It all started when we were on a family vacation on the beach in Gulf Shores, AL, and we were collecting sea shells. Samir mentioned this resin table he saw on some video and thought it would be fun to make a table with shells inside of it.
So we decided to experiment with resin first and make a fun family craft!
Thanks to COVID, last weekend was spent with no plans (such a change from our pre-COVID lifestyle!). We decided to go spend a gift card I got for my birthday and headed to Jerry's Artorama to pick up some art supplies. Samir remembered our little project so he asked and the store recommended this resin and alcohol ink set for our project!
Read the tutorial below or watch the video here!
But first, what is resin?
Resin is a polymer that is highly viscous. When mixed with a hardener, it dries and cures to a hard polymer (plastic like).
Now for the fun! Here's how our weekend project unfolded once we bought our supplies. What we used:
- Environmental Technology Lite Pour On, High Gloss Finish
- Alcohol based ink
- Crayola Air Dry Clay
- Electric sander (not just sandpaper! if you're using silicone, may not need this)
- Wax paper
- Sea Shells
- Well ventilated area
- A few popsicle sticks / wooden stirrers
1. Decide what you're going to make!
This, of course, was Bubba's responsibility. He decided he wanted a Shark so we looked through pictures til he found one he liked (and that I thought would be easy enough for us to mold!). I drew out the shark with simple lines and curves because we're building our own mold.
2. Make a mold.
We probably should have researched this more than we did, but this was literally a spur of the moment project decided at the art store that we would do that day. Most of YouTube showed people using silicone molds with this craft. I decided to make ours out of Crayola air dry clay. However, I made a couple mistakes.
First, I didn't actually let it dry the full 24 hours - not sure if that would have made a difference or not.
Second, I could have spent a bit more time smoothing and straightening the inside edges of the mold. Will explain both of these later!
After I drew the shark on a solid piece of cardboard, I taped wax paper over and it and then Bubba and I got to work! This is the biggest part that kiddos can help with so let them do most of the work!
We rolled strips of clay and did two layers one on top of the other to build up the mold. We used a popsicle stick to smooth out the inside briefly. It was so fun watching Bubba carefully trying to mold his shark (momma of course helped him "fix" it at the end!).
We let the mold dry for about an hour so it was hardened (but not fully cured).
3. Mix and pour the resin!
This needs to be done by an adult as the resin is damaging to skin and eyes!
We followed the instructions on our kit to mix. Using a 1/3 cup of each polymer and hardener, we poured the polymer with the hardener and stirred slowly with a popsicle stick but vigorously to minimize air bubbles. Per the instructions, we then poured it into a second cup to mix some more. Before mixing in the second cup, we let Bubba add glitter to it (which of course he put in too much but oh well!).
We poured the resin into our mold as a full layer. We then let Bubba put in the sea shells and then covered it again with the rest of the resin. The resin flows well and automatically leveled out on our flat surface.
Finally, we put in some drops of alcohol ink just to experiment! The ink is pretty but hard to see because of all the blue and turquoise glitter!
Now, let it cure overnight!
4. Break off the mold and sand down the edges.
We left in our garage in the summer heat, so it cured overnight (though the package said 48-72 hours for a full cure). The resin dried to the clay more than we thought it would. We were able to break off most of the clay / wash it off, but because we didn't smooth out and even out the insides enough, clay got stuck in all the crevices. The top looked smooth and pretty, but around the sides, the resin had creeped up a bit so we needed to sand down the sides and edges on the top.
The bottom looked like it got stuck to the wax paper even though online we had read that it should stick to wax paper - may have been the wrong side up? Or slightly crinkled wax paper?
A note about sanding:
1) Wear a mask while sanding - do it away from kids!
2) The sanding actually made the resin cloudy - so the bottom and sides where we sanded are pretty cloudy. We read online that you could potentially sand it with various fine grits of sand paper, but seemed like way too much effort, and the top looked beautiful and the side we'd want to look at anyway with the shells.
Also, where the clay was really stuck into the crevices on the sides, you can still see white flecks - but again, doesn't bother us!
Sanded down further...
Make sure you sand all sharp edges to dull if kiddos will be handling!
5. Enjoy & Play!
Bubba was seriously amused by this craft! It took all weekend and was a really fun family project to work on. It's a bit heavy and he bangs it around a bit - so maybe the next thing we make will be smaller! But it's a beautiful memory from our trip to Gulf Shores!
Things I'll try next:
1) The biggest thing is improving the mold unless I want to buy silicone molds (which I don't - I want to decide what whatever I'm working on looks like!). I may try wrapping in plastic wrap or even coating the clay mold with a sheer coat of resin first and see if that helps make a cleaner mold.
2) With this, I made a solid resin craft. Would love to see how these look over some of our wood crafts or painted canvases to see what the high gloss finish looks like!
3) Silicone mold - may as well try it since that's what everyone uses!
4) With some more practice - maybe we'll try make that table!
Hope you guys enjoyed our tutorial! Follow us on Instagram and tag us if you try it!
Check out another beach craft tutorial here - DIY ornaments!