This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
A lot of jewelry will have gems and jewels inlaid as part of the design. The good news is that you don’t have to go out and purchase expensive gemstones to recreate the costume piece. Instead, you can create fake gems yourself using resin.
You make resin costume pieces by mixing the resin and then pouring it into a mold to sit for 24-48 hours. After this time the resin will have hardened and you’ll have a jewel for your costume. You can use silicone or plastic molds with resin (it’s okay if the mold was originally made for cooking), and you can find all manner of gemstone shapes to choose from, and some other shapes altogether.
However, it’s important to take safety precautions when using resin. It absolutely should not be ingested, but it can also be a skin irritant. You’ll want to use gloves when handling resin. Once it’s hardened, the resin is no longer toxic and can be handled safely.
When to use resin for cosplay jewelry
Resin actually has many purposes and can be used in molds to create replicas of just about anything. However, the most common usage for it in cosplay jewelry making will be for creating gemstones. You can then attach these gemstones to earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, swords, shields, headdresses, and any other costume prop or cloth that you want.
Generally, you will make the resin pieces, then attach them to another jewelry base using glue. You can also drill a hole in the resin and use it as a bead or pendant.
How to make custom resin pieces
Resin has a limited amount of time that you can work with it before it starts to cure (or harden). This will be slightly different depending on the type of resin you purchase, but it should be labeled on the bottle or directions your resin comes with. Most of the time, you should expect a working time of about 30 minutes. To make sure you’re using your time wisely, make sure you have all of your supplies ready to go before you start mixing the resin.
You also need to pay attention to the temperature when working with resin. Ideally, you should work at a room temperature between 75ºF and 85ºF. At the very least keep the temperature above 65ºF, since the resin will not cure properly below this temperature. Working at lower temperatures (65º-75º) makes it more likely bubbles will form in your resin.
- Epoxy resin (clear finish)
- Resin hardener (this usually comes packaged together with resin)
- A silicone mold (it’s okay if it’s a cooking mold)
- Optional: Translucent resin dye (for colored gems)
- Optional: acrylic paint (for opaque gems, such as pearls)
- Disposable gloves
- Beakers and stirring sticks
- Place the bottles of resin and hardener in a warm bath for 30 minutes before starting. This is really only necessary if you’re working in a cooler than ideal environment. It will warm up the liquids so that they don’t bubble as much when you are mixing them together.
- Add an equal amount of resin and hardener to a beaker. Make sure you’re wearing a pair of disposable gloves so you don’t get anything onto your hands. Being exact is important for helping the resin to harden correctly, so use the measurement lines on the beaker to help you pour the correct amounts.
- Mix the two substances slowly and carefully for 5 minutes or until no streaks are remaining. Do not rush this, since that will cause extensive bubbles to form. Be patient and mix the two ingredients at a slow and steady pace.
- Add any desired color and continue to mix it carefully until the color is even throughout the resin mixture. You can create clear gems if you want to, but you can also add a few drops of dye or acrylic paint to color the gems. I used translucent resin dye and a pearlescent paint in my example.
- Carefully pour the resin into the silicone mold. Make sure the tip of the beaker is close to the mold when you pour. This will make fewer bubbles form during the pouring.
- Put the resin aside and let it sit for 24-48 hours (or follow the directions included with your resing product). Some products are quick-cure and will be ready sooner.
- After the resin has hardened, stretch the silicone and remove the gems. You can now glue the gems onto other pieces, or drill a hole in them to use as beads.
Do not put leftover resin down the drain. It could potentially cause a severe blockage. Instead, let the resin cure in the beaker overnight, then throw away the beaker or remove the hardened resin and clean out the beaker for reuse.