After seeing other artists display miniature versions of their artwork encased in resin, I really wanted to make my own. I did a bit of research, and made a lot of mistakes (my first batch went straight in the trash can...ouch), but learned and practiced enough that I actually make pretty decent key chains now. Here's my method, and I hope this helps you out if you're on the fence about making your own!
What You'll Need :
- metal bezels, or similar material to house the art (I got mine from Amazon.)
- clear epoxy resin (you can use something like Ice Resin that comes in a plunger, very easy to use but not the cheapest option, or Art Resin, or any similar two part mix. It just needs to be non-yellowing and hard when it cures.)
- your artwork (I printed mine on my home printer on card stock paper)
- Mod Podge (original matte is fine, but you probably want to avoid the "hard coat" version)
- scissors (for trimming your art down to size)
- paint brush
- mixing cups and craft sticks
Preparing Your Art
To start, print off several copies of your chosen artwork in the correct sizes. I used 1x1 and 2x1 bezels, so I cropped my artwork to fit that size. It's okay if it's not spot on, you'll be able to trim them down to fit in the bezels later.
Apply two coats of Mod Podge to the paper over the artwork and let it dry. Then flip it over and Mod Podge the back, as well. You want a good coating to protect the ink from the resin (trust me on this one).
After the Mod Podge has dried, cut out your art to size for the bezels. Trim excess as needed. I tried to make sure when I trimmed, my artwork was still centered within the frame. Avoid using art that looks smudged or has particles stuck to the Mod Podge. I had a thread sneak it's way in on one of my tiny prints, so that one got tossed!
In your bezel, apply a good coat of Mod Podge and press the artwork into the frame. Use the tip of your scissors or even your fingernail to press the paper into the corners and along the sides well. Apply three coats of Mod Podge along the edge of the bezel to seal the sides of the paper. This will help keep the resin from discoloring the paper.
Mixing The Resin
This is the hardest part, to me. If your mix is off at all, your resin won't cure properly (and never will). The best way I've found to make sure you're getting an even mixture is to mark your bottles. When you pour out the resin, take note of where your levels are at, and try to get the same level when you pour in the hardener. Using measured mixing cups also helps, but personally I prefer the bottle marking method.
Mix your resin according to package directions and pour it on your dried, thoroughly coated bezel frame. You'll see some bubbles but that's okay! Poke them out with a needle or use a lighter to pop them. Make sure your resin permits this, first! If it does, lightly pass the flame over the bezel until the bubbles are gone (thank you, Instagram user lady_beluga, for this tip!!).
Cover up your frames to keep dust and other particles from falling into your curing resin! Nothing worse than admiring your new key chain only to see an eyelash stuck in it or something.
Check your work often during the first 30-45 minutes. If your Mod Podging wasn't good enough, and you see some discoloration happening, quickly scrape the resin out into a disposable cup, remove the art and clean the bezel frame. Personally, I'd rather replace resin than replace resin AND a bezel. You can clean the bezel out with a paper towel, some baby oil, and plain soap and water.
Depending on the resin, you should have a full cure in 48 hours. Check your directions for details on that. If your resin is hard, congrats, you didn't screw it up! If it's soft, well... practice makes perfect, right? (Don't feel bad, I threw away 13 bezel frames on my first attempt. Can't get worse than that, right?)
So now that you know how to make durable resin key chains of your art, when are you going to start? Good luck to you! I'd love to see your finished product, so send me a link in the comments!