Perfecting the Resin

This post has been a long time coming but the last year has been a little bit crazy for me. I started a new job, began managing the operations of a little gallery in Oregon City (Three Rivers Gallery & Gifts inside Singer Hill Cafe),  had a few surgeries (officially hardware and skin cancer-free… yayyyy!), took a photography trip to Sicily (pictures can be found here), and ramped up my resin obsession. Let’s talk about that last one!

Resin, for all of you who don’t know the ins and outs of working with it, can be a bit finicky to work with. It has to be measured just right, mixed just right, and it’s ideal if the air in the work space is dry and preferably warm. It’s also best if it’s a dog hair free zone, which I do struggle with (my Mini Aussie has hair that seems to float through the air). In any case, getting the conditions just right to be successful with resin is something I’ve been working on over the last year.

I have also tried many different brands of resin. I think I’ve gone through a minimum of 5 different brands. I have lost track of it though…I think it’s actually a higher number. I needed one that worked well for jewelry and coasters, that wouldn’t yellow, that mixed thoroughly, hardened completely, and that didn’t have tons of extra steps. The coasters were the hardest part. The resin must be able to remain dent-free when a coffee mug has been placed on top of it. I’m not talking about a nice mug from a chain coffee shop. I’m not talking about a mug from Target. I’m talking about a coffee cup with a rough, unfinished base that was cheaply produced and sold for $1. The kind that if you pushed it across your wood coffee table it leave a path of scratched wood behind it. This is what I was using to test the resilience of my resin coasters. I filled my rough-bottomed mug with boiling water and let it sit on the coaster all day, as if I had forgotten to drink my coffee (this would never happen…but in the spirit of testing…). Were there marks left behind? If there were, did the marks bounce back and become invisible after a short amount of time?

I also needed the resin to stand up to heat. My test for this was to place that same rough, coffee cup on the coaster, fill it with boiling water, and test at various stages of cooling if the mug would stick to the coaster. Almost all of the resins failed this test. Once the heat made its way through the bottom of the cup and onto the resin surface, the coaster would lift off the table, attached to the mug. I was actually so frustrated by this test that I even tried using a clear sealant that is used on cars. It was supposed to be good for up to 500 degrees or something like that. But it gave a weird orange peel look to my items and I wasn’t a big fan.

Finally, I even tried dropping the finished coasters onto a concrete floor so that I could answer questions about how fragile they were.

Enter Art Resin. This stuff is seriously beautiful to work with, cures solid, passed all my testing, looks stunning on my jewelry, is flawless on the coasters, and I am in love.

  • The mixing instructions are clear and work every time. (I do try to warm up the work space so that the resin isn’t too cold. It just mixes better that way.)
  • I get a 30-45 minute working time with this resin, which is much longer than many others. It means that the resin won’t start to cure before I am finished working with it.
  • Bubbles are eliminated easily with a small torch. I use this on larger pieces. For jewelry and wine charms I use a bbq lighter.
  • When my coasters are curing, I cover them with clear storage bins (the shoe box size…two under each bin) to keep out dust. I tried using a box, but I think all of my boxes had dust in them and that didn’t work so well. So I run a bit of rubbing alcohol over the inside of the plastic bins before placing them over the freshly poured resin and it works every time. Plus, I kind of like to see the pieces. If a bubble develops I can see it through the clear bins and get to fixing it before it’s too late.

I love working with resin now that I have found one that is consistent and reliable while also being crystal clear and beautiful. It just makes the process fun and frustration-free. I also feel confident that the product I’ve created is top quality and can be enjoyed by the purchaser/recipient for quite a long time.

This last year I also made the switch to sterling silver jewelry, added wine charms (stemless and traditional) and have continued to make coasters, which are always a big hit. Now I just need to get focused on photography so that I can create even more fun pieces.

Below is a sampler of what I make. I used one photograph and resined an aluminum print of the full image, a square portion of the image for a coaster, and pieces of the image to create the jewelry. It’s been so fun.

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