Basic Resin Casting Tutorial : Candy Inclusions

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Resin Casting is a super fantastic method of making your own unique beads and pendants. This tutorial will walk you through the process of casting resin using candy inclusions. It is important to remember that resin casting is a process; each step will take it's own time. If you're short on patience, I suggest working on multiple casting projects at once. Start a casting one day, then another the next. You can rotate steps and get to work on something new and fun each day, rather than waiting for what can seem like ages.

For this fun and unique project you will need the following materials:

Ice Cube Trays - There are plenty of different shaped ice cube trays, which work just as well as candy molds, or molds used for poly clay etc.
Cooking Spray - Or you can buy a much more expensive bottle of spray mold release
Casting Resin - I used Ice Resin for this project, but feel free to use whatever casting resin you can find or have worked with already
Candy - I will be using Sprinkles (AKA Jimmies) for this toutorial, but you can try various kinds in your own resin casting. Try M&Ms, Nerds, Swedish Fish, whatever strikes your fancy.
Other Inclusions - Fun things like jewelry findings, other candy etc 
Cardboard Box - Something like a shoebox
Gloves, Disposable Cups, Trash Bag, Paper Towels, Popsicle Sticks

Part One : Get yourself organized and prepared!
  • You want to start by preping your work surface. Cover your table (or what-have-you) with a trash bag, or plastic table cloth. (It's worth noting that I save all the trash bag and use it for as many projects as possible.) I also lay down an old sheet which was donated to the messy art cause a couple years ago.
  • Assemble all of your materials - resin does not begin to cure super fast or anything, but it can be a bit of a messy process, so you will want to have everything close at hand once you have begun. Make sure you also have a trashcan nearby, and lots of ventilation. Resin can smell pretty strongly - if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, take reasonable precautions.
  • Prep the Molds :) Some molds don't really require any sort of releasing agent - mainly those that are soft and can easily be twisted so the cured resin will pop out. If you are using certain types of plastic, or molds that will not really allow for much "twisting room" take the easier road and spray them lightly with cooking spray. Remember, a lot goes a long way. Wipe out the excess with a paper towel and you will save yourself tons of time and stress. (Not to mention molds!)
Part Two: Mix your resin
  • You need to do this following the exact directions that came with your resin. Slight changes in the catalyst or hardener to resin ratio will mess up the entire batch. Play close attention to what you are doing. 
  • Measuring Tip: The Ice Resin Kit comes with four liquid medicine cups for measuring out the resin/hardener. If you're out of the cups, or your kit didn't come with any try this: pour water into a disposable plastic cup - about half the total amount of resin you plan on using. Mark the cup with a sharpie. Pour the water into a second cup and mark the level. Pour out all water and dry out cups. Use lines to measure the equal amounts of resin/hardener as per the directions that came with your resin.
  • Mixing Tip: Fold or gently stir the resin and hardener (or catalyst) together to prevent millions of totally unnecessary bubbles from forming.
Part Three: Let the Creativity Begin
  • Start by pouring a thin layer of resin into the mold. This will ensure that none of the candy is exposed. Let it set for a bit. I suggest doing several pieces at once - it's more economical with the resin, and it won't be a complete loss if, say, one of your pieces doesn't make it.
  • At this point, you may have tons a wee little bubbles in your resin. Try gently waving a heat gun over 'em to bring the to the surface and send the little buggers packing. Just don't get so close that the resin goes flying out of the mold.
  • Next, if you are going to add any inclusion, other than the sprinkles (or other "base" candy") add this now. Working in resin can be a lot like working in layers of paint. Think of this as like the foreground to a painting. Anything you add after this point will be like a mid-ground and background.
  • You can add another thin layer of resin at this point, or you can just sprinkle on the sprinkles. When it comes to thickness, it's up to your preference. I personally don't really like big thick and chunky pieces. Also, I think you are more likely to have complications  with the resin curing process if the pieces get too thick.You can experiment to find the best thickness for your resin.
  • Once you are satisfied with the candy inclusions, add a final layer of resin. This will seal in the candy for good.
  • You've added more resin, so you may have more bubbles. Follow the same technique, but be extra careful not to let the heat gun get too close - remember that candy melts.
Part Four: Let it Cure
  • At this point, you have completed the most fun part, and you just have to let the resin do it's thing - it's got to cure. Just like with plaster of paris and concrete, the liquids in resin don't evaporate, but rather a chemical reaction takes place which casues it to solidify - thus the curing process. Curing will be affected by environment conditions. Here are some general rules to keep in mind:
    • The cooler the environment, the longer the curing time. It may also result in as sticky finish on the piece that will never really go away. You may try wet sanding though...
    • The warmer the environment, the shorter the curing time, however, if it gets too warm, the resin won't go through it's normal curing process and can turn a gross yellow.
    • A humid, damp environment can cause the resin to get cloudy.
  • Set the resin molds in a safe place where they won't be disturbed, and protect them from dust by covering them with a clean, upturned box. They will need to cure at least over night, depending upon the resin you used and the thickness of your pieces. You may be able to remove them from the mold prior to the complete curing time, but be careful to not damage them, as they may still be slightly soft or sticky.