Precious metal clay and polymer clay jewelry have been popular for a long time. Some artisans also use pottery clay. Epoxy resin clay has been used by crafters like woodworkers and sculptors for a long time but it's starting to interest jewelry makers more and more. It's not hard to see why. Resin clay has some great advantages and it is fun to work with.
There are advantages and disadvantages to all clay types. Precious metal clay is the most costly and requires either a kiln or a torch (small pieces) to burn off the binder. Pottery clay pieces also need to be fired in a kiln. Polymer clay also needs the heat of a dedicated toaster oven to harden the pieces once complete.
You don't need any heat to cure resin clay so it is arguably one of its most attractive features. However you have a set time to finish designing your piece before it all hardens! So it pays to plan what you wish to do and also have some backup designs to try if you happen to have leftover clay.
Some types of resin clay will start to air dry as soon as you take it out of the package. The 2 part epoxy resin clays like the Apoxie brand I used for this tutorial will only start to cure once you mix the clay and the catalyst together. The working time for Apoxie is about 2-3 hours. Other brands may vary.
If you pop over to my Etsy store, you will see some resin clay designs using bezels. For this beginner tutorial, I didn't use any bezels - not everyone has bezels on hand. Many brands of resin clays do not have any shrinkage.
I also wanted to show one incredibly useful feature of resin clay - it is also an adhesive. You can stick anything to it and these will stay. Apoxie clay which I used, is so sturdy, you can also sand, drill, paint or stain etc once it is dry and hardened! (NB if sanding and grinding you must wear a mask and have ventilation).
The good news with resin clay is the same small tools you own for polymer or precious metal clay will also work. I used some polymer clay flower cutters - small cookie cutters will work too.
The bad news is this stuff really sticks to everything including me! That is why gloves are required even though the material is not toxic (and it is odorless). Alternatively coat your fingers lightly with some olive oil. I also used waxed paper as my working surface. Also lightly coat the rolling pin if necessary.
The tutorial is for the earrings. The only difference with the necklace is that I used a larger cutter and a lucite flower to embed in the middle instead of Swarvoski crystals. Lucite is a kind of plastic which can be used in this no-heat application.
First remove approximately equal portions of the clay and the catalyst. The way to guess how much you've got is to roll both parts into balls and adjust the quantities accordingly. Make sure you wrap up the unused clay and catalyst separately in cling film.
Now knead the two balls together until the color is uniform. I used colored resin clay so the dark blue starting material softened to a denim blue once I mixed in the catalyst. If you don't like the available colors, buy the white and add color pigments yourself. Also note there is a shelf life for Apoxie resin clay- my package was over a year old. So I had to also add a bit of water to soften it.
Roll out the clay to the thickness you want. I allowed for thicker pieces because I was embedding a large flower and some Swarovski chatons. If you are using flat back crystals or other surface embellishments, by all means roll out thinner pieces if you prefer. Copy the trick other clay artisans use to get even thickness by placing the rolling pin on two popsicle sticks or playing cards.
Like the other clays, resin clay can also be surface textured. As I didn't want the imprint of the wood grain of my rough workbench to show through, there is a plain glass cutting board underneath all that! Cut out the shapes - I used my steel block underneath.
Use a little water to smooth out any surface imperfections. I didn't over smooth as I wanted a "rustic" look to these designs. If you do remove your gloves as I did in the picture below, remember to wash your hands first to remove any white glove powder/talc (or use powerless gloves). You can see the residue on my fingers. Those will stick to your design too if you're not careful! I washed my hands right after I saw the residue through the camera lens!
Now make some holes with something convenient.
Embed the decorative elements. You can see how deep these large chatons are by the crystal I placed in between the earrings.
You could leave the earrings or pendant as is but I patted on some silver Gilder's Paste to finish off the edges. Leave overnight to dry. As the finished pieces would stick even to the waxed paper when drying, I lightly coated a piece of waxed paper with olive oil and used that to put them on. A better alternative would be teflon sheets or mats.
All embellishments and the Gilder's Paste really stuck on permanently once the pieces totally hardened. I then added jump rings and ear wires to the earrings and a pretty bail and ribbon and cord necklace for the pendant and they were done!
An excellent book I can recommend is The Art of Resin Clay . Lots of tips and instruction on the techniques behind resin clay. Click on the link or the image to look inside the book on Amazon.
Before You Go:
- Jewelry Tutorials Using Apoxie Sculpt
- Wire Work and Polymer Clay Pictorial and Inspirations
- Gorgeous Polymer Clay Pendant Tutorials
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips