How do I embed something in epoxy?
February 2, 2004 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Is there a trick to embedding something in epoxy, or do you just do it? [more inside]

We just finished an immense project at work. It had a number of bugs, and I have some plastic bugs I'd like to give the lead developer. It's kind of a joke 'cause she kept the bugs on her desk (she has a bunch of toys), and it wasn't until we removed them that the bugs started resolving.

I want to do something to the bugs and give them back, I thought encasing them in a cube of epoxy would be appropriate.

Do I just buy some basic epoxy and build a little cube out of plastic to fill? Or is there a better way?
posted by o2b to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IANAMaterialsEngineer, but isn't epoxy usually opaque? It seems to me you probably would want them encased in acrylic or lucite. No idea how you would do that, though. Maybe try a trophy store?
posted by starvingartist at 10:54 AM on February 2, 2004

There are plenty of clear epoxys - but I suspect that this would take a special application type.

You could call some taxidermists. They might know.

I was thinking of suprising my wife, when her 28 year old incontinent Dobermann-Shepherd who has taken up randomly snapping at thin air, finally dies - by having the dog set in epoxy or lucite. I'll have to check back here for more informed advice.
posted by troutfishing at 11:00 AM on February 2, 2004

I'd lean towards a clear urethane rather than epoxy or acrylic.
posted by machaus at 11:09 AM on February 2, 2004

machaus, great link. I'm going to get me a few gallons of this stuff for making gifts, wheee!

/rubs hands, cackles

Also, don't they call this stuff perspex in the UK? (for possible google help)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:08 PM on February 2, 2004

You can use ice cube trays - put some in, put the object in, then add the rest.
posted by agregoli at 1:07 PM on February 2, 2004

perspex is a brand name equivalent to plexiglass or other acrylic sheet goods.
posted by machaus at 2:56 PM on February 2, 2004

Embedding and coating things in resin is a hot topic on craft discussion boards nowadays. Here a couple links from one I frequent:

The two most useful pieces of advice seem to be: get a ventilator mask (not a flimsy painting dust mask) and use wax paper on your work surface to make cleanup easier. That stuff is nasty and you really don't want to be breathing the fumes. Good luck!
posted by web-goddess at 3:55 PM on February 2, 2004

I've embedded a few things in resin.

Go to TAP Plastics, if you have one in your neighborhood (IE, live in CA), or find a similar store. TAP Plastics also apparently has an online store which should work for you.
(i think i've used that Clear-Lite resin in the past. You also need the Catalyst. I haven't had any experience with the dyes.)

I recommend if you *can* get to a TAP Plastics yourself, you should go, because apparently all the employees there go through a training program with all the products in the store (cool idea, no?) and will have had experience casting stuff in resin.

Here's my experience:

I've made one large cast (using the bottom of a tupperware bin, about 3' x 1.5') and several smaller ones using molds bought at TAP Plastic (these are better, because, obviously, you get the imprint of the tupperware bin on whatever you're casting).

The key thing is try to keep it bubble-free -- this is considerably easier when you're working with smaller casts which it sounds like you'll be doing. Pay careful attention to the stirring and pouring directions -- this is what is going to be the cause of bubbles in the cast.

Basically all you do is pour the form about half-full, let it firm up for awhile (can't remember how long), float your objects in there, and pour the rest of the resin (keep in mind this may move your objects around, so be cautious here too).

A couple of caveats: resin comes straight from stinktown. It is a VERY unpleasant smell, and you kinda need to do it in a covered location so you don't get dirt on it or whatever. I'd maybe advise doing it on a porch and covering the cast with a large bin, to keep debris out. Also: apparently weather plays a role in how successful your casting is going to be, so pay attention to any instructions you get on that (TAP has a number of pamphlets, and maybe even books on the subject that you might check out.) You probably want to buy the mold-release goop or whatever. I think i did. Or maybe I just used pomade. can't remember.

Once you get good (I got sick of it, because 1: it stunk, and i lived in an apartment and so had to do it inside -- which i don't recommend -- and 2: it was getting a little too cliche at the art school i was attending. Like, instant Hesse or something.) you can make your *own* casts which don't necessarily have to be square shaped, and start making nifty stuff (my first and last attempt at casting a beer bottle failed miserably, and i gave up after that, but you can make some real freakin' cool stuff from resin and that paint on mold-maker they sell.)
posted by fishfucker at 7:00 PM on February 2, 2004

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