Common Beginner Resin Mistakes & How To Avoid Them
1. Not Mixing Your Resin Thoroughly
Regardless of how much resin you're mixing, if you don't stir long enough, you'll regret it. It's a huge waste of materials, money, & time.
Picture this. Having waited 12 LONG HOURS (preferably longer) to demold your piece, you approach your mold with the obnoxious excitement of a child on Christmas morning. The big reveal! Aaand, SURPRISE! It's a half-baked, sticky, bendy, bubbly mess. What went wrong?! Hate to break it to you, baby, but you got lazy with your mixing. Don't feel too bad, though. It's probably happened to every resin crafter ever, for one reason or another. Let's face it: Mixing resin is the most boring part of the process, but it's a necessary evil.
After pouring your 1:1 ratio of epoxy resin & hardener, you'll need to pick up a popsicle stick (or your preferred stirring mechanism) & get ready to feel the burn! How will I know when my resin is thoroughly mixed and ready to pour? Easy! Ask yourself these three questions:
- Is it murky?
- Is it "stringy"?
- Is it really, really bubbly?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your resin needs more mixin'. Ideally, you'd like to see your resin looking as clear as possible, like a refreshing glass of water (or vodka, depending on your style). Once clear, get close & drag your mixing stick around the walls of your container. Do you see any translucent, stringy strands in your otherwise clear resin? If so, keep mixing, & make sure to scrape along the walls & bottom of your mixing container to stir up any resin that may be clinging to the sides. Finally, bubbles. A few bubbles won't hurt you. You can easily take care of those with a torch after you've done your pour. But a TON? No good. Keep mixing, this time slowly, making sure not to lift your mixing stick out of the container too much, as to prevent more air from getting trapped in your resin, in turn creating more bubbles.
Once you're covered all those bases, you should be good to go!
PRO-TIP: Use transparent or translucent measuring cups as your mixing container.
2. Stirring in Too Much Paint
Similar to mixing your resin, you'll also likely be mixing in pigments, paints, inks, etc. to color your resin. Each of these mediums react differently to resin, so it wouldn't hurt to do some tests beforehand to familiarize yourself with how to use them & which you prefer, just to minimize waste.
When it comes to which medium is best, to each their own, but I prefer liquid pigment dyes. I encourage you the experiment, though. In a pinch, you can even use the pigment from old eye shadow palettes to color your resin!
Many people prefer using acrylic paint, & for a good reason. It's easy to mix colors to achieve your desired result, it's dirt cheap for the amount you get, & it's useful for many things outside of resin crafting. You can get some amazing, bold colors using acrylic paint, but BEWARE! If you use too much, your resin WILL NOT CURE ... ever. Start with just a dab. Place it on your mixing stick, mix it up, & see how it works. Still too opaque? Mix in another dab, & so forth.
3. Demolding Too Soon
None of us want to wait on our resin pieces to dry, but we HAVE to. If you poke at them too soon, you'll leave fingerprints & gunk all over the surface, ruining your piece's flawless, shiny surface. If you pull it out of the mold too soon, while it's still sticky & tacky, you'll ruin all chances your piece ever had to cure perfectly into the shape you're trying to mold. You'll end up with a bumpy, uneven monstrosity that only vaguely resembles what you'd intended it to. You can also damage or ruin your molds this way! Resin that hasn't completely cured can sometimes cling to silicone, ripping it up, leaving your molds with ugly battle scars. So, be patient.
My trick is to pour at night or in the morning before I go to work, or just any time right before I get busy doing something else. Keeping yourself preoccupied is the best way to avoid any temptation to demold an unfinished piece before it's ready.
4. Mixing Too Much at One Time
When a huge thing of mixed resin sits, it heats up & begins to cure. The larger the amount, the faster it happens. Before you know it, it's unusable. The absolute MOST resin I recommend you prepare at one time, unless you're filling a MASSIVE mold, is 8oz - 10oz. Regardless, after mixing, I recommend you separate the resin into even smaller containers. Don't overdo it & risk wasting materials. Pour small amounts, even if it means you'll have to mix up another batch afterwards.
I've noticed that after around 30 minutes, my resin is almost too stubborn & sticky to control, which leads me to my next tip. Fill in smaller, more detailed parts of your mold with resin first, if possible. It'll flow more easily into the nooks & crannies of you mold when it's fresh & fluid, as opposed to when it's begun thickening & curing. When you pour into more intricately designed areas of a mold with thicker resin, you'll get more bubbles, caused by the resin not making it completely to the bottom of the mold & leaving air pockets.
To a certain extent, you can heat your resin a bit to loosen it up & make it flow more easily once it's started to thicken up. I recommend a heat gun rather than a lighter, as you run less of a risk of burning your resin, any inserts you've placed in your resin, or the mold itself.
5. Overpour When Doming
A lot of folks like their resin projects to have a thin, glossy layer of clear resin coating the surfaces of their piece. It minimizes any flaws in texture & generally just makes your piece look more polished. Most people add this layer of resin using a small stick, by gently pouring it onto the surface & carefully guiding it around to smooth it over the entire piece. Easy, right? ... Not so much.
Occasionally, accidents happen. You make have some resin that pours over the side of your piece, unbeknownst to you. You likely won't notice until you pick up your cured, glossy piece, only to discover hardened drips & puddles on the other side. While fixing it is a complicated process (which usually involves painstakingly sanding down your piece), avoiding it is quite simple! Overpour can EASILY be avoided using liquid latex.
Before you start the doming process, coat the sides & back of your piece (or any area your resin could potentially spill over onto) with liquid latex, let it dry, and you're good to go! Dome away! Any overpour residue will come right up when you peel off the latex.