I’ve been wanting to experiment with resin for years! I just never got around to it – in all honestly, I read so many horror stories, I was a little timid. So let me tell you – just do it. It’s not hard, the mess can be contained, and the results are worth it!
My love of paper almost rivals my love of lasers. I’ve shied away from combining the two for my jewelry line at Isette because paper is fragile and prone to wear and dirt. Resin is perfect to protect the paper, and even adds another dimension to it thanks to the doming property.
Here’s my step but step guide to resin topped laser cut stud earrings – I’m a complete resin newbie, but I love the results!
Step 1: Glue the paper to the wood. I laser cut some thin bamboo blanks and rough cut some fun paper I had in my stash – a page from an old dictionary, regular gray scrapbook paper, and some beautiful handmade Japanese paper. I used professional quality PVA glue, which is acid free and long lasting. One of the tricks I learned from years of bookbinding – put a coating of glue on both sides of the piece you are gluing together. Let them get a little tacky, and then adhere them together. The bond is stronger, and paper is much less wrinkly and easier to work with when glued this way. I let them dry together overnight.
Step 2: Laser cut your shapes from the papered wood. I love making stud earrings, so this is what I designed first. Simple shapes – drops, dots and hearts. I sized them a bit larger than my usual stud earrings, so they would be easier to work with if I had to handle them a lot when applying resin. It also allowed more real estate for the patterns to shine through.
I also whipped up some simple bar shaped pendants, and pre-cut some holes to put jump rings through.
Step 3: Set up your work area. Resin can be a little messy and drippy – it’s best to be prepared. Cover your surfaces. The internet suggested using silicone mats, which are nice an flexible and the resin pops off of when dry. I used my earring gluing board – not flexible at all, and I kind of regretted it. There is a piece that is likely permanently stuck on now.
I went out an purchased some Perler Bead boards to use as doming board. Doming boards are useful for thin items you with to top with resin. Like water, resin has a surface tension which makes a nice dome on the end project. If you get a little heavy handed with the resin, it’s very easy to spill over the edge. If it’s on a flat surface, the spill over pulls a lot of the resin over the edge with it and stays attached to the piece. If your piece is on a doming board, the resin drops away, preserving the surface tension on the top of the laser cut piece.
I donned by respirator, as the resin can be strong smelling and I was working with tiny pieces, and gloves are good to limit your exposure (nitrile, not latex). Resin Obsession Website has a full list of safety tips.
Step 4: Mix up your resin. Resin is generally sold as a two part system, so you are sold a bottle of resin and a bottle of hardener. I used Doming Resin from Rio Grande which called for equal amounts of each. I didn’t know how far resin would go, so I mixed up a 6 dram batch (3 drams of resin, 3 drams of hardener). Of this, I probably used 2, and the rest hardened before I could finish all my pieces anyway. So, smaller batches are key!
Resin experts recommend stirring the two together slowly, as to not create excess air bubbles which might affect the quality of the resin later. As I mixed, the resin became cloudy, then cleared up.
Step 5: Pour! Or in my case, drip and dab is more appropriate, but it doesn’t sound as action-y. I used toothpicks to get a large drop to put on the stud earrings. This dome resin was more viscous than I expected, kind of like “soft ball stage” consistency, if you make candy. So it stayed balled and so I started messing with it right away trying to spread the resin to the edges to with my toothpick. It was messy, and not at all the right technique.
A better way is to hurry up and wait. Weird but true. I had a much better time with the resin when I dropped resin on a series of studs, then waited a bit to let the resin spread out on it’s own, maybe a minute or so. By the time I was done dolloping resin on the last piece, the first one was ready to spread. The resin settled naturally out – not enough to cover the whole piece, but pretty close. I could easily “walk” the resin to the edge and the dome evened out accordingly. (By “walk”, I mean I dragged the toothpick, upright, to the edge, creating a path. Don’t use the toothpick like a spatula – it just sticks in the resin and disrupts the dome.) The circles had better natural coverage than the other shapes. For hearts, I learned it was better to put two smaller drips in the loves of the heart, and then walk the resin down to the point. With a single big drip it was more likely to just flow off the “v” of the heart.
Lesson learned: The scrapbook paper and the dictionary pages changed color pretty significantly – I should have sealed them first to create a barrier and keep them from getting soaked. The high quality Japanese paper fared brilliantly.
Step 6: Wait. When your pieces are covered as you desire, stop messing with them. It’s time for them to cure overnight. Get a lid that you can put over the wet resin to keep dust of them and marring your hard work. Make sure it isn’t touching your resin, of course! Go to bed and dream about how delightfully shiny your jewels will be.
Step 7: Admire and Finish.
Admiring your handiwork is a very important step in the process – the resin will look really cool! Clean up any resin than may have dripped over and stuck to the back and sides – I had quite a bit. I got better about dripping on the right amount by the end, so I’ll chalk that up to learning curve. I basically peeled it off with a pair of curved nosed pliers and my thumbnail. Quick and dirty, but it got the clean up job done. Attach any stud backs you desire!
In the case of the pendants, drill out the resin filled holes. I need to try the pendants again without the pre-cut holes – It might just be easier to drill since I have to drill out the resin anyway. And it would save me a resin spill underneath.
I love how they turned out, and I’m looking forward to combining lasers and resin in other ways! If you give resin coating a try, let me know how it turns out for you!
PS – what do you think of the new jewelry cards? This post is the debut of the new design 🙂