Saturday, May 2, 2020

Top 10 Tips for Success with Resin

Image shows hand with thumbs up on a pale pink background with text that says Tips for Success with Resin

Creating with resin is hugely rewarding but it does come with its challenges. It's a more technical medium to work with than most and it's a bit particular about you doing things right so that you get great results every time.

Here are my top 10 resin tips to get you started on your resin journey.

1. Get your Workspace Ready

Clear your workspace and then protect it. Lay down a sheet of plastic or a few sheets of newspaper to keep your table free of sticky resin. I also recommend that you work on a non-stick material like a Teflon craft sheet, silicone mat or a sheet of waxed paper (resin won't stick to it). It's so easy to peel cured resin off these surfaces or to wipe off uncured resin with methylated spirits (denatured alcohol).

2. Prepare your moulds beforehand

Once you've mixed your resin, the clock is ticking. And that goes for slow curing epoxy as well as quick curing polyurethane. You really want to pour that resin straight away. If you don't have your moulds prepared and you have to run off to get them, or clean them up, or spray them with mould release, you're wasting valuable working time.

If you've chosen silicone moulds to pour your resin into, then make sure they're clean and free of dust. This article on "how to clean silicone moulds" is the easiest and most effective method I know of!

But if you're pouring into plastic moulds instead, it's essential that you spray them with mould release so it's easy to demould the resin castings once they're cured.
Spraying a plastic resin mould with mould release

3. Measure the resin accurately

It's really important to measure out the resin and hardener accurately, in the ratio recommended by the manufacturer. If you're off-ratio with your measurements, you will have curing problems. If it says to measure by volume, then use cups with graduated measurements.
Pouring resin into a small plastic cup with graduated measurements

If the instructions say to measure by weight, use a pocket digital scale with .01gram accuracy.
Digital scale on a pale pink background

4. Follow the mixing instructions

Some resins are a bit vague with their mixing directions and just tell you to mix the two parts together until they're combined. But some give very specific mixing instructions and you should follow them to the letter. Each manufacturer uses a different formulation so follow the instructions they provide because that will give the best results with their resin. Partially mixed resin leaves sticky spots on your castings so make sure you mix it thoroughly.


DOWNLOAD THE TOP 10 TIPS FOR SUCCESS WITH RESIN CHEAT SHEET
Top 10 Resin Tips Cheat Sheet mockup

5. Avoid Bubbles by mixing resin slowly

Mix the resin slowly. If you're working with a slow curing epoxy, it's OK to take your time. Keep in mind that you're not making a cake so you don't need to whip or beat the resin to combine the two parts. That will just give you mixed resin with a lot of bubbles that you'll have to deal with. But if you mix really slowly, you'll minimise the bubbles that are incorporated. Follow these tips for bubble-free resin.

6. Room Temperature

When it comes to room temperature, resin is a bit like Goldilocks and The 3 Bears:
Too hot and it will reach gel stage really fast.
Too cold and it will take a LOT longer to cure than stated in the instructions.
But when the temperature is JUST RIGHT, it will behave the way you expect it to.
Thermometer with both Centigrade and Fahrenheit markings

Work in a room where the temperature is around 20°C-24°C or 70°F-75°F. Your resin kit should have more details so take note of the ideal room temperature and try to keep within that temperature range.

7. Personal Safety

Glove up! Resin is super sticky and you need to keep it off your skin.
Putting on a pair of black nitrile gloves

And while you're at it, wear goggles and wear long sleeves to protect your arms from sticky resin. You might feel like it's overkill, but you can't take your own personal safety seriously enough. You want working with resin to be a fun experience so be sure to take PPE seriously.

8. Ventilation

Most epoxies and polyurethanes are very low odour whereas UV resin often has a strong odour. Whether your resin has an odour or not, what you can't see or smell is the vapours. Craft resins are formulated with the home user in mind so as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions for working with the resin, they should be safe to use. That means, working in a well-ventilated space. Try working near an open window and position a portable fan so that fresh air flows past you and the vapours blow outside.
Retro desktop fan on a pink background


9. Use a Dust Cover

Once you've poured your resin pieces, place a cover over the top of them to keep dust, pet hair and flying insects out of the resin. "Flying insects?", I hear you say! Yes, it's true... I have had insects deposit themselves in my freshly poured resin but haven't noticed them until the resin gelled. They're hard to remove at that stage so make sure you cover your work!
Flying insect stuck in the resin

10. Be Patient

Waiting is the hardest part of resin crafting. You just can't hurry curing up and no amount of prodding or poking to test how the pieces are going will make them cure any faster. So it's time to walk away. They'll be cured enough to demould in 24 hours.
Retro green alarm clock on pastel pink background


Bonus Tip!

If you really can't resist checking how the resin is going, leave a small amount in the mixing cup. You can prod and poke this as much as you like. When it has cured, you'll know you can safely demould your castings without damaging them.

Pin These Tips!
Resin Tips that Beginners Need to Know inspiration sheet


'Til next time.....








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Would you like to comment?

  1. this information was great!! thank you so much. question can you just use fresh flowers (pick and resin) no drying of flowers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, you have to dry them first. Here's an article that shows several ways to do it
      https://milllanestudio.blogspot.com/2017/05/drying-and-preserving-flowers-for-resin.html

      Delete
  2. would useing freshly picked flowers be okay?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fresh flowers don't do well in resin. They will go mouldy in time. Try drying them using one of the methods in this tutorial:
      https://milllanestudio.blogspot.com/2017/05/drying-and-preserving-flowers-for-resin.html

      Delete
  3. Are heat guns actually an effective way to remove bubbles from epoxy resin? If so, do we use them as soon as we’ve finished pouring or after the 24 hours?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A heat gun is very effective for popping bubbles in large projects like artworks, bar tops and tables. But if you're working in small moulds, the force of air from the heat gun can push the resin out of the mould.

      When you're working with epoxy resin, you can usually still pop bubbles up until about 2 hours after pouring it. How long you have to pop them will depend on the room temperature (the resin will gel faster in a hot room than in a cold room). After that, you might still be able to pop them but it may leave a dimple that doesn't smooth out.

      Did you check out the link for how to deal with bubbles when you're working on small scale projects? If not, here it is again: https://milllanestudio.blogspot.com/2020/03/7-ways-to-eliminate-bubbles-from-resin.html

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  4. Hi thanks for the article, its great.

    I am a resin newbie.. My resin smells very strong and thought you had to wear masks when using resin. Is this so and could you advise of any. I am in the UK.

    Many thanks,
    Amy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aimes,
      Epoxy resins generally don't have much of an odour so I'm guessing that it's either polyester (2-part where you add just a few drops of catalyst to the resin), or it's UV resin.

      If you're working with polyester, you need to use it OUTSIDE ONLY. It has a strong styrene smell and it is toxic so at the very least, you need to be working in the open with it.

      If it's UV resin, then work in a space with very good ventilation (e.g. near an open window with a fan to blow the fumes away.

      As an extra level of protection for both these resins, you can use a half mask or full mask respirator with replaceable filters. If you are working with resin all day, then a respirator is essential.

      The cartridges to get need to filter out organic vapours. The rating for the cartridges needs to be ABEK-1 (or A1B1E1K1) and you must replace these on a very regular basis.

      If you decide to buy one, this is the type of mask: https://amzn.to/3fdIJOw
      and this is the type of filter:
      https://amzn.to/3fgNxTb

      I hope that gets you on the right track!
      Myléne

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  5. I created some dominos but about 6 of them have not dried it’s been 72 hrs is there anything I can do to dry them out so I don’t have to remake

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kachina

      I'm not sure of what type of resin you're using but here's some suggestions that might help.

      When resin doesn't cure, the most common causes are:
      . the resin is off ratio (accurate measuring is essential);
      . the resin hasn't been mixed well enough
      . the room temperature is too cold; or
      . it has been affected by humidity

      If it was epoxy, mix up another batch or resin (follow the instructions included in your resin kit to the letter). Paint on a layer of resin and let it cure.

      Alternatively, you may find that placing the dominos under the heat of a lamp (LED won't work because it doesn't produce heat) might cure the resin if cold weather was the problem. You could try putting them out in the sun but this will accelerate the yellowing of the resin.

      If it was UV resin, I'd suggest that you switch to a different brand and apply a top coat to each side of the dominos (some brands do stay a bit sticky).

      I'm reluctant to suggest that you use UV resin on epoxy that hasn't cured properly as there may be a chemical reaction between the two but as a last resort, it might be worth trying.

      I hope that one of these suggestions works for you.

      Myléne

      Delete
  6. Hi, really useful tips thanks!
    Was wondering what happened if you used resin somewhere where it was colder than recommended. Would it never set or would it just take longer?
    Also can you move the moulds after putting the resin in it?
    (Using epoxy)
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katie
      Sorry for the delay in responding... I missed your comment.

      Epoxy resin is quite finnicky about room temperatures and it prefers the room temperature to be about 70-75°F so that it can cure properly. Temperatures below that slow the curing process down. If it's just a little below that, the resin will probably cure just fine but take longer and if it's drastically below that, you'll encounter lots of other problems such as microbubbles that make your resin look cloudy and resin that stays tacky.
      HTH
      Myléne


      Delete
  7. I'm about to try resin for the first time. Still not clear on the measurements. How do I accurately measure how much I need to pour of the resin or the paint? Do I put the mold in water and pour it in the cup to see how much I'll need?

    ReplyDelete
  8. The easiest way to measure the volume of the your mould is to fill it with rice and empty it into a measuring cup/jug so you know how much resin to mix. You can clean up any stray bits of rice from the mould with adhesive tape.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am planning on making a resin project with sand. I am new to using resin. The resin I have has a 1 to 1 ratio. What is the best way to measure the resin to the amount of sand needed for the project?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Maamkim
      Without knowing more about your project, it's hard to say how much you'll need.
      But sand is heavy so it will sink in the resin if you're pouring the resin into a mould.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your response to my question! I plan on making a 16" round bowl with sand and resin. From what I have seen, I am to mix the resin and sand, let it cure for 3 to 4 hrs and turn it upside down. I am really nervous and want to make sure the measurements are as close as possible.

      Delete
    3. If it's a freeform pour on plastic that you place over the bowl to shape when it's semi-cured, then I'd try 50% of the volume of resin that you're measuring. That will fill half the depth of the resin with sand and still leave you plenty of clear resin for strength.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. You're welcome Maamkim! I hope your project turns out just the way you envision it!

      Delete

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