Resin Jewelry Making – What every beginner needs to know

resin jewelry making advice

Are you a resin jewelry making beginner?  Don’t mix resin until you read this first!

Originally published March 2014.  Updated August 2018.

That might seem a bit dramatic, so let me back up a bit.

I get a lot of really good questions from aspiring resin jewelry makers and crafters worldwide.  Many of those questions involve how to make something.  For example, here is a recent question from a Resin Obsession fan:

I’ve got this idea for a resin ring I was hoping you could help me with.  I want to do it in multiple colors.  I’m not sure exactly what the ring will look like, but how do I make a mold for it?  And what kind of resin should I use for the ring?  Oh, and by the way, I have never made anything with resin before.  Do you have any tips you can share?  Thanks in advance for your help.

I love the ambition and big picture ideas here.  I really do.  But unfortunately, this is the proverbial ‘train wreck’ looking to set up shop in your crafting room.  Resin can be such a fussy beast for the even the most experienced resin crafters.  This person has envisioned a project that would take several days to develop and several more days to finish.  (and that’s assuming everything goes as well as possible)  Put another way — imagine that your cousin has announced that she’s cooking the next big holiday meal for your extended family of 23 people.  And she has never so much as boiled water for an egg.  I think you get my concern here.

*As a side note — I did the same thing when I was learning lost wax casting.  On the first day of class, I showed a picture to the teacher of what I wanted to make.  She smiled and remarked at my ambition.  What I wish she had done was to direct my attention at something simpler to make.  Instead, I struggled and failed miserably only to find that I had to make a simpler project multiple times before attempting something that complex.

Much like your cousin who aspires to be the next Iron Chef, becoming a gifted resin crafter is possible, but it’s not going to happen in an afternoon.  If you’re new to resin, or have tried it a few times only to be unhappy with your results, here is my resin jewelry making beginner roadmap for you to get on track with resin casting success.

resin jewelry making supplies

Goal #1.  Get good with resin first

To do this, I suggest making things with resin where you only have to worry about measuring and mixing the resin.

  • Start with an epoxy resin.
  • In my opinion, epoxies are the easiest to work with.  They are the most forgiving of mistakes and should give you enough pot time to get your resin mixed and cast before it starts to gel.
  • Get the right resin equipment and supplies to start.
  • I can’t stress how important it is to accurately measure the resin before mixing.  You need to use graduated containers, medicine cups, graduated cups or syringes for example, to do this well.
  • Understand the resin you’re using.
  • Not all resins are the same.  Be sure you understand how your resin is supposed to work, along with the specifics of your resin, such as pot time, cure time, mixing ratio, minimum mixing amounts and the safety requirements.
  • Pick a good crafting area to get started.
  • Prepare yourself for the unexpected mess.  Wax paper is your eternal friend!

If you aren’t sure what any of these terms mean or still don’t know what resin to use, be sure to read my advice for choosing a resin.

Project #1

For your first project, make something where the resin is the only variable.  Why?  If something goes wrong, there’s only one place to look for the reason.  To do this, make something that you pour the resin into that doesn’t require demolding.  Metal bezels are perfect for this.  Mix the resin, pour it into the reservoir.  You don’t have to worry about demolding and will have results within 24 hours.

Goal #2:  Understand what happens when you add things to your resin

Resin is just begging for things to be added to it, but exercise caution.  Anything porous will need to be sealed first before adding to the resin.  If you’re unsure about sealing, ask yourself whether or not getting the item wet will affect its appearance.  If the answer is yes, then you will need to seal.   We have two videos to help you get started:

Like this post? You may be interested in  Tips for working with epoxy resin

 

iridescent papers in resin

Project #2

Try the same project as in #1, but add some inclusions.  Start with non porous items like glitter, beads or other metal findings you don’t have to seal.  This step will give you the opportunity to learn about putting things in resin and the possible pitfalls such as trapping bubbles and trying to place things without making a mess.  Here’s a project idea:  Indian princess inspired resin rings

Project #3

Once you’re good at projects #1 and #2, tempt your resin with a chance to go wrong.  Resin hates moisture, so learn what it’s like to add moisture (like colorants) to the resin, or other papers and inclusions that require sealing.  It’s another variable that can cause problems, but see my logic here?  If you’ve done great until this step, then troubleshooting this in case something goes wrong will be easier.  Try this project:  Dr. Seuss jewelry

Goal #3:  Let’s get a little moldy

One of the coolest things about resin is being able to mold it into a permanent shape.  Pouring it into a mold is the way to make this happen, but it also adds in an extra level of skill.  You need to be sure you’re using a mold release and a resin mold appropriate for your resin.

resin in a plastic mold

Project #4

Try casting resin into a plastic mold first.  Why?  They’re generally less expensive than silicone molds and also more widely available.  Be sure to use a mold release and use the techniques you have already learned.  Here’s something you can try:  How to make a resin bangle bracelet with feathers

Casting in the plastic mold went well?  Great!

Project #5

Let’s give silicone molds a try.   Here’s a project to try:  How to make resin petri earrings

Note:  You’re still using the same techniques you have learned in your first couple of projects — proper mixing, awareness of pot time, the dreaded bubbles, etc.  You’re building upon your skills and gaining confidence with what you’re doing.

Goal #4:  Get rid of the training wheels — go for the dome

Certain resins have the property of being thick enough to dome onto a surface.  This means you don’t need sides to keep the resin in a domed finish.  I’ve saved this goal for this point because it’s important that you have a feel for how much resin you can pour into a space.  In order for resin to dome, you need to add enough to create the dome, but not so much that it breaks the surface tension and runs over the side of your project.    It takes practice and patience to get good at this.

Project #6

Make your own domed resin pendant.  We’ve got a great domino resin pendant tutorial showing how to do that.

You are now at the end of your beginning journey into resin jewelry making.  From here, you have a great understanding of resin and have the knowledge to make your creative ideas happen.

Some future learning ideas:

  • making a silicone moldMake your own molds
  • Silicone resin is a great choice for this.  (And yes – another HUGE topic)  Here are my basic mold making principles to get you started.
  • Try resins other than epoxy
  • Polyurethane and polyester resins are also great for using in resin jewelry and crafts, but they can be a bit difficult for beginners.  Getting good with epoxy resin is great for building skills and confidence before attempting to use these.
  • Make big projects other than jewelry and small crafts
  • Resin has so many possibilities!  Some resins are great for big crafts (think coatings for tables) to clock inserts to wall frames.  Think BIG!  Check out these resin art projects for inspiration.

 

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2018 Resin Obsession, LLC

 

76 Comments

Katherine

@Nakia,

Is the template you used to make the mold from shiny? If not, your castings from that mold aren’t going to be shiny either.

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Nakia

I made my own molds using a 2 part putty and the resin side that touches the putty comes out dull and rough, not shinny and smooth. Why is that happening and how can I prevent it? Ty!

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Beth

This project is probably a bit lofty for my resin experiance, but it has inspired me to dable in resin jewelry making in the first place. I found a Monarch butterfly wing and wanted to preserve it in resin to make a pendant. I have gathered that I will probably have to seal it before casting it in resin. Do you have any suggestions about what the best materials would be to use in this project?

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janet

Hello Katherine. I am usually someone who starts with something complicated but I can see the wisdom of what you are saying here. I am going to make my own moulds and am very excited about that. What I would like to do, as it takes some time, is to dry some very delicate flower heads – there are so many primroses and violets in my garden at the minute. I tried drying them in rice and they shrivelled after just one day. Is silicon really much better or should I try the microwave option. I have your book on Kindle and it will be open at all times!! Hope you find time to reply. thanks very much

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Katherine

@Janet, all things considered, if I needed dried flowers, I would use the microwave technique — unless I wanted the flowers to stay dimensional. Then I would use the silica gel beads. Glad to hear you find my book helpful!

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Michelle

I’m having the same issue as Nikia) had in the first comment. Along with bubbles and the mold not releasing. I’ve never had the resin not cure. But I use silicone molds and smooth shinny objects as a model but my casting always come out dull and rough. If I scratch at it it seems to come off like a dried residue. Am I using to much mold release? Not enough? Am I waiting to long or not long enough to remove from the mold. Do I need to try another mold casting agent. The bubble issue I think I have resolved by trail and error.
Please if you have any ideas as to what I’m doing wrong I would appreciate any suggestions.

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Katherine

@Michelle, you can try baking your mold putty mold in the oven. Sometimes they can trap bubbles in the putty that will release when heated(follow manufacturer instructions to do this).

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Renee Buchko

I want to make a necklace using a cockatiel egg (empty and whole) as the main object. Can I use a spray resin to make something this delicate hard enough to work with, or should I try to paint it with epoxy resin first?

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Renee Buchko

I don’t think I can dip it in epoxy resin as it may crack but do you think painting resin on it would make it harder than the spray? What about wrapping 20 gauge wire around it after costing it?

Katherine Swift

Yes, I would expect a layer of resin would make it harder. The resin will drip off the bottom, so make sure to set your egg on something like wax paper (resin won’t stick to wax paper).

Katherine Swift

Hi Judy, two suggestions for the paper: first, you may need to pick up the papers and intentionally put glue on the edges. If you are printing your own papers, you may want to consider the ‘waterproof’ paper. As for a respirator mask, I don’t have a specific brand recommendation, but you want to find one that is NIOSH approved for fumes.

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Katherine Swift

I use the waterproof paper with my laserjet printer without any color problems. I have a local printer that will print on waterproof paper for me as well. Maybe there is one in your area that can do that for you?

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Garnett McFall

I wish to create my inserts. Do you have a recommendation for an air drying clay that will stand up to being molded?

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Katherine Swift

Unfortunately, I’m not a clay expert and can’t make a recommendation.

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Michelle

If you would like a neat project get overhead projector paper that is compatable.for your type of printer. Print photos, seal with something like modge podge and you can have neat transparent pendants. When using them in plastic molds i pour my resin in layers allowing one to mostly set then adding the image and a final layer.

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Janet Larrew

I am new to resin and bought brushes to use, what will clean them so I can reuse them?

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Katherine Swift

Wipe them clean of resin as much as you can after use. Next, clean with a solvent like acetone or denatured alcohol. Then wash well with a water and good detergent like Dawn dish soap.

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Mackenzie

Hello!
I am making letters out of resin and they have color glass chips inside. They seem to come out of the silicone mold well and they look nice but their not rock hard. They sound like their hard but if I was to try and bend it they will bend a little. Is that supposed to happen or are they supposed to be hard? What could I be doing wrong?

Mackenzie

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Katherine Swift

Even when fully cured, Easy Cast resin can be rubbery. If you want to make castings that thin, try a different resin.

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wendy

I am thinking of using resin to make fairy wings for sculptures I make. Would that work or am I way off?

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Jennifer McClure

I received an orgonite necklace that I ordered but it is still a little sticky what can I use in it to make it the way it’s supposed to be

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Katherine Swift

I would suggest contacting the person who you purchased it from for help. I’m concerned it didn’t fully cure.

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Kristi Butts

If you are wanting to start out using colorant for your first project there are some steps you MUST go through first.
1. Follow through with all the beginner resin steps as outlined above from Katherine Swift, owner of Resin Obsession.
2. Once you have completed those steps then you need to, basically go through beginner steps for using colorant.
3. My words, We (I) all like to start with something big for our first projects. If you take the time to go through the steps for beginners, you will find that you can save a lot on frustration, money, and less garbrish in your brain.

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Debbie Ferreira

How to polish resin jewelry?

I tried car polish, sanding, steel polish, blow torch (after it has cured, extra layer of Resin (this usually just has to be sanded again) and i have even tried varnish – but I just cant seem to get that clear shiny look.

please advise??

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Alexandra

I am trying to figure out which resin to use to coat jewelry and crowns to make them waterproof and how I go about doing so. Can I paint the resin on crowns or does it need to be dipped? Thank you so very much for your time!

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Alexandra

Thank you so very much! Your sharing of your knowledge on this means the world to me.

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Nancy

I was wondering if I should use the novus clean and shine then the novus scratch remover before the resin clear gloss finish sealer.

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Katherine Swift

I don’t think that’s necessary. If your blemishes are minor, the spray should do fine on it own. If you have noticeable scratches, you will need to sand and repair first. The spray doesn’t ‘fill in’ and the Novus won’t buff them out as well as sandpaper.

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Niro

Hi
I wanna know is there any difference between clear resin and crystal resin.
If I make a jewellery which one should I use.
Because when I use clear resin and hardner mix for my craft it’s change the colour in mix.
I used natural flowers.
Please could you recommend a brand name for resin.

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Nancy

Can the white buffing cloth that came with the novus be washed by hand or in the washer?

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Katherine Swift

Hi Nancy, Novus recommends a gentle washing by hand and not placing in the washing machine. Allow to completely dry before using, otherwise, it may tear.

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Nancy

What is the best way to drill a hole in resin and at what stage of curing could I do it?

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Nancy

Thanks. I have a shiny, clear, plastic candy mold that I would like to use for resin. Should I spray it with resin mold release?

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Katherine Swift

Yes! I always recommend using a mold release. It will prolong the life of your mold.

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Kathy Nichols

Can I use alcohol inks as a transparent colorant with Castin Craft Resin?

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Nancy

When I want to insert an item in the resin mold, should I pour until it’s full and add the item, or should I just put a thin layer in the mold? Do I push the object completely down in the mold or jyst lay it on the mold?

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Marie

What type of light is being used to cure the resin? Is there a specific light you recommend?

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Katherine Swift

Hi Marie, if you are using UV resin, then you need to use a UV lamp. Otherwise, you don’t need a lamp to make it cure.

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Toby

Hi Katherine. When casting Sterling Silver and natural Ironstone it sometimes develops a greenish tarnish or as if air has become trapped around the metal. I’ve tried cleaning the silver with dish detergent prior to casting and will try acetone next. Has you or anyone on the forum come across this?

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Katherine Swift

Hi Toby, I’m not sure I understand your question. What are you trying to do? I’m not familiar with ironstone.

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Emilie

Absolutely great tutorial. Felt like I was taking a much needed Resin 101 class. Thanks for this! I have a question about bubbles and heat guns i was hoping you’d be able to answer. I haven’t had much luck finding one on google. I’ve just purchased a heat gun to use to burst my bubbles, but it just causes more bubbles and often causes it to start boiling. What is the technique to use when using a heat gun on resin jewelry? I tried to use it at a bit of a distance from the project, but no bubble pops. I’ve tried to have it closer and more start to form. I’m using the Wagner Furno 300 heat gun from home depot. I’ve tried it on the lowest setting, as well as the the highest, also heat the item for a second, move it away, heat it again and move away. Nothing has worked. I’m totally stuck and don’t know what’s wrong. I was hoping an expert like yourself could tell me. Also, ia there a tutorial about heat guns and resin bubbles?

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Nancy

Katherine,
I bought toobies. They will wirk for the resin ornaments I make. I was wondering if you have any with a larger inside diameter for other things.

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Nancy

Katherine,
I’m having trouble when inserting items into resin cabachons. We can’t get the items to stop floating or rising up.
Any suggestions?

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Nancy

Thanks. We’ve tried waiting for a thin layer to start setting about 3 hours after we pour it. We’ll keep experimenting until we get it right.

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Sarin Warta

Hello, I am new here and new to resin. I imagine that once I start working with it I will find new ways in which to use it. However my initial idea was to use the resin as something I would dip my fiber or fabric covered jewelry in. To make it sound very simple I have fabric wrapped around dowel rods. I want the fabric and the dowel rods be shiny and waterproof. I figured that resin would be a great way to do this and to preserve the pieces. Do I need to paint or spray something on to the fabric first? And is there a specific kind of resin that you think would be best for this?

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Pernille

Hi Katherine
First of all – I love your website!!
Secondly I have a question about what resin to use. I’m new to casting as well and I want to make knitting needles and crochet hooks. These of course need to be pretty hard but not too fragile. What resin would you recommend? I’m afraid that polyester resin will be too hard while epoxy resin will be too soft (when cured ofc).

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Pernille

I thought about it but I want it to be clear so I can add glitter or small pearls or something like that.

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Jen

I am very new to resin, I am wonder can I put the eye screws in resin before it dries so I don’t have to drill a hole.

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Robert

I just got an old HR lost wax centrifuge. In the deal I found some Ferris mold frames, a Vigor AC mold holder CA-1750, a few wax ring molds and various ring blocks. Also a wax injection pump
Now, I understand the premise of list wax, but I am completely baffled on what Resin misinformation could do short of making some nice cabochons for mounting

Now THIS is an extreme undertaking

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