Last month, I wrote about the Japanese word gaman which means patience, and that blog serves as the perfect prelude for this month’s blog, on the creation of resin jewelry. Working with resin, regardless of what you are creating, requires a lot of patience. Some may not know what resin really is, or where it comes from; it is a naturally occurring material, formed in special resin cells of plants, usually produced when injury occurs. It has been used by humans for centuries, and more recently, man-made resins have also been produced. From perfumery to jewelry, resins play a big role in our craft.
My first experiences with working with resin
My first experiences with resin was as a painter, using beeswax, dammar resin, and pigments (encaustic painting) about 20 years ago. The textures and forms you could create with resin are almost endless, from translucent and opaque surfaces, to carved and layered to create texture and depth. When I began making wearable art, I extrapolated what I had learned as a painter with resin, and worked to create pieces that had a similar effect to encaustic paintings. It was in this extrapolation that I started experimenting with casting resin, and the painting process has influenced and continues to influence how I use colour and texture, a symbiotic relationship.
Creating resin jewelry
There are many steps to creating resin earrings, pendants and brooches. First, I begin by making the bezels from bronze or silver, by soldering, forming, and cleaning them. After this is done, I prepare inclusions of gemstones and crystals to enhance the colour, and use images from my photo archive printed on fine washi (traditional Japanese paper) and gold or silver leaf.
When the time comes to decide the colour of the resin is where I find most enjoyment. I peruse photos, gemstones, pearls, and other sources of inspiration to find a colour that I think captures the beauty of the jewelry. Over the years, I have noticed that a theme has emerged of decidedly deep blues of the sea and sky, teal greens, soft and silvery greys, and warm golds that I gravitate towards when choosing resin colours.
To bring the piece of jewelry all together, I carefully place the bezels on a taped surface, and begin layering with silver or gold leaf, gems, washi, and, of course, the resin. Each piece is composed of three layers, and each layer requires curing time before the next can begin. After the pieces have cured completely (about three days), they are sanded by hand to a soft, matte finish.
A practice in patience
There are a multitude of challenges that come with creating resin jewelry, that try my patience daily, and remind me of the themes of gaman I wrote about in my last blog. The best parts of the day are when there is a natural flow to the work, with no struggles or impatience. However, these moments would not be possible without the challenges, and I let the process guide and teach me—a student forevermore.
Each piece of wearable art is carefully crafted from start to finish, or rather, from bezels to ear wires. You can see my new pieces featuring resin on my website, and more will be added soon, so keep an eye out! You can also subscribe to my newsletter to be informed of new jewelry launches and events. To see my newest work in person, visit me at the Summer Art and Craft Show, Tuesdays to Saturdays, until August 13th. I hope to see you there!