Acrylic resin is a product that is used all over the world in commercial settings, as well as by hobbyists. The liquid is poured into sculpted molds to make a myriad of products, including things we use every day like plastic silverware and paperweights. The process is used to create hobby kits, lamp bases, and even shells for cars as well.
Using acrylic resin on a basic hobbyist level is easy to do and does not need injection molding or air compression to work. The article that follows will take you through the process of working with acrylic resin to make costume jewelry. The principles you learn here can be transferred to anything you may want to cast.
Step 1 - Prepare the Work Area
It is important to work in an area that has good ventilation and is also clean. Any dust or debris can ruin an otherwise good casting.
Protect the surface you're working on by laying down sheets of newspaper and spraying them with cooking spray or a mold release product. You can get mold release spray at any hobby store.
Step 2 - Make a Mold
In order to cast with acrylic resin, you need a mold. You can buy one which works well, but it's good to know how to make your own, as this opens up the possibilities for what you can craft. Since this is for costume jewelry, you can either use plastic jewels you found as a base or you can carve your own from plasticine. Regardless of which you use, the jewel needs to have a flat side.
Put on your respirator and gloves before starting to avoid having to stop in the middle of your process. Place the jewels on the newspapers with the flat side down, and spray them with cooking spray or mold release. Rub hard soap into the bristles of a paintbrush before using it to apply liquid latex to the gem. Use a stippling or dabbing application technique rather than brushing it on, and do your best to avoid air bubbles.
The liquid latex will appear white but will become clear as it dries. Allow this layer to dry before painting on another layer; you want to have at least five layers of latex, but as many as 15 or 20 will create a strong mold you can use often. Carefully remove the edges of the newspaper from the liquid latex until it is completely free. Then, work around the edges of the jewel and pop it out of the latex. Let it cure an hour so the inside is completely dry. You now have a working mold.
Step 3 - Making an Acrylic Resin Cast
Spray the inside of the dry mold with cooking spray so that the new cast does not stick. Mix the acrylic resin and catalyst in the mixing cup according to the directions with your product. You can also mix in colors at this point to shade the jewel.
Pour the mixed acrylic resin into the mold and allow it to cure as per the directions. Remove the freshly cast jewel and clean off the cooking spray with paper towels. Sand away any sharp edges with a Dremel bit and cover with clear nail polish or acrylic sealer for protection. Another layer of sealer will have to be added on top of a paint job if you decide to decorate your piece.