I've wanted to try my hand at making resin jewelry and accessories for quite some time. I just couldn't get past the idea of measuring, dividing, adding, subtracting, and possibly wasting an entire batch of resin because I got it wrong. A few months back, I stumbled across a brand of UV curing resin from Lisa Pavelka. I ordered it to do some repairs on the default eyes my Kinoko Juice Kiki came with, but I thought it was such an amazing idea. Curing resin in minutes using a UV lamp. Of course, this is almost the same thing that you would have applied to your nails in a salon with a gel manicure. Though, that particular type produces a sticky film that has to be removed with alcohol.
Sadly, both of these options would be incredibly expensive when using in large quantities. One measly ounce of Lisa Pavelka Magic Glos will set you back about $10.99 on a good day. UV gel intended for nails varies widely in price, with the cheapest brands being around $2.99+ for a tiny, half ounce pot that goes nowhere fast.
I knew that this couldn't be the only available quantity of UV curing resin. I mean, it just couldn't be. So, I buckled down and scoured the internet for a solution. Finally, I came across Solarez polyester clear casting resin.
|Solarez Polyester Clear Casting Resin, Quart Jar|
This particular resin is almost identical to Castin' Craft polyester resin with one key difference: It cures in sunlight in three minutes straight from the jar (or you can still use the catalyst to cure the old fashioned way). I could hardly contain my excitement. This is a huge quart (32oz) jug o' resin for $23 that I could allegedly pour straight from the bottle with no mess, no waste, and very little curing time. The same size jug of mix and pour resin costs over 30$ on Amazon. More money, more waste, and more time. No, thanks.
The thing is, this stuff wasn't showing up in crafting supplies at all. It's marketed purpose is to seal things like surfboards and paneling. I double checked the MSDS sheet against other popular crafting resins and could find no significant health related differences. As with most resin, the fumes can be pretty stinky and you don't want the uncured product on (or in) yourself. I'm used to working with a respirator and gloves, so this isn't really an issue for me. I have a huge fan and a glass sliding door that I can open fully to properly ventilate while working inside.
Always, always, always make sure to use the appropriate protective equipment when working with hazardous materials! Crafting is fun, but safety is first! A dust mask won't cut it, you need a NIOSH approved respirator. Polyvinyl gloves and goggles are a great idea, too. Pretend you're Heisenberg and craft at your own risk.
So, how does this stuff hold up when using it for crafting purposes? Well, you tell me! These are some of the pieces I've created over the past two days using Solarez.
All of these projects (and more) are available in my Etsy shop: thekawaiimachine.etsy.com.
Each piece was blended with dyes, glitter shapes, micro glitter, or real candy sprinkles and poured into polypropolene molds (treated with mold release beforehand). I cured the pieces using my timed UV lamp (36 watt designed for use with gel nails) and each tray only took about three minutes, though some of the thicker pieces required a bit longer. They produce a moderate amount of heat while curing, so if you try this method, be careful not to burn yourself. Because I'm using the UV curing method, I have to stick with molds that are translucent, which allow the UV rays to penetrate into the resin. Opaque molds will only cure the top layer and leave the bottom in its liquid state. I was able to dye the resin using the polyester dyes I had on hand with no issues, but you have to be careful about complete opacity, so as not to run into the same issues as opaque molds (not curing thoroughly).
I noticed that with Magic Glos, if I even so much as moved the mold wrong, bubbles would form within the resin that absolutely refused to surface. With Solarez, if I let the mold sit for a minute or so to 'breathe' most of the bubbles rise and pop themselves. I can also gently stir the resin within the mold to cause any bubbles caught under the decorations to rise up without creating new ones. The majority of bubbles that did stick rose up into the flash that would be sanded off anyway.
So, there you go. Easy to use, minimal waste, and no more hazardous to work with than most other crafting resin. I'm extremely happy with my results and frankly, I can't wait until the ludicrous amount of molds I ordered arrive today :).