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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Polishing Resin for High Shine

When resin is cast and taken out of its mold, the surface is somewhat dull. In addition, the resin has a tendency to pick up lines and other little flaws from the mold.

I have tested many different methods for polishing resin, and some are definitely better than others. I like my resin to shine like glass; if it doesn't, it looks inferior to me. Now, this is just my personal preference. If you are going for a dull finish because you want your resin to emulate granite or stone, that is a whole different issue.

First, let me tell you about a couple of the other methods I have tried for polishing my resin that just didn't work for me. As I mentioned above, I have experimented with several different techniques, but the ones I am listing here are the most common:

Castin' Craft Resin Spray:

I have had mixed results with this product. It tends to be unpredictable and may/may not work depending on several factors including the level of humidity in the air and the temperature outside. (Note: This product really should not be sprayed indoors. The fumes are noxious and good ventilation is needed. I strongly recommend spraying your projects outside.) On mild days when the humidity is low and the temperature is mild (between the 70's and 80's), the product works fine when used as directed. Unfortunately, if the elements don't all fall in line, it can spell disaster for your projects. I found this out the hard way - more than once. In this situation, the spray will come out a cloudy white color, instead of clear. The cloudiness does not go away when the spray dries and the project is ruined at this point. I was able to rescue a couple of pieces by quickly wiping my finger over the sprayed item. (I know - this is a big no-no. Do as I say and not as I do.) Given the fact that I make hundreds of pieces of resin jewelry at any given time, the unreliability of this product is not something I wish to chance. I don't know about you, but the thought of tossing out several pieces of resin that took days to make does not appeal to me in the least.

Carnauba Wax:

Carnauba wax is an item used to polish automobiles. I read that this item was recommended for polishing resin as it helps to fill in the lines left by the molds, and it leaves a soft shine. When I tried polishing my resin pieces with this product, I really couldn't tell the difference between the coated and uncoated pieces. The lines still showed as clear as day and the resin surface was still dull. Since I like very glossy resin surfaces, this product didn't work for me. It did not give me the end result I was looking for.

Brush-on Resin:

By far, the best results I have encountered is by using resin as a coating for the finished pieces. This takes a little longer as you have to wait for the resin to harden, but the results are well worth it. The finished product is shiny and new, and it's virtually resistant to scratches and wet weather. Hands-down, this is my favorite technique to coat resin pieces.

Technique:

Cut a strip of duck tape (and before anyone emails me about my spelling - the brand I use is called DUCK tape - seriously) and lay it on the work surface, sticky side up. Place the resin piece on top of the tape, face up.

Press the back of the tape firmly against the resin piece, using your fingers to ensure there is a tight seal. This step is important. You don't want the resin leaking underneath the tape.
In a small container, mix up a batch of resin according to the manufacturer's directions. With a flux brush or other disposable brush, lightly brush a coat of resin over the top and sides of the resin pieces. Use a light hand when doing this; only a light coat is needed to get the glossy shine. Any excess resin will form a pool around the completed pieces and will have to be sanded off after it has hardened.Allow the freshly glazed pieces to dry. Remove from tape. Sand edges as desired and wa-la - you have gorgeous and shiny resin pieces to use in your craft and jewelry projects.

34 comments:

Paisley Chainsaw said...

Thank you for sharing your tips! Great idea for recoating with resin :-)

April said...

Thank you so much for this! I also prefer really glossy finished pieces. When they aren't glossy, they really do look inferior. I bought some of that resin spray some time ago, but I haven't been able to do any resin pieces in a while. I am wondering if I should even try that spray now. I also brush resin onto the top of my pieces, but your tape tip is fantastic. I can't wait to get to work again!

AwtemNymf said...

Whats your resin casting preference?
I heard enviro tex light?... Or something like that?
THanks

Wanda AKA "Craftymule" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wanda AKA "Craftymule" said...

Thank you, everyone. For the past couple of years, I've used the Castin' Craft resin. I've had good results with it so I buy it frequently. I've also used the Envirotex resin. I've had excellent results with this, as well. The main difference between the products is that the Castin' Craft is designed for smaller projects (those that weigh less than 6 ounces) and the Envirotex is designed for larger projects, like paperweights, etc. That's not to say that you can't use Envirotex for the smaller projects. When I first started experimenting with resin a few years ago, I used to use Envirotex for my bottle cap jewelry pieces and they always turned out fine. Castin' Craft resin is readily available at the craft store in the small town where I live, so that's what initially prompted me to buy it. Now I'm hooked and it's my preference for making small items and jewelry projects from resin.

beth said...

hey wanda, interesting entry. i do use the spray and have had good results...mostly, i find that my colors don't fade to yellow over time, and that it does get a really high gloss shine to it.

one thing i have tried that truly works wonders is using a product called "glossy accents" over your resin piece. it's not toxic but surprisingly, waterproof and helps fill in those holes or imperfections that the resin makes.

mostly though, i stick with the spray. nail polish also works well, but that fades too.

here's my shop if you want to see some of my finished pieces:


http://bethtastic.etsy.com

PolymerClayTutor said...

Thank you so much for the cool info! I have been wanting to experiment with resin and polymer clay and this info helps a lot! ~Cindy Lietz

Tootie said...

I want to try casting resin pieces but I'm scared! Thanks for sharing your expertise!
Smiles-
Toots

Charcoal Designs said...

Hi Wanda, thanks for interesting tips. I have been using opaque resins for a couple of years now but am new to the world of clear resin (it's so different!!). I had to switch brands because my regular shop was closed and I am not use to using poly resin. Anyway, some of it didn't cure 100% (it's hard but picks up on fingerprints, etc.), I'm wondering if I brush on a new batch of clear resin over the mostly cured stuff if it will fix the problem? I'd really hate to throw out some otherwise great looking pieces! Thanks! :) Laura

Wanda AKA "Craftymule" said...

Sure, you can try to brush a fresh coat of resin over the part that didn't cure and see what happens. Depending on where you live, if you are in a place with higher humidity it may take several days for your resin to fully cure which is why it is still picking up fingerprints.

ByLightOfMoon said...

Many thanks for the tips! I love your tutorials!

smiles, cyndi

Sabii Wabii said...

I've been chomping at the bit to try resin...thank you for the info.
Terisa

mbm6786 said...

Hi Wanda:

Thanks for the tip about brushing resin over the already-cured resin of a finished project. But doesn't it leave brush marks?

Wanda AKA "Craftymule" said...

Resin is usually self-leveling, so it will usually not leave brush marks. (Thankfully!)

Brama said...

Hi,
I've never used Castin Crafts (or any) resins before but am planning to and have been reading a lot.

Here's a quote I found which may be helpful in your situation regarding the tacky problem and how to seal.

"By any other name, the "Resin Spray" would be called Krylon Gloss finish. The spray lacquer is the same and is used to fully cure the surface of Acrylic polymer castings made with materials like Resin Craft's clear casting resin. It employs the tuolene, and other plasticers and solvents that make up the vehicle, for that purpose. It isn't as glossy as the Krylon, either."

Sounds good to me! And I know the Krylon comes in a regular size spray can unlike the tiny Castin Craft one.

I'm planning to use some Castin Craft resin soon and happen to already have the Krylon gloss so if it works I'll let ya know. :O)

Laura Cameron said...

Thank you so much for this, I've been searching the internet for hours and was deliberating over forking out for some polish or spray - you've saved me the money!

Jennifer said...

Hi, thanks for tips. I tried this polishing technique on some dull Ice Resin pieces, and while it worked beautifully on flat surfaced items, the rounded top pieces turned out very badly. An hour or so after I had brushed the polish layer of resin on, it had beaded off the tops of the rounded items, leaving a pitted, awful mess. It's about to turn me off resin forever. :( Do you have any suggestions?
thanks!

AmethystKoi said...

Genius idea with the duct tape!

CAM Creations said...

Brilliant tips, Thank you. I will try myself.

Buckles and Beads said...

Thank you for the idea. what an easy trick to get the shine back!

Buckles and Beads said...

thank you for the idea. what a simple trick!

Venus Blues Hideaway said...

Thank you for your tip. I have a question and there may not be an easy fix--I poured some jewelry the the resin feels tacky. It has been three days since I poured it. I measured the resin carefully but it still feels that way. Any suggestions?? Would appreciate any input. My problem may have been that I mixed up a small amount--it does say that it does better in larger doses.

Michelle Frae Cummings said...

So happy to have found this! Thanks for the great tip!

Michelle Frae Cummings said...

I've put this idea to test in a recent project and posted about it linking back to you, hope you don't mind. Thanks again! http://faeriedustdreams-michelle.blogspot.com/2013/03/resin-sun-catchers.html

Maria said...

Great tips, thank u for the info, it's really helpful. I've only been using epoxy resin for a short while, so am very much a novice, but using ice resin, and have been measuring it out in oral syringes used for babies medicine. X

bethtastic said...

Hey guys, I'm going to try paiting some resin on my finished resin bangles. I just can't justify continuing to buy new silicone for molds--it gets so expensive. I'll let you know how it goes.

I have tried everything for finishing off resin pieces. I find that the castin' craft spray continues to work the best, but yes, it can be unpredictable. And you're still left with a crappy bottom. I guess that's how it always will be when using silicone molds.

Ah well.

Melanie Monster said...

Hi there! I've been doing a bit of research on resin as I'm fairly new to the product, though I have many years of experience in the art world. LOVE resin. But I have a huge question for you and would greatly appreciate your help. I recently stained, painted, enameled, and polyurethaned some wooden boxes and resin cast the tops to get that extra jewel-like finish. I am using Pebeo Glazing Resin. Now one of my boxes got a hair in it (GASP!) and I sanded it out with fine grit sandpaper. The question I have is... Do I need to polish and buff this thing out BEFORE reapplying the resin (as you talk about in the technique you prefer) OR can I just go ahead and reglaze it? The scratches from the sanding are micro-fine and have just taken the shine off that particular area. Thanks so much!

Wanda Eash AKA "Craftymule" said...

Hi, Melanie:

That is quite a dilemma! I hate when hair gets into resin. Yes, you definitely want to resand the surface before applying another topcoat. I learned that the hard way by picking out the hair without sanding and it ruined the piece. Good luck!

Barbara Joy said...

You know, I was thinking, after taking my piece out of the mold, "how can I make the front of the piece, that was inside the mold, super shiny like the part that is out and dries so shiny, why can't I somehow use RESIN since it dries shiny? Resin ON Resin." now with your tips I CAN :) Brilliant! Thanks so much, I love love LOVE super shiny pieces, I mean like they look triple sealed and WET, they are so shiny! THANK YOU love, I adore your tips! xoxoxo

Jaye Reck said...

Thank you so much for your information, glad to hear the failures and successes. I just started pouring my own molds and I need them to glossy and smooth. thanks.

saldav said...

Hi, just wondering how you would apply the fresh coat of resin for gloss on a bangle/bracelet? Do you brush on one side, wait for it to dry then flip and do the other? Would the resin just drip down the sides?
Ta, Sally

Terri S said...

Hi thanks so much for the info. I already use resin to recoat my pieces but instead of tape I place my pieces on toothpicks with sticky tack to hold it on. That way any extra resin just drips off. My problem is that I always seem to get little nibs tiny raised spots almost like a grain of sand you can't really see them if you dont look but you can feel them and they drive me NUTS. Is this normal and if so what should I do to reduce them other then sanding and recoating again till there perfect? Or is it something that is just me being picky? Thanks

Wanda Eash AKA "Craftymule" said...

Hi, Terri:

I'm not sure why this is happening - is it possible maybe some dust ended up in your resin mixture?

Terri S said...

I always make sure all surfaces are clean. I also do all sanding and drilling in a completely different area. Could it be the brush I am using. I just use dollar store cheap brushes.