Polymer clay and resin go together hand and hand, right?…smart or not? All right, now we are going to talk about the use of this versatile product and how to get the most from it. Perhaps you’re already familiar with resin as a craft/diy material and know its versatility? And now you want to expand into clay projects.
For those of you unfamiliar with the substance but curious or interested, I”ll’ be glad to help you with that too. In addition to its uses I’ll talk about precautions as well.
But first…what is resin?
Have you ever been to a dining venue and been seated at a table coated with something like a hard acrylic surface? Chances are that was resin. This amazing compound is showing up in all kinds of ways…furnishing accents, beverage coasters, combs, soap dishes, and decorative items like jewelry. If you’ve ever wanted to explore resin art, now is the time!
It’s been labeled the art for non artists as you can use it to embed treasures, pour into a mold to form an everyday object like a drink coaster set, and much more! It’s carried in liquid form at many hobby shops.
Even though it seems like a very modern material, it’s got a long history….resin art goes back aways…..Even the fossilized tree sap material known as amber is considered a type of resin…I mention this as I have some jewelry made of this. It’s surprisingly light whenever i wear it.
Resin is used in two main ways, poured into a preshaped mold, known as “casting” and using as an embellishment for other objects…known as coating. Its similar to plastic or hard acrylic in a way, appearance wise, with a glossy appearance. many people like to mix in additives like alcohol ink, glitter and mica powder to get some striking effects.
With regard to polymer clay, it’s mainly used to produce a glossy top coat, or to add detail to highly complex projects. Of course, there’s right and wrong ways to use it in this manner so we’ll go over that here.
This is the most popular type – so many mixed media artists are flocking to this stuff for its ability to become almost anything. You may have seen something labeled as “epoxy resin” and saw a product with similar labeling next to it…this is most likely -the hardener.
In the image below, epoxy resin is being applied to clay pieces to produce a glossy looking top coat/finish. Notice how the pieces in the background, which have been treated, look shiny and the untreated pieces in the foreground are more matte looking.
Mixing resin for art purposes is a two step process and you have to combine them together to produce the chemical catalyst via the hardener.
UV resin is similar, but the process is different from epoxy. First, there is no two step process, it does not need any mixing. Second, as the name implies, it cures via UV light, which can be done through direct sunlight, or the use of a special lamp like those used by a manicurist. Both will produce expeditious results in curing, albeit through layers, so it needs to be poured incrementally and allowed to dry between layers. It does have some negatives, however….one of them is its longevity, or lack thereof. Second it can turn yellow more quickly. Third is the cost…it tends to be higher than epoxy.
Regardless of which kind of resin you use, be sure to protect your workspace, wear protective clothing, gloves, and lay down newspapers on your workspace. It’s not considered a hazardous substance, but it may take some getting used to the fumes involved.
To get started you’ll need a good supply of disposable cups on hand, and some coffee stirring sticks for mixing. You can drop in color and powder additives, only trouble is with UV resin, some of these additives could block the curing process so it might be wise to add these sparingly or not at all.
Now that you know the pros and cons, I have some additional thoughts.
If you follow good procedures for sanding and polishing, you may be able to get the high-gloss look you’re after ….even though resin is a great substance, it’ll be well suited to some clay projects, but not all of them.
Second, if you understand the nuances of picking a good sealant or varnish with you can prevent hard to fix errors. One thing you can look into is a clear nail polish top coat (again, found in nail salons as UV light speeds up the drying process.
Good luck , and hope this helps!