Here’s what I learned experimenting with Crystal Resins. The following post summarises my experiences.
Even though it did not turn out what I wanted (mistakes were made) it’s a learning experience.
I set out to design and create an emerald coloured, gold accented jewellery piece as a gift for mothers day. Inspired by things my mum enjoys (French province motifs, and cats) the design was going to be detailed and layered. The finished product would be stylish.
Unfortunately, I fell far short of my set standards.
It was a bit embarrassing, having to scrap the plans and find an alternative Mother’s day present. But the bright side was I learned quite a bit.
I thought that using the resin would be a gimme, considering success I had in the past making shapes out of resin for a cosplay, and then painting the shape with acrylic resin. I was wrong. It was, in no uncertain words, a mess.
Mistakes, though, are a sign of moving forward, on the right track. By making mistakes, we are just learning. They are one and the same, and are nothing to beat ourselves up about.
So for intrepid resin casting students or interested artist, here’s were I went wrong, so you don’t have to.
Philosophy aside, This was the one key mistake:
How long the product takes to set, and using proper mixing technique – this can vary, and it is worth doing a test batch.
Test batches are vital. Resins require two compounds mixed together in specific distributions to set into a solid, clear artwork (or lump). If the resin and the catalyst or hardener are not mixed together effectively, starting in one container, stirring in a second container, and then poured, the resin will not set.
Test batches are important because you can discover exactly how long the resin will take to set:
- Combine the resin and hardener.
- Start a timer, and gently mix the two products, taking care to use firm, but softer wrist movement to stop air bubbles.
- Transfer the mix to another container. Continue to stir.
- Stir until the colour of the resin starts to change. Most resins will turn slightly opaque. This is a sign the resin will set hard.
- Stop the clock. This gives you an idea of how long the resin will take to set (the pot life of the resin).
Smaller batches take longer to set. This is counter intuitive. You might think that a large amount of resin would take longer to set once the artist adds the catalyst. In reality, heat generated by the resin sets the product faster. The more product, the more heat. (Bruckner, Oat, and Procopio, 2010. Pop Sculpture, Watson-Guptill Publications).
Since I did not create a test batch of a the product I was working with, I had no clue how long it would take to set (spoiler: it was more than the suggested 24 hours in the Gedeo Product instruction manual).
The final sculpt was soft, like toffee, and even five days afterwards, did not set properly. This is a sign of under-mixing the resin and the catalyst element.
What I expected
What I ended up with
- Suspending glitter and gold inside resin is possible. I did successfully combine crystal resin with Fimo Gold Dust, as a suspension inside the resin.
- It is important to keep the resin out of dust, with a cover over it.
- Adding a release agent, like a sculpting vaseline, is important to be able to separate the product from the mould
While it’s not an ideal outcome, it’s a learning experience. One that can hopefully be useful, eventually.
You can find more art content on the Wallflyer and you can follow me, Joe, on twitter @thewallflyer .