Thursday, August 28

How To Embed Paper in Resin - Part One

When I first started working with resin, I scoured the internet for how-to information. There are some nice books on the subject, though it was through trial and error that I really figured out what I was doing. This will be the first in a series of resin how-to’s, and I hope it provides some useful information. The instructions provided are just based on my own experiences, personal preference and style. The most important thing is to do your own experimenting. First learn the basics, and then get creative!

This tutorial is all about embedding paper into resin. If you have never used resin before, I recommend the book “The Art of Resin Jewelry” by Sherri Haab. It is very easy to follow and understand for a beginner and provides useful information on types of resin, how to mix it, using molds, and includes a thorough resource guide.

Embedding Paper into Resin – Part One- Preparing Your Paper

Materials Needed:
Paper, of course! Any image or paper you like.
Craft punch (optional)
Glue (Mod Podge recommended)
Small container to pour your glue into
Plastic work surface
Cheap paintbrush
Black marker (optional)

Selecting and Cutting Your Image

Any type of paper will work. You can use pieces of old books, magazines, newspaper, scrapbook paper, or photographs. One of my favorite items is the digital collage sheets sold by graphic designers on Etsy. Once you purchase the image(s), the seller simply emails the file and you can print it at home as many times as you like. When I do this, I print on photo paper because I like the high quality, glossy image. Different types of paper will provide a different look, so experiment to find the style you like best.

Next you will need to cut out your image into whatever shape you need. Sometimes I cut-out my images free-hand using scissors, but I love to use craft punches whenever possible because they make clean edges and uniform shapes. My local craft store has a great selection and I’ve found many sizes that work perfectly for the resin molds I’m using. You can also search the internet for all kinds of shapes and sizes – circles, stars, trees, baby feet – you name it.

I like to cut out a many different bits and pictures and seal them all at one time. It’s much more efficient if you already have your supplies out, and you’ll have plenty of images ready to go when you need them.

Here’s an optional step if you are using photo paper or other thick paper…I almost always use black resin as my final layer and found that when I embedded images on photo paper, the white edges really stood out against the black and just looked so “paper-y”. First I tried painting the edges with acrylic paint, but it was too messy and usually smeared onto the front of my image. Now I use black marker (Sharpie to be exact, since it dries fast.) Just glide the marker around the edge for easy cover up. There are markers in almost every color so you can match it to whatever color resin you are using.

Sealing the Image

Here’s the important part – thoroughly sealing the paper so resin does not seep through. Since the paper is porous, the resin will seep through just like water causing dark spots if it is not sealed properly. I cannot overestimate the importance of this. When I started, I often had a “that’s good enough” attitude, and it resulted in a lot of messed-up pieces. Here's an exmaple of dark spots:

Even now, when I’m sure I’ve done a fabulous job, there will still be an occasional oops where the resin seeps through a bit. It can be very disappointing, especially when it’s a piece you are otherwise very proud of. So please, take the extra time to do it right so you are not sad later.

Now, lay out all your images on a plastic work surface. I used waxed paper for the purposes of taking these photos, but I really don’t recommend it. The glue makes the waxed paper soggy and your images may stick and tear. My favorite surface to use is a clear paper protector sleeve. They are thick, sturdy, washable, and re-useable. I start with all my images face-up, but it really doesn’t matter.

Next, you’ll need your glue. I’ve tried a few different kinds, but I like Mod-Podge the best. It creates a thick, almost vinyl like surface on the paper and seals the edges very well. Pour some glue into a small container for easy access. (Yes, I’m using a coffee-cup lid and yes, that IS a cow in the background. She’s my little helper today…)

Brush a coat of glue over each piece. Take care not to let the image slide around and lay on top of wet glue, it could cause some yucky blobs on the other side. I use a toothpick or Popsicle stick to hold the image in one spot while I paint it with glue. (With the first coat, it’s always hard to keep the small papers from sliding all over. Don’t worry, it gets easier.)

Apply a layer over the top, and then make sure you get all the edges. I brush each edge from the outside in; to make sure it’s well covered. Don’t be afraid to slap it on thick. No matter how scary it looks it will dry clear and you will feel better that it has been sealed properly. If you are timid about applying so much glue, that’s ok. Just take extra care to be sure you’ve sealed all the edges.

One coat is probably sufficient, but I always apply two. There’s too much work involved to have your resin piece ruined by a lazy sealing job. It’s okay if the first coat is still a little wet. Mod Podge dries fairly quickly, so by the time I’ve finished the first coat on the last piece, I can just go right back to the beginning of the line and start on the second coat. After applying the second coat, I like to lift each piece up and move it over so it doesn’t dry in place. It just makes it easier later, but if you forget, no worries – if the pieces seem stuck, just lift up your plastic sheet and peel them off like stickers from a sticker sheet.

Thinner papers may warp or curl from the moisture, don’t worry, its normal. There may also be “skins” of glue attached to the edges. Also normal, and a good sign that the paper and edges were well sealed. Just leave it there for now. Allow your papers to dry thoroughly before flipping them over.

Then, flip and repeat all the steps on the reverse side. You won’t need to worry so much about the edges since they have already been sealed, (but a little extra never hurts). Allow the second side to dry. If you have edges of dried glue, just trim it with scissors. Some or all of your papers may be warped or curled. I recommend pressing them in a heavy book overnight to ensure they will lie nicely in your resin when you embed. I press all my images; even if they look already look flat.

I hope this has been useful – Part Two will get to the actual embedding part! Stay tuned…

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it easy to understand and informative. I have complied all my tutorials, refined them, added new information and pictures, and added 2 complete step-by-step project instructions in this 32-page digital booklet, "Getting Started With Resin Jewelry". For more information, click here.


Kelly said...

(This is more like an email so please feel free to delete this as a comment :) but I saw that you suggested Sherri Haab's book. My day job is a craft video editor and at work we just put a clip online from her DVD, "Resin Jewelry." It's the second clip down:

I love the jewelry you make and am headed to your etsy store now!

(Again, I apologize for writing this here.)


ResinObsession said...

Hi, I think you did a great job showing step by step detail with excellent pictures. I'm putting a link on my blog so my customers will come take a look. thanks

Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts said...

Fantastic tutorial! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, I can't wait for the next installment (hint, hint...:)


Mary Torkkola said...

Great tute! I make resin jewelry too, it's nice to compare tips and tricks!

Laura Johnson said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this tutorial - incredibly helpful and I'm even more excited about experimenting with resin now!
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I found this through google, and I'm just getting into resin. I am trying to find out as much as I can because I have ideas on what to do, and don't want to waste the expensive resin on too many mistakes.

Thank you again for posting this. Your tutorial helped a lot! :D

Anonymous said...

I wish I had of read this before I started my resin projects. Thank You so much this is very helpful.


Liz said...

how do u put a hole in the hardened resin to make it a necklace?

Unknown said...

This was the most helpful page I have found so far! Can't wait to go try it out! Thanks so much.

Silver Phoenix Design Co. said...

thanks for the detailed info:) You really don't get that much info elsewhere. I make resin jewelry as well and like you I have scoured the thanks so much:)

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I sealed the front of the image, but didn't seal the back. The color is getting all funky. I am going to try sealing the back next time.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher of over 15 years experience and I must say your explanation and step by step photos are excellent-WELL DONE !!!!

Anonymous said...

How nice of you to take the time and post all of this. I am going to start my first resin project (ever!) this weekend and I can tell already that your blog will be an invaluable source for me. Thank you!! Blessings. BB

Onyx said...

Hello, Thank you! Your page is the most helpful of all that I read, I have one question: I'm making some necklaces for a local tattoo shop and the idea is for the artist to design and print onto a clear paper and I would cut and put into resin with glitter background, Will this work? I'm afraid the ink will fade off or the the clear material will melt (like my rhinestones did) I wanted to know before I spend money on the materials :-)

skinner studio said...

@Onyx - yes, this is a very common technique and easy to do. Most people print on transparency paper (not sure if there are other kinds) and it does not melt. I have printed with a laser printer and haven't had to do anything extra, but if you do run into problems with the ink running/bleeding then you may want to try sealing the image with a clear acrylic spray...but you likely won't have to do this. For me, the most difficult part of doing this is dealing with the image floating and shifting around. I'd recommend pouring the glitter layer first (halfway in the mold, or however deep you want it) and letting it set up until it is solid but still tacky, then laying your image on top so it sticks to the surface. Then, pour the final clear layer on top of that. There's different ways you could do it, that may work better or easier for you, but that's how I'd approach it :) It sounds like an awesome idea; what a great way to use amazing artwork in a new way!

Anonymous said...

Hi wonderful tutorial. I did have one question though: what sealant you would use for paper? I've just experimented with a couple that I thought might be okay but the resin still seeped through :(

CATHEY D said...

This is an amazing tutorial. Thank you so much.
You detail your information beautifully and make it so easy.