An Introduction to Epoxy Resin Crafts
You've probably seen jewellery, paperweights or other crafts made from a clear glass-like material which is housing objects such as flowers, glitter, toys or even photographs. You might have even seen videos where people are using this material to make kitchen worktops, or to cover floors!
If you’ve ever tried to research a bit deeper into this material and craft, in the hope of discovering whether it is something you could do yourself at home, you might have been disappointed to find a sea of overly complicated explanations which include words like ‘reactive prepolymers’ and ‘bisphenol’.
In this blog post I'm going to simplify these explanations and provide you with a crafter friendly explanation of what epoxy resin is and how you can use it.
So What Is Epoxy Resin?
Epoxy Resins are a family of super strong adhesives which have historically been used to bond items in industry. More recently they’ve been adopted by the crafting community because they can be used to make wonderful glass-like items and can even incorporate a range of other objects, such as flowers and photos.
They are generally comprised of two parts, a resin and a hardener, which you combine together to cause a chemical reaction which eventually dries and hardens to leave a solid end product.
Is It Safe to Craft With Epoxy Resins?
When working with chemicals, glues and adhesives there is always an elements of risks and you need to be careful to use your resin product as directed by the manufacturer. That being said, epoxy resin is no more dangerous than other chemical products you'd use at home like superglue or spray paint. The epoxy resin I used had very few warning labels on the bottle and virtually no odour.
Always make sure you work in a well ventilated area and, as epoxy resin can be super sticky, always wear gloves to protect your skin from coming into direct contact. If you do get epoxy resin on your hands or skin, use soap and water to wash it off. Soaps which contain an exfoliating element will work best.
Note: Do not use vinegar, alcohol or acetone based products to clean resin from your hands! These break down the chemicals but allow them to be absorbed into your skin.
What Can you Make with Epoxy Resin?
One of the greatest things about epoxy resin is that it can be used to preserve items. Ever receive a bunch of flowers and wish they could stay fresh for your enjoyment forever? Well with Epoxy resin you can!
Alternatively you can use epoxy resin to make your own statement pieces of jewellery. I brought these hollow pendent outlines and used Epoxy to fill them with glitter, sequins and other pieces of decoration. You can also buy silicone moulds for making your own rings and bracelets from epoxy.
Other crafts you might consider making are epoxy bookmarks, gift tags and even drink coasters! Generally speaking if you can get a mould for something, you can cast it in epoxy!
When you know what you're ready to make, simply follow the steps below to make your epoxy resin crafts!
What you will need:
Epoxy resin. It is worth noting that there are two options available for purchase when it comes to epoxy resin. The first requires a UV light to make it cure and harden and the second is comprised of two parts (the resin and a hardener), which are mixed together at a specified ratio causing them to react and harden. For this blog post I used the second of the two options which I purchased from Amazon here.
Moulds. What moulds you need will depend on what you are wanting to make but there are lots of different options out there. To give you an idea of what you're after: I used these moulds to make my bookmark, these to make my photo gift tag, and I purchased these pendant outlines for the jewellery.
Weighing Scales. You'll need these to measure out equal parts of the resin and hardener.
Mixing Cup. It will likely be very difficult to get these items clean again once you've finished with them so I'd recommend using either a disposable cup or a container from your recycling which can be discarded afterwards.
Stirring Stick. As with the mixing cup, this should be something you don't mind discarding when you're done as it probably won't return to its former condition even if you wash it thoroughly! I used an old paint brush to mix my resin or alternatively wooden disposable kebab skewers can work well.
Decoration. As with the moulds, your chosen decoration will depend on what you're wanting to make, what size, shape and thickness your items will be and what you want your final piece to look like. Some suggestions to get you started might be to use resin dye or pigment to add colour, glitter, fake or real flowers and foliage, sequins, beads, photos and even small toys!
Step One - Prepare your Moulds
Prior to pouring in your resin you need to make sure that your moulds are clean. Any specs of dust or dirt which are on your moulds when you add the resin will become part of your finished piece and they may even leave an uneven or unclear finish. Use soap and warm water to wash them, making sure to get into all the corners and crevasses. Once complete, leave them to dry naturally to avoid adding any new dirt from a cloth or towel.
If you are working with jewellery pendants like the ones linked above, use a wider parcel tape to create a bottom which will contain the liquid resin until it hardens. Make sure the tape is secured all the way around the metal pendant to prevent any resin leaking out.
Step Two - Weigh your Resin and Hardener
You'll need to check the information provided by the manufacturer for the specific requirements of the resin product you have purchased to know how much you need to weigh out. The resin I used required a simple 1:1 ratio of the epoxy resin and the hardener. I carefully weighed out the resin part first on my scales and then the hardener.
Tip: Pour your second part slowly to ensure you don't add too much! You can keep adding additional drops using your stirring stick until you reach your desired quantity but it is very difficult (if not impossible) to remove the excess if you pour in too much.
If you want to add any dye or pigment to colour your resin you can do this now. I chose to add some fine white, silver and green glitter to my mix.
Step Three - Mix and Pour
To ensure your resin sets as desired you need to make sure mix the two parts thoroughly together. The ideal technique for this is to take your time and mix slower for longer. If you stir too vigorously you’ll add lots of air bubbles and will have your work cut out to remove them in the next stage.
Once you’ve got your resin mix you can pour it into your moulds. As with the measuring stage, be careful not to add too much too quickly else your moulds might overflow. Your resin will self level so you don’t need to worry about pushing it into all the corners.
Step Five - Add your Decorations
Next you can add your additional decorations. I used sequins, gemstones, felt letters and even a photograph for mine. Use your mixing stick to carefully move these items around and get them positioned in the right place. Your resin will take a long time to set so you can take your time with this part to make sure the positioning is perfect.
If you find that there are air bubbles in your resin from the mixing stage you can pop these using a pin, however I didn’t find this worked especially well for really small bubbles, it just seemed to move them around. Alternatively, you can try using a heat gun (a hair dryer may work if you don't own one of these) to warm the mould and release the bubbles. Just be careful to use a low setting and to constantly move the heat so no single area gets too warm.
Step Five - Drying
Your resin will take hours to dry so be very patient. I found that after leaving them overnight they were set enough to be removed from the moulds but were still quite pliable and bendy. After a further 24 hours they were set solid.
Should your resin have leaked out of the mould you can carefully scratch and peel away the excess by hand or carefully cut this away using a pair of scissors.
And there you have it, your finished resin masterpiece. Happy Crafting!
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