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What Is Clear Resin?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 23 June 2014
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    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Clear resin has been used by craft hobbyists and artisans for decades. It is a polyester liquid which, when mixed with a catalyst, forms a hard transparent substance which can be used to display a wide array of items inside. Many school projects have been created with clear resin and many homes display one or more paperweights or holiday ornaments created from this product.

When casting a clear resin item, it is imperative to follow all directions exactly. Failure to do so will produce an undesirable effect not only in the display piece, but also in the clean-up procedure. Most resins come with the catalyst supplied. Clean-up in most cases is completed with acetone or a similar substance.

For most projects, the clear resin will be poured in multiple layers. The first layer will be poured into a mold and allowed to cure until gelled up. This typically takes around 30 minutes. The embedment — the item to be embedded within the clear resin — is dipped into the resin to insure there are no air bubbles and then placed upside down onto the first layer. A second layer is then poured over the embedment, permanently sealing it inside.

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An interesting characteristic with clear resin is that it will not cure if exposed to air. When poured into a mold, the sides contacting the mold will harden, while the open back side will remain tacky. To overcome this trait, a clear enamel can be sprayed on the exposed material and will harden and dry. This will prevent any contaminants for sticking to the tacky surface. A piece of felt or any similar material also can be attached to the sticky surface, thereby providing a smooth, dry surface for the piece.

Clear resin casting material should not be used to create a table top with embedments. By the very nature of the curing process, the top of the table would be the surface that does not cure completely. For table top projects, there are products which are intended for that particular purpose. They dry completely and contain fewer toxic chemicals, making them more appropriate for eating on. Be sure to read all directions for use when purchasing a resin for any type of application.

When working with resin, be sure to consider work area surroundings. Due to its high level of odor while curing, clear resin products should only be used in well-ventilated areas. Clean-up products, such as acetone, can have harmful fumes as well.

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Discuss this Article

seag47
Post 6

@orangey03 – It sounds like your niece and nephew are budding artists! I especially like the mixed peppermint candy ornament you mentioned.

My sister makes ornaments for everyone in the family. She takes wallet sized photos and trims them to fit small, lightweight oval frames. There is a thin piece of glass in the frame to protect the photo.

Then, she encases them in clear resin. She uses an oval mold to match the shape of the frame, but the mold is larger so that extra clear resin surrounds the frame and makes it look like an ornament.

We always have our family gathering a few weeks before Christmas, so she takes the photos then. That gives her time to mold them and give them as presents.

wavy58
Post 5

My family has an interesting tradition involving clear resin. We don't have a lot of money, so it's a creative way to make use of things that have lost their former purpose.

I have five sisters, and we all like to wear necklaces with charms on them. Whenever a necklace chain breaks, we can't afford to replace it, so we take the charm and embed it in clear resin. It becomes a paperweight or a trinket.

Sometimes, when we have yard sales, we will sell these resin charms. Some people have paid as much as five dollars for them. Since that's about how much we spent on each necklace, it works out great.

StarJo
Post 4

My sister and I were so mean to each other while we were growing up. We frequently put each other's belongings in gelatin. We trapped each other's calculators, pens, and hair barrettes inside gelatin molds, and even though we could still get to them, it was annoying and sticky.

We had been arguing over a certain ring that our grandmother left us when she died. We kept stealing it from each other, and it was always the subject of loud disagreements.

My mother got sick of hearing us argue, so she took the ring and embedded it in clear resin while we were at school. We were upset, but we had to admit it was an inventive way to end an ongoing argument. The ring now sits on a shelf as a decoration, and all we can do is admire it.

orangey03
Post 3

@honeybees – I don't have children, but my niece and nephew did give me some handmade Christmas ornaments. They spent a lot of time working on them, and that made them special.

They learned how to do this in art class. They embedded things related to Christmas.

One ornament has three pieces of round peppermint candy inside. Two are the red striped kind, and one is green.

Another ornament has a beautiful, glittery star inside. One more has baby Jesus in a manger in it. They got these trinkets from a miniature manger scene, and they pressed them into the resin.

These ornaments look like they were designed by a professional. I am proud to hang them on my tree.

golf07
Post 2

My kids and I have worked on several projects using clear resin through the years.

One of our favorites was when we would use clear casting resin to make items that would hold and showcase small treasures.

We would use anything they had collected that was special to them such as leaves, flowers, butterflies, coins and even photographs.

By using the clear resin we could preserve them in a clear foundation that you could see through.

A couple things I have found when working with clear resin is that the temperature in the room can affect how long it takes to set up. If it is a hot, humid day when you are working with it, you will notice a difference compared to a cooler day with no humidity.

I also always try to keep dust away from our projects. It is amazing how small dust particles can lodge in there and they are hard to remove.

honeybees
Post 1

Does anybody else have a collection of ornaments made by your kids from clear resin? I have a whole assortment that I have been given through the years, and am able to decorate much of my tree from ornaments my kids have made with clear resin.

The nice thing about them is that the clear resin coating holds up well from year to year. When I put them away one year, I know they will look the same the next year I pull them out of the box.

Some of them that I have had for a very long time have a slight yellow look to them, but I think that adds to the character of these creations.

This is not something I kept around the house for projects to work on. My kids usually worked with this material in art at school or when they were involved with different outside activities such as scouts or 4-H.

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