Even though I have not posted a resin update in quite some time, I still get asked all the time what supplies I used for a certain piece or what supplies do I need to achieve this effect. Most people getting started go to a local craft store and purchase what is available – the basic resin, Popsicle sticks, and a bunch of glitter and stickers. What do you purchase though when you want to advance to the next level, make your life easier, or go past the glittery sticker pieces. Don’t get me wrong, they are fun to make but you are limited to what is available and they can get very monotonous.
I thought I would start a series of posts sharing some of my suggestions on more advanced or alternative supplies available for use with resin. For this post, I thought I would focus on colorants and embeds.
Alternative colorants: I know a lot of resin artists color with acrylic paints. I personally do not recommend them for various reasons which I will save for a later post. My go to for solid colors are Alumilite colorant dyes. I really like the black colorant as it creates a very opaque black. They can be purchased in small 1 ounce sizes or in bulk in very large bottles. The 1 ounce size is perfect for the average crafter and lasts for a very long time. The bottles can be purchased directly on the Alumilite website or on Amazon.com here. Castin’ Craft also makes liquid colorants but I prefer the consistency and applicator bottles that Alumilite offers.
If your looking for something more sparkly and opalescent, try out Jacquard Pearl Ex mica powders. The large sets include everything from metallic silvers and golds to bright opal pinks and purples. About five years ago or so, I purchased a 32 pc complete set and have not run out of any of the mica powders yet. A little go a very long way especially when you are working with jewelry sized pieces. The 32 pc set runs about $35-40. They are also available in smaller sets and individual colors. There are many sets available on Amazon.
In addition to Pearl Ex mica powders, an alternative would be to use make-up powders. You can recycle old make-up palettes by pulverizing panned make-up into powders or you can shave off what you need as necessary. I also purchased an off brand large set of loose eye make-up powders to use with my resin. I do find they are a bit more finicky than using the Pearl Ex powders. I have had a few of the make-up pigments accelerate the resin working time but do like using them especially when you are looking for color without the opalescence. To achieve just color without the shimmery effect, choose a more matte, non-shimmer powder.
Embeds: Of course when most people think of resin jewelry, they go directly to the photo type Scrabble or bezel pendants. Customizing a pendant with photos is always fun but who likes to coat images in Mod Podge multiple times or seal the images in packing tape to use them without the resin staining the image. It works but it adds a lot of time and steps. I recommend upgrading to a better photo paper. Thin, inexpensive photo papers have paper backers which allow the resin to infiltrate the photo paper and creates what looks like a stain. I personally use Canon Glossy II inkjet photo paper. Make sure it has the II in the name. This paper has a polymer plastic-like backing and requires no sealing. Of course there are other brands that make higher grade papers similar to Canon’s Glossy II but I have always matched my photo paper to my printer brand.
Resin is also widely used with dried flowers but everyone that has pressed flowers know that they get discolored and of course flat on pressing which is great if your going for that look but I prefer the microwave method for drying flowers. It keeps the flowers shape and keeps the colors more vibrant. Of course, it is also super quick especially with smaller flowers. There is a really old but good YouTube video that shows the process here. You don’t need any elaborate drying kits, you can just purchase the silica gel on its own here. Just add a plastic container, microwave, and flowers.
Another of my favorite items to embed are transparencies. There are a lot of molds that are not glossy and create a satin or frosted like appearance on casted pieces. For example, many of Wilton’s molds have a velvet type surface which when molded create that frost-like appearance which I love to use as a backdrop for a transparency. You can do this by working backwards than normal. Instead of placing your images face down, you would place them in face up. I couldn’t seem to find any photos of pieces I did like this but in one of my resin updates on YouTube, I show quite a few of them. Also using them for completely see-through jewelry pieces is lovely too. The person’s skin becomes the background. They are a bit less bright but create a cool effect. Here are some I have been working on for quite a while using recycled square tubing. So sorry it’s not the greatest photo as I just snapped it with my phone. The pieces still need to be domed and I am thinking of having my husband grind a groove around the belly of the tubing so I can securely wire wrap a bail around it. I use inkjet transparency paper. The paper has a special coating on it to accept the ink. They also have a laser printer version. Before you print your images, I recommend increasing the saturation of your images. It might not look correct on the screen but you will get a much more vibrant print on the transparency. There are a lot of brands of inkjet transparency paper but currently I use the Apollo brand version. It dries quickly and have had good luck with the film. The printer version of transparency film is not cheap but 50 sheets should last a very long time. It is available for purchase on Amazon here.
Another thing that can be used as an embed or on its own and domed with resin is shrink plastic. I absolutely love shrink plastic, probably due to a lot experimenting with it as a child. Everyone remembers playing with Shrinky Dinks at one time or another. People are doing amazing things with it. I have multiple types of the plastic from the standard clear and white to an inkjet version of both. I prefer the Grafix brand as they have it available in bulk 50 sheet packs which can be purchased on Amazon.
Don’t have the money for shrink film? Try using #6 plastic. Look for it on the bottom of plastic containers – the types you get cut fruit in from the produce section or take home type containers. It will have the triangle recycle symbol with the #6 in the middle. You aren’t able to use it with your printer but you can definitely use sharpies and try it out.
Lastly, don’t forget about embedding things like sequins, scrapbook embellishments, found objects, micro marbles, beads, seashells, resin cabochons, polymer clay pieces, hardware, old watch parts, or even hair, baby teeth, or cremains for memory jewelry. Don’t limit yourself to what is on the craft store shelves, why not take your pieces to the next level? Especially if your selling your pieces, wouldn’t you rather command $40 or more for one jewelry piece than making multiple cheaper pieces. Anyway, that’s just my take. Next in the series, products to make resin crafting easier.