Tag Archives: paper

110: Resin Topped Stud Earrings

DSC00962I’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!

Variety of papers
Variety of papers
Glue prep - coat with paste, and let it get tacky!
Glue prep – coat with paste, and let it get tacky!
Blanks ready to be made into studs!
Blanks ready to be made into studs!

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.

Freshly cut!
Freshly cut!

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.

MDF glue board, with the Perler bead board on top.
MDF glue board, with the Perler bead board on top.

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.

All laid out on the perler bead board.
All laid out on the first Perler bead board.

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.

Unmixed resin!
Unmixed resin.
Unfinished studs, with 4 drams of unusable resin. It was like spreading taffy at the end!
Unfinished studs, with 4 drams of unusable resin. It was like spreading taffy at the end!

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.

Resin drops spreading as I try to be patient.
Resin drops spreading as I try to be patient.
Patience only lasts so long. Helping the resin to the edge!
Patience only lasts so long. Helping the resin to the edge!

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.

Too much resin!
Too much resin!
You can see the difference between the resin topped and the "raw" paper pieces. If I would have sealed the paper, it wouldn't have changed color as much.
You can see the difference between the resin topped and the “raw” paper pieces. If I would have sealed the paper, it wouldn’t have changed color as much.

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.

The studs *barely* fit on the posts of the doming board. It was a delicate balancing act to get them to stay on the board flat and spread the resin around.
The studs *barely* fit on the posts of the doming board. It was a delicate balancing act to get them to stay on the board flat and spread the resin around.

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!

Resin overflow.
Resin overflow, from the underside.

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.

Pretty and perfect on my brand new post earring cards! Also laser cut, or course.
Pretty and perfect on my brand new post earring cards! Also laser cut, or course.

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 🙂

 

94: Papel Picado

Finished invite met with rave reviews from the guests.
Finished invite met with rave reviews from the guests.

I can happily announce after a whirlwind weekend that my dear friend Laura is now a Mrs!  Which means I get to show you the invitations and decorations.

My shoe sketch
My shoe sketch

Laura and I have been friends (and once even roommates successfully!) since our undergraduate days at Luther College.  The nice thing about working with Laura is that she trusts my design sense.  She basically asked for an invitation that had running shoes in it somewhere and that she really liked the look of papel picado.  Papel picado is a traditional paper craft of Mexico, with roots as far back as the Aztecs.  Artisans elaborately perforate pieces of tissue paper with chisels and the resulting designs are hung to celebrate festive events, such as Day of the Dead, Christmas, quinceañeras, and weddings.

Practice runs in the laser!
Practice runs in the laser!  Check back to Week 66 to see our tips on cutting paper!

The biggest challenge I had in designing the invites was balancing the full use of the background while making the design pronounced enough not to get lost.  Ryan’s designer eye helped with line thickness and consistency.  I thought dangling the pair of shoes jauntily from the ampersand added a nice sense of liveliness and fun to the invite, and we used the laser to full advantage with all those curves!

Invite mailing station
Invite mailing station – it was so fun to work with so much COLOR!  We mixed and matched envelopes, tissues and invites so nearly every one sent was a unique combination.
Mixed and matched colors made this very fun.
Mixed and matched colors made this very fun.
Decorations hanging from the gazebo were a nice touch (and the pommander was hanging in the center!). Photo courtesy of Jamie Wallace.
Decorations hanging from the gazebo were a nice touch (and the pomander was hanging in the center!). Photo courtesy of Jamie Wallace.

To continue the papel picado theme to the wedding itself, we purchased card stock in the matching colors (all from Paper Source!) and cut letter sized flags to string around the gazebo.  Traditionally, papel picado are made of tissue so artisans can chisel many layers at a time, but I’m thankful we went with card stock – the wind would have shredded them to pieces!  They withstood the gusts and were able to be transferred to the reception site and used again.

And finally, I was tickled pink that the photographers liked the papel picado so much they incorporated it in to the photo shoots of the bride and groom.  Here’s to your hard won, 10 years in the making happily ever after, Laura and Jesus!

The happy couple. Photo courtesy of Jamie Wallace.
Photo courtesy of Jamie Wallace.

86: 3D Letters

Looks nice and solid for paper, eh?
Looks nice and solid for paper, eh?

So, apparently I’ve got weddings in the brain.  For a friend, of course, I got that done over a decade ago myself.  Bridesmaid dress is purchased, invitations are nearly done, we will scouting wedding venues this weekend!  For this week’s project, my mind turned to table decorations.

Making 3D letters has been on my list every since I saw the “8 bit” 3D word project in the book MiniEco by Kate Lilley.  There was not a lot of instruction in the book, and the only letters available were an 8, B, I, and T.  So, off to the internet!  I found three different free printable 3D letter sets (if you want to try this yourself!)

Mr. Printable’s 3D Alphabet

Punched out Font by Shasta – Extra cool because every letter is made of a singe piece of paper!

Alphabet by Digitprop – Seriously cute 3D letters in animal shapes!

Terrible colors in the photo, but the dark lines are a full cut, lighter ones are the scoring
Terrible colors in the photo, but the dark lines are a full cut, lighter ones are the scoring
Folding along the score lines revealed the card stock underneath.
Folding along the score lines revealed the card stock underneath.

Mr. Printable’s were my favorite, so we created a laser friendly version of the letter M, the new family’s last name.  The bride loves bright colors, and I had this fabulous peachy orange mulberry paper with gold designs.  I used spray glue and mounted it to 100 pound card stock, making it nice and sturdy.

The laser makes cutting outlines a piece of cake, but the best part is that the laser can score fold lines too.  It’s a light partial cut that lets you make all folds sharply and in the right place – it’s amazing.  Folding took zero thought!  (We also used this technique for Week 33: Google Cardboard as well.  For tips on paper cutting, check out Week 66: Tips for Laser Cutting Paper)

One side folded up!  I found it was easier to glue in the walls for the "v" of the m and inside legs before folding up the sides
One side folded up! I found it was easier to glue in the walls for the “v” of the m and inside legs before folding up the sides
Partially folded, this is what it looks like on the inside.
Partially folded, this is what it looks like on the inside.  I glued it so the tabs were inside.

It was a fun little project, and they were surprisingly sturdy when finished.  I can’t imagine making tons of them, but they would be super cute on a reception table.  Unless, of course, the bride asks.  I’m a sucker for helping and crafts!

Sides folded, just waiting for the back cover.
Sides folded, just waiting for the back cover.

82: Pop-Up Card

The card when closed. What could be inside?
The card when closed. What could be inside?

Whenever I see a papercraft project online that involves a lot of precise x-acto blade cutting, a part of my brain usually reserved for laying out SNES SimCity towns activates and taunts me, “Oooh, you could do this hour long cut in like one minute! You should totally make one of these!”

When you open it, the heart lifts up out of the chest.
When you open it, the heart lifts up out of the chest.

This totally happened again when I discovered this pixel heart paper pop-up card from a few years ago. I knew I wanted to do a Zelda heart, like many other crafty folks have done, but I opted for the SNES A Link to the Past entry over the NES original.

Thanks to the vector sleuthing work of those X-ACTO wielding warriors before me, setting up the cut and score lines was a much simpler task than if I had to figure the shape out myself. I spent much more time aligning two sides of the design to create an opening chest similar to “yetanothrs” neat Zelda project. When you open the card, the lid lifts up and the heart “rises up” out of the chest. It’s a subtle effect, but totally worth the extra time spent getting the alignment between the outside and the inside right.

What am I even doing this is so silly. #zelda #lasercut

A post shared by Ryan (@pixelaser) on

I then spent a silly amount of time figuring out how to time a quick Instagram video to a looped MP3 on a computer across the room. Silly, but the nostalgia still gets me!

A close-up of the laser cut pixel edges and the laser scored bendy bits.
A close-up of the laser cut pixel edges and the laser scored bendy bits.
The back of the card. One part brandy and two parts sappy.
The back of the card. One part brandy and two parts sappy.