Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Number 1 Thing Resin Hates!

Yesterday, I had a bad resin day!

Sometimes, things don't go quite as planned: I had bad pours, spilled resin, bubbling issues, cross contamination, you name it, I seemed to be clumsy enough to do it. It was just one of those days!

But that's not what this post is about. Those mess ups give me the opportunity to show you some of the things that can go wrong when working with quick curing polyurethane resin so that you can avoid them.

Now, let's take a look at a couple of the things that didn't go according to plan.

If you're working with epoxy resin, you might find this video useful:
"Dealing with Bubbles in Resin".

Contaminants in Resin

The first bangle has a little bit of bubbling in the resin (not unusual for polyurethane resin) but the biggest problem is what I'd describe as warts on the surface.
Handmade resin bangle with bubbled surface.

The culprit here is contaminated resin dye. A crack in the lid of the colourant I used has allowed moisture to contaminate the dye. Mix with resin and you get warts and bubbling. Polyurethane resins HATE moisture!
Bottle of resin dye with cracked lid.
Lesson: resin and moisture do not mix!

This second bangle has also been affected by moisture.
Silicone mould filled with resin that has expanded and foamed over the sides of the mould.
The resin has expanded and foamed and looks like the froth on a chocolate milkshake!!!

But this time the issue is that the resin has been contaminated from moisture that got into either the resin or the hardener. This can happen when you open and close the bottles in humid conditions.

Fresh polyurethane resin should look translucent like the middle bottle (even when it’s amber coloured!). The bottle on the left is moisture affected. Notice how it looks almost opaque. It's more obvious in the enlarged picture on far the right.
Two bottles of polyurethane resin, side by side: one looks milky and cloudy from moisture and the fresh one is translucent. A close up view shows the moisture affected resin more clearly.

This is a sure sign that moisture has got into the bottle. Leaving the lid off for any length of time or just opening and closing the bottle each time you use it can cause this. Obviously, you can’t pour resin without removing the lid, but you can minimise the amount of time the lid is off. Always put lids back on as soon as you’ve measured out the resin. You can also spray a dry air blanket into the bottle if you wish but this is usually overkill for the hobbyist. Instead, buy only as much resin as you can use in 6 months and use it all up once you open it.

What else to watch out for when working with Quick Curing Polyurethane Resin 

Two digital temperature gauges, side by side: one showing 49% humidity which is ideal. The other is 58% humidity which is starting to get too high for casting polyurethane resin.

Without a doubt, humidity is your enemy when working with polyurethane resins. Humidity causes additional bubbling inside your cast pieces. Whether you like this “lemonade” look or not, it’s a problem when your casting needs trimming because no amount of sanding can fix the sponge effect that trimming will leave behind.
Resin casting filled with bubbles which are visible when the outside is trimmed away.

I highly recommend you invest in a digital humidity gauge and then you’ll always know whether it’s too humid or not. Cast polyurethane resin on days when the humidity is below 50%. If the humidity is higher, then the best thing to do is turn on the air conditioner... even better if it has humidity control.

Unmixed Resin Doesn't Cure

In this next bangle I have a totally different problem.  I've seen this happen once or twice before with beginners but I had never experienced it myself until now. And I'll have to be honest here and say I've never seen it THIS BAD before!
Handmade bangle with swollen top edge

What you are looking at here is the swollen outside edge of a bangle. It looks like it has a fat lip!

In the photo below, you can see how it has puckered on the inside, looking a lot like a kiddie's inflatable swimming pool.
Handmade resin bangle with puckered top edge

The culprit here is operator error. I have not mixed the resin well enough and inside the outer shell of cured resin is uncured, unmixed resin.

Lesson: Follow the manufacturer's instructions and make sure the resin is thoroughly mixed.

So take heart: even experienced resin crafters get less than perfect results sometimes. Keep in mind these two very important points and you can avoid these ghastly mistakes. Resin really is fun and easy to work with when you do it properly.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more resin tips and tricks.

Pin this tip for later!
Surface bubbling on a resin bangle caused by moisture in the resin

What causes resin to bubble and how to avoid it project sheet

Why did my resin bubble pinterest pin.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Revamping a Candelabra

About 10 years ago I bought an inexpensive candelabra which, after many years of neglect, had collected a thick layer of dust and wax.

I always avoided cleaning it because it seemed like scraping off the melted wax would be a difficult thing to do. But for a special occasion in our household recently I decided it was time to tackle the job of cleaning it up.

Who knew it would only take 10 minutes to clean?!! Check out how easy it is to do in the video and then see how it was transformed into a chic and elegant table decoration draped with beads and crystals - it's the perfect centrepiece for a wedding table or special dinner party.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Monday, September 17, 2012

Barnyard Girls Earrings

Here's a pair of whimsical, barnyard inspired earrings that are fun and easy to make using a simple wire technique to create the feet.

Pair of cute chicken earrings made from lampwork chicken beads with wire to make the feet.
What you'll need:

2 x lampwork chicken beads
20 gauge non tarnish silver wire
2 x 4mm silver bicone beads
2 x 6mm silver bead caps
2 x 6mm silver spacer beads - mine look like a bon bon (with a flare at the top and bottom), but a plain cylinder spacer bead will also work
Pair silver earring wires

Chain nose pliers
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flush cutters

Cut a length of wire 12.5cm (5") long and bend it at a 90° angle, about 2.5cm (1") from the end.
A length of wire bent at right angles near one end.

Hold the flat nose pliers in the corner of the angle just created (on the long end) and bend the wire back around the outside of the jaw.
Hold the flat nose pliers in the corner of the angle just created (on the long end) and bend the wire back around the outside of the jaw.

This will create the first claw.
Bending the wire back around the outside of the jaw.

Repeat the last step to create 3 claws altogether.
Continuing forming the wire around the flat nose pliers to create the claws of the chicken's feet.

Shape the claws by gently squeezing each one together at the base with the pliers. You want to make sure that the two outside claws are pointing slightly forward rather than out to the side.
Squeezing the wire claws together to form the chicken's feet.

Create the fourth claw with the shorter end of the wire.
Create the fourth claw with the short tail of the wire.

 This one points out the back.
The last claw should point backwards.

After you've created the four claws, you're going to bend the two wires upwards. Start with the fourth claw. Hold the wire at the end of where you want the claw to finish and bend the wire upwards to create a leg.
Bending the wire upwards to form the first leg. 

It should look like this.
 Photo shows the claws with one leg formed 

Do the same thing with the longer wire, trying to bend it as close to the fourth claw as you can.
 Bend the second wire upwards, trying to bend it as close to the fourth claw as you can.

Now you have four claws and two upright wires which form the legs.
You have created the four claws and two upright wires which form the legs.

Make a seond leg to match.

Once you've made two legs, you're ready to get started on the earrings.

Thread the spacer bead over the two "prongs" of the leg.
 Thread the spacer bead over the two "prongs" of the leg.

Add an upturned beadcap, the chicken bead and a silver bicone.
Adding an upturned beadcap, the chicken bead and a silver bicone.

Leave a small "neck" of wire above the bicone and create a loop.
 Forming the loop above a short "neck"

Wrap the wire around the "neck" with the chain nose pliers and then trim off the excess wire.
Wrapping the wire around the "neck" with the chain nose pliers and then trim off the excess wire.

Make a matching chicken component and then hook them onto the earring wires.
A finished chicken component

So what do your think? Are they hens or roosters? I'll leave that for you to decide.

'Til next time.......

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beads with a Twist

If you've ever managed to catch me demoing at the craft shows in Brisbane or Sydney you are sure to have seen me work with Friendly Plastic. One of the most popular things I demo is the Twist Bead. It always draws a big crowd and lots of Ah-ha's as onlookers see the wonderful spirals appear around the bead.

But if you haven't seen a twist bead made before then check out the video below to see just how clever it is. This one is for all my fellow Friendly Plastic addicts :)

'Til next time........

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Man Cave Resin Coaster Kit

Now that my silicone coaster mould is cured I'm all set to cast the first Man Cave resin coaster - the gifts my son is giving to his mates for Christmas.

Beer bottle caps would have to be THE perfect item to embed in coasters for guys in their early 20s (or maybe any age!). My son has been collecting bottle caps for this project for months and I've been busting to get started on it. So whilst the silicone mould was curing, I began by preparing the bottle caps.

I started by filling them with resin.
Pouring resin into bottle caps to the top of the cap

I'm so glad I did this before setting the caps into the resin because a few bubbles got caught around the rubber lining of each cap and it was easier to pop them before they were set into the coaster mould rather than after. It also made them heavy enough so they didn't float to the surface when I filled the mould.

As soon as the silicone was cured I was able to start pouring resin into the mould - just a shallow layer to begin with. Once this was at the soft cure stage, I lined up the bottle caps in the mould as best I could. It was a bit tricky because they're upside down in the mould and you can't see if they're straight.
Placing the resin filled bottle caps into a layer of resin in the silicone coaster mould

One or two of them ended up twisted a little bit but it still looks OK. One final layer of resin covers all the bottle caps.
Finished square resin coaster with bottle caps embedded in it

This first coaster was a test run to see if I've poured in enough resin, whether the mould was deep enough and also to work out how much resin I'll need for each coaster. The mould passed on all fronts.

All that's left to do is to add some silicone feet to the bottom and it's ready for use!

These make great gifts for the men in your lives. What Dad wouldn't love it if you'd handmade a set of these just for him!

Buy a Resin Beer Bottle Top Coaster kit to make your own set of coasters.

Pin this project for later!
Resin beer bottle cap coaster with two bottles of beer
Pouring the resin into the coaster mould and the finished Resin Bottle Cap coaster.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Monday, September 10, 2012

Silicone Mould in a Box

My son has put in a special order for some personalised gifts to give to his friends for Christmas. They are all in their early 20s and enjoy having a quiet drink together so we decided that resin drink coasters would make a great gift.

No problems, I thought. But before that can happen, I need a mould so today I finally had reason to do something I've wanted to do for a long time: create a silicone coaster mould.
To make the mould making process easier, I invested in a mould box and I've got to say that this is simply the best investment I've made in quite a while. All you have to do is clamp the four walls together, putty the gaps so the silicone can't leak out and your mould box is ready to use.

After securing my master to the bottom of the mould, I mixed and poured the silicone around it and then waited for it to cure..... too easy!

The plan is to make several of these moulds so that I can cast a whole set of coasters at a time but unfortunately, to get the mould out of the mould box, I had to pull it apart. Not to worry.... it won't take too long to reassemble it. But first I'll cast the coaster in resin to see whether or not any adjustments need to be made to the master. At this stage, the mould is looking really good.

Stay tuned for pics of the finished coaster - it's a beer lover's delight!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jewellery Repair - How to Re-attach Bead Tips or Calottes

It's jewellery repair day and I wanted to share a piece I've been working on today, not because it's a great repair job but because it's such a cool necklace! It features a selection of really BIG wooden safari animal beads making it a fun necklace that really grabs your attention.

Originally, it was strung on fishing line but it had unravelled in parts and a few of the round wooden beads were lost but other than that, it's in great condition.
Wooden giraffe and string of broken wooden beads.
One strand of this double-stranded necklace has broken and some of the beads have been lost.
There was little hope of matching those missing beads so it was just a matter of replacing them with a few beads from the back of the necklace where they won't be missed at all. It's a very straight forward stringing repair.

I've been able to re-use all the findings but I replaced the fishing line with two strands of Fireline to make it really durable and strong. The two strands are actually part of the design too.

I'm not going to show you the whole stringing process - you can see the stringing pattern in the photo at the bottom of the post. But I thought you might like to see how I started and finished the necklace.

How to Work With Bead Tips

Bead tips are a clever (if somewhat old-fashioned) way of neatly hiding the way a piece of jewellery is constructed. The thing about bead tips (aka calottes and clamshells) is that they have a hole in them for the stringing material to be neatly captured inside. But when you're using a fine stringing material you have to work out how you can keep it from pulling through that hole so that the necklace won't fall apart. In this repair, I used two different methods.

Method 1 - How to Use a Bead Tip at the Start of a Necklace

Firstly I tied a quadruple knot at the end of the Fireline. Four knots seems a bit like overkill but the knot needs to be bigger than the hole in the bead tip so it won't slip through. A dab of G-S Hypo Cement all over the knot will make sure it doesn't unravel. Now you can trim away the excess and sit the knot inside the bead tip. Give it a good tug to make sure the knot is secure and that it won't slip through the hole.
Knotted Fireline being pulled into a calotte.

Now it's on to the restringing. Here's the part of the design where the strands separate before coming back together again.
Separating the strands and stringing them with beads

The only tricky thing with the threading is making sure that the animal beads are the right way up. An upside-down laughing hyaena is no laughing matter at all!
Stringing the focal bead onto the two strands to bring them back together.

Method 2 - How to Finish the Necklace with a Bead Tip

Finishing the end of the necklace with knots is much trickier than at the start of the necklace because you have to pull the knots up so that there is not too much slack in the bead stringing. So I decided to thread on a seed bead which fits snugly inside the bead tip instead.
Seed bead on the end of the Fireline sitting inside the calotte.

To make sure it stayed securely in place, I've threaded the Fireline back through the bead two more times. 
Securing the Fireline on the seed bead

I wanted to make doubly sure that this necklace doesn't fall apart again so I also tied a double knot right above the bead and then applied G-S Hypo Cement all over the Fireline before trimming away the excess. I like G-S Hypo Cement because it dries flexible and the fine needle tip makes it easy to get into the tightest spots on the knot.
Applying G-S Hypo Cement to the Fireline on the seed bead.

Closing the bead tips was all that was needed to finish the necklace and you can see from this photo that I didn't even remove the barrel clasp to do this repair.
Barrel clasp on the end of the calotte.

And here it is, all restrung and ready to be worn by its lucky owner.
On Safari animal necklace restrung with wooden beads.

This necklace is many, many years old and yet here it is, a hot fashion item once again. Don't you love how all these old trends are re-emerging? It reminds me that quality accessories are worth hanging on to no matter how out of date they might seem.... they WILL come back into fashion again one day. Sometimes they will need updating but if you're lucky like the owner of this one, it will need nothing more than a quick repair job.

Take a look at some of these other jewellery repairs I've tackled:
Rosary Chain Necklace
Freshwater Pearl Necklace
How to Attach End Caps

Pin This!
DIY Jewellery Repair project sheet

'Til next time.......

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs