Measuring and Mixing Resin 101
Learn how to measure, mix and add embellishments to your resin
Knowing how to properly use, measure and mix resin is essential to any resin artist and the success of their pieces.
If you’re interested in any form of resin art due it’s flexibility, whether you want it to create beautiful jewelry pieces or to bring a piece of furniture to life, resin is all the rave. However, before one can delve safely into the world of resin art, it is important for you to know the 101 on this material to be able to use it safely and accurately.
In this article the main focus will be on measuring, mixing, coloring and adding embellishments to resin, so if you’re ready let’s get started.
The best way to work with resins is through molds, the best types are those that are made of silicon, polypropylene and high/low polypropylene. Molds provide resin artists with a vast amount of options to work with, you can opt for almost any shape depending on your style, whether it be hearts, stars or even circles. There is a wide variety to choose from.
One of the main reasons why using molds is one of the best options when working with resin, is due to their material. Resin will not stick to the surface, so you can easily pop them out of the mold when hardened.
You can even use some silicon molds found in your household like candy molds, ice cube molds and baking molds with no problem at all. Just don’t ever use it for food after you use it for resin.
Transparent plastic molds have a hazy finish to it and are very commonly used in food storage containers like tupperware. Those are good for using. However, avoid clear chocolate molds made of PET plastic as the resin will stick to these kinds of plastic, and demolding will be impossible unless you destroy the mold.
When storing resin you can store both the resin and the hardener in condiment squeeze bottles. They’re going to make your life a lot easier when it comes to pouring and measuring your parts. The fine tips also allows you to have great control over the amount of liquid being dispensed.
Another advantage is that they’re very inexpensive and you can get them at any discount store.
If you’re measuring by volume, you want to get some graduated mixing cups, like 1 ounce disposable cups. You want to then take a marker and highlight or mark the exact amount you’ll be using, to avoid any mistakes (the original markings on the cups can often be hard to see).
You can also choose to use separate cups for each part, or mark two measurements on the same cup if you want to use only one.
Another thing to be aware of is that when you’re pouring, the liquid will concave, which means it will be higher on the outsides and lower in the center. Measure it from the bottom of the concave or meniscus… which is the curve that you’re able to see at the top of a liquid in a container, or by your own eye level. This will ensure an accurate measurement.
You can either measure by volume with a 2x1 ratio or by weight with a different ratio like a 100 to 43.
4: Minimum amount for proper cure
If you want the best results, remember to make enough resin! Usually it has a minimum amount that needs to be mixed for proper curing.
This information is rarely given by any brands, so if you’re trying resin for the first time or trying a new brand, mix at least one fluid ounce of total resin.
After that, play around and see how low you can get before it affects the curing process. Some brands will go down to half an ounce and still be okay.
Measuring by volume is very straightforward, just remember to keep it on eye level and check for the bottom of the concave, and you’ll be good.
Weight measuring is a bit trickier and you will need a small scale.
To measure by weight you need to zero out the scale with the mixing cup on it, and then pour in the hardener first.
Once you have the weight value of the hardener, use the 100x43 ratio formula to calculate the amount of resin you will need, and pour it down until you reach the said amount.
This method involves a little algebra! If you use 0.15 ounce of hardener, you’ll need another 0.35 ounce of resin. Don’t forget to zero out the scale with the hardener before adding the resin.
As soon as you start mixing you’ll realize that the mixture will get streaky and cloudy, continue to mix it until it’s crystal clear with no trace of streaks. You also want to scrape the sides of the cup, the bottom and the stir stick itself as you go. Plastic spatulas are great for this kind of task.
To ensure proper mixing, the double-cup method is the best way to go. Pour the mixture in a brand new cup, scraping all the mixture from the previous cup and the stir stick itself, and mix it again. This way you’ll make sure there are no unmixed parts.
The end result is crystal clear, properly mixed, with no streaks. If you notice bubbles, let it rest for a few minutes and use a lighter or a torch to pop the bubbles when they surface.
6: Preparation and decoration
Make sure to clean your mold thoroughly before using. You can do it with soap and water, but sometimes there can be some pesky glitter residues sticking to it, you can resolve this by using a bit of tape and dabbing it on the glitter residue.
To begin, pour a thin layer of resin in the mold and start building your resin pieces. Usually, the front of the piece is in the bottom of the mold, but you can do it the other way around, too.
When adding color to resin, you can choose pigments made for resin or other variety of colorings, just make sure you use one with no water since it can inhibit the curing.
Powder pigments such as makeup or powdered chalk pastels or even food colorings are great for it. Oil based coloring and alcohol based colorings like ink are also pretty good. However, if you’re planning to use acrylic paints, remember it is water-based, so use it with discretion.
Once you’ve added the resin, run a scrubber tool through the edges of the mold to remove any trapped bubbles and then run a lighter along the surface of the resin to pop the bubbles. If you skip this step, the bubbles will become unsightly holes along the surface of your piece.
When applying heat to the resin, do not overdo it or you can burn the resin or make it fuse with the silicon mold, or even melt the molds.
Now, you can decorate your pieces using confetti, stickers, glitter, it’s entirely up to you. If you’re using paper stickers, make sure to seal them with something that makes them impermeable such as mod podge. This will avoid the resin from staining your stickers.
To embed the stickers, make sure you leave no bubbles underneath. Dip the bottom of the sticker first, and work your way up and then push the sticker all the way down to the bottom of the mold. If there are any bubbles trapped underneath, use the stir stick to push them out.
Give some time to allow the resin to gel and get thick so you can do a nice glitter layer without them sinking to the bottom and giving it a nice dimensional look.
The waiting time varies depending on the brand. You’ll know it’s done when you touch the resin with a scrubber and the resin is sticky enough to leave a string of resin attached to the scrubber when you pull it out.
Keep checking your resin as it can take from an hour to a couple of hours. If you choose to add sprinkle glitter and micro marbles, now is the perfect time to add them. Once they’re added, you will have to wait for it to cure until a tack-free stage, ranging from 6 to 24hrs and then add the second layer of resin. Just repeat the same process of adding the resin as before.
If you’re using pigments, make sure to mix a small amount of resin before you mix it into your main batch so it gets evenly mixed without clumps of pigments. This works great if the resin’s viscosity is on the thicker side.
After it’s cured, take it out from the mold with care and voila - you have some pretty looking resin pieces.
The pieces will come out from the mold with the same finishing as the mold: a shiny mold makes shiny pieces, a matte finish makes matte pieces. But all you need to do is dome the surface with some extra resin and they will be nice and shiny.