I can’t believe Valentine’s Day is coming up so quickly… it seems like the new Year just happened. I have started working with resin and I wanted to take advantage of this new obsession by making something for Valentine’s Day that could still be used year-round, so I decided to make some drink coasters. I also wanted to see what I could do with my Silhouette Alta 3D Printer. Would the heat produced by the chemical reaction of the resin setting melt the filament I used to print my 3D insert? I didn’t know but I wanted to find out. The good news is… Oh, Joy! it didn’t hurt the 3D print at all!
I started out by designing the “LOVE” insert for the inside of the coasters. I used Silhouette Studio Business Edition to make the initial design, then moved it over into the software that came with the Silhouette Alta. If you don’t have Silhouette Studio, don’t worry, I have the file right here for you.
Resin Love Coaster Supplies
- Epoxy Resin
- Silicone Coaster Mold
- Mica Powders
- Resin Dye
- Ventilator Mask
- Silicone gloves
- Craft sticks
- Silhouette Alta Plus
3D Printing the Inserts
First I designed my Love insert using Silhouette Studio. Once I had it laid out as l wanted I opened Silhouette 3D, which is the software that came with the Silhouette Alta Plus, and opened it as an extrusion print. There are several different options you can choose when you open a new file, so don’t be confused, they all do different things. Extrusion is the choice you want for this project.
I double-checked to be sure the width and height were correct for my mold, and it was perfect at 3″x3″. I then set the height to .10″. I then clicked on the 3D print tab at the top of the window, made sure my filament was loaded, my print was set as Standard and it was ready to print. Now don’t think that a 3D printer is quick because it’s not. Each of these inserts took about 38 minutes to print. Multiply that by the four inserts I made and I was sitting at around 2 1/2 hours for the printing. Good thing I could go on about my day during the print. the small print bed is the only downside I can find for the Silhouette Alta. If I had a larger printer I could have printed all four at one time. However, that would also take up much more valuable space in my craft room.
Making the Resin Coasters
While the inserts were printing I measured the volume of the coaster molds using water and found they each hold 2 ounces of liquid. I marked on the outside of the silicone mold using a Sharpie and carefully patted them dry with a soft towel. One thing you always want to be sure of is that there is no water left in the mold when you pour your resin. Resin and water are not friends and your project will not work out as you want.
Once the inserts were done printing I was ready to mix up the resin. These coasters have two layers of resin so for the first layer I only want 1 ounce, which means I need to make up a total of four ounces. Once I had the resin thoroughly mixed I divided it up into 4 different cups, one ounce each. Each cup then got 2 – 3 drops of resin dye and a bit of mica in a corresponding color. (You can use the tip of a craft stick to put a bit of mica into your resin.) I then mixed the resin, dye, and mica powders thoroughly. Once they were mixed they were ready to pour into the molds. I moved the resin around until it completely covered the bottom of the mold, making sure there were not trapped air bubbles in the corners or edges.
Once the resin was spread completely over the bottom of the mold I used my heat gun to pop any bubbles that were rising to the top. I made sure I did not get my heat gun too close to the resin, keeping it at least 6″ away so I did not scorch my resin. Then every 5-10 minutes I took a craft stick and carefully moved my resin around so I did not get the striations in the mica that it like to form. I wanted it to have the shimmer from the mica without the lines it likes to naturally create.
Once the resin had started to set up and was no longer allowing the mica powder to move int striations I carefully set the Love inserts into the resin, centering it in the mold. I then let the resin set up for about 4-6 hours. Once it had set it was time to pour the clear layer over the top.
I mixed another four ounces of resin, this time leaving it clear, and poured it over the molds, being careful to not to overfill them. Once again I used the heat gun to pop any bubbles that had risen to the top. I came back every 5 minutes or so until there were no more bubbles. I did notice that there was a bit of air escaping from a couple of the inserts, but this is natural. You just need to be sure they do not end up stuck in your resin as it hardens.
Finishing the Resin Love Coasters
I let the coasters set up overnight and they were ready to unmold in the morning. This is the part I really love, removing my project from the mold. They looked great and it was time to finish them up. They had a bit of a sharp lip at the top that needed sanding down, and I have found the easiest thing to use to do this is an emery board. I sanded the sharp edges off but left a small lip on the edges to help catch any liquids that might just happen to run to the edge of the coaster. Then I turned them over to put the cork backing on them.
The coasters themselves measured about 4 inches so I cut down the cork to 3 1/2 inch squares. Then it was simply a matter of taking off the backing to reveal the adhesive, center them on the back of the coaster, and stick them down.
This was such a fun and easy project, and while it was not a quick craft, it was well worth the time it took to complete, I mean, just look at these beauties.