Haven't blogged in a while. I have been so busy. Mainly with experimenting with Resin!
I am a novice when it comes to resin and surprisingly the Internet isn't full of detailed resin instructions or tutorials. Most people and blogs say experimentation is the key with resin. This is true, however, as you may or not know, resin is pretty expensive to experiment with!
So, I am going to use this post to give out all of my experiences and tips on how to use resin.
First of all you need the right equipment and work environment. Especially if you're using Polyester Resin. Polyester Resin stinks! So please use this in a well ventilated place. Wear disposable rubber gloves and a face mask. You may as well wear goggles too! You need a flat work top, grease proof paper or old newspaper to protect your work top, wooden lollipop sticks for stirrers and plastic mixing cups, (I use old yogurt pots) you will want something like a plastic measuring container to have the correct amount of resin and pipettes. (Pipettes are for Polyester Resin catalysts) If you're using Epoxy Resin the ratio is 1:1 so measuring is much easier! (I did this by eye) And finally, molds! Please invest in silicone molds, as they are much easier to use, reusable and don't require mold release. The plastic reusable molds are OK but very difficult to work with, they also don't need mold release but even so, the cured piece is so darn hard to take out. Please buy silicone!
Polyester: Please read instructions. Unlike Epoxy resin, Polyester resin does not need heating up. You need to have the correct amount of catalyst other wise the resin will not cure. ( I always add one more drop of catalyst to the resin) I mix the resin and catalyst for about 5 minutes. Then I slowly pour into my mold.
Epoxy: Please read instructions. Epoxy performs best when it is slightly warmer. I leave both bottles (resin and catalyst) in a warm (not hot!) bowl of tap water for about 10 minutes before I use it. The ratio is easier: 1:1 (this means you need the same amount of catalyst to your resin. If you use one cup of resin you need one cup of catalyst!) When I have my two parts ready I mix them together, for about 5 minutes. There will be loads of bubbles and the resin turns a dull yellow. Epoxy resin is self de-gassing, which means the bubbles float to the surface and pop whilst curing. However you can 'pop' the bubbles using a heat tool once you have poured into your mold. The heat tool can be a hair dryer, but you must be careful not to blow the resin out of the mold. The best heat tool is a blow torch - you gently heat the surface of the resin and the bubbles will go away. Leave the mixture to stand for about 5 minutes before pouring into your mold.
Polyester: Depending on the size of the mold, Polyester can take up to 24 - 32 hours to dry. The exposed side to air of your mold will not dry and never will. Polyester does not dry if exposed to air. To over come this, you can either spray the exposed side of the mold with a plastic spray, such as, an acrylic sealer spray. Or you can cover the exposed side with cellophane. Do cover your mold with a domed lid to avoid dust getting stuck to your piece.
Epoxy: Again depending on the size of your mold, Epoxy can take up to 24 - 32 hours to dry. Cover your piece to avoid dust and bugs getting stuck in your resin.
Polyester & Epoxy: Anything can be embedded into resin. You MUST wait until the resin is in it's gel like sate before embedding. To embed, mix up your resin with only a half measure. Pour this into your mold and wait 30 - 40 minutes until that layer is gel like. Then carefully add your objects. You can dip your objects into mixed resin if you wish before putting onto your gel like resin. This will keep bubbles, if any, at bay. Then mix a new batch of resin to pour on top.
One rule for embedding is; Water and Resin do not mix. So if your objects contains water, it won't cure properly. I tried putting fresh flowers from the garden into resin and the resin stripped the colour off it. Dried flowers are best. But I have found a solution. To embed fresh flowers, you need to coat or spray the flowers using a plastic sealer, an acrylic sealer spray will work. Spray or coat your flowers. Leave to dry (normally an hour) and repeat the process twice. You should coat your flowers at least three times. Then follow the above instructions on how to embed and use your plastic coated flowers.
Coating or spraying printed images with acrylic sealer will also stop the ink from running whilst embedding. You can also use a simple PVA glue to coat your images. Please let the images dry before embedding.
Please remember: You need to coat your flowers/images really well. The sealer acts like a protective film that stops the resin from penetrating your object. If you haven't coated your object sufficiently then it will not work.
Sanding and Polishing:
Polyester: You will need to use sand paper or file to round of the edges or shape your piece. Please do this in a ventilated area and wear a face mask. Use a fine grit and work your way up. I used a file and nail files work a treat! To get a great shine to your Polyester piece, you can use a high gloss acrylic spray. You can also use car wax, you will need to buff your piece like crazy, and this will only last for a few months. A high quality spray or varnish is best.
Epoxy: The same as above. But this time you can dip or paint on mixed Epoxy resin, let it dry in a covered place for 24 hours and you will have a high shine piece. You can use scotch tape (parcel tape/duct tape) to stick your piece onto, bottom side to the sticky bit and really make sure the tape is flush with your piece. Then paint your piece with fresh mixed resin. Any drips will go onto the tape and will be peeled away.
Tip: Clear nail varnish works very well with both resin types. This adds a lovely shine and can also be added to correct mistakes or scratches.
Remember water and resin do not mix. So any pigment colour will work. You can shave artist pastels and add powdered make up. Glitter works very well. You can buy pigments from your resins manufacturers. Food colouring will not work - remember water and resin do not mix. You can use acrylic paints. Just add your colour to the resin whilst mixing. If you want a marbled effect; don't mix so much.
Tip: A small amount of pigment goes a long way!
I hope that was useful and informative. To sum up, I prefer using Epoxy resin. It is more expensive than Polyester resin, but it is much easier to use, less toxic and more forgiving!
The best Polyester is Water Clear Casting Resin http://www.ecfibreglasssupplies.co.uk/p-1592-water-clear-casting-resin-inc-catalyst.aspx and the best Epoxy is Easy Cast. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Easy-Cast-Clear-Casting-Enamel/dp/B0053TQ29G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343677758&sr=8-1
Feel free to ask any questions and I shall try my up most to get back to you.