Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Frequently asked questions about resin jewelry and resin jewelry making

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I get a lot of questions about what I do.  I thought I would share some of the most popular questions with their answers, plus a few pictures.

What is resin?

Resin is an organic compound that can be made naturally by plants or synthetically in a controlled setting.  This material starts out as a liquid, but eventually hardens into a soft to very firm finished material.

How does resin work?

The resin I use is a two part system.  There is the resin, to which the catalyst or hardener is added.  You have probably seen some of these products in your favorite home improvement store.  (Resins are great at bonding different kinds of materials.)  The resin has to be carefully and exactly measured before the two are mixed together.  I have to mix them together for 3 to 5 minutes with a toothpick or wooden tongue depressor without "whipping" it so that I don't introduce bubbles.  (Who wants Alka Seltzer looking resin jewelry?)

So how do you use it?

Resin has to be mixed according to its specific directions.  Every resin is different!  Once the resin is mixed, there is a period of time that it is still liquid (pot time).  During this time, I can add colors or additives, pour it and work bubbles out of it.  After that pot time (which varies from minutes to hours), there is a total cure time.  This can also vary from 2 hours to 3 days.

What kind of resin do you use?

I use silicone resins mostly to make molds.  They are very flexible when finished, but too rubbery to make jewelry.  I have worked with polyurethane resin and like the finished jewelry.  (very hard and durable).  The problem is that polyurethane resins hate humidity, so it makes it almost impossible to work with in Florida.  Currently I use epoxy resins and polyester resins. 

How long does it take to make a piece of resin jewelry?

At a minimum, it takes 3 days, assuming that it's only one color or one pour of resin.  I have to wait a minimum of 1 day between pours and sometimes longer.  Once the resin is completely cured (3 days for the polyester resin and epoxy resin I use), it takes another couple hours of sanding and buffing to get the pieces just right.

How durable are resins?

Resin jewelry is pretty strong.  It will eventually show slight scratches with wear (much like metal jewelry), but can easily be polished up with a good museum quality wax.

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