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Friday, 14 February 2014

Epoxy resin review - MasterCast 1-2-1

Sooo i have been a very addicted resin crafter for over 4 years now, i run a resin group on facebook and my store always has resin items in stock as i use it almost everyday when i can. Up until now i have used various polyester resins with the exception of a small epoxy sample last year from my resin supplier which i didnt really try out very much, it was a small bottle so one piece made mixed with colour pigment is the only chance i got to use it.
SO imagine my delight after my resin supplier stops making my normal 'go to' resin to find we have another supplier in my very own resin group? And my even bigger delight when i asked for the group to advise me on which epoxy i could begin to use that he offered me a very adequate sample...a very generous sample, enough to play all week to my heart content and try this lovely stuff out to the max!
The resin is MasterCast 1-2-1 , they can be found on facebook or on the website

I must admit im quite an obsessive 'tester' when i have new products to play with, i will literally try them on everything so i can to see what the limits to its use are and really to get a feel for how it works, what tips i can give myself on playing with a new medium.
In the case of the epoxy its very different from my normal type of resin so using it was like having to learn again and start over.. There's different techniques when mixing, different types of colorant, issues with bubbles to overcome all of course were new to me. Thankfully ive spent enough time monitoring my resin group to have stored some helpful info in the recess of my brain.Once i got to grips with the basics i set myself out a cheklist of things to try!

Ease of use!
For a resin epoxy newbie i must say that i find this resin remarkably easy to get used too. It's lack of odour and one to one mixing ratio makes for a good working medium, no nasty fumes or counting drops of hardener. It was more relaxed having a longer time to mix and work with this resin instead of the mad dash to place items before curing began in my polyester. The waiting on drying time however i found hard, im so impatient but compared to other epoxys on the market this despite not being as fast as polyester is quite a quick curing resin. Clean up was equally easy i just used baby wipes to clean out all my cups and mixing spoons, wiped down my hands and then washed them. No allergy reactions or burning like my other resins and a quick easy cleaning makes for a happy crafter.

The easiest thing to do with epoxy, no need to worry about bubbles when all you want to make is a coloured or glitter piece so it was my first step on the learning ladder...i mixed equal parts pigment powder and glitter into a small amount of resin, poured into a resin mould and left...i did this with a few colours to see if the resin would mix with pastels, powder acrylic paint and finally a drop of ink...all mixed good and well and left to cure. Wasn't hard to mix at all, no clumping or seperation and was a lovely even distribution with both colour and pigment suspended throughout the resin.
De-moulded next morning to lovely colour (no sinking) smooth shiny backed pieces with perfect detail. An easy test but still an important one especially when you want to know of a resin will cause colour to sink and leave a clear rear!

Clear casting!
This i found more tricky, i set out some moulds and found mixing the resin got a lot of bubbles but prior heating of the bottles helped a lot , degassing the resin for about a minute or 2 before before and using the heat-gun to expel any left over bubbles is something i found unnerving at first, polyester doesn't really keep bubbles so all of this was very new and i was nervous i would make a mistake.When i poured into my moulds i was dismayed by how many bubbles from my heavy handed mixing i had created. My heat gun gently over the surface with a help of a needle soon sorted them out though. I was very aware of bubbles for the first time in my resin usage and suddenly understood all my American counterparts woe of dismay lol. i did the usual sticker and glitter techniques waiting a few hours between layers and adding a coloured back all with a horrid anxious 'will there be bubbles?' feeling.. All good and popping out next morning yet again perfect resin pieces, absolute minimum bubbles which for a newbie is amazing! Flaws in the mould had affected one of the pieces which gave me the next test..

I used the resin as my glaze, i've always been against varnishes as you can never tell in time if they will yellow or peel so i mixed up a small amount and with a brush i didn't really care about ruining and painted on like a normal varnish, i didnt worry about the bubbles just painted it on and left the pieces on silicon to dry. Any bubbles on the surface i popped with a pin although they were relatively few despite my mixing the resin un-warmed and quite harshly. I even glazed over older failed polyester pieces watching like magic as they became flawless super clear pieces. Next morning all the pieces were same perfect clarity and shine. The polyester pieces had taken the resin equally well, only one piece had issues where i had failed to sand away the polyester sticky layer and was able to peel the epoxy off. But all the sanded resin had adhered beautifully.

Just like other resins i have used this sands perfectly well with nail files and sanding blocks, and clearing up any sanded areas with a glaze of resin does the trick. It sands pretty easily and removing large areas of overfill relatively easy with a dremel tool.Not much to say on this test as i guess sanding is pretty self explanatory!

Much like the sanding i found this easy and without event, drilling has always been one of the bains of the process, i cannot tell you how many pieces have cracked or chipped at this stage causing me to almost weep in heartbreak, i found none of those drastic things happened in any of the pieces i drilled, was quite happy with the ease at which i drilled and the lack of chipping is a definite plus. I guess this is because of the less brittle formula of the epoxy is far more forgiving to a little abuse.

An unusual test but for me a necessary one, i make my own moulds and sometimes i have to pour template pieces in resin to keep for future moulding when clay ones break down from overuse. Now polyester is mouldable but the heat process causes a reaction making it more brittle and sometimes to become sticky so as a moulding template it was only useful on a temporary basis. I have only moulded a couple of pieces but saw no effects on the pieces after the heat and moulding process. they gave good detail but this requires repeated moulding to fully test.

Another necessary test for me is painting over a piece of resin, i like to paint my resin with detail and  i dislike throwing away fails so i sometimes paint over flat pieces with art or spray paint as embellishments so its important that any resin i use has to be able to grab the paints well.. And i am very happy to say that both acrylic paint, sharpie pens, spray paint and even gel pen all carried out there jobs with no issue over the epoxy resin. Acrylic paint even watered down a little still held well as long as it wasn't of a watercolor consistency. A coat of glaze to seal and i'm a happy bunny.

Another of those things i used to hate but is now rather a pleasure, the consistency makes doming easy, i found using a toothpick to push the resin to the edges made it easy to dome pieces, normally i have a fair few overspill accidents in 10 pieces but in my batch of epoxy only one overspill and that's because i knocked it over ! They cured perfect shiny and hard ! Not too thick a liquid yet thick enough that it doesn't pour all over, i was also told that it is designed to trickle off of the edges of art pieces in a sort of raindrop like fashion rather than pour off so you lose minimum before curing begins.

Strange test i know but i am a stickler for being thorough. i use jewellery glue with most of my projects but i had heard of resiners using there epoxy as a glue for bails etc so i decided to try this out a little obsessively. Well firstly i used the epoxy to glue on a bail or 2 but this was not really challenging so instead i decided to make a brooch on a metal back with many heavy and odd embellishments and use the resin fully as the glue... must say it worked out beautifully and the piece is completely secure. I used the resin over various glued on bails on other pieces and the only glue which reacted at all was a liquid superglue which turned a white shade where it lay under the resin beside the bail.

Now i hate to admit this but this was a fun test...i basically did everything with a couple pieces of resin i could to destroy them, threw them at walls, dumped them in water, in the washing machine then tumble dryer and gave them to my kids to play with...Well both are still in tact and still despite dirty fingerprints pretty shiny in the clean places. My polyester would chip or break if i even dropped it from my desk so for this category i'm giving this resin a firm 11 out of will be used in my children's jewellery every time now!

Overall opinion!
I have to say i am completely in love with this resin, its hard durable and very shiny, once you master bubbles its clarity is as clear as my water clear resin only much stronger. I love that it can be used as its own glaze, it has so many uses, both in art and jewellery making.I have seen many of my group members raise issues with other epoxy resins and i have encountered none of there issues with this week of testing with exception to bubbles. Bubbles are  a normal part of epoxy casting and many tips have helped me in only a few days master how to minimize them to almost nothing, imagine what a month could do.The price is average for epoxy resins and the company send out the resin extremely fast. Customer experience is a key factor in using products and i have found this company warm , friendly and very helpful, so add that to the amazing product and were onto a winner. Will i continue to use this resin? YES, i will use it alone and in conjunction with my polyester resins where time is an issue in the production, It will become a valued medium in my items. I am very happy with the outcomes and the only tests i can foresee being needed is how it stands up to time and use and sun exposure. I am very hopeful!

If you want me to road test a brand of resin feel free to leave me a note , im always happy to explore other products and will soon bring you some more reviews.

1 comment:

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