At some point in time in your crafting journey of life, you might be inclined to experiment with epoxy or some other form of resin. Whether it be for tumblers, molds, or some other reason, if you are a crafter and you are on some sort of social media the FOMO will kick in and you will want to try it.
My point is, save this post, bookmark it so when that time comes you have this. Without a doubt when you attempt to use epoxy or resin you are going to end up with ripples, fish eyes, and probably some other sort of mess up. Don’t stress it though, I figured out some ways to not only avoid but correct the mistakes when they do happen. Fixing ripples in epoxy or resin is super important, especially when using it on the tumblers.
What if I just leave them
If you don’t fix the ripples in the beginning stages you will end up with a lot of issues later in the process. Here are a few of the issues you will find:
If you don’t fix the ripples or fish eyes in the first layer they will just build in the second (and third if you are doing decals, glitter, and paint) and create a really uneven surface. If you are selling this you do not want that. you want a smooth and even surface. Not only that the uneven surfaces can cause issues with the decal application. If you place a decal vinyl or waterslide, there will either be a gap behind the vinyl or the waterslide will wrinkle.
Let’s say you leave it and you go ahead and place a decal over the ripply epoxy. When you go to put that second coat on top of that decal the gap behind the decal is going to get filled with epoxy, you may think that’s a good thing. It is in fact not, you see what ends up happening is it will keep lifting and it will be so bad that you will be able to feel it, even if you sand it.
So you have created what looks like this awesome cup and you ship it off to the customer. All is well until they drop it or set it down too hard on a hard surface and it cracks or shatters. They reach out to you super upset and want a refund. You think back to your process and remember that you left one or two ripples or fish eyes. Those fish eyes and ripples caused weak spots in the resin, which in turn caused the epoxy to release from its base and crack.
At that point, you have two choices, refund the money or offer to send a replacement. My advice is to learn from the mistake and replace it free of charge, send them a shipping label to send the busted one back so you can strip it and reuse it in the future.
Now that you know what can happen if you don’t fix the ripples are you ready to learn how to fix them? Keep reading!
Let’s Fix It!
The first thing you will want to do is make sure you have all the necessary materials in order to fix the issue. Here is a list of items you will need.
- rubbing alcohol (maybe some wine too)
- fine grit sand paper
- paper towels
- microfiber towel
- Epoxy or resin ready to go, mixed already
- Tumbler Spinner if fixing a tumbler
- THICK gloves, not those el cheapo ones, protect yourself!
- heat gun (blow dryer will not get hot enough for this)
- a WARM room, colder temps harden epoxy faster, if at all possible do this and all of your epoxy projects outside.
- MASK, whether it be a really intense one or simple, PROTECT your lungs and brain as much as you can.
Now if you have all these materials you can get started.
Start heating your item up. Place the tumbler on the stand or spinner or your molded item onto a raised surface. Then point the heat gun directly to the area that is ripply or has a fish eye. If it is just a fish eye that you have to heat it enough so that it is tacky and move to step two quickly.
If you have ripples this part is tricky because you will have to jump between steps one, two and three a few times. Find the first ripple, heat it until it gets tacky, then jump to step two and three for that section and repeat.
Sand your item, you need to try to sand it down as much as possible to get it as close as you can to get a smooth surface without sanding it all the way to the base. If you have a deep ripple or fish eye just sand it a little so the next layer has something to grab onto.
From there you will wipe the item clear using a damp microfiber towel then dry it with a paper towel then wipe again with a dry microfiber towel to remove any lint from the paper towel.
Now for the risky part, this is different for fish eyes than it is for ripples.
For ripples, you will stir your epoxy or resin just enough to activate it again, especially if its been sitting a while. Then you will pour a VERY small amount onto the surface of your item, then using your gloved hand you will rub it over the surface. I do it this way rather than using a brush so that I can FEEL if the ripples have been smoothed out. You will be able to tell with your fingers but not with something else.
Once it has been covered with a thin layer you will just let it set overnight and repeat if necessary. You will need to do this as many times as needed until the ripples are gone.
For fish eyes you will take a toothpick and dab the areas that the eyes are. You will place a tiny drop into the center of the drop and leave it to cure. Do not apply any heat to the eye area and make sure the surface is stable. Basically, you want to make sure it doesn’t drip. It needs to stay put until it’s cured enough not to move.
Once you have finished steps one through three you can apply your final layer of epoxy, go slow and avoid more fish eyes or ripples.
At some point, if you have too many fish eyes or so much rippling the item just isn’t salvageable. If it is a tumbler don’t toss it, strip it. If it’s a molded item toss it or try to sell it on an oopsie page at a discounted price :).
This is one time that I will thoroughly preach safety to you. Epoxy, resin, even UV resin are all chemicals. They can all be super harmful to you, your loved ones, and your furbabies. Use this stuff with caution and not around them. Go outside, use fans, open windows and wear a dang mask. After I completed one cup and one round of molds I got very sick, nothing else in my life was different and the symptoms pointed to epoxy poisoning. I wasn’t educated, I had no idea.
It was in my lungs making it hard to breathe after walking 10 steps, my head pounded every day for 2 solid weeks, and the brain fog was absolutely insane. I tossed the epoxy I was using, aired the area I was working in out for a full week. It took about 6-8 months for me to feel normal-ish.
This is not me trying to scare you away, just educate like I wish someone had done for me.
If you would like to watch the video version of this tutorial you can see it here on YouTube.
You can also check out a couple of my other videos related to tumbler making by clicking the following links:
As always my crafty people, go craft, but safely!
Be sure to check out some other nifty functional craft ideas through our other posts here on Craft-ILY as well as checking out some videos on DIY and How To’s over on YouTube. Look for “Crafting Unedited” or just click the name in blue to see!