Monday, February 2, 2015

Misadventures in UV Resin: Or What to Do When Good Resin Goes Bad

I really enjoy playing with UV resin in my jewelry designs... if you've been following me you've seen several posts to this effect including one that gives an overview of the whole process that you can check out HERE.  As with anything, sometimes things go a little awry.  My husband is fond of saying "natural product, results may vary," and while that's true, sometimes the results just aren't acceptable.

Take for instance this little guy:

See how at the top it's oddly shiny, almost silvery?  Through some trial and error, I've discovered that the resin layer was basically pulling away from the sealed image underneath... probably due to my starting with too thick a layer of resin.  Another common issue that I've had is air bubbles appearing from nowhere and ruining a pendant or other piece.  This can happen even when you think you've been super careful and removed them all.  Frustrating!

Sometimes you can fix the problems that arise just by adding another layer of UV resin and curing again.  This often works when you've had air bubbles that are open at the top or other  surface imperfections like dimpling.

Unfortunately, sometimes the problem just isn't fixable.  Maybe you've got an air bubble completely trapped in the resin, or maybe you've got the silvering affect like in the picture above.  Either way, no amount of extra resin layers is going to fix what has gone wrong.

While I've gotten better at being patient and using VERY thin layers of resin, things still sometimes go wrong.  I thought I'd share a couple of tips and tricks that I've learned along the way in hopes of helping other jewelry designers problem solve and even salvage what you might think was a lost cause!

  1. Make sure you have no air bubbles before you try to cure your pieces.
    • I usually start by running the tip of my metal awl around the inner edges of my bezel.  It sounds weird, but tiny little bubbles sometimes like to hide sneakily in there and this can help draw them out.  
    • Next I run a lit match over the top of the piece to pop any visible air bubbles.  This sometimes draws out some of those sneaky ones that you don't see.
  2. Keep a VERY close eye on things when you first put them under the UV light to cure.  
    • Even when you think all the air bubbles have been popped, I've found that they still sometimes try to form around the edges of the bezel.  If you see this start to happen or see the resin start to separate from the sealed image, pull your piece out IMMEDIATELY and try to peel the resin out of the bezel.  This can usually be accomplished without ruining your sealed image underneath.  
  3. When imperfections do sneak through, see if there's a creative way to mask them.
    • Think about if there's a way you can add something on top of the imperfection to hide it.  I've used small flat backed crystals or metal charms in an extra layer of resin to some good effect.  If you use charms, just be careful of how you place them so that UV resin doesn't get under them where the UV light can't reach to cure it.  Here's an example of a pin I just made where I had that shiny thing happen in one little area.  I've circled the spots where you can just barely see some shine:  

  4. Don't throw it away!!!
    • Even when you think all hope is lost and there is absolutely no way to salvage a metal bezel, you don't have to toss it.  Try this trick:  in a small saucepan no longer used for food, bring a small amount of water to a boil.  Add in your ruined bezel and turn the heat off.  Let the bezel soak in the hot water then carefully fish it out and the resin should have softened enough for you to remove it.  (I used my handy dandy awl for this too!)  Those little bezels are not cheap, so this is a good trick to know!

Do you have any other tips and tricks for dealing with UV resin?  I'd love to hear them because there's always something new to learn!

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