Advice on what resin to use

how to choose a resin and resin supplies

Thoughts on choosing a resin and resin supplies

Lots of you have asked me what resin products I use for my resin jewelry and crafts.  Part of the fun of learning resin is experimenting with different items and finding what works for your specific situation.  I do understand, though, that it can be confusing and sometimes frustrating not knowing which product to use or using the wrong product for a project.  Today, I’m going to walk you through the resin products I use WHEN and WHY.

Note:  These are my experiences.  Please use this article as a guide and feel free to share your experiences in the comment box below if something different has worked well for you.

Casting Resins

If I’m working with molds, and I need a clear casting, I like to use the Resin Obsession super clear resin.  The super clear resin is designed for molds and also casts very clear.  The super clear resin also has its own line of resin colorants, so it’s easy for me to color and cast the resin as well.

If I need the resin to dome, like in a bezel, I will use the Alumilite Amazing Casting resin or ICE resin.  Both can be colored and have their own colorants as well.

If I am making something that can be a solid, opaque color, the Alumilite Amazing Casting resin works well.  It is a quick cure polyurethane resin that cures opaque white, but can be colored with coordinating liquid colorants also by Alumilite that are specifically made for coloring polyurethane (and epoxy) resin.  It  also cures hard, making it a good choice for ‘high impact’ items like rings.

If I want to make something that needs to have the brightest, shiniest surface possible, that’s when I pull out the Castin’ Craft polyester resin.  This resin is hard enough when cured that it can be polished on a buffing wheel with compound.  I have found that is the best way to get a very glossy surface.  If you want to try polyester resin, read this article first:  polyester resin facts.

For the projects where I need a large, thin glossy surface, TotalCast or Alumilite Amazing Clear Cast resin works well for this.  Both work well for creating a glossy surface no more than 1/8 inch thick.  You can see how I used Alumilite Amazing clear cast resin to coat the surface of a tile.

Moldmaking

If I only need to mold a small item, say 1 1/2 inches in diameter or less and not very thick, I will use the Alumilite Amazing mold putty.  Because you only have a limited amount of time to mix and form the putty around the model, I only like to use it for small items.  I will also use this if I want to cast a food item, as the mold putty is FDA designated food safe.  For larger items that you need to make a silicone mold from, any of the Alumilite silicones will work fine for flat items.  If you’re trying to cast larger items with lots of twists and turns (and subsequent undercuts), the high strength #3 is the best choice.  The high strength #2 is the better choice if you’re making a two part mold because the cured silicone will be stiffer.  If you are new to moldmaking altogether, the Composimold reusable molding material is a great choice.  You can use the mold a couple of times, then remelt and pour again to make a new mold.  Great for those times when you make a mistake!  (and it’s food contact safe as well)

Like this post? You may be interested in  Resin Obsession color pigments FAQ

Mold Release

If you’re only going to be using plastic molds, the Castin’ Craft mold release will do just fine.  The Ultra 4 parafilm mold release is better suited to silicone molds.  Our recently added Petrolease universal mold release works on both, and for me, is my ‘go to’ mold release all the time.  It may be overkill on the majority of plastic molds, but for deep molds, like the bangle bracelets and domes, I have found it makes demolding so much easier.  If you’re making a two part silicone mold, or will be casting silicone into a silicone mold, the Alumilite rubber to rubber mold release is a good choice.  I would expect the Petrolease mold release would be a good choice here as well, but I don’t have any experience with it yet in casting silicone against silicone to be absolutely sure.

Colorants

For small projects I need to color, I find that I prefer the liquid colorants over the powder colorants if everything else is equal.  I find I’m challenged with creating lumps with the powder sometimes, although this technique shown in a video on the Resin Obsession youtube channel works well to keep that from happening.  How to mix powder pigments into resin.

 

Getting a glossy finish

If I want to get a glossy finish on a small surface, I will coat with another layer of the same resin I used to create the piece.  If it’s a large item, I will use the resin gloss sealer spray.  I like the ‘wet to the look’ finish another layer of resin gives, but find it can be tedious to accomplish on a large surface, especially if it has multiple sides.  The gloss sealer spray can be done in a few seconds!  If I don’t need a super glossy finish, but just need to shine it up a bit, I will use the Novus polishing compounds.  You can see the difference between all of them in this video on the Resin Obsession youtube channel.  A comparison of different polishing options for resin charms and jewelry.

 

What else do you want to know?  What has worked for you?

52 Comments

Sam

I just completed my first ever resin casts. I embedded plastic buttons into some of my moulds, the buttons have faded. Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again?
Thanks!

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Katherine

@Sam, I’ve never had that problem before with buttons in resin. I would suggest trying a different brand of buttons.

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Amanda

Great article, I have worked with both Super clear resin and Easy cast for the plastic molds. Hands down my first choice for a clear and quicker work time is Super Clear resin, with Easy cast I have to heat it up 8-10 minutes before use and some times has a yellow hue. As a working mom, I don’t have much time, but it’s fun just sit down for a few seconds to pour your next great creation.

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Joyce

I LOVE working with resin. Still learning though. I poured a few pieces last night, and have a couple issues with one piece. I forgot to cover it while it hardened, and it looks like a small piece of link floated in 🙁 also, same piece, I put a little piece of dried lilac in the piece and part of it is still sticking out. I’m not sure I can add more resin to cover it. My thought was to file or sand the resin and then pour another very thin coat of resin to fix it. Would that work? What should I use to file/sand the resin?? I used Ice Resin Thx!

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Erin

I have been working on some coasters for quite some time now. I’m having problems finishing them after sanding them down. I currently have a smooth, but cloudy surface. I have tried using the resin gloss sealing spray, and also tried a thin layer of resin. The resin gloss spray was not very smooth feeling or glossy. The resin was too sticky for coaster use. Any suggestions on finishing coasters?

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Katherine

@Erin, the Easy Cast epoxy is relatively soft resin and can be hard to polish. What is the finest grit sandpaper you finished with on the surface?

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Erin

Clearly, I am new to the resin game :/ I used 400 grit and it made it smooth, but left the surface cloudy.

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Katherine

@Erin, 400 grit is still too coarse to get a shiny finish. Go over it again with 600, 800 and finish with at least 1000. You can get 1000 grit and higher sandpapers at automotive supply stores.

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Susan

Hi
I am very keen to make a resin screen with green leaves embedded in it to fit onto a window looking out onto an unattractive outdoor scene – could you you advise me what resin to use? I saw this many years ago and have always remembered it.
Thanks
Susan

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Shane

Hi, I was wondering if you were aware of a way when casting a tarantula to avoid or minimize color loss. I plan on using easy craft resin.

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Shane

Hey, Katherine thank you for the quick response. I checked out the link and that sounds like it might just work. I’m also going to cast in multiple thin layers to minimize heat so hopefully my beloved pet of ten years will stay as natural looking as possible. Thanks again for the quick response
Shane stewart

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Jane

Hello,
I am hoping you will be able to answer my question. I’ve searched on the Net and found nothing!
We have a glass patio table that we glued colored gems too and are going to apply resin for a clear finish. This table will be going outside so we need to know if it will need a sealer to protect it and which kind.
Thank you so much for your time and I really like your website and product lines!
Jane

Reply
Katherine

@jane, I would suggest using a resin that can coat the table and is suitable for outdoor use.

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Ryan

Hi Katherine, thanks for being so dedicated to helping others. I have a few questions that I hope you can help me with.

I’m in college and making a 2ftx8ft beer pong table topped with beer caps, but in order to ensure that the beer caps (each is .25 of an inch in height) are fully submerged, I plan to use 3 gallons of resin (the amount of resin per square footage calculates out to a height of about .30 of an inch). I was very fixed on buying 3 gallons of envirotex lite, but after reading some posts on your website I’m having some reservations.
1.) Is the depth of resin I’m shooting for too deep for envirotex lite? Should I be looking into a different brand or product perhaps?
2.) The table will have ping pong balls bouncing on it at times and will be exposed to wet conditions much of the time as well people that may scratch it with everyday objects. This makes me think that a poly resin may be the way to go, but I’m not sure where that would put me price wise if I’m looking for 3 gallons.
3.) If you still feel that envirotex lite is the avenue I should be exploring then where can I get the best price for the amount I’m buying? The cheapest I can find ANYWHERE is a wholesale website online that sells a gallon at about $65 each and with shipping my total comes out to around $220… I’m from Wisconsin and even with 50% coupons, craft stores can’t come close to that. That’s a lot for a broke college kid though still.

Well thanks for any help you can offer me, I would GREATLY appreciate a response to any or all of my questions if you have time.

Reply
Katherine Swift

Hi Ryan,

A total depth of 0.3 inches for the resin will be fine, you will simply need to pour it in two to three layers. The Envirotex Lite should be fine for the surface of the table and all you plan to do with it. By poly resin, do you mean polyester resin? If so, I would not recommend that for your table. It will be difficult to pour a surface that large and get bubbles out of polyester resin before it starts to cure. As for a better price, I don’t know of another source for you. Sounds like you have done some intense price comparisons, and the prices you quote are what I would expect for a quantity that large.

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Tara

I need a resin to use in rings that is scratch resistant, very clear, won’t yellow over time, shiny and is doming. What do you recommend? Thank you, TK

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Ruth

Hi Katherine,

I paint hard plastic phone cases and have been experimenting with getting the best varnish. Someone recommended resin to me and I’ve been using Easy Cast. I’ve followed the instructions to the letter but the end product is slightly tacky to the touch and does scratch a bit. Do you have any tips? Should I sand it? Or use different resin?

Thanks so much for your help.

Ruth

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Tawny

Hello, I am beginning a project of making shell rings for Christmas gifts. I am planning to use a bit of resin to fill the inside of scallop shell, then place a “gold filled” ring in the resin to keep the shell attached to it. I am just wondering if gold filled metal is appropriate to be using with resin and if there is anything I should be worried about using these materials together? Thank you, Tawny

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Katherine Swift

I’m not familiar with paperclay. Is it similar to polymer clay?

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Jessica

Hello, I have some dried pressed flowers from a funeral arrangement that I would like to embed in a flat circular mold with resin and make into a sun catcher. I’m having trouble finding a circle resin mold that is big enough (I’m thinking 8″ in diameter). Can a regular silicone baking mold be used or any plastic? Ideally, I was hoping to find a thi. Bezel type of frame for it, but haven’t so having the edges be open resin is a compromise. I was thinking of trying the Castin’ Craft easy resin and using some test flowers since this will be my first resin project. Do you think I’ll need the resin gloss sealer spray for this type of project? I am hoping to get everything I need beforehand. Thank you

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Jim

Hi Katherine, I want to coat an antler carving of a dragonfly wing in resin. It is a curved surface and I am a relative newcomer to resins. Can it be done/ how would you suggest I proceed? I can send photos if it would be helpful (and if you tell me how). Thanks, Jim

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Efrain Baires

Where can get a supplier for plastic resins such as the polyethylene to use in DIY homemade rotomolding?

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Rhonda J Hunter

Katherine, is there a resin that can stand heat? I want to make coasters, but I know the people I give them to will put hot things on them, like coffee cups and possibly use them for trivets.

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Nora

Hi Katherine, do you have suggestions/videos for ideas of how to create a kitchen counter surface using resin? This would be in a 1975 home with a laminate kitchen countertop. I’d like to totally cover the laminate with a resin-based design. Is this possible without disassembling the counter?

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Katherine Swift

Yes, you can do this. Two suggestions: 1. Make sure your counter is completely clean. After going over it with soap and water, I would go over it with rubbing alcohol to make sure there are no oil residues. 2. Create a tape dam around your counter edges before pouring. Once the resin has cured, you can peel the tape away.

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leslie

can you use any kind of paint with resin, either mixed into it or underneath or on top?

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Barbara Swinton

So glad I found this thread. My granddaughter and I are drying Queen Anne’s lace and plan to make resin Christmas ornaments for gifts. Can you suggest links which might guide us in the right direction? We’ll need molds 3-4″ in diameter. Although I make jewelry, I’ve never worked with resin. Looking forward:)

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Barbara Swinton

Thank you so much. I have been reading many posts here and it’s getting time to start experimenting…must search around to find the right size mold for these Queen Anne’s lace flowers.

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Kim

Hi, I’m working with broken china pieces to create jewelry. I noticed as I was smoothing the edges with a dremel tool, that the front of my piece of China got scratched. I’d like to use something to seal or protect the surface if the China piece to prevent the design being scratched off. Would a resin work for that, and if so what kind would you recommend?

Reply

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