From time to time, I’ll be offering fun tutorials on my blog to inspire your own craftiness. Of course, if you’re not of a crafty bent, I am always available for custom work, and to put your beautiful images in a keepsake piece just for you.
First up: how to seal images for use in resin pendants. One of the many ways you can use resin is to create a custom piece of jewelry using an interesting picture or a photo of a loved one. But watch out! It’s not quite as simple as just cutting out your picture and coating it with resin.
Before you begin, you want to make sure your photo will fit in the bezel. Many commercially-produced bezels come in standard sizes that correspond to common craft paper punches. For this tutorial, I am using a Nunn Design Grande bezel, which corresponds to a 1 1/2″ oval punch. If you are planning on creating several round or oval pendants, you may want to acquire a few, as they make matching your photo to the bezel super easy.
If you don’t have a paper punch, that’s okay. Place your bezel to your image and use a pencil to lightly mark the shape you want to cut out. The tricky part is that you’ll have to cut slightly inside your markings, and you will likely have to trim several times to get a perfect match. Take your time with this step so you have a good fit.
Once you have your image ready to go, there are two main ways to seal your image so that it won’t get ruined when you pour your resin over it.
The first way is the quickie way: you can sandwich the image between two pieces of clear packing tape. Once the image is secure between the tape pieces, trim around the edges, and then seal the edges with a white glue so that resin doesn’t seep in. Place a dot of glue at the bottom of your bezel, apply your image, and then pour the resin once it’s ready. I tend not to do this, as you can often see the shininess of the tape beneath the cured resin, and it’s not an effect I particularly care for.
The second way I’ve found looks a bit better once your resin has cured, but it takes a bit longer to complete.
First, place your image against a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil. Coat it with a thin layer of sealant. My favorite sealant is good old fashioned Mod Podge. I’ve tried lots of different sealants and nothing beats it. Don’t be worried if your sealant goes on white or opaque. It will dry clear.
Wait ten minutes, and then coat the back of the image. It’s important to note that resin will seep in and discolor any part of the image that is not sealed completely watertight, so be careful to get a nice coating over everything.
Wait another ten minutes, and coat the inside of your bezel. Place your image in, and then go over it with a final coat to make sure the edges of your image are completely sealed in.
Wait a half-hour to make sure everything is completely dry. If your sealant isn’t dry, then the seal won’t hold, and your image will be discolored.
Mix your resin per the package’s instructions, and then fill the bezel. While your resin is still fresh and pliable, you can add any inclusions you’d like. For this pendant, I’ve added three tiny Swarovski Crystal rhinestones.
A note about resin: my absolute favorite resin is Susan Lenart Kazmer’s Ice Resin– it’s the only resin I currently use. I tend to mix up an ounce at a time and do several pendants in a batch to minimize waste.
If you’d like a domed finish, pour a second thin layer of resin one day later, unless you are skilled at judging how to create the dome in one pour. It takes practice!
If you notice any bubbles, you can gently pop them with a toothpick or a pin. Another trick is to gently pass a flame a half-inch over the surface of your pendant. The heat will draw the bubbles closer to the surface, and they will either pop on their own or be much easier to pop with a pin. Be sure to work quickly here—you only have about 45 minutes before your resin becomes too goopy to work with.
After 24 hours, your piece will be at the “soft cure” stage, which means you can gently handle it and clean up any over-spill. Be careful not to press too hard on it, or you could dent your resin. After three days, it will be at the “full cure” stage, and should be rock-solid if you correctly mixed your resin.
Enjoy your new pendant!