Using Pearl Ex with Resin

Two ways to use Pearl Ex powders and resin in a silicone mold

Using Pearl Ex with Resin Two Ways

by Kate “Rijacki” Ledum

Pearl Ex is a versatile colourant for resin. It can be used in a few different ways to add colour and sparkle to your resin project. This tutorial focuses on two of those.

Pearl Ex powder

Pearl Ex by Jacquard is a powdered pigment with a touch of sparkle that exhibits extreme colour-fastness (meaning it won’t fade when left in a place with bright light) and stability (the colour remains true and does not change over time). Pearl Ex comes in a wide variety of colours. The colours are vibrant and some even change colour depending on the angle. The colours can even be mixed, dry or wet, to make new colours. Many of the colours have a metallic look but, since there is no metal in them, they won’t tarnish, others have a pearly luster.

Resin Obsession super clear resin

The resin we’re using today is Resin Obsession Super Clear. This is a 2:1 two-part resin with a 25 minute open or “pot” time (the amount of time you have from mixing the parts together to when it will start getting thick and non-pourable as it begins the hardening phase of the curing). This resin also has a 6-8 hour cure time in normal room temperature. Resin Obsession Super Clear is excellent when working with molds because its thinner viscosity (liquidiness) makes it easier to pour and get into small places. The thinner viscosity also traps fewer bubbles when working with molds. Super Clear also has a UV protectant to prevent yellowing over time. This ensures the colour of the finished piece will remain the same as the day it was made.

silicone leaves mold

The mold I am focusing on today is a silicone mold of leaves. Silicone molds are usually more detailed than plastic resin molds. It is also a lot easier to remove cured pieces from silicone molds. They rarely need any release added to the mold before starting your project. Many silicone molds have a matte finish on the finished item. If the item the mold was created from was not shiny smooth, the mold will also be matte. The colour of my mold is different from the one pictured on the website but it is otherwise identical.

Supplies:
Resin Obsession Super Clear Resin
Pearl Ex powdered pigment
Six leaves reusable silicone mold
Soft Paint Brush: craft or art store
Nitrile gloves
3+ Graduated 1 ounce mixing cups
Resin Obsession Stir Stix
Heat tool
Cover for the curing: box of any kind, mine is plastic
Emory board: dollar store
Safety Glasses

Step 1: Painting the Mold with Pearl Ex (first technique)

The first technique is one I often use because it allows the resin piece to be translucent while adding colour and a bit of sparkle. It also allows the addition of colour in an exact location. Before mixing your resin, you need to prepare your molds. Decide the colours and the molds you want to use. You will also need a small soft paint brush (I use an inexpensive one I bought at a local craft store). I call this step as ‘painting’ the mold.

Painting Pearl Ex onto a silicone mold

Dip the dry brush into the Pearl Ex to pick up a small amount of the powder and simply brush right into the mold cavity. You should brush on enough to cover the cavity on all sides but not so much that you have a lot of loose powder. Loose powder that’s not in contact with the mold won’t make the colouring thicker or darker, it will more likely just end up floating to the top (back) of the piece.

Pearl Ex painted into silicone mold

Step 2: Mixing Resin

Resin Obsession Super Clear Resin is a 2:1 two-part resin. This means you use half as much of part B as you use of part A.

Before you start mixing the resin, you should put on a pair of nitrile or latex gloves. This will protect your hands from the sticky resin. The resin, when cured, is non-toxic.

When doing projects in small molds, I like to mix only a small amount of resin at a time so I don’t run out of pot time (the amount of time before the curing process starts) before I run out of mixed resin. If you run out of resin before you’ve filled in all the cavities, you can always mix more. I use 2 cups to measure the resin parts to ensure I get the correct amounts. Because they’re the easiest lines to see on the small graduated cups, I usually measure in drams.

measuring resin

1. In the first cup, pour in enough of Part A (the big bottle) to reach the 4 dram mark.
2. In the second cup, pour in enough of part B to reach the 2 dram mark.3. Pour the part B cup into the part A cup.
4. Using a stir stick, scrap the sides of the part B cup to make sure you get all of it.
5. Using that same stick, slowly stir the resin to mix the parts.
6. When the mixed resin has gone from cloudy to clear, it’s mixed. This should take 2-3 minutes of slow stirring. Be sure to scrap that stir stick on the sides while you mix. Slow and steady wins the race and reduces the inclusion of bubbles.
7. I will usually then pour the mixed resin into another cup and mix for a short bit more. It can eat into the pot time a little, but it helps to ensure all of the resin is mixed and none at the bottom of the cup was missed.

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Pouring resin into silicone mold with colorant

Step 3: Adding Resin to the Painted Mold (first technique)

When the resin is mixed, use the stir stick to drizzle it into the Pearl Ex painted cavities on the mold. Careful not to over fill. If you overfill, the back of the finished piece will not be flat and you risk resin running over the side of the mold.

Pear Ex and resin

Step 4: Mixing Pearl Ex into Resin (second technique)

The second way to use Pearl Ex that we’re highlighting today is mixing it into the resin.
1. Pour a small amount of the clear resin into a clear dry cup, 1-2 drams.
2. With a dry stir stick, dip into the Pearl Ex and measure out a small amount of powder, about an eighth of a teaspoon or so, or about the size of a pea.
3. Drop the powder into the cup without letting the stir stick touch the resin.
4. If you want, as you mix, you can add more pigment using this stick. Do not put a wet stir stick into the Pearl Ex.

Mix Pearl Ex into resin

5. With another stir stick, slowly mix the powder into the resin. Mix in the powder until it is all wet and looks like thick paint.

Dribble colored resin into mold

6. Just like the clear resin before, you want to slowly drizzle the Pearl Ex resin into the mold.
7. Make sure you get the coloured resin into all parts of the cavity. The Pearl Ex mixed resin is thicker than the clear resin (plus also you might be getting closer to the end of the pot time) so you might need to help it along a little to get into the edges. Use the stir stick to guide the resin where you want it to go.

Using a heat tool with resin

Step 5: Curing the Resin

To help reduce the inclusion of bubbles in the resin, you can use a heat tool (such as one used for heat embossing on cards) or lighter to encourage bubbles to rise to the top. Many bubbles will pop on their own. You might have to use a tooth pick or the edge of a clean stir stik to encourage bubbles congregating on the sides to pop.

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Cover your molds and wait for the resin to cure. It is always best to cover your curing resin because you don’t want dust or cat hair or other unwanted things to become part of your project.

With Resin Obsession Super Clear resin, in 6-8 hours the resin should be cured enough to remove from the molds, but you can wait longer to unmold them. I often will let resin cure overnight since it’s easier to wait for the cure when you can completely ignore it and aren’t thinking about how the project might turn out.

Unmolding resin from silicone

Step 6: The big reveal

Unmolding is one of my favourite parts of doing resin projects. This is when you get to see the magic that has occurred.

Since we’re using flexible silicone molds for this project, you simply have to bend the mold a little and the casting should pop right out.

Sanding resin

After you remove the casting from the mold, you will want to flip it over and sand off any sharp edges. You can use a small piece of sand paper or an Emory board. While sanding your resin, you should always use safety glasses to protect your eyes from the grit.

Pearl Ex with resin two ways

When you look at the items you cast, you’ll notice the difference between the techniques. The ones which you painted Pearl Ex in before adding clear resin have a slight transparency with sparkle (right). The ones which were cast with Pearl Ex mixed into the resin are completely opaque and have a metallic marbled look (left).

Using Pearl Ex with resin

The pair of shells on the left are from the same colour of Pearl Ex as are the pair the right.

Step 7: Using Cast Items

So, now that you’ve made these molded leaves, shells, flowers, etc. what are you going to do with them? You can add molded items to Mixed Media projects, other resin projects, use them as embellishments on cards, add a glue-on bail and make them into jewelry, or many other things.

Some examples I’ve used the cast leaves for:

DIY resin leaf pendant

gift tag with resin leaf

9 Comments

W. Dee Medley

You advise using a heat gun or lighter to get rid of bubbles. I’ve read where it’s not heat that “pops” bubbles, it’s carbon dioxide, hence you can exhale through a soda straw to get rid of bubbles. Which is it? Heat or CO2??

Reply
Katherine Swift

I have heard both as well. I have no doubt in the case of the heat gun, it is the heat that pops the bubbles.

Reply
Renate

I personally am not comfortable using high heat around a volatile compound so I haven’t tried that, but what I do with a project where I don’t want bubbles is two passes with a toothpick to pop bubbles and then just hold my breath to get it warm and then bend over and breathe gently onto the project without a straw. Gets rid of all of them. So I guess I am using both heat and CO2 LOL. Oh, and I don’t inhale after my exhale until I have stepped away from the project LOL.

Reply
Katherine Swift

I have used the breath technique to pop bubbles as well. You are right, in that you do not want to inhale the resin! I have never been concerned using a heat gun around resin, but the lighter method does make me a bit nervous. While I know some people do it, personally, I would never use an open flame around resin.

Reply
Renate

I just happened to receive a pair of leaf molds in a recent order and after reading this tutorial, I immediately tried painting the pigments into the mold before pouring clear resin into the mold. I used Ranger Perfect Pearls and what I immediately noticed is that the leaves came out with a frosted texture and translucent green color – almost like sea glass. I am working on a dragon’s egg using this technique and can’t wait to see the result!

Reply
Leither

I found a very nice old guitar in rubbish and want to get it back to playable, and looking good. There are mother of pearl inlays on the fretboard missing, and I cannot cut up replacements. Could a hard pearlescent resin fill the gaps, and if so, where to buy just around 20 ml or so?

Reply
Jana

I’ve been on your site shopping:) but was wondering if you sell your pigments in a 12 pack or a starter set. I’ve got my order ready to go…

Reply
Katherine Swift

Unfortunately, we only sell the dry pigments in individual containers, not as a group.

Reply

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