It’s easy to make a glowing resin ring. You don’t need any prior experience with either resin or glow in the dark (phosphorescent) materials. The length of time the ring will glow in the dark depends on the type of glow powder you use, ranging from a few minutes (zinc sulfide powders) to over 12 hours (strontium aluminate powders). You can make rings that glow in any color of the rainbow or even mix and match colors within a single ring.
Glowing Resin Ring Materials
This is a quick gratification project once you collect all the necessary materials, completed within a few minutes to a day (depending on resin choice). You’ll probably need to order resin and glow powder. If you use a utensil for this project, you shouldn’t use it for food later on. Cured resin and glow powders aren’t toxic, but it’s a safe practice.
- ring mold
- glow powder
- long handled lighter
- paper towels
- small measuring cups (I use medicine cups)
- stirring sticks (I bought wooden sticks, but you can use any coffee stirrer)
You can either purchase a ring mold or else make one yourself using your favorite ring as a master and making an impression in flexible molding compound. The resin ring mold I’m using is one I purchased from Zougeebean Resin Jewelry and Mold Supplies via Etsy. There are several excellent mold supply crafters online, so you’re sure to find a mold perfect for you. Keep in mind, resin is not as hard as metal and may soften slightly with body heat (depending on what you use), so you’re looking for a fairly thick band. This means you’ll want a ring size larger than what you would wear for a thin metal ring. I’d recommend going up at least 1 full ring size, possibly 2.
There are 3 main types of resin. All work well for glow powders, but they vary in the time required to polymerize, toxicity, and properties after curing. The hardest and most scratch resistant is polyester resin, but it’s also the most toxic to work with and evolves a horrible smell. Polyurethane and epoxy resins are the other two types. They are not as hard as cured polyester, but the don’t have a strong smell. Resins can be clear or opaque. They all require a hardener or catalyst that is mixed with the resin to cause the polymerization reaction. You need to use a clear or translucent resin with glow powders. If light can’t strike the powder, it can’t glow.
I use Clear Cast 2-part epoxy resin. It’s easy to remove bubbles, has a nice long working time, doesn’t yellow with age, and has no odor. You can get resin online, at a craft store, or at a hardware store. Don’t buy giant containers unless you plan to burn through the resin. It only has a shelf life of about 6 months.
The intensity and duration of “glow” depends on the chemical composition of the powder and its particle size. Larger particles glow more brightly than smaller ones, but they also appear more granular. Aluminates glow much longer and more brightly than zinc sulfide powders. White/invisible powders glow more brightly than colored powders. Generally, glow brightness/duration is: green > aqua > blue > white > violet > red, yellow, orange. Several companies sell glow pigment. It’s expensive, but you don’t need a lot. Glow powders are inactivated by water, so keep them dry. Don’t grind them or you’ll lose brightness. Make sure you get glow powder and not black light powder, which only glows under ultraviolet light. It’s cool too, but won’t glow in the dark.
Make a Glowing Resin Ring
- Work on paper towels or some form of covered surface. Spills happen, so this makes clean-up easier. You can clean them up with acetone, but who wants to mess with that? It’s also a good idea to wear disposable gloves. I don’t, but probably should.
- Get your materials together. Make sure everything is clean and completely dry. The first thing I do is mix the resin. The product I use is 1 part resin to 1 part hardener. If you have problems casting resin, the most common issue is not measuring accurately enough. Carefully measure your liquids — don’t guesstimate.
- Clear Cast has a mega-long working time, but some resins cure within minutes. If your resin cures quickly, work fast. My procedure goes like this:
- Stir. Stir. Stir some more. Incomplete mixing leads to a soft, sticky end product. I mix for at least a couple of minutes.
- I pour a small amount into another cup and add glow pigment. This I don’t measure. I just add some. More pigment gives you more brightness, yet also makes the ring more opaque. Also, pigment may (or may not) sink in the resin. Experiment to get the effect you like.
- Pour the pigmented resin into the ring mold. I’m sure neatness counts, but if you’re sloppy, it’s okay. You can clean up the ring after its done using a razor blade or polish (depending how messy you are).
- Flame the top of the mold with a lighter. This will pop bubbles lurking at the surface. Don’t go all crazy and melt your mold. Just a quick pass is all it takes.
- Set the mold somewhere it won’t be disturbed. Temperature affects cure time. I set mine in a sunny windowsill and leave them alone for at least a day. The time you need depends on the resin you used. As I mentioned, some polymers harden within minutes or a couple of hours. Others take a day or more.
- Remove the ring from the mold when it is fully hardened. If it feels soft or sticky, give it more time. Note, polyester resin is known for sometimes feeling tacky on the exposed surface when it’s fully cured (which is then sanded off). Epoxy resin shouldn’t be sticky at all when it’s done.
- You can polish the ring using grades of sand paper and polishing compound or simply enjoy it as it is. Charge the ring by exposing it to light (sunlight is great). Pretty cool, right?
Feel free to ask questions in the comments section and let me know how your project turns out!