The new resins have opened the door to a lot of exciting creative possibilities the latest of which, is making jewellery, featuring personal photographs. For years it has been a common practice to have family pictures on the sideboard of the home.
Now for the first time, photos of your loved ones can be part of your everyday life, in that they can be worn in attractive pieces of jewellery and proudly shown to friends, while at work or visiting.
Photo jewellery is a fun and easy to do creative craft that anyone can do. Blank photo pendants, photo rings, photo bracelets and more unique photo products are available. All of these items have a blank area set aside for a photograph to be embedded in brilliant clear resin to last a lifetime.
Complete do it yourself kits are available, containing everything you need to make a complete piece of jewellery.
What kinds of photo jewellery can you make?
There are a lot of different types and styles of photo jewellery. Amongst the most popular styles are photo pendants, photo rings, floating pendants, photo bracelets photo brooches and charms.
In addition to jewellery there are also photo keychains and photo dog tags to name just a few ways of personalizing every-day items.
Photo jewellery is easy to make and can be produced overnight with the use of glass clear resins, that permanently seal and protect the photos within the jewellery.
Many of our customers start out by making a piece of photo jewellery for themselves, wear some to work and find that everyone wants one too! Before they know it, they are making money in their spare time, with a photo jewellery making business. No one has seen anything like it before.
What kind of photos can I use to make photo jewellery?
You can use any type of photo or print in your possession as long as it can be cut to the right size. It will also need to be sealed before embedding in the resin to ensure longevity.
In addition any logo or digital image can be used, preferably JPEG, after being correctly sized and printed on your computer.
What resin should I use?
There are at least 3 different resins being used for the production of photo jewellery. Polyester resin, polyurethane resin and last but not least epoxy resin.
Polyester Clear Cast Resin is the most economical resin to use but it has some nasty side effects. The MEKP catalyst used to harden the resin is fairly toxic stuff, with a very unpleasant odour and should only be used in well ventilated areas.
Polyurethane resin (CraftCast Resin) comes in several forms, a white, opaque resin that hardens in 3 minutes and can be removed from the mould in only 10 minutes, and a water white clear resin. These are widely used and make beautiful jewellery.
Epoxy resin (CrystalCast Resin) is still the most popular. It has none of the bad features of polyester and provides jewellery makers with a safe, easy to use, slower setting resin, with good optical clarity, that many jewellery makers prefer.
Types of resin jewellery
To use pendants as an example of what styles of jewellery can be made:
- (1) The actual finished resin pendant can be produced in a resin mould of the required shape and size
- (2) It can be made with the photo cut to the required free form shape and coated with resin as a domed piece
- (3) The photo may be cut to size, placed in a jewellery bezel and embedded with resin. This is probably the easiest type of jewellery to make and features largely in the stock findings that are available.
Put simply, you only need the recessed metallic pendant, in which you place the picture and then fill with resin. This produces a beautiful, permanent, personalized piece of jewellery which will receive the admiration of family and friends for many years to come.
What if I want to embed something else into the jewellery?
Besides pictures you can add fabric, beads, cameos and lace to produce attractive jewellery pieces. Let your imagination run wild and create something unique.
Do I need a special type of printer to make photo jewellery?
A special printer is not recommended or necessary. The normal home ink jet printer gives great results and is used by the majority of those making photo jewellery.
Is special paper required?
You can use any photo paper or plain paper for making photo jewellery. We recommend and use good quality matte or glossy photo paper for optimum results.
Photo printing and sizing.
Print the photo in an ink jet printer to the required size using waterproof photo paper if available. If using any other type of printing paper, make sure it is sealed before using the resin.
If you experience any difficulty in sizing your photos to the required size, Google “photo resizer” or use one of the following programs.
Cut to size with a pair of scissors. Make the cut a fraction smaller than the base of the mould, bezel or finding, so it will be easy to slip into the resin.
Sealing the photo.
Seal both sides of the photo by:
- Paint with a sealer such as Mod Podge
- Spray with an acrylic art sealer
- Laminate in a laminating unit
- Seal with clear packaging tape.
Casting the resin.
Please read the directions that come with your CrystalCast casting kit. It is important to make certain that you have all of the necessary equipment and supplies available before you start a project that involves CrystalCast.
Preparing jewellery moulds.
Use wax paper or freezing paper to protect the work area. Prepare all mould cavities with a light spray of mould release/conditioner. If there is excess release/conditioner use a clean paper towel to remove the excess. Let the mould dry before adding in the CrystalCast resin.
No mould release is required if using a jewellery bezel or recessed jewellery finding as the resin and photo will be permanently embedded.
CrystalCast resin instructions.
Step 1: Make sure the CrystalCast is at the proper temperature. The optimum working temperature of CrystalCast is 75° F or 24° C. The CrystalCast bottles should feel warm to the touch but not hot. If the bottles are too cold, they can be warmed gently, by placing them under running warm water.
It is important not to expose them to a hot environment, so make sure to only use warm water to raise the temperature and cool water to decrease the temperature.
If the CrystalCast is too cold, the casting will be cloudy and not clear. It will also contain microscopic bubbles that will spoil the look of the casting.
Step 2: Measure and mix the CrystalCast. The ratio is 2 parts of resin to one part of catalyst. It is important to measure the liquids and not just guess. If the mixture is not exact, the casting will be soft and often sticky. This means that the piece will be unusable.
The mixing of the two chemicals will result in the creation of a chemical bond. To achieve the proper bonding between the two chemicals, the mixture must be mixed twice and in two stages. The first mixing is one unit of resin and one unit of hardener. These should be mixed in a plastic mixing container that has straight sides, a flat bottom and is of wax free construction. Use a wood stick to mix the components. Mix for 2 minutes.
Mixing should be in such a way that the wooden stick scrapes the sides and bottom of the container. As a last measure, the stick should be cleaned by scraping it gently along the rim of the container. The goal is to make certain that all of the chemicals are mixed thoroughly.
When the two minutes are up, the mixture should be poured into a second mixing container that is clean. Using a NEW stick, stir the contents for another minute.
Add colour dyes if desired, and mix until the proper tone is achieved.
Pour the contents into the mould or bezel. If you have extra CrystalCast, pour the excess into the base of some other moulds. This will help to create different looks for the castings.
Read the sections about Layering and embedding for instructions on using partially filled moulds.
Treatment of air bubbles.
CrystalCast is designed to degas itself within a couple of minutes. If fillers are added to the CrystalCast mixture, additional bubbles may form. The bubbles should rise to the top and dissipate on their own and in a short period of time.
If bubble are persistent, then use a hair dryer and pass warm air over the surface of the mould. Do so quickly, as hot air can melt some moulding materials.
Cure times and temperatures.
The ideal curing temperature for CrystalCast is between 70°F / 21°C and 85°F / 29°C. The amount of time needed for the casting to fully cure is dependent upon room temperature, as well as the thickness of the casting. The normal curing times for a 1 inch (2.5cm) thick casting is 24 hours for soft cure and up to 72 hours for a hard cure.
All pieces should be cured for a minimum of 24 hours, before attempting to de-mould. Pressing from the bottom will usually do the trick, but a gentle twisting of a rigid type plastic mould can also be used. Try to avoid over twisting the plastic mould as they will lose their shape over time.
Finishing the jewellery.
The edges of any casting can be sanded by using 150 grit sandpaper to remove extra CrystalCast. Sandpaper can also be used to reshape edges. Using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors may also help. Using a file, sander, or Dremel to shape or carve castings should be followed up by using 150 grit sandpaper to help remove and smooth scratches etc.
How do I start making photo jewellery?
The best way to start is to use a Photo Jewellery Kit that has been specially prepared to make the process as easy as possible. The kit contains the correct resin, findings and photo paper and complete instructions to make a unique piece of photo jewellery. Click here for price and availability.
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