Thursday, July 9, 2009

Adventures in Resin: New & Improved Pendants

I hate to say it, but Crystal Effects wasn't cutting it for my pendants. After my daughter's first swim meet of the season, I noticed my baby footprint mini-domino pendant (see a few posts ago) wasn't quite so shiny and almost cloudy in one place. I knew I had to upgrade my pendant sealant to a waterproof one if I wanted to sell them.

When I first started making them, I read all about the different ways to seal them and settled on the non-toxic, less-mess route of Crystal Effects or Diamond Glaze. So I knew about epoxy resins but didn't get past the "make sure you ventilate the room" part. I was intimidated. But, my desire to produce quality, lasting work prevailed and just last week I took the plunge into a new world.

After a lot of reading, I settled on "Colores Doming Resin" because it was supposed to be less smelly and have a step or two less than other 2-part epoxies. Colores comes with an 8 0z. bottle of hardener and an 8 oz. bottle of resin which is enough to make hundreds of pendants (but only has a shelf-life of six months so don't buy a lot at once--on etsy, I sold off the second kit I'd bought when I realized I'd never use it! The kit also came with stir sticks (essentially popsicle sticks which you can find at a craft store) and little plastic measuring/mixing cups, which was quite useful because I haven't been able to find them in local stores. It turns out you can re-use these plastic cups if you let the remaining resin cure in them and then peel it out.

Cool--saved some money there because the 12 cups that came with the kit was not going to be enough! You see, this stuff is only workable on a pendant for about 45 minutes to an hour so I quickly learned with my first batch of the full 1 oz. cup that I couldn't use it all in the amount of time. I figured out that I can do about 30 pendants with 1/2 oz in that time. I only did that many at a time because I re-glazed all my existing pendants with the epoxy. So, yes! You can put this stuff OVER the non-toxic glazes. I couldn't find the answer to that question anywhere so I just crossed my fingers it would work. A good overview on epoxy resin can be found here.

The stuff does smell...but not too badly. You should invest in some preventative measures and make sure your workspace is well-ventilated; I bought safety glasses & latex gloves at Walmart and used a dust mask, which doesn't protect your lungs, but at least it kept me from feeling irritated or smelling the stuff. I saw a demo video for it and they weren't wearing the mask. It's recommended that you get a filter mask if you're working this stuff every day.

The demo video gives great tips--definitely mix for the recommended time (about 5 minutes) and let it sit until clear. On my first batch I must not have mixed well enough because my first few pendants are still sticky (not cured thoroughly) days later. Luckily, I stopped and stirred some more because the rest of that batch turned out fine. Also, if you put it on too soon when it's really liquidy, be careful because it's more likely to run--especially if your surface isn't very level. I actually like working with the resin after it's been sitting for about 20 minutes because it's easier to spread when it's thicker. You should really seal your images well with mod-podge or a thin brush of diamond glaze first so that the resin can't soak in or under the image. This happened with some of my pendants and was really noticeable on white or double-sided paper (see pics below). The casualties (like the bird) that I can't sell are now proudly in my daughter's jewelry box. Some, like the skull, still kind of worked because of the image or color, thank goodness.

The ones that are still sticky I'm going to re-do with a new UV non-toxic resin called Magic Glos. It doesn't have to be mixed so it'll be good for doing pendants here and there when I need to. It's also a lot more expensive (got my 1 0z. bottle for $10 with free shipping from 1 Oz. will only make about 60 pendants so if you're making a lot, it's not cost effective. I'll let you know how those turn out!

So, in review, I'd recommend Colores--the pendants (where I followed directions) turned out beautifully!

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