March is Women’s History Month, and a creative and immersive way to honor the women of history and inspire others is to design a piece of resin art. Resin is amazing because it can suspend a moment in time or crystallize a thought or a feeling. With a resin trinket tray, you have a good amount of surface area for imagery and words, and any time someone uses the tray to display jewelry, makeup, or small treasures, they will feel encouraged and motivated by whatever you’ve chosen to capture.
I had a tough time deciding who to celebrate in my resin trays, because there are so many women who’ve made important contributions to art, science, human rights, exploration, just everything. There are not enough hours in the day to research all of them, but that is truly one of my favorite parts of the the project; everyone’s trays will be completely different.
Ultimately I chose to work with Frida Kahlo, Ella Fitzgerald, and Maxine Hong Kingston – a surrealist painter, a jazz singer, and a novelist. I took visual inspiration from one of Frida’s self-portraits on which there is a small banner on the bottom with a caption. I put banners in all my trays with a quote to accompany each woman’s photo.
Frida often depicted herself in front of foliage and the plants in her garden, so I chose dried leaves for the tray’s background and used a mauve palette from one of her paintings. Her quote, which I believe is taken from her diary, reads, “Enamorate de ti, de la vida, y luego quien tu quieras,” or, “Fall in love with yourself, with life, and then with whoever you want.”
Maxine’s quote reads, “In a time of destruction, create something.” Her seminal memoir “The Woman Warrior” blends autobiography with Chinese folktales. In the book, her mother’s name is Brave Orchid, and while I didn’t have a pressed orchid to put in the resin tray, I used a pansy to represent Brave Orchid watching over her. White flowers and a soft, sparkly, lilac background reflect the ghosts and stories of the past that contribute to our present.
Ella’s quote reads, “It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.” She is known as the First Lady of Song, and I imagined her singing at night clubs with the dark blue night sky background and glitter stars, shining brightly.
For a full list of my preferred tools and supplies, as well as in-depth resin instructions, refer to one of my resin classes: Resin Paperweights and Resin Jewelry. Your resin kit will probably end up looking different than mine, as you learn what your favorite supplies are.
Materials for Inspirational Resin Trays
- My basic 2-part epoxy casting resin kit, including 2-part epoxy casting resin, gloves, plastic cups for pouring and mixing, plastic or wooden stir sticks, tooth picks, a heat gun, cardboard and/or silicone mats to protect my table, paper towels, rubbing alcohol for cleaning
- Glitter, colorful mica powders, and/or any resin dyes/colorants
- Inclusions like paper cut-outs, paper print-outs, dried flowers, small objects, beads, letter beads as well as your preferred method of sealing porous items. I used a laminating machine to seal my paper.
- Silicone tray molds – I got small trinket tray molds from Etsy, but you can find larger tray molds as well
- A box or plastic bin large enough to cover your molds to protect your projects from dust and hair as they cure
How to Make a Resin Trinket Tray with Paper and Dried Flower Inclusions
1. Trace your resin mold onto scratch paper. You can also use a ruler to draw out a border if your tray mold has one.
2. Use this template to plan your tray design and see what will fit, like paper cut-outs, dried flowers, letter beads, whatever inclusions you will use. I also planned my resin layers on this sheet of paper so all of my info was in one spot. Remember, the first layer you pour will be at the top of the tray, the last layer you pour will be at the bottom, and any inclusions with a right side will have to be facing down as you cast your layers.
- For all three of my trays, the first layer I poured was clear resin with photos & quote banners.
- The second layer was clear resin with inclusions: dried botanicals for Frida, dried flowers for Maxine, and glitter stars for Ella.
- The third layer was color: a mauve-y purple for Friday, a very light purple with white mica for Maxine, and a night-sky blue with blue mica for Ella.
4. If you have to prep any of your inclusions, like pre-coating paper or dried flowers in resin spray or the sealant of your choice, do so now. I first used watercolor to give my banners a little bit of color, and then used a laminating machine to laminate each photo and each banner to seal the paper and protect it, being careful not to cut too closely when trimming in order to preserve the seal. To prevent the photos and banners from shifting too much in wet resin, I glued them together. I also decided to forego coating any of the dried flowers or botanicals, which did result in a little bubbling.
5. Prep/protect your work area and mix your casting resin according to the packaging. Remember to wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area.
6. Pour your first layer of resin and add inclusions.
7. Cover project with a clean box or bin to protect from dust and let resin set to at least a slightly harder than a gel state or let it fully harden. Timing will depend on the temperature and humidity, but I would give it at least 6 hours or overnight.
8. Prep and pour your second layer of resin. I added more inclusions in the second layer.
9. Cover project with a clean bin or box and allow to set again for 6 hours or overnight. You can let this 2nd layer just go to gel state if your 3rd layer, if like mine, is simply resin with no inclusions that might sink into the 2nd layer.
10. Prep and pour your third layer of resin. This was my color layer where I used resin colorants and mica powders.
11. Cover project with a clean bin or box and allow to fully set and cure.
12. Carefully demold your tray. Depending on your pour, you might end up with sharp edges on the bottom of the tray, and you can find out a few ways to smooth these out in my Make Resin Paperweights class. Otherwise, your tray is ready to use, enjoy, or gift.