10 reasons why your resin casting is a disaster and how to avoid them

resin casting disasters

How to avoid resin casting disasters

Originally written February 2016.  Updated April 2019.

Resin casting is a lot of fun.  I love the versatility of embedding objects in resin along with making it any resin color I want.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always as easy as it looks and can cause frustration for even the most experienced resin crafter.  A little bit of planning is all it takes to make sure you have resin casting success.  Otherwise, here are 10 ways to mess up your next resin casting project.

1. Measure your resin and hardener haphazardly.

I cannot tell you how important accurate measurements are to making sure your resin cures.  And when I say accurate, I mean using something to measure your resin that can give you accurate measurements.  I like to use mixing cups with graduated lines, but I know others use kitchen measuring cups and spoons.  I cannot stress enough that pouring some resin into the container lid or marking lines on the side of a cup is asking for a problem.  I’m sure it works — at least sometimes — for getting the right amount measured.  If you are going to invest in using a resin, use proper resin tools and supplies to make sure you can measure things properly.  Resin is not very forgiving of failing to mix the proper amounts of resin and hardener together.

Learn how to measure and mix epoxy resin and hardener

2. Mix your resin and hardener — good enough — together.

Mixing and measuring (see number 1) are 75 percent of the success when it comes to resin casting.  You need to mix carefully and thoroughly, making sure you scrape the sides of your cup and mixing utensil several times during the process.  As particular as I am about measuring, I am just as fussy about mixing.  Even when you think you have it mixed together, you need to mix more.  My personal rule is that I mix the resin and hardener together for 10 percent of the pot time.  For example, with the Resin Obsession super clear resin, pot time is approximately 25 minutes.  That means I will mix the resin and hardener together for 2 1/2 minutes, all while scraping the sides of my cup and stir stix at least 3 times during the process.

Here’s how I like to mix resin and hardener:

3. Fail to learn the details about the resin you are using.

At a minimum, you need to know minimum and maximum mixing amounts for the resin, pot time, intended uses and limitations specific to that resin.  All resins are not the same!  While experience working with one resin is incredibly useful to enhancing your skills, it doesn’t always transfer to working with a new resin.  Start by reading the instructions of the resin you want to use and learn all you can.  Ask the retailer or review the manufacturer’s website to look for additional information like frequently asked questions and resin troubleshooting advice.

We have all this information for you for the resins sold in the Resin Obsession store.  You can find that information in this article:  Resin casting kit information

4. Give yourself too little time to work on a project.

resin spill

Guilty as charged on this one.  Nothing says ‘let’s experience Murphy’s Law’ more than rushing through a resin casting.  It is incredibly tempting when you have 30 minutes and think to yourself that you have plenty of time to prep a mold, mix resin, color it, get glitter together, pour it, get out bubbles and clean up.  Yeah, once I write it down, I don’t have that much time!  I find myself rushing at the end and invariably make a mess or rush through an important step.  My personal resin studio rule is that if I don’t have at least an hour, I don’t cast resin.  Instead, I might work on other things to help me get ready for the next resin casting like sealing papers or prepping molds with mold release, but I don’t break open the resin bottles until I have 60 minutes or more.

Like this post? You may be interested in  What I wish I would have known about making things with resin before I got started.

5. Don’t get everything you need together until after mixing the resin.

Now where is my glitter?  Oh yeah, I wanted to put those seashells from my beach trip in these molds.  Meanwhile, you have mixed your resin and the clock is ticking on the pot time.  By the time you find the seashells, your resin is starting to gel and you have to start over.  Ugh.  By the way, I also find myself in this trap when I have a little bit of leftover resin for a project.  I rush around trying to find a way to use those last two drops because heaven forbid I waste the stuff!  Here’s a good example of what Carmi at the I Love Resin blog does with her leftover resin.

6. Pick an (important) project that is over your skill level.

In order to get good at resin, I recommend you start small and work your way towards more difficult projects.  Get a good feeling for the resin first, then develop your skills with more complicated projects all the while knowing you are going to make mistakes.  It has been my experience that the mistakes are just as important as the successes when it comes to improving your resin casting skills.  Where I see disasters happen is when aspiring resin crafters take on a complex project, but have no experience with resin.  While I don’t want to discourage crafters from trying resin, I want people to have the expectation that there are many factors at play and something might go wrong.

Here’s a little help on what every resin beginner needs to know.

7. Overlook other things that can impact your resin casting.

You have done the most awesome job of measuring and mixing your resin.  You poured it into your bezel immediately and everything looks great.  Oh wait, now you see a bubble…and here comes your studio kitty…and your family is wondering where you will eat dinner in an hour because you are using the table for your resin casting.  While the resin is a very important part of the resin casting process, there are other factors that can impact your success just as much as the resin.

8. Choose the wrong resin for your project.

Just because a resin is giving you fabulous results in your bezels, doesn’t mean it is the best choice for your molds.  There is no one size fits all resin.  Every resin has its pros and cons which should be considered when choosing a resin.  Here’s some additional help if you are wondering what kind of resin should I use?

9. Add anything to the resin and assume it will cure.

Resin is very specific (some more so than others) about what you can and cannot add to it and have it still cure.  You cannot assume that using any colorant or additive will not impact the final casting.  Colors designed for resin will give you the most consistent results in getting the color and cure you expect.

10. Blame problems on everything but the person mixing the resin.

In my plethora of resin casting failures, I have never found that the product was to blame.  The resin will do what it is supposed to do, provided you do your job properly.  If you need help, we have several blog posts on resin troubleshooting in addition to our resin forum for advice.

What other ways have you found to create resin casting disasters in your studio?

 

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2019 Resin Obsession, LLC

18 Comments

Rijacki

Not paying attention to the place you’ll be mixing and curing the resin.

Is the area you’re mixing and the area you’re curing (if they’re different) cold or warm? Is it away from drafts and damp?
Resin is very sensitive to temperature and moisture, even moisture in the air. Some resins are more sensitive than others. The optimal temperature for the room where you’ll be mixing, pouring, and curing is mid 73-75 F (23-23.5C) and not very humid. If it’s a lot colder than that, the resin will develop bubbles more easily while mixing and pouring and the resin will cure a lot slower. Bubbles will be harder to get out because they won’t want to rise to the top quickly. If it’s a lot warmer than that, the resin pot time will be reduced, dramatically if it’s significantly warmer. If the room is damp or humid, the resin may not cure correctly. Some brands of cured epoxy resin will feel like they have an oily residue on them when they’re cured in a location that’s too damp or humid, especially if it’s on the cold side of that mid 70sF and damp as well (like in a room in the Pacific Northwest winter rainy day in a room that doesn’t have good insulation). A resin piece cured in a location that’s too cold might also never feel fully hard but will have a slight rubbery feel. Uneven temperature, such as in a drafty location, can also cause an uneven or bad cure.

Is the area you’re curing level?
A level curing location is important for casting in molds, casting in a bezel, and for doming. If your spot to cure isn’t level, then the resin, like the liquid it is, will find its own level and either slope or slop over the side.

Does your resin piece have to be moved from the spot you’re mixing and pouring to the spot you’ll leave it to cure?
Just like with a location that’s not level, if you have to move your piece from mixing and pouring area to curing area, if you tip it, the resin will spill over the side or break that dome just like the liquid it is. If possible, fill to just below the rim before you move your piece to the curing location and then pour in the last bit of resin. For doming, it’s best to not move the piece at all after you put that perfect dome on.

Can the curing area or piece be covered while it is curing?
Even in the cleanest house, dust, dander, hair, and any other little annoying debris can fall into your resin while it is curing and forever become a part of your piece. Anything that can cover over your piece while not touching the resin can be used as a cover. I use clear pot liners I found at a dollar store, ‘dead’ food storage containers (ones which are stained or damaged, never use them for food again if you use them even once anywhere near resin), a plastic storage bin, a box. Your cover can also help to keep your curing area warmer than the rest of the room if you can trap some warm under it with the curing items.

Did you think about the possibility of spills and slop overs?
Having your resin piece become a permanent part of the location you were curing or the card you put it on to be able to move it is a disaster. I cover my curing location and every single curing ‘pad’ with a bit of wax paper or parchment. Resin doesn’t stick to either. I also use a drying mat (from Resin Obsession, of course) to elevate bezels and other doming projects.

Did you think about the place to cure the resin before you started to mix?
Thinking about the cure has to be part of the preparation before you start mixing.

Reply
Robin

Fantastic information on ‘planning for the worst, expecting the best’. I just purchased my resin, inks, glitters, bezels and molds to start experimenting with resin for the first time. While I appreciate the info, now I have even more trepidation that the first pour will be a disaster! The article and Rijacki’s follow-up reply has given me a lot to consider before that first pour. Wish me luck!

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Katherine Swift

Hi Robin, you have the knowledge now and clearer expectations on what resin can and cannot do. I little bit of ‘fear’ will go a long way to make sure you do things right!

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Katherine Swift

Thanks for adding your thoughts as well. Lots of things for resin crafters to consider!

Reply
Janice Porter

I have one to add. I accidently took a xanax before I started. Do not do this because dipping your pieces instead of pouring the resin does not work. lol

Reply
Kimberly

I have been working with resin for over 12 years. I found the best way to measure is to use a digital scale. I use a 2 to 1 resin, measure resin first then add hardner. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes, let set for 5 to 10 minutes, then mix again for 2 to 3 minutes. Let rest again for 5 minutes. Works best for me.

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selly

You have great experience in this.
I want to start a resin project.
can you help me with what type and brand of resin should iuse?

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Misty Skaggs

I realize these replies are from 2016, but hopefully someone will respond 🙂

I’m confused about the post recommending a digital scale to measure resin… the info I’ve always read said to measure by volume and never by weight since one is heavier than the other…

Am I crazy or is there a certain resin that is supposed to be measured by weight? Or maybe I have misunderstood the post… Can someone clarify this for me please! 🙂 thank you so much!!

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Katherine Swift

Hi Misty, you are not crazy. Epoxy resin directions (which vary from resin to resin) almost always say to mix by volume not by weight. Some resin artists prefer to use a scale and measure by weight so you don’t have to worry about only pouring the amounts that graduated cups are measured for. You are correct in that when using a scale, one component (usually the hardener), weighs more than the other. Not only will you use up one component quicker, if you are using more hardener than you need, your resin mix will have a shortened pot time.

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carol akers

I would like to try a seaglass window project. Could you recommend a resin that you think would work the best. I have never used resin before and am feeling very intimidated. Thank you.

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Jacob

I’m new to resin and, unfortunately, on a budget so I got a type of UV resin online. It may not be the best resin for the job but it casts well enough. The problem I’m having is the stuff I’m casting moving around and/or floating and because it’s UV resin it cures very fast so I don’t have a lot of time to move it around especially if it moves on my way to putting it in the sun. Any tips on keeping the items in place? And if glue is the answer what glue would work best and will it make it look weird?

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Angie M

I am eager to start experimenting with resin, and have considered it for a while with cost being the main issue. Learning by trial and error has always been my best way to discover how mediums work, but this can get pricey.

My question is… if I need to cast a large volume, is it ok to do items and colors in smaller casts and then set those into the larger area? Will the 2 (cured and uncured) blend well, or will there be a defined transition?

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Angie M

I’ve seen videos where people sand an object then coat it to hide mold lines. Would sanding help reduce visibility of lines between items?

Reply
Katherine Swift

Not necessarily since the line will go all the way through.

Reply

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