Saturday, November 25, 2023

11 Practical Ways to Achieve Resin Success and Avoid Disasters

Welcome to your Resin Survival Guide! 

Working with resin can seem tricky at first, and it's true, the learning curve is quite steep. But fear not, I've got your back.

When I introduce newcomers to resin, I always share a set of essential DOs and DON'Ts - think of them as your resin commandments - to pave the way for successful creations while avoiding the common pitfalls resin crafters often encounter.

So, whether you're a seasoned resin expert or taking your first steps into this craft, sticking to these golden rules ensures your resin crafting journey is safe and successful.

Let's dive into the 11 fundamental resin rules everyone should swear by.

First, the things you should always do.


1) Wear Gloves and Protective Eyewear 

Wearing appropriate PPE is the NUMBER 1 RULE when working with resin. I can't stress this enough. It's easy to forget you're working with chemicals when you're having so much fun creating.

Blue nitrile gloves and wraparound safety glasses on a white table with bottles of resin and hardener.

You need to protect your skin from splashes, and your eyes from the vapours present in resin. Resin is sticky and very difficult to remove from your skin safely. It's also a known skin irritant and sensitizer, so keeping it off your skin is essential. Learn all about Resin Safety here.

2) Follow the Instructions in Your Resin Kit

Every resin brand is different, so read the instructions in your kit before you start... even if you're experienced. 

Many resins have similar instructions, but some have very unique instructions and you'll only know what those instructions are if you read them. 

Your resin might say things like:
  • Mix the resin in one cup, then pour it into a second cup and mix it again.
  • The minimum size batch that will cure is 2oz/60ml (some resins must be mixed in larger batches to make sure they cure).
  • Pour the resin immediately and don't let it sit for bubbles to rise.
  • Measure the resin by volume and not by weight.
These seemingly small variations can be the difference between success and failure so the key to success lies in following these instructions to the letter!

3) Work on a Levelled Surface 

Uneven surfaces lead to castings with uneven bottoms and no one wants lopsided castings. Working on a levelled surface ensures the resin doesn't end up higher on one side than the other. 

Levelling boards are a great solution when your tabletop or floor is uneven. They're simple to set up: just place the levelling board on your work surface and adjust the feet until the bubble is centred on the level. Now you can resin confidently, knowing your casts won't have a lopsided bottom.

Choose one with a silicone mat the same size as the levelling board and you'll protect it from resin drips that would otherwise make your work surface uneven for future projects.

Need to level a bigger area like a table for larger art projects so the resin doesn't run off one side? 

No problems! 

Use a 48" spirit level to level your whole table. If you need to adjust the table, slide thin rubber shims under the legs.

4) Leave your Resin Alone while it's Curing 

(No poking at it to see if it's cured!).

Epoxy resin curing times can test the patience of impatient crafters but for a perfect finish on your projects, you need to let the resin cure for as long as the instructions in your kit say. 

If you're impatient and you want to speed up curing, use a resin heating mat, a seed-raising mat or a resin curing machine. All 3 reduce resin's curing time significantly. These are invaluable if your room is cold because they'll keep the resin curing before the cold room temperature stops it.

5) Cover your Resin to Keep Insects and Dust from Settling on it

If you've never had a flying insect land on your not-quite-cured resin, then you've been lucky so far. At some point, it will happen. And when it does, it will cause you a lot of extra work to fix it

But it can be avoided by covering your work while it's curing.

For small projects, upturn a box and place it over the resin. Using a plastic storage box makes you less likely to bump it because you can see through it. But any box is better than no box at all.

For larger projects like artwork, place tall cups on your workspace next to the corners of your project and place a large piece of cardboard over the top. I'm talking BIG... something like a refrigerator carton, or flat pack packaging from IKEA. You can drape a painter's drop sheet over the whole arrangement like a tent to keep dust and flying insects out.

And now, the things you should never do!


6) Never... mix resin from one brand with hardener from another... 

...even if it's only a little bit

Mixing resin and hardener from different resin brands can lead to unknown and possibly hazardous outcomes. I don't want to scare you (actually, I do!) but it could result in toxic fumes, smoking, or combustion.

Even though your resin and hardener might look like clear liquids, they are still chemicals and mixing unknown chemicals together is dangerous. The resin and hardener in your resin kit have been formulated to work together perfectly so why mess with it?

7) Never... eyeball the amount of resin you need. 

Instead, measure it accurately so you can be sure it will cure.

Measuring out resin to a marked line on a plastic measuring cup

The manufacturer has worked out the exact resin ratio to give you the best result, so always get down to it at eye level (with the cups sitting on the bench, not held in your hand) and check you've measured both parts accurately.

8) Never... leave the lids off your resin and hardener case you put them back on the wrong bottles and they glue permanently shut. 

Yes, I've done that! 

I learned quite early on that resin is an extremely effective adhesive, so mixing up the lids might make it impossible to open the bottles again.

Expert Tip: Use a permanent marker to mark the lids A and B so you put them back on the correct bottles. 
Better still, put the lid back on Part A before you open the Part B bottle.

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

9) Never... use a casting resin for a canvas or a tumbler 

Casting resin is thin and has a low viscosity. So if you pour it onto a surface, it will run off the edges, and in extreme cases, it might even leave fish eyes (dimpled areas where the resin is so thin that it looks like there is no resin at all!). Keep your casting resin for filling moulds. 

For resin art, tabletops and tumblers, use a COATING resin. These are more viscous and give you a thick, even coating all over your project.

10) Never... waste resin. 

I've got 3 tips for you here, because who can afford to waste resin?!!
Resin bottle upturned into measuring cup to get the last few millilitres out

  1. When you've almost finished your resin kit, store it upside down so the resin runs to the lid. Not only will you get almost every last drop, but it will pour faster into your measuring cup!

  2. Always have small moulds at hand to pour leftover resin into. Small castings can be turned into jewellery, key chains, or embellishments for other crafts. 

  3. Or, leave it to cure in your cup and after a few resin sessions, you can turn it into a striped ring. Here's a tutorial to show you how.
cup of cured striped resin after being removed from a plastic cup, alongside a striped resin ring

11) Never... pour resin or hardener down the drain

Pouring unused resin or hardener down the sink is a no-no. 

Why, you ask? 

Well, resin and hardener are seriously harmful to aquatic life and plants, and it's like turning our waterways and soil into a toxic dump

And as for mixed resin, just don't even think about it. It's like tossing a spanner into your plumbing, and that's a recipe for disaster.

Instead, follow the rules: responsibly dispose of your leftover resin at a designated chemical waste facility, where it can be dealt with safely and legally. Trust me, the last thing you want is your drain to morph into a clogged up bog – that's just plain nasty.

There you have it... my tried-and-true list of DOs and DON'Ts for your resin adventures. 

Stick to these guidelines, and you're on track for a safe and satisfying resin crafting journey. 

Oh, and one more thing before I sign off: Remember to have an absolute blast while you're creating with resin! After all, joy is the secret ingredient to every masterpiece you create.

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Upturned bottle of resin balancing in a measuring cup with overlay text that reads 11 helpful resin tips - resin survival guide for beginners

Happy Resining!

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