How resin is fast becoming a versatile, inexpensive craft material of choice
What comes to mind when you think of a cottage industry? Maybe it’s a gentle-faced woman, hands rough through many years of hard work, spinning peacefully and quietly in a small nook of her overcrowded home. Maybe a group of similarly clad women might come to your thoughts, chatting and sharing their joys and worries as they dextrously manipulate their lace bobbins. Or maybe it’s more up to date; a friend of yours whose online handmade soap and bath bomb business started at her kitchen table. Or a potter with a kiln in the back garden, decorating a set of crockery before the next craft fair. The great news is that all manner of cottage industries have survived and thrived throughout the ages and with the ever-expanding range of textiles, tools and raw materials which can be used in our homes, they are set to continue to be an income of choice for many.
One material that is becoming an increasingly popular choice for crafters is resin. Natural resin is not a new substance; it can be found in the bark of trees, in herbal flowers and the buds of some shrubs. The ancient Greeks used it for oral hygiene, chewing it for its antibacterial properties. Other ancient civilisations used it as a fixative for weapons. However, it was not until the 1930s that resin composites were discovered and their commercialisation began. Since then, we’ve seen it used in a vast array of products, from aeronautical and marine components, and industrial and electronic applications, to the everyday adhesives and coatings we find in our homes. While it is utilised extensively in industrial settings, it can also be used in non-factory locations and thus lends itself to the cottage industry of the twenty-first century.
There are numerous types of resin composite, but epoxy resin, used initially for dental and industrial purposes, became popular within the art community in the 1940s and 1950s. Whereas plastic requires heat to fashion it into the required shape, the resin can simply be poured into a mould and left to harden; a chemical reaction, rather than heat, causes this to happen. One niche market that has made excellent use of this is the miniature reproduction model industry. Cast your mind back for a minute to the last time you saw a model railway. Focus on the tiny, perfectly constructed houses, complete with fine detail brickwork, roofing tiles, vintage features and roses around the door. It is the resin that allows for such keen attention to detail. Resin miniatures are also essential now in the world of fantasy or historical modelling, an area in which there has been a resurgence since the rise in popularity of games such as War Hammer. Dungeons and Dragons has also undergone a resurgence in the number of young players, and while many play online, there are in-person games too. Part of the delight of these is the huge range of exquisitely detailed miniatures available.
Away from the gaming and miniature modelling world, the use of resin in creating handmade jewellery in the UK has opened up a wonderful plethora of creative opportunities. With the addition of powders and colours, glitter and botanicals, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating a unique range of jewellery. If you are new to resin and considering stepping out and starting your own business selling handmade jewellery in the UK, there are a plethora of tutorials and blogs online to inform and encourage you. While resin is generally easy to source and use, you will need to become familiar with the different types of composite and which ones are needed for a particular use or product. For example, a casting resin, used to pour into a mould to create a ring or pendant is different to a resin used to coat a surface with a glossy finish. If you have not experimented already, have a go and have some fun!
Another advantage of building a resin-based business is that it requires relatively low start-up costs. You will need some basic resin supplies and a few tools, but this really can fit around your budget, meaning you can start with what you can afford. Much of your initial promotion and selling can be done online at minimal cost to yourself. You will need to ensure that you have the correct craft insurance in place, both for selling online and if and when you branch out into craft fairs and markets. As a family business ourselves, specialising in craft insurance for several decades, we have learnt from those who have gone before us and are continually listening to and learning from our customers. As such, we are confident that we can talk you through the insurance needs of your business and offer you a package suited to your unique circumstances. Pick up the phone or drop us a line; we look forward to hearing from you.
As we continue to look towards times of financial squeezing, many are looking for ways to supplement their income. Customers are also looking for gifts within a tighter budget. Using resin to create stunning and unique handmade jewellery could tick both boxes. As we have recognised in previous blogs, the handmade jewellery UK market is fairly full, but given the small financial investment required, it is something to consider. Have a go at designing something unique … take a look at what is already out there and go for something different. Develop your range of products. With Christmas not too far away, gorgeous jewellery that won’t break the bank may well be the answer for many a shopper.
We’ve only touched here on a few of the multitude of uses for resin. It is an amazingly adaptable and versatile substance and in the hands of a creative and resourceful individual could prove the foundation for a flourishing cottage industry whose products will delight many.