Saturday, May 2, 2020

Top 10 Tips for Success with Resin

RESIN IS THE HOTTEST CRAFT ON THE PLANET right now and if you haven't dabbled in it yet, then you're missing out on a world of fun... it's the most versatile crafting medium there is! 

With resin, you can create projects on any scale you like: from small items like jewellery, decorative objects and homewares, to large-scale projects like resin art paintings and even furniture! No matter whether you're a crafter or an artisan, there's something in it for you.

Resin is very different to other art and craft mediums and it comes with some very unique challenges. It's much more technical and there's a steep learning curve involved. But with the right guidance, you can learn this skill and make beautiful things with resin and absolutely nail it!

Before we get into my expert tips for resin success, join my email list and get a ton more delivered straight to your inbox every week. CLICK THE BUTTON below to sign up.

Before diving into your first DIY resin project, you need an understanding of how resin works and adopt safe practices so that not only do you enjoy working with it, but you also get professional results every time.

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

1. Protect Your Workspace

Resin gets sticky like honey as it cures, so you need to protect your table from spills and MAKE CLEAN UP AS EASY AS POSSIBLE. 

Start by clearing off your workspace and then cover it with a layer of something that resin can't penetrate. Here are some ideas to try:
  • Painter's plastic drop sheet (I use one with a paper backing so I have a white surface to work on)
  • Disposable plastic party tablecloth
  • Plastic shower curtain
  • Plastic trash can bag (the bigger, the better)
  • A few layers of old newspapers (you can tape these down so the folds lay flat)
Whatever you choose, make sure it covers an area much larger than your immediate workspace. Resin has a habit of finding all the spots that aren't covered! 

Once you've got that in place, I also recommend that you USE A NON-STICK MATERIAL like a Teflon craft sheet, a silicone mat or a sheet of waxed paper or silicone baking paper from the kitchen to work on. 

Resin doesn't stick to these surfaces so you can simply peel cured resin off or wipe up any spilled resin with methylated spirits (denatured alcohol). If you're using waxed paper or baking paper, you can just toss it in the bin when you're finished.

2. Prepare your moulds beforehand

Once you've mixed your resin, the clock is ticking and you really want to pour that resin straight away because the curing process begins the moment the two parts are combined. And that goes for slow curing epoxy as well as quick-curing polyurethane.

That means you need to HAVE YOUR MOULDS READY ahead of time, and not be rummaging around to find them... or cleaning grubby moulds up at the last minute... or waiting for mould release to dry before you can use them.

All those things eat into your valuable working time.

So before you mix the resin, make sure your silicone moulds are clean. You can remove lint, dust, mica powder, glitter and pet hair (and any other debris) quickly and easily with this cleaning method. It's the most effective method I know of!

Expert tip: You can make your silicone moulds last a lot longer by spraying them with mould release. For plastic moulds, spray release is essential to make it 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 so that it cures properly. The ratio to use will be written on the bottles of resin and hardener. 

Most epoxies are either 1:1 or 2:1 (that means 1 part of A to 1 part of B, or 2 parts of  A to 1 part of B). But there are always exceptions, so make sure you check the ratio before you measure out the two parts. If you get it wrong, the resin will be soft and bendy when it's cured.

The other important information you need to know about measuring resin is whether to measure by volume or by weight.

If your resin kit says to measure by volume, then use cups with graduated measurements like these.

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. 

Others give very specific mixing instructions and you should FOLLOW THESE MIXING INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER! 

If the instructions say to mix the resin and then pour it into a second cup and mix it again, then do that because each manufacturer uses a different formulation and the instructions they provide for their resin will give the best results. 

By the way, partially mixed resin cures with sticky spots on the surface... And nobody wants sticky resin!

You'll get the 10 Resin Tips Cheat Sheet in your first email! 

5. Avoid Bubbles by mixing resin slowly

Bubbles are the bane of every resin crafter, from beginner to expert. But you can minimise the number of bubbles if you MIX THE RESIN SLOWLY

If you're working with a slow curing epoxy, you have time to do that. For fast curing resins like polyurethanes, you'll need to mix it faster but always 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 result in mixed resin with a LOT OF BUBBLES that you'll have to deal with later on. 

Where mixing resin is concerned, slow and steady wins the race!
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 cure too 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 21°C-24°C or 70°F-75°F. 

Your resin kit will have more details so take note of the ideal room temperature and try to keep within that temperature range. A handy little digital thermometer like this one will help you get it right.

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 to protect your eyes and wear long sleeves to protect your arms from sticky resin. You might feel like it's overkill, but you can't take YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY seriously enough.

Does it matter what gloves you wear?
Gloves do more than just keep your hands free of sticky resin: they also protect your skin from the chemicals in resin.

Of all the gloves available, NITRILE GLOVES offer the best defence against chemicals. They are also puncture-resistant and strong enough to wear a number of times before you need to replace them. Other types of gloves, such as latex, don't offer the same chemical protection that nitrile gloves do.

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. 

They usually mention that you should WORK IN A WELL VENTILATED SPACE

But what does that mean?

Well, you don't want to work in a closed-in corner of the room. Look for an area that has external windows or doors and set yourself up next to it. Position a portable fan behind you (or alongside you) so that fresh air flows past you, and blows the vapours 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

You can use something as simple as a shoebox, just as long as it fits over your resin work. 

A PLASTIC CONTAINER is even better because you can see through it and you're less likely to accidentally knock it whilst it's curing.

10. Be Patient

You just can't hurry curing along 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's cured, you'll know you can safely demould your castings without damaging them.

Don't leave without getting the Cheat Sheet. 

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

Happy Resining!

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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?

    1. No, you can't use fresh flowers in resin because they'll go brown and sludgy inside the resin. Make sure they're really well dried first. Here's a blog post on several different ways you can do that:

    2. No, you have to dry them first. Here's an article that shows several ways to do it

  2. would useing freshly picked flowers be okay?

    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:

  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?

    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:

  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,

    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:
      and this is the type of filter:

      I hope that gets you on the right track!

  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

    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.


  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)

    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.

  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?

  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.

  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?

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

  11. Hello Mylene,
    Is there anything you can use in place of the store bought mold release? Mold release is quite expensive and I was just wondering if there was a way to make one that was more cost efficient.
    Thank you.

    1. Resin doesn't stick to silicone or polypropylene so you can use these types of moulds without a spray release. But if you do spray them with mould release, they will last so much longer than if you don't. The beauty of using a commercial mould release is that it's sprayed in a thin, even coat across the mould.

      You can smear petroleum jelly or wax paste around the mould but if the mould has a detailed surface, it's very difficult to get even coverage.

      But I did a bit of research and came across this video for making a mould release for silicone moulds:
      It doesn't go into how to apply it, or what medium he is casting with it (it might not be resin), but it shows the ingredients he uses and his process for making it.

  12. bonjour Mylène,
    Je viens de rencontrer un problème de démoulage. Mes moules sont en silicone et en essayant de réaliser un cendrier au moment du démoulage j'ai eu des problèmes de démoulage, je crois qu'ils proviennent de ma façon d'enlever les bulles à la flamme, j'ai donc abimé mon moule, comment le réparer, ce ne sont que de petites surfaces. D'autre part comment retirer le silicone collé sur mon cendrier, c'est une catastrophe !!!!!
    Merci Nadine, France, Provence

    1. Bonjour, Nadine!
      I've used Google Translate so I hope I've understood your problem properly. It sounds like the resin has fused to the silicone. This happens when you use a heatgun to pop bubbles. Heatguns produce quite high temperatures so I prefer to use other methods to pop bubbles like spraying with rubbing alcohol or briefly passing a flame across the resin.
      But that doesn't help you with your current situation.

      Unfortunately, if your mould has a rip or tear, the damage is difficult to repair. You can temporarily plug up any gaps with hot glue or even silicone putty (silicone sticks to silicone).

      If your resin is still stuck in the mould, sometimes, applying heat can soften both the resin and the silicone enough to separate the two. You can use your heatgun carefully for this. If you manage to remove the resin without too much damage to the mould, then spray it with mould release each time you use it and it might last for a few more castings, but ultimately, you will have to replace the mould.

  13. So I just finished gluing old cut up DVDs as tiles onto a 3d letter and I'm wanting to use resin to fill in the gaps and cover it but I'm worried about it covering the sides correctly. When I pour it on the top will it fill in the sides evenly with the top or do you think it will drip down and be uneven? Any tips would be greatly appreciated please. I'm nervous but need to finish my project. Thanks!

    1. What a great idea!
      The resin will drip down the sides of the letter and it may be uneven.
      My suggestion would be to create a "dam" around the top of the letter with a good quality painter's tape. Then you can flood the surface with resin to fill in the gaps between the tiles and it won't flow over the edge.
      Remove the tape once the resin has gelled (about 2 hours usually) and the edges will be smooth.
      Good luck!

  14. Hi thank you so much for the tips.. I am new at this but was wondering if you can use pictures in resin? I was thinking about doing coasters for some friends and wanted to use some of their family pictures I have

    1. What a lovely idea.
      Yes, you can put pictures in resin. I would seal them with a couple of coats of Mod Podge or any white craft glue first (front, back and cut edges) to prevent the resin from ruining the photos.

  15. Qué cantidad de consejos tan útiles..!!!! Gracias!!! Tengo una consulta, estoy utilizando molde para hacer botones y , creo que por la calidad del mismo, no están brillando cuando los desmoldo. Cuál sería la sugerencia para que brillen? Con qué puedo humectar el molde antes del Volcado? Muchas Gracias 😘!!

  16. WOW - I learned so much from your article and all the questions! I too am new at the Resin game. What resin do you prefer? What is the difference between UV Resin and Resin?
    Thanks for all your answers!

  17. I had my resin become bendy after it was cured but should you demold if it is bendy? Or should you wait for it to be hard? and how long does it typically take to truly be done/hard?

    1. If the resin is still bendy after curing, you can demould it if it's no longer sticky. Sometimes it will harden, but generally it stays bendy forever. Bendy resin usually happens when you get the resin to hardener ratio wrong so make sure you're really accurate with your measurements. You might find this post on measuring resin helpful:

  18. Great info on getting started,but I'm not sure how much to use. I am doing a tray that is 14" x 18" and want to cover it 1/4"deep (I think). Is there some formula to figure out how much resin I need?

    1. If you do a Google search for "resin calculator", you'll find some sites with resin calculators. You just plug in the dimensions of your tray and the depth you want to pour to and it will come up with the answer.

  19. Thanks for the tips I'm still learning,I had recently ordered resin through the mail but I didn't use right away,but I want to use it the resin got really hard so I text the company and that I wanted my money back for faulty product they wanted the shipping paper when I got it at I got I thru it away I didn't think I would need and I told that they wanted what was wrong with product so told them so text they text me and told me how to resolve the situation put in hot water until it ran smoothly and they couldn't return my refund but could send me another box resin to make the other one, but my question for you is can use the old stuff just put in hot water like they suggested will it work the same like new stuff did?

    1. If it is epoxy resin, you can try warming the resin in a container of water. Make sure the lid is on tight. You can see how to do that here in this blog post:
      If it's UV resin, then warming the resin in hot water is unlikely to work.


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