So you’re super excited to get into making crafts with resin.
You mix the resin with the hardener, stir them together, and are left with a ton of bubbles. You hope they disappear by the time you finish your work.
But they don’t.
There’s nothing more frustrating than huge bubbles in your finished work, or so many micro-sized bubbles that it appears cloudy.
When it comes to epoxy resin, the type most often used to make resin jewelry, the one problem I see again and again, is bubbles in resin.
And with some brands, this can be unavoidable. Some brands are better than others—and some brands just need to be done in thin layers to achieve less bubbles.
There’s a lot of variables at play, but I have 8 tips to address it no matter what brand of epoxy resin you use (other kinds of resin that are not epoxy won't benefit from all the same tips).
Regardless, you’ll probably have some micro-sized bubbles in your finished product—and most likely, no one will notice but you.
But if you’re getting big bubbles, are just starting with resin, or are just doing some research to get started, these 8 tips will help.
#1 – Warm your resin.
To warm the resin you can submerge it into a bowl full of warm, not hot, water. Or place it a couple feet from a heater on low for a couple minutes.
"But what about the hardener?" you ask? The general recommendation is NO, but I say . . . yeah, you totally can. I use ArtResin (click here to read about why I do), and I warm both bottles in front of a space heater.
I’ve also noticed from experience, a warmer room results in less bubbles, too (which makes summer a great time to make resin jewelry). It probably helps the resin mixture to be more viscous, which makes the de-gassing process more effective.
De-gassing is simply when the air bubbles rise to the top and begin to pop on their own.
#2 – Mix the resin and hardener slowly.
Okay, so you're keeping things pretty warm, what next?
Next up, you gotta take your time mixing the resin and hardener together. Don’t rush. Take the full 3 to 5 minutes to carefully and slowly mix them together.
Stirring too fast can cause a lot of air bubbles to occur, and they can be hard to get out. And if the bottles and room are cold, then the amount of bubbles will be a LOT.
#3 – Wait for 5 minutes after you’ve completed mixing the resin and hardener together.
3-5 minutes, depending on the resin. This allows the resin to begin de-gassing (popping on it’s own).
Do remember that this does cut into the pot time (the working time you have before the resin hardens too much to work with). The length of the pot time depends on the brand of resin you're using, so be sure to read up on it.
#4 – Once you come back to it, try to slowly stir upwards and bring some of the larger air bubbles to the surface, if there are any, to make it easier for them to pop.
Blowing on the surface as you do this can help, too, which brings us to the next tip.
If you want to learn even more about making resin jewelry, I have a free basics course. You in?
#5 – Blow on the surface of the resin, and you can use a straw to target specific bubbles.
Especially in thin layers, this is effective. Epoxy resin is best used in thin layers in almost all cases.
But blowing on the surface is not always necessary (none of these tips are necessary, but using a few or all of them will aid you in getting less bubbles).
Since I prefer to wear a mask and don't want to take it on and off, I don't use this method and rely more on the next tip.
#6 – Using a hand lighter, quickly go over the surface of the resin.
But, you have to be careful with a flame near resin.
Don’t keep the flame on the resin for too long. Make sure to do it quickly and after you’ve let your work de-gas on its own. That means 1-3 seconds of heat exposure at a time. I recommend doing it 1 to 3 times as needed, with several minutes wait time in-between to allow the resin to cool.
If you over-heat the resin using the flame too much, it may not completely harden for months (speaking from experience here!).
And it will keep a soft, malleable surface even when it's cured after 24 hours (and who wants to wait 3 months for that to go away? Especially when there’s no guarantee it will ever completely cure.) Epoxy resin is generally soft, but there is a notifiable-yet-subtle difference when it is over-heated.
Usually, if you do over-use the flame, the cured product with have a grainy, almost sticky texture on the surface instead of a smooth, slick surface.
Now, if it is really sticky or tacky--and even sticks to your fingers--then the resin didn’t cure correctly and the problem may not have been the flame.
#7 - If you’re using bezels, bubbles can sometimes get stuck in corners.
Blowing on the surface and using the flame don’t typically come in handy popping corner bubbles.
You need to physically move them toward the center of the bezel or mold.
Using a toothpick, you can try to pop the bubble or coax it away from the edge, and then you can blow on the surface or use your hand torch and the bubbles will be able to pop.
Toothpicks are your friend. I often use toothpicks to swirl noticeable bubbles out of the resin (swirling the bubble onto the toothpick and quickly wiping it off on a paper towel).
#8 Work in thin layers.
Epoxy resin especially (the kind often used for resin jewelry) works best in thin layers, and develops less bubbles. Thicker layers are more difficult to work with, and the bubbles are harder to get out.
Again, you don't have to use all these tips (some things I make require thicker layers, so sometimes I ignore that tip).
If you're asking, "What about vacuum/compression chambers?"
Well, I don't have an answer. I've never used one for a several reasons:
- It's not really a necessary expense (typically $200, which isn't accessible for a lot of my students. I use methods that almost anyone can replicate at home without a bunch of expensive supplies)
- The pressurized chamber can pose some safety issues
- They're geared more toward casting resin
- And because, at the end of the day . . .
a minor amount of micro-sized bubbles is normal and won’t take away from your piece. Likely, it won’t be noticeable to anyone but you.
And, like I said above—there are a lot of variables at play. The problem could be humidity. Room temperature. The brand of resin.
Getting into resin jewelry can be overwhelming, especially when you’re already busy and don’t have time to scour the internet forums for answers.
It takes time to go through all the trial and error, let alone come to the point where you can make something people will find beautiful.
I’m self-taught. I won’t lie to you and say it’s not possible—it is. There’s information is out there, but I mostly learned from two cold, harsh teachers: failure and experience.
But I don’t have another job—this is my job. Not everyone has the time I did to go through a year of failures and lucky successes and more failures, searching the web for hours coming up empty handed, and piecing everything together during their free time (if you have any free time--and if you do, you probably want to spend it in other ways).
If you don’t have time for that, but you Want to create beautiful resin jewelry--well, that's why I'm here.
I created my Resin Jewelry Making video course just for you. To save you time --you can watch all the lessons in a day--and money (when you don't know what you're doing you might end up dumping a batch. It happened to me in the beginning, and it was money in the trash).
If you're totally new to epoxy resin crafts, below you can join a free email course that covers the basics.
But if you're ready to learn all the refined methods from a teacher with years of experience (hint: it's me!) and you need structure and video instruction--then hop on over and become a student of the in-depth video e-course right now.