skip to Main Content
Rustic Resin Pendant Diy Madebybarb Feature

Rustic Resin Pendants

My apologies; I have been really busy with an exciting new media; Resin! It’s so exciting to be able to show you how you can cast and form your own absolutely unique resin jewelry. Natural ‘live edge’ elements are very ‘hot’ and this has so many possibilities… but don’t blame me if you also become a ‘resin addict’! Check out how to make your own super-unique jewelry:

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-1

My starting point was again nature. I took some inspiration from Britta Boeckmann‘s jewelry but wanted to be even more rustic. I am always wearing pendants, the type that make a statement. Nature supplies so many textures and designs if you open your mind to the possibilities. Go! outside! and check out what nature has to offer. There are so many amazing pieces of wood and branches and bark and leaves and… It just boggles the mind.

The Resin:

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-1b

I am using a readily available resin called Alumilite Amazing Clear Cast. It is sold by many hobby and craft supplies and quite reasonably priced. It is not a polyester resin so I don’t find that it has any toxic fumes however it is still suggested to use under well ventilated conditions and avoid skin contact. (once cured, it is food safe though)

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-2

The Imbeds:

I collected a variety of wood branches. I love the great textures that bark and birch have as well as the lichen that grows on it. Anything can work within reason, that it is not too rotted or soggy. You will however need to let any wood dry thoroughly or use a very low setting to dry in an oven. Resin doesn’t like moisture!

Also, prior to embedding I like to ‘stabilize’ the wood as much as possible if it is old or soft. Stabilizing means making the wood more solid, as replacing some of the ‘air’ with a solid product. The professionals use a pressure chamber and force ‘cactus juice‘ into the wood. I use a paintable product; ‘Wood Petrifier’ that does a similar job and easier for the DIY’er. Give the pieces a good coating or 2 and let thoroughly dry. It sinks right in. The pieces can be used whole or cut as preferred, but keep the design simple. I had definite visions in my mind’s eye.

After prepping the wood I arranged how I wanted the pendants to look. I was anticipating cutting them after casting. I used a small shallow square silicone cake mold that was slightly greased with vaseline.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-10

Mixing the resin:

The key to a good cast is having absolute exact measuring. This resin uses equal parts of A & B. I use tiny transparent cups that allow reading volume easily. Mix slowly but thoroughly until it is very clear and has no striations.  Do not get over excited stirring as you don’t want to mix in any air bubbles. Scrape the sides often to make sure all is completely incorporated. This resin is quite slow to set,(30-40 minutes working time) so it lets you play with the arrangement of the items.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-3

Here’s an important trick: WOOD FLOATS! Yes, I found that out the hard way! Pour as thin layer and set your pieces onto it. Let this cure until it is set. This will keep the pieces from floating once they are covered with the rest of the resin. For colour I used a tiny bit of Pebeo Vitrail Ink to slightly tint the resin (turquoise). You can also have fun with leaving the swirls visible. (mix with toothpicks) I wanted the wood to be completely embedded and poured another layer to cover.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-4

Once it is poured, a small lighter/torch or blowing with a straw will make the bubbles that are on the surface burst. Sweep quickly across the surface so as not to scorch the resin. Let it sit 24 hours or until hard. Once unmolded, I will decide the shapes I’m going to use. If your mold is the exact shape then you can skip next step.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-5

They look wonderful and clear!

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-6

Shaping:

To cut the shapes I used my new Dremel Moto-Saw Scroll saw. It is a a great little/mighty tool. To protect the resin I covered it in masking tape. Slicing them length-wise across the branches gave me the long shapes I was after.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-7

The wood has now been sliced through as well.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-8

Once untaped, they look wonderful already, like little blocks of frozen ice!

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-9

Finishing the Pendants:

To even out the sides I used a rough 200grit sandpaper.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-11

Working with resin has some downfalls; sanding! My intention was NOT to make any dust by dry sanding, as it is a nasty health hazard! Once the surfaces were pretty even, I mixed up a bit of resin and spread it carefully over the rough ends, and let it dome. Do not over-pour or it will drip down the sides. Just drip a bit and spread it out, it will self-level.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-12

I wanted all the wood to be encapsulated in resin to allow wet sanding without the wood absorbing water.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-13

You will see the great shine it also makes.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-13b

Coming along nicely…

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-14

Wet Sanding:

Once they are coated on all sides, the wet sanding can start. Once Alumilite is cured it is food safe, and the water keeps any dust from forming. I use a large cafeteria tray to catch any stray water and work through the grits of wet/dry sandpaper.

The sequence: (wet/dry sandpapers may be found in the automotive area of the hardware stores)

  1. 200/220 grit – rough shaping
  2. 400 grit – medium smoothing
  3. 600 grit – medium-fine shaping
  4. 1000 grit – fine for removing scratches from shaping
  5. 2000 grit – super fine sanding
  6. Novus #2 Scratch remover (liquid polish)
  7. Carnauba Wax for shine

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-15

Shaped with 220 grit

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-16

Edges softened with 400 and 600 grit.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-17

Further smoothing with 1000 and 2000 grit.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-18

Polished with Novus #2

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-19

There may be other polishes that also work, but these are great. (and who knows if the car headlights will need some someday). Inspect your piece and backtrack if you find scratches. Use some muscle to be thorough with wet-sanding. Rinse in between grits (keep a bowl of slightly soapy water handy) When it looks good, use a car wax or the Novus #1 to shine the piece.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-20

To be able to hang your pendant you will need some sort of way to hold the chain or cord. You may purchase bails that can be glued or attached with a hole. I decided that a drilled hole would be simple and strong. My Dremel is mounted in a Workstation to allow drill press type work. It is a super handy addition to the already great tool.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-22

It is so satisfying to see such a sparkly smooth artifact that is hand created and can be worn. See more here

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-23

Closeup inspection and you see the lichen frozen in time.

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-24

rustic-resin-pendant-diy-madebybarb-24b

Be creative! And proudly wear your piece of unique jewelry! High five! Alright, alright, if you’d rather just buy one; check out my new Etsy store. It’s what happens when you just love ‘making’ and make too much…

barbmaker

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 29 Comments
  1. Thank you for being so giving with your knowledge! I’ve been waiting for someone to share how to make these exquisitely made jewels! You’re greatly appreciated!

    1. I always make sure I actually try and perfect the techniques. Isn’t that what tutorials are for?! I hate just seeing the same rehashed.

  2. Barb, I have been playing with resin as a protective coating for polymer clay but haven’t tried casting anything. The only resin molds I’ve seen are for pendants, cabochons, etc. Where would I find larger ones that would hold found objects from nature?

    1. Hi, nice to here that you are having fun! The blue ones are just baking molds for square cakes or chocolate. They were at out craft store here in Canada called Michaels. You could prob also use silicone bread pans. I’ve even seen small ones at dollar stores. Hope it all works out

    1. Glad you stopped by! I have some ideas brewing in my mind, I’m hoping to get back to the resin pouring soon! So many possibilities, need more time….

    1. Yes, I understand that many times the instructions are not that thorough. Glad to help! ‘Would love to see the finished ones!!

  3. Thank you Barb for sharing your excitement in working with resin! I started to play with resin at one time but must have gotten sidetracked, which happens all too often, with another idea, medium, or project. And thanks for photographing the steps and sharing some tricks in making your awesome pendants. I am ready to try it again!

    1. I know all too well about getting side-tracked! I have so many different types of thing I do that all the work stations are taking over the house! I have a big collection of things that I am hoping to imbed as I keep getting more ideas…DIYing is really just a long journey! Check back, I’d love to see your projects

  4. I have been wanting to do this for some time but there were just too many elements I couldn’t figure out. Thank you for this in depth description. Question: Where did you get the molds? Everything I’ve seen starts with a large mold that you then cut down. The problem with sanding resin is it becomes rather cloudy. I’ve tried the sanding but it never turns out well. Plus, the best way to get shiny resin is to have shiny molds. So my obstacle has always been finding the correct mold and figuring out how to dry the wood.

    1. The molds were just from Michaels (canadian version of Hobby Lobby ) They did not unmold shiny either. The easiest way to get a shine is to coat it with resin. Otherwise you need to sand and progress to polishing compounds. You can dry the wood in a low degree oven too. I did a few test pieces at the beginning… Even the molds I made with amazing mold putty did not give a shiny finish. I am not a fan of tons of sanding or dust, so I used wet sanding and coating with resin.

      Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes…

  5. Hi Barb,

    Like everyone else thanks so much for putting this up! I usually work with metal but just love what can be done with resin and since relocating to the States from New Zealand the range of resin and all kind of “goddies” has just expanded 100 fold. I did try once but guess my resin wasn’t the best, so the only question I have for you is when you do the final polish do you do that by hand like the sanding (good ole elbow grease) or do you use your dremel? … Thanks so much!! Nikki

    1. Thanks for visiting! I use my hands. The dremel I had at the time was too fast. If it spins too quickly then the resin heats up. I am sure the professionals who make them by the dozen have a polishing wheel. I also did not like how the compound would fly off the polishing head. Ideally one would need a dedicated space with good dust catching etc. So for ease of keeping mess down, I used my hands! Put on a video and it will be less boring. It may take a few before you get the hang of the stages of sanding. Every media has a learning curve… Good luck

  6. Barb, are you sure we aren’t twins separated at birth.
    I love everything you do! Resin, soap, concrete, hypertufa are all things I have done or aspire to doing, and.. I like your style. Now if you tell me you are also interested in bees & plants I might fall off my chair.
    I’m looking forward to your next creative endeavour.
    Regards,
    Barb

    1. Hi Barb! I know for sure that I don’t have a sister, but that’s quite amazing! If I lived on a different property I would definitely have bees! I had recently been thinking if there was some kind of project that would help their plight. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I can’t do everything… and have every tool and work area going… I wear myself out! Do stick around as I have some completely new projects in the works. I bet you like the terrariums and the dyeing too!

  7. Hi Barb, was wondering if you would provide information on how use the oven to dry your wood? Temperature and time? Also, how do you perfect the final shapes of these? To make them symmetric? Thanks so much!

    1. I’ll try to help: I’d say it is just to provide a bit of warmth so the lowest setting, 150ºF. I am not sure how much time as your wood could be very wet or just a bit damp. You can probably tell a bit by feel or get one of those fancy moisture meters that you prong into the wood.

      As for the perfecting of shapes, I would just use my eye and keep turning and looking. I am not always after perfect symmetry since I find that a bit dull. There is really no rules as to what would look great. Go with your ‘gut’ as to whether you like the shape or get inspiration from the internet. I like them to have personality…

      Good luck

      1. Thanks so much Barb! I am so excited you gave me direction with this! I’ve been wanting help for so long! You are a gem…

  8. Barb thank you so much for the clear, concise, beautifully photographed tutorial. I had stared at the pictures on Pinterest, completely flummoxed trying to imagine how it was done. You not only gave instruction, you informed me on products I didn’t even know were available–I’m getting a Dremel Workstation thanks to you! Sanding is difficult for me due to Arthritis, but I’m determined to start designing and then job that sanding task out. Again, thank you. I’m so excited!

    1. I am glad to help. I think some people like to keep it a secret so that others can’t do it… I was experiencing the same mystery when I started. If could I would have every tool AND a huge workshop with dust vacuums! However that won’t happen so I try to improvise! Using electric sanding tools is great but I caution you about the dust; it is very bad/unhealthy to inhale hence I liked the wet sanding. When I used the electric tools I did so outdoors to minimize the dust.

      It’s great to be creative but health comes first. Share how they turn out!

    1. Awe, that’s a nice compliment. Thanks. When I started this site my intentions were NOT to just rehash others’ DIY, but to have unique projects.

      I have no shortage of ideas, however the time to make, photograph, write etc is sometimes a challenge!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top