How to Make Layered Resin Laser Cut Brooches (From a Hand Drawn Design)

Sometimes adding a few extra touches to your laser cut brooches can be what really sets them apart from others! In this tutorial, we show you how adding some hand painted details and a coat of resin can give the effect of vintage Bakelite pieces. This tutorial is also completely made from hand drawn sketches, so no fancy computer program skills are required to follow along!

What You’ll Need:

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Step 1: Measure Out Your Guides

When you order with a hand drawn design through Vector Etch, your charms are priced by the size bracket that they fit within e.g. 50mm x 50mm maximum dimension for Medium Silhouette Charms. Brooches are most commonly around medium size (or larger), so start by measuring out a 50mm square for the base layer of your brooch. Measure a 30mm square for the second layer of your brooch, and a 15mm square for reference for the additional pieces.

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Step 2: Sketch Your Shapes

Use different coloured pencils to sketch each layer of your brooch. Tip: I made the base layer of my cactus (sketched here in blue) slightly small than the top layer, so that if they weren’t perfectly aligned when I glued them together, the finished piece wouldn’t look misaligned. In this step, make sure that you will have room somewhere to glue a brooch back on.

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Step 3: Outline Your Shapes

Lay a new piece of bond (or trace) paper over your sketch, and use your felt tip pen to draw the outlines of each individual shape. Your final charms will be laser cut from the outside line of your design, so try to keep the line-work neat and tidy.

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Step 4: Colour in Your Shapes

Use your marker to colour your shapes in to be completely black and white silhouettes (as required for ordering silhouette charms). It doesn’t have to be too perfect, just be careful not to go outside the lines!

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Step 5: Scan Your Shapes

Scan your silhouettes (make sure that you scan with the resolution at least 300dpi). For some tutorials we say that you can take a photo of your silhouettes instead of scanning – you could do that here, but because the shapes are going to be layered it becomes more important to make sure that there’s no distortion (such as if you accidentally took the photos on slight angles). Once you’ve scanned in each shape, navigate to the file/s on your computer and title them e.g. ‘Cactus Base.jpg’. This can be left out, but it makes re-ordering easier down the track if you’ve given your shapes a name.

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Step 6: Pick Your Materials

Choose what material type and colour that you would like each layer to be. Sample Material Swatches can be ordered ahead of time for ease of choosing OR, browse the Material Gallery.

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Step 7: Place Your Custom Silhouette Charms Order

Navigate to the Custom Silhouette Charms category and order the pieces that you need to make your layered design.

For the cactus design in the sample shown here, I ordered:
Silhouette Charms Mini in Red Fabric Speciality acrylic for the flowers
Silhouette Charms Small in Green Marble acrylic for the cactus bulb
Silhouette Charms Medium in Forest Green Premium Acrylic for the cactus backing (base) layer

This gave me enough pieces to make 20 cactus brooches.

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Step 8: Wait for Your Pieces to Arrive

Once your order has been received, Vector Etch staff will process your requests within 5-10 business days. They’ll set-up your artwork for laser cutting and create your shapes in the materials that you’ve requested. If there’s any issues at all with your order (such as the scan is too low resolution), we’ll get in touch to let you know.

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Step 9: Peel Your Pieces

When your laser cut pieces arrive they will have protective tape on each side that will need to be removed to reveal the material. Tip: Tweezers are your best friend here! Use tweezers to gently peel up from an edge. The trick is to go slow and peel the tape off in one smooth motion.

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Step 10: Glue Your Pieces Together

Use E6000 to glue your pieces together, and then leave your pieces to dry. Try not to touch or move them around. Really, leave them be. E6000 will get tacky within about 2 minutes, and set in approximately 10 minutes. A full cure takes between 24 and 72 hours.

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Step 11: Add Details with Paint Pens

Use paint pens to add details to your pieces. Your details can be done all in one colour, or with a variety of colours. If using different colours, work from light to dark to minimise damaging your paint pens, and leave some time in-between colours for the paint to touch dry.

Important side note:

It’s only suitable here to add details onto plain (not etched) acrylic because we’re going to apply resin over the top. Without resin, the painted details would simply scratch off. Without applying a protective coating, acrylic paint will only permanently stick to etched acrylic.

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Step 12: Apply Resin Coating

Follow the guides provided with the Craftsmart Liquid Gloss Ice Resin to mix a small batch of resin (about 8 grams of each part). Use a paddle pop stick to spread a thin coating of resin over your brooch, then gently add resin until it forms a nice domed shape.

Tip #1: When you mix your resin it will get small air bubbles in it. Once applied to your brooches, you can use a Butane lighter or Isopropyl Alcohol (in a misting bottle) to remove these bubbles.

Tip #2: Resin your pieces on an oven rack/cooling tray. This way any drips or overflow will have somewhere to go other than to the underside of your brooch.

When done, leave your resin to cure (about 1-3 days).

Important side note:

If you’ve never, ever used resin before, I highly recommend applying resin to one piece only as a test run. The trick with resin is to apply just the right amount – if you apply too little, it won’t get the nice doming effect to all edges, apply too much and it will over flow off the edges. It’s something that takes a little practice to perfect, and I’ve seen/heard of many people ruining complete batches of brooches by trying to master the technique on 20 pieces for their first attempt.

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Step 13: Assemble with a Brooch Back

As a final step, glue your brooch back on. For hints and tips on gluing, see our tutorial How to Glue Earrings Back On.

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Enjoy, Share and Keep Creating!

Show us your new pieces, we would love to see! Post your designs on Instagram and tag @vectoretch #vectoretch.

Vector Etch offers a partial discount when you re-order a design. Try experimenting with the same design in different materials to expand your product range (and make more use of your artwork). You could also do a modified re-order and try your design smaller or larger to be different items, like statement earrings.