Beginner's Guide to Homemade Resin Jewelry Gifts: Tips and Tricks
Whether you want to make hundreds of deco flowers or a few stately cameos, resin is the go-to material for small time jewelers. Resin casting is easy to do and resin materials can be bought at craft and hobby shops, but the product is professional. If you want to give homemade gifts that don't look homemade - resin crafting is the way to go. If you're here, I hope you've read my Getting Started Guide on resin jewelry and resin nail art. I won't repeat my lists of what and where to buy; this article dives right in on the assumption that you have all the materials ready.
Prepare your area
It's tempting to skip laying down the newspapers, putting on gloves, and all that other junk. Allow me to scare you into it.
If you get resin onto something, and it hardens, it will never come off. That includes your hands, clothes, counter, sink, anything non-silicone. I have walked around with what feels like dried glue on my hands for days until my skin cyled off and got rid of it. I have sanded down my desk because that is all you can do to get it off.
In fact, I don't even recommend using newspaper. I recommend a giant piece of corrugated cardboard between your home and these chemicals. You can put it in the shed and reuse it every time you do resin casting.
And silicone gloves. And a smock. And keep a window open in case of fumes.
Make Your Mold
Start with something less 3D until you have a feel for it. Simple cameo resin pieces are best to start. Press firmly and don't worry if the impression is a bit deeper than the piece - you don't want to fill a mold the whole way and risk spillage.
Choosing your original
One of the most important things is to have a good quality original. Your mold will have corners a bit more dull, indents a bit less indented, so you need one with sharp edges to begin with. When looking at pictures online, you can compare 2 of the exact same shape, and realize which one is a "copy" and which one is a "copy of a copy of a copy." Try to buy quality for your molds.
Don't ruin your mold by trying to remove the piece too soon.
Mixing Your Resin
I cannot predict how long you will have to mix your resin and get it into the mold, but it is NOT a long time. Hardening begins at different rates according to variables like brand, temperature of the room, and even batch, age, or humidity. Thus, work as fast as you reasonably can. This includes...
Mix colors before mixing chemicals
Once you mix the chemicals, you are in a tight window. Mix all your dye into one chemical, then mix the other chemical in and pour. Mixing dye last creates streaks and invites hardening in the cups.
1 drop is pink, 2 is red.
If you took my previous advice on brands, you're working with a light tan colored base (it will turn that way once hardened - your chemicals are just ugly). Thus, a weak red is pink. You have to take into account the white-ish addition from the chemicals. For this reason, I recommend buying a black dye rather than trying to mix to black. You can make lovely greys with it as well. No white dyes are needed to mix colors.
Buying Jewelry Settings
Nail Deco resin casts can stand alone, but for the rest of us, settings are necessary. Real metal jewelry settings from US dealers are prohibitively expensive. I suggest lurking Ebay in the mornings and waiting for bulk items to come up. Make sure they are correctly sized.
If you are worried about cheap metals, plastics are a great option. I have even seen people buy a metal setting, make a mold, and recast it in resin. Very interesting effect!
Alibaba also has settings, but the bulk sales mean you're stuck making one item in one size for the next month.