Before you get started:
When it comes to working and pouring resin, you need to know two things before you get started. Pot time and cure time. Pot time refers to the amount of time you can work with the resin after it is mixed until it starts to cure. Every resin is different; some have only minutes, whereas some may be up to an hour. Don’t mix any more resin that you can comfortably use in the pot time stated. The cure time is the TOTAL amount of time needed for the resin to completely cure. Sometimes resins may state a demold time (period after which you can remove the resin product from its mold), but may have a longer cure time. This lets you demold a resin project after a period of time to let you use the mold again, but you may need to let it completely cure another couple of days to avoid fingerprints and smudges.
Choose an area to work with resin where you can cover the area with wax paper, as the resin won’t stick to wax paper and can be thrown away. Have a clear dome (plastic storage containers work well) to cover your resin pieces while they are curing. There’s nothing like a little dust or cat hair to ruin your piece!
If you’re in a humid climate (like Florida), you may want to consider a dehumidifier or at least having the air conditioning on while you are working the resin and during the cure time. While the outside temperature may not feel too bad, the humidity may be enough to keep your pieces tacky and not fully harden. You will also want to wear gloves to protect your hands. While the resin may be not be caustic, it can be difficult to get it off your hands with soap and water.
If you are planning on casting resin casting with something inside your resin jewelry, you should prepare the embedment before mixing your resin. Completely seal your image or finding with glue (Elmer’s, Mod Podge, Nunn Design glue or Ultra Seal). If you’re piece is solid and non-porous, this step is probably unnecessary, but if it has a lot of holes or cavities, I would suggest dipping it in resin first and allowing to cure. This will trap air in (or out). If you don’t seal first, trapped air may show up as a bubble in your resin piece later or may show water stains. Allow your embedments to dry for 24 hours before adding them to resin.
If you’re going to use a mold for your project, you will need to prepare it as well. If it’s a polyethylene deep flex mold, spray it first with Castin’ Craft mold release and conditioner and allow to dry. This will allow your casting to pop out easily. We also have the Ultra 4 parafilm and Petrolease mold release. If you’re casting silicone resin into silicone resin, you will definitely need the rubber to rubber mold release to keep the silicone from sticking to itself.
Mix it up!
Whatever resin you use, follow the label directions! You will need to mix a specific amount of the resin with a specific amount of the catalyst or activator. Don’t go a little more or a little less! I also recommend graduated mixing cups so that you can be exactly sure of the amount you’re pouring. Also, use two separate cups to pour into; one for your resin and the other for catalyst. Don’t pour resin into one cup, and then pour catalyst on top (or vice versa). At least if you over pour one or the other into separate cups, you can return it to its original container without contaminating your entire stock.
Once you have poured your resin and catalyst, you can pour catalyst into resin, if it’s a small amount. If it’s a large amount of resin (2 to 3 ounces or more), pour them both into a third cup. Why? If you don’t get a good mix on the resin (like some is still stuck to the side of the cup), you’re resin won’t cure properly. Stir the resin with a toothpick or a stir stix, (stir stix work especially well if you’re mixing a large volume). While a few air bubbles are to be expected, do not mix too roughly or you will end up with tons of air bubbles. Stir the cup for a minute or two, making sure you scrape the sides of the cup with your mixing stick.
It’s color time!
If you want to add color pigments, now is the time to do it. If you’re adding liquid colors, add a drop (yes, just ONE) at a time and mix. A little goes a long way. If you’re adding dry pigment colors, liquefy some with a bit of resin first to make a ‘stock solution’. Add a bit of this solution to your larger resin mixture.
Want to experiment? Alcohol inks also work well. You can try some paint pigments too, but I would suggest experimenting before making a piece that you want to try to sell or give to someone. Sometimes the pigments attract moisture which will keep your resin jewelry from curing properly.
Ready, Set, Pour!
If you want to add something (such as a bead or picture) pour a tiny bit of resin in first, then place your addition in, otherwise, you may end up with an air bubble. Be careful when you pour. If you have mixed a large amount of resin, you may want to pour a little bit into a smaller cup to pour from. Resin can pour quickly and there’s nothing worse than having a big glob of resin cover you mold and work area. Talk about mess!
Know too that your resin will shrink just a smidge when it cures, so you want to fill your resin mold or jewelry finding as close as you want it without over pouring.