In this tutorial, learn how to create with Epoxy Clay and Skeleton Leaves in a Nunn Design Wire Frame. The end pieces are unique and very light in weight. Perfect for pendants and earrings.
If you are interested in exploring other types of organics, please read a previous blog post from the Nunn Design Blog: A Beginners Guide to Drying and Preparing Organics for Creating Resin Jewelry. The preparation of drying and pressing of your flowers is a critical step for avoiding bubbles in your resin.
Wire Frames Large Drop
Nunn Design 2-Part Resin Kit
Ball Pein Hammer 8 OZ.
Steel Bench Block
Needle Nose Pliers
Goo Be Gone
0000 Steel Wool
Prepare Your Nunn Design Wire Frames:
Step 1. The Nunn Design Findings are oxidized to provide the aged look to the precious metal plating. The oxidization, when it comes into contact with the Epoxy Clay could change the color of the clay. To avoid this, clean the findings thoroughly prior to applying the resin. Get the tip of a Q-Tip wet with rubbing alcohol and clean away any of the blackened oxidization on all the surfaces of the bezel.
Step 2: The way the loop is formed on the Wire Frame creates for an uneven surface. This can be a challenge for applying and doming resin.
To create a flat surface on the Wire Frame use a hammer and bench block to slightly flatten the wire. Place the Wire Frame Large Drop on the bench block, keeping the looped area off the side of the block.
Slightly hammer the wire all the way around. If the top looped area becomes bent, use a pair of pliers to slightly flatten this area too.
Step 3: Cut a piece of packing tape and place it sticky side up on your work surface. Place your hammered Wire Frame onto the tape. Press down and rub your hammered wire frame back and forth on your work surface, burnishing the tape onto the backside of the frame. Trim away any excess of the packing tape to avoid it from getting attached to anything while you are pouring or letting your piece cure. Trust me…it happens!
TIP: Check to see that your packing tape is clear and there is no residue or mottling in the adhesive. If there is, it will show up in your cured Epoxy Clay piece when you remove the tape. Try to use an area of the tape that does not have blotches or marks.
Mix Epoxy Clay:
Step 4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the handling and mixing of the Epoxy Clay. While wearing gloves, pinch off two equal-sized balls of Part A and Part B and blend together fully until the clay is no longer marbled and uniform in color.
Tip: I guesstimate the amount of Epoxy Clay that I will need to fill the bezels for the project I’m working on. I would recommend under mixing the amount of clay and having to mix frequently, versus feeling pressured to work fast or have waste.
Step 5. You have approximately 90-120 minutes of working time before the clay starts to harden, so take your time. The black Epoxy Clay, in particular, can be a bit sticky, so don’t be discouraged if it is a bit challenging to mix. When the clay is thoroughly blended the part a and part b will be activated, so you can remove your gloves to make it easier to work with the clay.
Tip: Make sure to wrap up your Epoxy Clay to prevent it from drying out and hardening. Store Part A and Part B in separate zip-lock bags.
Step 6. Roll the thoroughly mixed Epoxy Clay between your palms until it forms a smooth round ball.
Step 7. If the clay is really sticky, let it sit for 10 minutes (or more). This will give the clay a bit of time to set-up, making it less sticky.
Apply Mixed Epoxy Clay:
Step 8. Press the ball of mixed Epoxy Clay into your Wire Frame using the tips of your fingers. You will want the Epoxy Clay to be flush and level with the Wire Frame. If you have too much clay, you can pinch off the excess and pat the clay down until it is smooth again, or remove it from the Wire Frame and start over. It is fine if there is a slight dome on the surface of the clay.
TIP: Make sure that the Epoxy Clay has fully adhered to the Wire Frame and that there are no gaps around the edges between the clay and wire.
Step 9. Use a wet-wipe to go along the outside edges and clean away any Epoxy Clay on the edges of the Wire Frame. Once the clay is cured, it is like cement and very difficult to remove.
Apply the Skeleton Leaf:
Step 10. Place the skeleton leaf down into the Epoxy Clay. Use your clean fingertips to press the skeleton leaf down into the clay making sure that it fully adheres. Let the Epoxy Clay cure for a minimum of 2 hours.
Step 11. After a minimum of 2 hours, the Epoxy Clay should be hard to the touch. Peel away the tape from the backside of the Wire Frame. If the clay isn’t cured enough, it will bend and potentially pull away from the side edges of the Wire Frame. If this is the case, let the clay cure another hour or so.
Step 12. If you have any excess residue from the packing tape, try Goo Be Gone! Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results. I applied a couple of drops on the backside and let it sit for over a minute. I then used a stir stick to scrape the tape residue. It was fast and easy. Once clean, just use rubbing alcohol or a wet-wipe to wipe clean.
Trim Skeleton Leaf
Step 13. Once the tape is removed, use a pair of scissors to trim around the Wire Frame.
Continue to trim until there is no overhang of the Skeleton Leaf along the outside edge of the frame. If there is an overhang, it will be easy for the Nunn Design Resin to overflow.
Step 14. I tend to work in a small area (typically my kitchen table), so I like to work on a surface that projects can be easily moved around and not disturbed. Place some business cards or some heavy card stock onto your work surface, making it easy to move the pieces without getting any resin on your fingers.
Tip: I recommend covering the card with glossy packing tape. This will prevent the resin from sticking to the paper.
Mixing Nunn Design Resin:
Step 15. Read the resin instructions for safety concerns regarding the Nunn Design Resin. When I work with resin, I always:
- Have my room heated around 70-73°
- Place a large plastic bag over my work surface and tape it down
- Make sure I have ventilation in my workroom
- Wear gloves
- Wear glasses (readers because I can’t see anymore. Plus it protects my eyes!)
- Have a pile of wet wipes handy
This is a great blog post that covers 20 Habits for Successfully Using Nunn Design 2-Part Epoxy Resin. Even if you are a seasoned resin mixer, this might be worth a read.
Step 16. Place one cup (included in the Nunn Design Resin Kit) onto your table.
For curing purposes, it is very important that the resin be an exact 1 to 1 ratio of Part A and Part B. I suggest getting your eyes level with the resin so you can see the lines on the measuring cup.
Pour Part A of your resin kit up to the 1 TBS mark on your measuring cup.
Pour Part B of your resin kit into the same cup until it is filled to the 2 TBS mark.
It is important to pour Part A first and then Part B. It is some chemical thing about part A being heavier or something.
Step 17. Set your timer for 2 minutes. Using the stir stick from your kit (a popsicle stick or coffee stir stick will work great too), slowly and carefully stir your resin scraping the sides as you stir. Stir for a minimum of 2 minutes. If your resin is still cloudy continue to mix until clear.
After mixing is complete and your resin is clear, scrape both sides of your stir stick on the edge of your resin filled cup.
Step 18. Using a smaller stir stick, drizzle a small amount of the mixed resin onto the cured skeleton leaf covered Epoxy Clay. Depending on the look you would like, you can pour enough resin so that the surface is flat or you can continue to pour resin until the resin is highly domed.
Step 19. If you see bubbles rising to the surface, using your hot breath, breathe on them. It isn’t a “blow” sort of breath – more of a “huff” sort of breath. The hot air will make the bubbles expand, rise to the surface and pop. As the resin starts to set up and become thicker, it will be more difficult for the air to rise to the surface. Make sure to check in on the curing resin and double-check for air bubbles. If you do have some bubbles that won’t pop with your “huff,” use a toothpick to gently drag them over to the sides. This agitation process will help them to pop. When the resin is thick and taffy-like in texture it is time to let it be. If you attempt to pop bubbles at this time, you may end up with a gooey mess.
Step 20. If you have resin that has over-poured or seeped under the bezel and onto the card, wait about 6 hours until the resin is at its “soft cure” phase. Remove the bezel from the card. The resin will still be soft. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to bend back the resin from the bezel. The resin will easily separate and peel off of the bezel.
Step 21. Let the resin cure for 12-14 hours. The resin will be hard to the touch but will continue to cure for the next 72 hours.
TROUBLESHOOTING: Disappearing Organics
Some dried and pressed organics will become totally translucent when exposed to resin. If you want to reduce your risk of this happening, there are two different methods for preparing your preserved organics. You can spray your organics with a resin spray or coat them with resin prior to embedding them.
A customer sent in this skeleton leaf problem:
“Hello I am running into a problem when adding skeleton leaves to a dark background type pendant. I prepare the leaves and they look great when I place them initially but once I pour the resin on them they turn clear and just about disappear. they turn almost transparent and no longer can be seen against the background. Is there a trick to avoid this problem?”
I have to admit, organics are tricky. For not all organics are the same or do they respond the same with resin. Just when I think I have something “figured out” in theory, it might not work from organic to organic.
So, to start with, the organic that I use in this tutorial: Epoxy Clay, Skeleton Leaves and Resin within Wire Frames Tutorial! and in this tutorial: Make These with Epoxy Clay, Skeleton Leaves and Nunn Design Resin
They are actually artificial rubber tree skeleton leaves. Therefore they don’t absorb the resin and don’t become transparent.
If you are working with organic skeleton leaves, the resin will absorb into them. For these pieces, I would recommend that you do the following:
- within a bezel or open frame, place in your:
a. White Epoxy Clay or
b. Colorized Nunn Design Resin. The only color that really will allow for the skeleton leaf to be seen is white.
- Once a or b from step 1 has cured, mix a batch of Nunn Design Resin.
- Drizzle a layer of clear resin over the cured Epoxy Clay or Colorized Resin
- Place the skeleton leaf into the “drizzled layer”.
- Pour on more clear resin until fully covered.
The risk of doing this as I described, is that the skeleton leaf can “rise to the surface.” If so, do not dome the resin. Fill until level or flat with the sides of the bezel. Then you will have to go back and top it off with another batch of resin.
I know this sounds like a lot of steps, and it is. But once you start into production, you will have all stages of pieces waiting for resin, so you will be rotating things on a regular bases.
Once the resin is fully cured, use fine steel wool to gently rub the surface of the colorized resin, resulting in a matte resin.
Ideas For Excess Resin!
If you are stressing because of the waste, here are a couple of tutorials that are ideal for the resin that is getting very thick and goopy.
- Colorized Resin Gems Tutorial
- Texturized Resin in Open Frame Hoops Tutorial + Video
- Making Molds with Organics to Create Sculpted Resin Tutorial + Video
- Nunn Design Resin Drop Pendants using Excess Resin and Gilding Flakes
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