and the bottom of your piece e.g. if the surface drops to be concave, or there are uneven edges, you can add another thin layer over the top that forms a nice ‘domed’ surface.
You can also more easily manage bubbles that might appear (although I didn’t have much luck with the various suggested methods of breathing over the top or using a gas lighter or heat gun to remove air bubbles – a toothpick mostly worked but is more difficult with a bigger piece).
After being delighted with my first attempt using a dried flower in a mould, I then went on to experiment with lots of different things. A real favourite was using a bezel frame, colouring the back black with a Sharpie pen (several layers), and then suspending mylar flakes (available from nail design stores) in the resin. These give a spectacular result with the mylar contrasting with the black and reflecting the light. I was a bit surprised that blue flakes and red flakes seemed to give the same outcome (but I loved them anyway. Continuing the layers of resin can give a pleasing domed effect on these pendants.
I had some moulds of different critters that I thought would be fun to use – but with varying degrees of success. For UV resin, the UV light needs to get through to all your resin, so lesson number 1: clear moulds are better because it maximises the UV light that can get through. Lesson number 2: adding a mica powder to the clear resin will stop the UV going through the resin to harden it properly even with a comparatively thin piece. I was able to rescue my dragonfly although just the top part hardened – I pulled the hardened bit off and then put both halves back under the UV light. I used some crystals to add detail to the top part that didn’t benefit from the image on the mould so all was not lost. Lesson number 3: mica powder apparently doesn’t stick to UV resin. At the course we had brushed mica onto the inside of the moulds to produce colour on the moulded object but this didn’t work for me with the UV resin.
You can use resin on top of die cut card figures that are plain, printed or coloured to create an impressive embellishment. Lesson number 4: seal the card first using a matte collage medium (e.g. Mod Podge) to stop the resin bleeding through (doesn’t matter so much if you will just be seeing one side).
I also tried using stickers as inclusions in the resin. Lesson number 5: clear stickers work best because even a slightly frosted edge will show up (you might want that look). Lesson number 6: clear stickers in clear resin won’t work that well depending on the intended background. I was very pleased with my coasters using candle holders and larger stickers included in the resin but then realised that the images didn’t show up very well when placed on a dark background. I will try putting a backing underneath the coaster that shows them up better.
I was very pleased with the results of my day’s experimenting and look forward to trying more things.