As a lot of people are just discovering resin, here are a few pointers from someone who had been through the learning curve. I do not claim to be an expert but I learned from the bottom, on my own through trials and fails so these are not heresay but my personal experiences. If you would like to see some of the stuff I have made, feel free to check out the photos and videos on www.instagram.com/kawaii.connection
A quick note...All of the molds in this shop are made because I actually need them and use them in my resin crafting. Thus, am sharing these designs here with you. There are some themes and types I do not go into, and for this reason, I do not offer them in the shop. That said, all molds have been tested (again and again, coz I actually use them) for good casting results. --- You get shipped a NEW one, do not worry! :)
Here are some words of wisdom from an addicted resin crafter.
1. Before anything else, make sure you have PPE (face, right type of gloves) and have a well-ventilated space to work in. It will be best to have the space not frequented by kids, family members who have compromised immune system or your fur babies. Temperature of the work room counts. Each resin brand will have a preferred working temperature but I usually work in a room that has a temperature range of upper 60s to mid 70s. The colder it is, the longer it will take for resin to cure. But DO NOT place mold with resin in an oven or on a heater to make it cure faster. This messes up the curing process and can release so much toxic fumes (not necessarily something you can smell, but you can still inhale).
2. Resin brand matters. Art Resin cannot be used with most silicone molds as they seem to break down the silicone. If you do so, use at your own risk. I had seen a lot of totally perfect new molds destroyed. Brands from Hobby Lobby or Michael's or Amazon are great for practice. They are on the cheaper side and is not as painful when you mess up and need to throw it away. (Yes, it will happen. It is fine. Learning process.) Epoxy used in tumblers and cups are however NOT recommended for my shaker bits molds as those are pretty viscous and works best only for cups and countertops. They will not flow properly into the little details and will most probably give you the unsightly air bubbles. Read the FULL sheet of specs that come with your resin (or read it on their website). Some recommended using a gram scale to measure, others work better using volume while some just works either way. Just always MIX SLOWLY BUT THOROUGHLY. Personally, I only use one brand in my jewelry resin crafting --- Liquid Diamonds (www.thecraftattack.com). It cures crystal clear with minimal bubbles even without special equipment or chambers. It degases magically on its own and is watery thin that there is little I need to do to get rid of air bubbles and get a glass-like piece. Best part is, it is completely formulated and manufactured in the United States so you are supporting a homie. (No, I do not get commission from recommending. It just continues to work flawlessly for me for my jewelry and tiny bits casting.)
3. A lot of my molds are TINY and shaker bits or have fine details. With this in mind, know that those store brand resin or cup-focused resin brands are not the best options. They are unable to get into the little nooks and crannies well and usually hold those pesky air bubbles trapped in your piece. If you must, make sure to warm up part A in a warm water bath first before mixing up according to manufacturer's directions. Mix slowly and very thoroughly so you have Part A and Part B mixed up well and can do their chemical reaction to cure properly. Let stand for about 5 minutes to let air bubbles rise. Pour enough resin to cover the bottom of the mold then use a blunted toothpick or tool to gently trace the inside bottom edge and a blunted tool or popsicle stick to lightly graze any etched details so that all little crannies are covered. Then top off with more resin.
4. I cannot say this enough. Opaque molds can only use 2-part resin. UV resin will NOT cure properly and will go on to destroy the mold if you try. Only clear molds that allow the UV light to pass through will work with UV resin.
5. Cut out a piece of cardboard (get some use out of those Amazon boxes! :P ) and line up your shaker mold palettes on it before you pour. This will help you move them around if needed without spilling anything. Make sure they are level if you can help it! This will help minimize any finishing/ sanding you will have to do after.
6. To get a good, perfect cast... It is recommended that you do not let your resin set or thicken too much before pouring or casting so as to ensure that the resin flows into the little nooks and crannies of the details of the mold. Using a blunted toothpick also helps in pushing the resin into the details and ensure an air-bubble-free cast. That is what I do but there are a million ways to do it. :) Some use a syringe or a dropper. Let your fully-mixed resin stand for about 5 minutes to let air bubbles rise and pop before pouring. Pour a third of the way, rim the inner bottom edge of the mold lightly with a blunted too, graze the details with a popsicle stick, the top off. If you are practiced enough, you will know at what point to stop the pour to have that surface tension to account for the shrinkage when resin cures. That allows you to MAYBE get out of doming the back.
7. Smaller casts have less mass, which means it does not generate as much heat and reaction to cure like bigger casts. This just means to be patient and let it cure a little longer. (I know this is extremely hard to ask!) Usually, 24 hrs to 36 hrs to demold and full full hard cure in a week.
8. I ALWAYS recommend sanding (wet sanding) the edges of resin casts so as to get rid of any little overhangs that can cause little cuts. Especially when making these for jewelry, you would want to have the edges to be smooth and safe. Earrings, pendants, keychains...all of them. As long as you make it with resin, make sure you go over the edges with a sandpaper or a nail trimmer tool that people use to sand away acrylic nails. PLUS, it looks a lot more professional. :)
9. To paint detailed molds, I have created instructional videos to demonstrate how I do it for my resin pieces. Feel free to check them out!
Instagram video for painting AFTER casting
Instagram video for painting BEFORE casting
There are definitely different ways to make great casts so by no means do I mean this is the only way. :) The most important thing is to be open to failing, learning and have fun in the process! <3