What is resin? – History and uses of resin

What is resin - history of resin

History

Resin is a unique compound that has actually been around for centuries. If you have ever seen a piece of amber, you have seen nature’s version of resin! In addition to the naturally occurring versions, they can be made synthetically as is the case with resins available for jewelry, art, crafts and commercial use.

Ancient cultures extracted resins into their beverages and smoked the material as a way to induce a dream state. Greek culture believed that amber was sunlight captured in a solid form. The Greeks also learned that rubbing amber could produce an electrical charge. They named amber ‘electron’ which is where the word electricity comes from.  In nature, trees will secret it as a protective mechanism to protect themselves from pests. For our purposes though, we like resin to do other things like protect our floors, countertops, or even be worn as jewelry.

Probably the most famous instance of resin in history is the ‘Amber Room’. The room was built in the palace of Frederick, the first King of Prussia, only to be moved to Russia a decade or so later. After the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, the room was disassembled by German soldiers and has not been seen since. (This is quite a fascinating story. If you want to learn more, this podcast episode from Endless Thread goes into more detail.)

Exactly what is resin?

Hold on, I’m going to take you through a little chemistry and try to make it as simple as possible.

Resin is a liquid organic compound, that under certain circumstances, will harden. In the case of resins for art, jewelry and crafting, this happens when hardener is added (two-part systems) or it is exposed to UV light (UV resin). When the reaction starts, the resin molecules bind together to from long chains of molecules. The important part here is this is what causes the liquid to harden.

If you want to learn more about the different kinds of resins for crafting purposes, you can do that here:  What are the different types of resin?

Why use it?

*Relatively speaking, resin is flexible. If you look beyond the art and jewelry industry, you will see the compound is used to make furniture, trash bins, and other items. These are things that need to be able to adapt to their contents when the weight or volume changes.

*It is inexpensive, especially for making jewelry. Relatively speaking, jewelry made from resin is much less expensive to make and purchase when compared to jewelry made from precious metals.

*Resin is strong and durable, when compared to its weight. It’s impervious to water and can handle hard impacts without shattering.

*Resin is the great impersonator! It can be colored to look like almost anything – rocks, gemstones, colored glass. Your opportunities are only limited by your imagination.

As you can see resin is a versatile product that serves many purposes in both the personal and industrial venues.

 

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

Like this post? You may be interested in  How can I get a matte or satin finish on resin jewelry and art?

4 Comments

carol akers

Hi…. was wondering if you can use artists acrylic paint to color resin ?

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Rafer Burnham

Can Casting resin be used as a substitute to using epoxy glue? I have some marble and granite tiles I want to glue down to concrete. Will casting resin work for that?

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