How To Make A Resin Sealed Washer Necklace

About six months into my etsy shop venture I started experimenting with resin.  For some reason it was always a daunting medium to me.  It seemed so complicated.  Finally though I decided to bite the bullet after I'd tried to make a washer necklace using a mod podge coating.  The necklace turned out okay (not great at all but okay) but it lacked the pizzazz that I was going for.  The image didn't "pop" at all and the piece was not water or ding resistant.  As someone who has worn the same jewelry going on ten years now I can safely say that I ALWAYS forget to take necklaces and things off when I shower or swim.

These problems led me to bite the bullet and buy a box of resin.  After a bit of trial and error (and an eff-ton of YouTube videos) I found that working with resin is not only easy but a whole lot of fun!

So here is my tutorial for how to make a washer necklace like this one:

First you need to come up with your design.  My nephew is graduating high school this month so I scanned his graduation announcement and used it as the template for my necklace.  The crest is from his high school and the background and color scheme came right from the invitation.  There are quite a few programs you can use to do this.  Photoshop is the obvious one.  There is also a free program called Paint.Net that is quite adequate for it as well (though it is only available on Windows platforms as of this blog post).

It takes a bit of trial and error to get the sizing down right.  I use 7/16 washers from the hardware store and created a template that I can use over and over for ease of design since I make them often.  For one necklace you really won't have to go to the extreme of creating design files, just copy and paste the blank image below and create your design inside the loop.  You will have to experiment with sizing to get the image to fit exactly on your washer.

Template for a 7/16 washer
Once you get it the way you want it print it out on regular printer paper.  Now there are a lot of people who say that you can spread mod podge or school glue over your design front and back to avoid resin actually touching (and therefore darkening) the design itself but I have never had luck with this technique.  I find it's a lot more pleasing to just let the resin do what it's going to do to give the entire piece a nice, uniform look.

Once you have your design cut out you have one of two choices.  You can use your scissors to carefully cut out the inside circle (the "donut hole" part) or you can use a craft punch.  I used to go about it the arduous scissor cutting way but once I found my paper punch I will never go back.  For one or two necklaces you really won't have too much of a problem but when you are doing any sort of volume you definitely want one of these. 

The viewing window on the bottom ensures that you get a
precise punch and don't accidentally cut into your design. 

Here's where the mod podge comes in.  Spread a thin (thin folks, you don't need a lot) layer onto your washer and center your design over it.  School glue can also be used for this purpose but the mod podge tends to dry faster in my experience and you want to make sure that it is completely dry before you add resin on top.  If it isn't dry the glue can mix with the resin, causing it to not cure properly.

The brand I use is Allumilite Amazing Clear Cast.  You can buy it at Hobby Lobby or online at Amazon, etc.  I've tried a couple of other brands but this one is by far the best in my opinion.  Especially for projects like this that require very little product.  It is a very forgiving mixture in that even if you don't get the 1:1 ratio precise it will still cure properly and not end up sticky.

After you pour equal parts of "A" side and "B" side into your mixing cup begin mixing slowly.  You want to avoid getting a lot of air bubbles.  I'll tell you though, it's sort of unavoidable.  At first the mixture will have a cloudy look to it.  You want to continue mixing until it becomes clear.

Next you want to coat your washer with the resin.  Make sure before you start that your washer is in the place where it's going to be for the duration of the curing process.  It's really hard and sometimes impossible to move them without messing them up.  I get around this by coating them on a square piece of wood that I keep just for this purpose.

To cover the washer I use the same stick that I use to stir to carefully coat it drop by drop until the entire image is covered.  You don't want to add too much or else it will spill over the sides before it has a chance to cure.  Once the entire image is coated you need to check it for air bubbles.  The method I use to get rid of any strays is to take a lighter and carefully run the flame over the resin.  This process draws the air to the surface, making the bubbles pop.

Once complete, you want to make sure that your piece is protected from dust particles and annoyances like gnats or floating pet hair.  The simplest way to do this is to simply cover it with an upside down bowl or glass. 

One thing to note about resin.  It does not like to cure when it's cold.  I get around this in the winter months by adding a lamp to a shelf in one of my kitchen cabinets.  The subtle heat from the light bulb warms up the small space and makes the resin cure even faster than it does on my counter in the summer!

You can see the wooden square on the center shelf to the left of the lamp.

I generally leave them alone overnight.  You want to give it at least twelve hours (and better, 24 hours) before you try to pick it up.  Once it is cured, the finish is beautiful and extremely durable.

Once complete you can add any sort of cord that strikes your fancy.  I use waxed cotton cord that I buy at Hobby Lobby.  Attaching the cord is very easy:

And that's it!  You can choose to repeat the process on the back to create a double-sided image or add a coat of plain resin without an image to create a polished look the whole way around.  I also find that adding resin to the back protects the skin against any imperfections that the washer may have.  These make incredible and very personal gifts since you can make any design that you want.  What are you waiting for?  Get crafting!

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