Moderately Competent Resin Casting Party

How to make poured resin decorations

In dividing up the projects for this site, we made it a rule that the person least expert in any craft got dibs on trying it out. Not only is this true to the spirit of learning new skills we declared in our manifesto, it also increases the chances of really entertaining craft fails. Since all of us except Leigh had never tried resin casting before, we decided that this was the perfect opportunity for a craft party!

How to make poured resin decorations

Resin Casting, based on The Family Creative Workshop, Volume 1: Poured Acrylics

Since the failure case for messing up the resin mixture is pretty bad, we decided in this case it was better to take inspiration from the Workshop instructions and just follow the directions on the plastic resin we actually used. We’re lucky to live near Tap Plastics in Mountain View, which is one of those rare stores where the employees actually know things, and are happy to help you! This is how we learned that this process is no longer called “poured acrylics”, and that what we were actually looking for was “poured resin” or “resin casting”. Here’s the set-up they recommended for us.

How to make poured resin decorations

For the plastic

Yes, it’s really called Stoner Rocket Release. No, we’re not too old to make inappropriate jokes about that. The Clear-Lite is the plastic, and there are a couple of types available but they said this one was good to start with. The dyes aren’t needed if you’re making a clear piece, but why wouldn’t you want to add some color? There are both transparent and opaque dyes available, so just make sure you’re getting the kind you want. And for mixing, the cups need to be plastic—coated paper cups will react with the resin.

How to make poured resin decorations

Plus this awesome stuff

  • Glitter
  • Small toys and embellishments, and anything else fun you want to trap in plastic
  • Metal, wood, plastic, or silicone molds (that you don’t plan to eat out of later)

And then there’s the fun stuff! Everything is better with glitter, of course, although we did learn that very fine glitter is a better choice here. The larger glass glitter looks amazing, but the flakes are so heavy they tend to sink to the bottom of the layer. (If you do have giant glitter you’re excited about using, I think it would work ok if you pour a base layer without glitter, then pour a layer on top with the glitter.)

Our favorite molds were some old tin baking cups and cute silicone molds. We found ours at Daiso. We also had some hard plastic jewelry molds to make pendant and earring shapes.

How to make poured resin decorations

The best advice I can give on getting the mixture right is to follow the instructions on the brand of resin you’re using, and be prepared to mess up a few times. The easiest place to start is a single layer of resin with nothing embedded in it. The basic steps are:

  1. Coat the mold well with Rocket Release.
  2. Pour the resin into a cup.
  3. Add the drops of catalyst needed for size of the piece and mix.
  4. Add the color and/or glitter and mix.
  5. Pour the resin mixture into the mold.
  6. If needed, poke any air bubbles with a toothpick.
  7. When completely set, then pop out of the mold.

How to make poured resin decorations

Of course, this is easier said than done. We did a LOT of pieces, and I’d say around 80% were successful. There were a couple of cases where we clearly didn’t add enough catalyst because the piece just never set completely. The more common failure, however, was the release. We obviously didn’t spray nearly enough release on the jewelry molds in particular, because some of those pieces are now permanently stuck to the mold. Doing this again, I’d be a lot more careful making sure the release got into every little corner of the mold.

How to make poured resin decorations

The process for embedding a decoration in the plastic is to pour a base layer and let that partially set. Then you place the decoration and pour another layer on top of it. Again, make sure to read the instructions on your resin—ours recommended a different amount of catalyst for embedding. You can use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles and to reposition the embedded decoration.

We found that the decorations made of metal or plastic worked better than the wood pieces. This gear is a wooden scrapbook embellishment, and it’s so light it kept floating out of position.

How to make poured resin decorations

In placing your decorations, keep in mind that you’re pouring the piece upside down. For this cute little Halloween scene, the layers are:

  1. Amber resin
  2. Devil and cat, face down
  3. Amber resin to cover the figures
  4. Sprinkle of glitter onto the resin (while still wet)

Putting the glitter behind the figures ensures that you can see the figures clearly. The same effect could have been achieved by doing a third layer of resin with glitter mixed in.

How to make poured resin decorations

Here’s what happens if you try to embed a figure in resin with too much glitter. This one is particularly bad since the glitter pieces are so big, but we had similar problems even with fine glitter when we added too much. So the lesson for mixing glitter with figures is either be very sparing with the glitter, or make sure the glitter is behind the figure.

How to make poured resin decorations

Or you could just make the entire piece about the glitter! These happy little glitter ghosts were made in silicone bento molds. The silicone is lovely to work with, since it’s really easy to pop the pieces out.

How to make poured resin decorations

My favorite pieces were these lovely glittery flowers. These were created in old tin baking molds we picked up at a thrift sale (similar to these). Of course I haven’t used them for anything yet, but I feel they’re crying out to be turned into ridiculous statement necklaces or hairclips.

How to make poured resin decorations

The only problem with learning this craft is that now I have an excuse to collect every goofy little figurine or embellishment I encounter!

Check out the vintage inspiration for this project here: The Family Creative Workshop, Volume 1: Poured Acrylics (1974)