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.
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.