Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending a resin casting workshop with Jo Pudelko at Hill Street Design House. I’ve been a fan of Jo’s work for a couple of years now; initially I saw her work in the RSA gallery in Edinburgh, then I did a mini acrylic workshop with her at the Craft Scotland event. I keep finding her beautiful pastel and metal jewellery popping up all over, which appears to be the sign of a really great store, not that I have a shopping problem or anything! I practically passed out when my flatmate gifted me a pair of her earrings… I mean, look at how perfect they are in the image below; who doesn’t want need these in their jewellery box?!
I’ve got a little bit of experience with resin, but everything I know has been developed through a trial and error process. I’ve been wanting to take a class in this for some time, thanks to an obsession with old vintage brooches. Having the know how on re-casting means I can transform some very old fragile pieces that I’ve collected over the years into some very pretty, versatile and pastel coloured new ones for me to wear and roughhouse in! And the best part? You can cast pretty much anything you can get your little mitts on, providing it’s not too fragile. Old buttons, vintage toys, biscuits; the world is your oyster and it’s ridiculously easy to have a go at!
Jo taught us how to create silicone moulds using a 50/50 ratio silicone rubber which set in 6 minutes (that’s probably the most stressful part, timing how long you’re taking to slowly stir the two chemicals together!). She also taught us how to mix and pour resin into our newly created moulds, how to colour it, and how to turn those pieces into nicely finished jewellery. I’ve written a blog post about the whole process for Hill Street Design House, which you can read here in a couple of days time if you’re interested in learning about how to create your own.
For those who’re wanting to try or hone their craft, here are the most useful tips I learned from the weekend workshop:
- Always use a measuring scale when working with these chemicals. Even the slightest imbalance could lead to the materials not setting. Better safe than goopy and sorry!
- Cover all surfaces in paper or plastic to avoid any disasters should you spill anything. That means wearing plastic gloves when working with the fluids, wearing an apron, covering the surface your working on and even popping those scales into a ziplock bag for protection.
- Getting the bubbles out of your silicone and resin before pouring is SUPER important. Any bubbles will lead to holes and flaws in your pieces once its set, and sadly you cant fix them from there. The most efficient way to do this is to spend as long as possible tapping the cup you’ve mixed your chemicals in. If you’re really worried you can also sit your cup of resin in a wider cup of hot water for a few minutes to try and encourage those cheeky bubbles to rise to the surface. You could also try popping the cup on a surface that vibrates (who knew that old fridge in the office which makes a weird humm would come in so handy!) Always pour as slowly as possible in one area of your mould, and gently tap it again before letting it set. Fingers crossed that’ll frighten the little suckers off!
- If you want to add glitter into translucent resin, get your hands on some Flitter! Regular glitter is too chunky and heavy, meaning it will sink to the bottom of your mould when you’ve poured it into the resin mixture. Flitter is the stuff they use in nail art, and being so small and fragmented, it will suspend more successfully in the resin.
- If your resin is coming out of the moulds bendy or sticky and doesn’t appear to harden after a day or too, there’s been an issue with your measuring or with the amount of colour you’ve added to the mixture. You only need around 1% of coloured resin paste to give it full colour, so use it sparingly. Adding too much will prevent the chemicals from setting.
- When sanding your finished piece, be sure to use a Wet And Dry sandpaper. Inhaling the dust particles is really bad for you (you should really wear a mask if doing this a lot!) Adding water to the plastic whilst your sanding it means it will create a paste that you can wipe off rather than a plume of dust that will get right up your nose, in your hair and embedded in your clothing.
- An epoxy glue like Araldite will pretty much stick anything together, including your fingers. Use with care, and feel free to put rhinestones on everything in site!
Resin casting is a really fun and easy way to create your own jewellery and works of art, and I seriously recommend it to anyone who wants to try out a new craft. You can get the materials online fairly affordably if you use sites like Ebay, but you can also get kits from good craft stores. It’s a great thing to do with kids too – they’ll love how quickly they’ll be able to see the things they’ve made and they make great gifts if you’re looking for something awesome to make for the holidays!
I forsee these lucky cat brooches being added to my online store as soon as I’ve mastered the process… not to mention a few other goodies I’ve got in the making that I’m looking forward to sharing 🙂
You can find out more about Jo Pudelko and see all her much coveted pieces of jewellery online, or if you’re in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, you can check out her exhibition with the Craft Scotland Summer Show in Whitestuff. There’s going to be over 30 talented Scottish designers showcased (and selling their products!) during the month, so it’s defo worth seeing!
Oh! And don’t forget to read the post I wrote about the whole silicone and resin casting process, which you can find here in the next few days.