Thursday, 3 March 2016

totalCAST: a gamechanger in the world of resin!

There's been a lot of buzz about totalCAST, the new casting resin by Eli-Chem resin - but can it live up to the hype?

TotalCAST resin

Even before its official release, there's been a lot of excitement in the resin world about a new resin that promises to be clearer and safer than its competitors. With so much hype, I was very excited to be one of about 25 global testers before totalCAST is officially released. Could it really deliver on its promises?

As most resin artists know, our passion is a bit of a dark art. Or rather, while making beautiful creations is definitely an art form, getting the resin to behave is most definitely a science!

Eli-Chem have certainly got the science right with totalCAST. Mixing up my first test batch, I was immediately struck by the lack of odour and apparent fumes.

I have been assured that totalCAST is BPA-free - that means that unlike some other resins, it doesn't contain bisphenol A, an industrial chemical which has been linked to possible side effects on babies and children. totalCAST is also free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

As a mother to two young children, I do sometimes worry about toxic fumes from my resin-ing - so this does give me some peace of mind.

Unlike other 1:1 ratio resins, totalCAST mixes very easily and its low viscosity makes it easy to pour into moulds. Even the hardener is incredibly clear - no nasty yellowing here!

Bangle by Tallulah does the Hula, made with totalCAST.
Another thing that makes totalCAST a pleasure to work with is the lack of bubbles compared to most other resins, thanks to a diluent that expels air and drives it to the surface to pop!

After endless wrangling with heat guns and barbecue lighters, this is a pleasant surprise. It's almost too easy! (Shhh, don't tell anyone else!)

And because it's relatively quick and hassle free to mix up, its perfect for layering resin projects.

As a busy mum, I don't normally have the luxury of being able to stagger my resin mixing throughout the day - but totalCAST is so fast to prepare that it opens up a whole range of options.

The only downside is that it takes a tiny bit longer to fully cure than other resins I've used.

We're talking hours here, not days, and the gloriously clear result makes it well worth the wait! It also mixes up beautifully with tints, such as Eli-Chem's Resi-Tint acrylic pigments. I imagine it would also work well with alcohol inks although I haven't tested it yet.

Bangle by Tallulah does the Hula, made with totalCAST and Resi-Tint acrylic pigments.

Verdict: In short, I LOVE totalCAST! 

 I would go so far as to say that this may well revolutionise the world of resin.

Once you've tasted ambrosia, you will never settle for second best!

totalCAST will soon be available to buy globally.

Bangles by Tallulah does the Hula, made with TotalCAST.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Waste not, want not - pyschedelic stripes!

Love funky resin bangles? Hate waste? Here's an awesome way to use up your leftover resin for maximum effect. These psychedelic stripes put the fun back into funky!


 What you need:

- Two part epoxy resin
- Bangle moulds
- Resi-Tint Acrylic Inks

Method:

1. Mix up a batch of two-part epoxy resin to use in any other resin project. For this task I used Mastercast 1-2-1 resin by Chem Resins.


2. When you have finished your masterpiece, instead of chucking away your leftover resin, transfer it into a psychedelic stripe by mixing in a few drops of Resi-Tint Acrylic Ink.


 Easy does it - one or two drops are all you need for a vibrant, beautiful colour!



3. Pour a thin layer of tinted resin into a bangle mould. For this project I used a combination of moulds made by Resin8 and myself. You can get totally different effects using thin or chunky moulds.


4. Ensure that you have a thin layer of your first colour poured into the mould. Carefully remove spills along the sides using baby wipes.


5. Once your first colour has cured, you are ready to pour another thin layer of tinted resin. The layers don't necessarily have to be of equal height, depending on what effect you are going for.


6. Continue pouring layers of tinted resin onto cured resin until you have filled up your mould.


7. The end result? Some fantastic bangles. I think of these as "bonus bangles" because they are made out of leftover resin that may otherwise have been thrown away. Perfecto!


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Colour your resin!

Who says resin has to be clear?  From psychedelic stripes to subtle hues, there are many ways to add colour to your resin collections. You can even sing (or paint) a resin rainbow, should you wish to do so!


I was recently asked to test out four of Chem Resin's new Resi-Tint Acrylic Inks - a series of vibrant colours specially designed to be used with resin. Eli-Chem Resins have produced these acrylic pigments to be used for paintings and sculptures - but they can just as easily be used to add some va-va-voom to resin jewellery.

In the past I've used alcohol ink to tint my resin creations so was interested to see how Resi-Tint stacked up in comparison. I tried out Turquoise, Emerald, Flame Red and Scarlet.


Resi-Tint pigment versus alcohol ink

The first difference between Resi-Tint and alcohol ink is that a little bit of Resi-Tint goes a very long way! Eli-Chem recommend mixing up one part of Resi-Tint to 1000 parts of resin.

I certainly found that one or two drops is all you need to colour about 300ml of mixed up epoxy resin - so go easy on how much you pour into your resin!

Luckily the pots come with handy droppers so it's easy to mix up the amount you require.

29.5 ml of Resi-Tint should last a very long time - which makes a bottle (retailing at £9.90 - or about $15) pretty economical if you're planning to do a lot of tinting and colouring! The colours are vibrant and tend to come out more opaque than alcohol ink (unless you mix up an enormous batch of resin)!

Here is a rose petal bangle I made, using turquoise Resi-Tint, Alamould bangle mould and Mastercast 1-2-1 two part epoxy resin.





Verdict

All in all I was very pleased with the different effects I was able to achieve using Resi-Tint. Although it's hard to obtain a very subtle hue unless you mix up a huge batch, it is a very versatile pigment - offering an enormous range of effects. The only limit is your imagination!


Flower bangle using clear resin poured in together with turquoise and flame red Resi-Tint pigments.
Made using emerald Resi-tint and resin mixed into a silicone leaf mould.
Bangle featuring pieces of quail egg shell and sequins with scarlet Resi-Tint.


Click here for a resin tutorial showing you how to make this funky psychedelic stripe bangle using Resi-Tint!

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

New resin gun tested!

Are bubbles causing troubles with your resin work? Fed up with pieces that never properly cure? A revolutionary new resin gun system has got me all fired up! 

If you've ever worked with resin, you've probably been there. You've carefully measured out your two part epoxy resin, mixing up the resin with the hardener. You've dutifully followed the instructions, mixing up the parts with a lollipop stick. And then disaster! Pesky bubbles rise to the surface! Or you spill a glob of resin all over your beautiful bezel! Or perhaps you've messed up your ratios somehow and ended up with a tacky mess that never fully cures. If so, the resin gun system may be for you!

I was thrilled when leading UK resin manufacturer Eli-Chem Resins recently asked me to test drive their brand new MasterCast 1-2-1 resin gun system. Could it really live up to its expectations?


Method

1. Unclip the hinged bracket at the front of the resin gun and tilt it forward.


2. Insert the plunger into the gun handle by pressing up on the metal release bracket at the back and sliding the plunger through the slot. Ensure the hole of the plunger faces backwards and the grooved side is facing down. Push the plunger all the way through.


3. Insert the dual-barreled cartridge into the retaining bracket and snap it down across the top of the gun so it locks with a click.


4. Remove the cartridge cap and fit the mixing nozzle to the front of the cartridge. Once it locks securely into space, it's time to get creative!



 5. Slowly squeeze the trigger to release the resin. The first bit of liquid may have bubbles in it, so you may wish to discard it. The rest is ready to use! Working in a well ventilated space and preferably wearing gloves, slowly squeeze the trigger to dispense the resin. Here I've used it to dome some bezels I've prepared earlier.






6. When you have finished your project, replace the cap on the cartridge for future use. Make sure you dispose of used nozzles and cartridges safely.



The verdict

A small cartridge of MasterCast 1-2-1 resin goes a fairly long way! It may not look like much but one of those little cartridges was enough to dome 30 bezels, gloss the top of a pre-sanded bangle, fill up six small moulds and start the first layer of a large, thin bangle mould! Not bad!




The thin nozzle was ideal for getting into small spaces and because it was all so tidy, there were no spills or wasted resin. After wrestling with cocktail sticks, lollipop sticks and toothpicks, this was a bit of a revelation.

The kit was surprisingly easy to put together - even for a relative technophobe like me! Once assembled, it was so simple and quick to use that I instantly fell in love with this system.

Starter kits retail at £25 (about $38) each and include a reusable resin gun, two pre-filled cartridges and six mixing nozzles. Replacement cartridges cost £8 each (about $12) while mixing nozzles cost 30p (about 46 cents). As long as the nozzle is replaced on the cartridge, it should last for two years.

Pros: great for beginners, artists working on small projects and very precise work where you want to get into small spaces. There is almost zero waste and quality is guaranteed every time. An absolute beginner could pick it up and use it in almost no time at all! This is also a great solution if you're wishing to test out Eli-Chem's MasterCast 1-2-1 resin without committing to buying big containers of resin.

Cons: The cost may make it restrictive for experienced artists wishing to work on big projects.

Overall: A fantastic bit of kit that may well revolutionize resin!

Less than 24 hours on, here are some of my creations using the Eli-Chem resin gun!


To find out more about Eli-Chem products click here.

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Who wants to win limited edition designer jewellery?!

Love beautiful, bold, bespoke jewellery?

To celebrate Tallulah does the Hula’s first birthday, I’m giving away some limited edition designer jewellery on my Facebook page!

One lucky person will win this indigo blue necklace, featuring handmade beads and hematite gemstones.



One runner-up will win a pair of pretty earrings featuring handmade leaf beads and glass pearls.





The competition closes at 5pm on Monday 1 December 2014.

For more information click here!

GOOD LUCK!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Polymer clay swirly bead tutorial

Feel the need to bead? Do you lie awake at night, dreaming about gorgeous gemstones, smooth glass beads, earthy clay rounds, crystal rondelles? If so, you may have a bit of a bead problem.

Hello, my name's Tallulah does the Hula and I'm a beadaholic.

There comes a point where creating pieces from bought beads just isn't enough! There's something really satisfying about making your own.

A few years ago, I discovered that Fimo and Sculpey's not just for kids! Once you've mastered the basics, the world's your oyster when it comes to making beautiful art jewellery out of polymer clay.

Here's a simple tutorial to get you started on some show stopping beads! All you need is some polymer clay, a smooth work surface (I use a tile, which keeps the clay nice and cool), a pasta machine for rolling the clay, a cutter and a rolling device (I find the smooth part of a bead reamer works better than an actual roller!). Enjoy!

Swirly Bead Tutorial

1. Create a two-part Skinner blend using your pasta machine to roll and blend two different colours. Depending on your preference, you can choose either complementary or contrasting colours to go for either a subtle or vibrant effect. It's fun to experiment and try out different colour combos.

2. Once you have the desired blend of colours, trim the sheet to make it rectangular and get rid of any rough edges.
3. Next, use the pasta machine to roll a thin sheet of clay to use as an outline. In my case I used black and silver sheets but it's fun to experiment!


4. Trim the sheets so they are all the same size. Then make a jelly roll out of the sheet. In this case I've started by putting the yellow in the centre and put the green part on the outside but feel free to experiment. Variety is the spice of life!




5. Once you have your jelly roll, gently roll the cane to lengthen it. Rest your clay for a short while to allow it to cool down.



6. Next, use your cutter blade to cut thin slices. Carefully use a roller or similar (in my case, the end of a bead reamer) to thin out the slices. Use your blade to gently remove them from the work surface as rolling them out will probably make them stick to the surface!


7. Roll half a segment of clay into a ball and then squash down the ends to form a rondelle shaped bead. Use your rolling instrument to gently smooth the cane slices onto the bead, taking care not to distort the bead's shape.

8. Use a reamer, needle, cocktail stick, toothpick or some other sharp, long object to make a hole in the centre of your bead.


9. You can use bits of scrap clay to embellish your bead. In this case, I've rolled a bit of leftover yellow clay into a thin snake and then made little dots which I've carefully smoothed onto the bead to liven up gaps.


10. Bake your beads in the oven, following the clay manufacturer's instructions. Once they've cooled down, you can gloss them, depending on whether you want a matt or gloss surface.

You can make all sorts of weird and wonderful beads using this technique!

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