Using Pearl Ex with Resin two different ways

How to use pearl ex with resinby 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. I’m going to show you two ways to use Pearl Ex powders with resin.

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.

This mold is similar:

 

Resin 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

Option 1: Painting the Mold with Pearl Ex

The method 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 paintbrush (I use an inexpensive one I bought at a local craft store). I call this step ‘painting’ the mold.

Painting Pearl Ex onto a silicone mold

Step 1:  Put powder on the brush

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: Mix the 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.

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.

If you have never mixed resin before, this is a good article for you to read:  How to mix resin and hardener

measuring resin

 

Pouring resin into silicone mold with colorant

Step 3: Add resin to the mold

When the resin is mixed, use the stir stick to drizzle it into the Pearl Ex painted cavities on the mold. Careful not to overfill. If you do, 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

Option 2: Mixing Pearl Ex into Resin

The second way to use Pearl Ex with resin is to mix the powder into it.

Step 1:  Add powder to the resin

Pour a small amount of the clear resin into a clear dry cup.  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.  Drop the powder into the cup without letting the stir stick touch the resin.  . 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

Step 2:  Mix in the powder

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

Step 3:  Add the colored resin to the mold

Just like the clear resin before, you want to slowly drizzle the Pearl Ex resin into the mold.  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 4:  Remove bubbles

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 toothpick or the edge of a clean stir stick to encourage bubbles congregating on the sides to pop.

Step 5:  Set aside to cure

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: Demold

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

Step 7:  Finish the edges

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.  You can learn more about how to sand resin.

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 on the right.

 

Step 8:  Use your resin charms

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

Want to learn more than using Pearl Ex with resin?  Then you will want to get your copy of the PDF book Resin Jewelry Making.  The Amazon best-selling book has helped thousands of artists worldwide make crafts and jewelry with resin that will have people saying, ‘Wow, you made that?!’  Buy now and have it to read in minutes!

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2020 Resin Obsession, LLC

Like this post? You may be interested in  How to make resin candy jewelry - make resin jewelry with sprinkles

37 thoughts on “Using Pearl Ex with Resin two different ways

  1. 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??

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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?

  4. 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…

  5. Hello, would the resin rub off if you paint it in the mold first or are all the particles incorporated into the resin? Or is it advisable to add another clear resin layer on top of it for protection of the pearl particles?
    As a pendant for example would need to withstand alot of handling/touching/fiddling.
    I am looking for a very even pearly outcome, like a car finish. Thanks

  6. Hello, would the pearl particles rub off if you paint it in the mold first or are all the particles incorporated into the resin? Or is it advisable to add another clear resin layer on top of it for protection of the pearl particles?
    As a pendant for example would need to withstand alot of handling/touching/fiddling.
    I am looking for a very even pearly outcome, like a car finish. Thanks

  7. I used the second technique, I follow the 2:1 ratio and everything looks good until it’s time to cure, I usually have to salvage using Mod Podge Dimensional magic on a tacky back but it takes well over a day to cure. I don’t think that’s right but done exactly know what I’m doing wrong. I know I should try the first way but I typically like the thick colors.

  8. Your Pearescent Resin Obsession power not even fails to work, it got the extra effort and destroys everything it touchs. Projects that were curing nicely turn to much if I so much as apply a quick glaze. It’s astounding in a way, but not when you’re trying to create art rather than destroy it

    1. Hi Seth, we are sorry to hear things aren’t working for you as expected. We have responded to your email about this situation and are happy to help with technical support

  9. I tried the painting with pigment and I absolutely LOVE the results! I used 3 colors on leaves at random. Did a rose also and it turned out beautiful!

  10. I am new to resin and loving everything you have both tutorials and products! I feel like you really give everyone both newbies and pros the tools they need to be successful!!! Thank you for your time and effort in educating us all!!! Going to my work room to get started!!! Wish me luck!!!!!!!

  11. Almost scares me to try. I just ordered some coloring. When it comes I will buy some resin and give it a try.

  12. I love the look you get by painting the mold with the powders! Have you ever tried this? Painting the Pearl Ex into the mold, then adding clear resin, then dripping alcohol inks into the clear resin? Would the inks show thru the painted Pearl Ex layer?

    1. Hi Cheri, do you mean like a Petri technique? If so, I wouldn’t expect it to show through the layer of Pearl Ex powder.

  13. Hi, do you have any method for the powder staying on the resin pieces? I make keychains and jewelry like necklaces, brooches, rings etc which are obviously made to be used, touched and so on. But I noticed the pigment wears off really quickly, faster on keychains as they touch keys or phone straps which attached to the phone are being put in a handbag among other items. I’ve tried many different powders as well as resins and the powders ALWAYS rubs off. I’ve tried to seal them with acrylic varnishes but that was not helpful at all. I know I could just dome them with resin, but I don’t want the high gloss finish. Maybe you know a product that could work for that? Thanks

    1. Hi Anita, this is what I would expect for anything ‘high contact’ like a keychain, bracelet, etc. I’m afraid I don’t have any options for you if you don’t want a high gloss finish.

  14. I love your work / videos – they’re very helpful. I’m struggling to find blues and greens – suitable for oceans. My white doesn’t seem to ‘pop’ either….maybe I need to add more of it…? It’s hard to know the correct measurement to use on 5ml of resin. I’m learning as I go, but I wondered – could you recommend any Pearl Ex shades please?
    Thanks on advance. Sooz

    1. Hi Sooz, I’m sorry to hear creating resin oceans are giving you trouble. I like to use the Resin Obsession pigments in our store: https://shop.resinobsession.com/collections/liquid-colorants/resin-obsession I use a combination of the transparent blue, teal and green to make the ocean water, then use the opaque white to make the ocean foam. If you want to give Pearl Ex powders a try, we have them in our store here: https://shop.resinobsession.com/collections/powder-colorants/products/pearl-ex-powdered-pigments. There are a few blue colors in there that could work for an ocean.

  15. This is a really helpful tutorial — thank you so much! I just got some pearl-ex powder, but is it really OK to use it by coating/painting the mold without adding anything to help separate the resin from the mold? If I added something to the mold before applying the powder, for instance an oil spray, I assume that would adversely affect the pearl-ex coating? I have a relatively pricey silicone mold that I don’t want to break, but I really want to try this technique …

  16. When applying your pearl did you apply it afterwards or can I put it in the mold and add the resin on top?

  17. Thank you for this instruction. I needed to know how to color the mermaid mold, now I can’t wait to get them finished.

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