Sunday, March 17, 2013

Experiments with UV Resin

In December 2011 I took a class that taught me the basics metal stamping and using UV resin with what they call transfer sheets (more on that later).  The UV resin can be used in layers to fill pendant bezels and is a little less scary than other resin products because you don't have to mix two parts together in perfectly equal proportions like you do with epoxy resin products.
My favorite pendant from class.
Anyway, I was pretty excited about playing with these new techniques and bought a lot of supplies to do just that.  Is anyone shocked?  I made a couple of pieces early on and then mostly shoved these supplies to the side as I started trying some other new things.  I've had a couple of ideas rolling around my brain for a while that involved digging the resin back out.  Today, on this sunny but cold Sunday, I finally had time to pursue them!

Any time I have to bring out something out of the ordinary like a special tool, paints, or my rubber stamps I try to make the most of that effort and work on several projects at once.  My main project involved some cool scrapbook paper with a honeycomb pattern, a brass bee charm, and some flat back crystals... but I figured I should make the most of having my resin supplies out so I made a bunch of little pieces.

I'll show you what I made then talk a little bit about the process.  Here are the finished pieces.

Resin can be used in a variety of applications for jewelry making, but I was focused on doing just two things.  For some of my projects (the four on the left of the photo above) I cut out scrapbook paper and glued that into the bottom of my bezel finding.  The next step is to use a sealer over the top of the paper to protect it from the resin and to keep the colors from bleeding or blurring.  Once it is dry you are ready to carefully pour the resin into the bezel.  Often you need to do this in a couple of layers.

The rest of my projects were using components that have a raised platform design to them (the three on the right up above).  I used transfer sheets on top of that flat surface, sealed them, and then poured a layer of resin over the top.  It's kind of amazing how the viscous resin will follow the edge of these pieces and not drip over if you carefully rotate your piece.  Since the transfer sheets are printed on a film, once you apply it, you can see through anything that looks white when it is on its original backing.  If you paint behind the transfer sheet you can see that color come through to varying degrees depending on your design.  The ones I was using were black (or dark blue) and clear so I chose to leave the metal background as is for a cool effect.  I love how the silver and copper pop through!

For both applications, once the resin has been applied you want to make sure that there are no bubbles and that the resin is spread evenly across the piece.  The neat trick I use to get rid of those pesky bubbles is to take a lit match and move it back and forth just above the surface of the resin.  A cool chemical reaction causes any bubbles to rise to the surface and pop.  Just make sure to have a little cup of water nearby to douse the match and don't get so involved in looking for bubbles that you burn yourself!  (Sadly, I speak from experience!)  Once you are happy with how it looks, you just put it under a UV light (like the ones they use at some nail salons) for a few minutes to cure.  In theory you can just let it cure in direct sunlight, but Minnesota winters don't really work for that too well!
A few of my pendants curing under the UV light.
After the first layer of resin had cured, some of my pendants had either air bubbles or uneven surfaces.  Luckily, you can often fix those little imperfections by adding another layer of resin and curing again.  For my honeybee pendant, I had a couple of air bubbles and marks that I couldn't get rid of in this fashion.  Fortune smiled upon me though since I'd been planning all along to add items into the resin.  The judicious placement of the bee and crystals allowed me to hide those problem areas!  See for yourself:

The bee's wings and the tops of the crystals actually peek out of the resin giving it a three dimensional feel that is fun.  I wish the crystals were a little less covered, but I had to add an extra layer of resin to even things out and they got a little submerged.  You want the crystals to be out of the resin as much as possible to maximize their sparkle.  Since I wanted the crystals to seem like honey droplets, it's not a huge loss.  I'm just learning here so things aren't going to be perfect every time.  

Since I'm pretty much relearning how to use resin, and it can be a bit temperamental, these pieces took up the better part of my afternoon.  I know that I will get better at it as I keep experimenting and playing.  I feel good about my day's work and I have some great new handmade pendants to go into my jewelry designs!


  1. Wow what a day you had .. and I love the finished products. These pieces are beautiful Sarajo and so creative.

  2. Hi, can I ask what type of sealer did you use? Thanks..

    1. Sure, sunkiiss! I used the sealer from Nunn Design but I've heard that you can use Modge Podge too. You just want to make sure the paper is completely covered so the resin can't get to your paper (or whatever) and cause bleeding and such.