This list is ideal for anyone in the UK and Europe looking to purchase keepsake jewellery supplies to make breastmilk and memorial jewellery. Ordered by category it’s almost a one-stop-shop of the things you’ll need to succeed making keepsakes for your growing clientele. Prices are correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.
The USA version of this list is here and the Canada version is coming soon. Hopefully I’ll add versions for the rest of Europe and Australia when possible.
PPE – Personal Protective Equipment
Probably the most important on the list because most of us are making keepsake jewellery to support our families. A little bit of resin dust now and again might not seem like that much of a bad thing but you have to look towards the future. If you put in place a good code of conduct now and insist on safety, you’ll be thankful later. Coming soon: a blog on keeping yourself and your family safe as you work with multimedia! So here are a few of my favourite safety items and where to find them.
Box of 1000 gloves You’ll need to change your gloves often due to the hazardous and super sticky nature of resin. Unfortunately, for reusability and eco friendliness, it’s difficult to keep gloves for more than one session. They gunk up, split and the stickiness can ruin a perfectly de-moulded piece so change them often. There are plenty of other ways of reducing, reusing and recycling plastic. I usually buy my gloves from market stalls and car boot sales, usually around £2 or you can offer a fiver for three boxes which often works. If I’ve run out I find poundshops often have cheap thin gloves but they’re not as good.
No More Gloves (barrier creams)
No More Gloves (£5/100ml) is the branded barrier liquid or you can go for good old fashioned…
Zinc oxide powder can be mixed with some water but I’ve never tried it. You probably won’t need a barrier cream if you’re working with UV resin but I find epoxy gets everywhere
Respirator and Glasses
Respirator and glasses set I highly recommend you protect your eyes and lungs with a but I don’t always wear mine
Disposable dust masks should, at the very least, be worn while drilling and filling resin and you should never do this around children and pets – at the time of writing, face masks aren’t available due to the coronavirus pandemic, so I’d highly recommend making your own…
Use this pattern on Etsy if you want to DIY. Of course I’m unable to take any responsibility as to their effectiveness, but they are better than nothing. I’ve even personally handwashed disposable masks.
A thick waxed cotton apron and I try to wear denim jeans to protect my legs from any spills and sharps dropping down. Joanna at Isabel Necessary put my logo on some aprons which feels really professional and sets a good image.
Hair bobbles to tie back your hair. Mine disappear so I buy a hundred at a time, half for me and half for the kids. Mine live on the peg board and I grab one before any resin or metalwork
Hair bands to stop the strays falling down
Peg boards and hooks are great for holding orders that are in cellophane bags, for hanging supplies and keeping your workspace clutter-free. IKEA do wonderful peg boards. My tip is to keep several orders together, use an old mobile phone box
Plastic takeaway tubs are great for organising orders on shelves. There’s no right or wrong way to organise them but these work perfectly for breastmilk drying. You can store them on a shelf, a shoe rack (Home Bargains and IKEA are great here). Great for storing epoxy resin pieces whilst they cure
Shelving units that are open are best for drying, and make sure you use a spirit level to get it all even if you’re curing epoxy. You can keep supplies in nice containers on the shelves too
Storage units like this are perfect for keeping the takeaway tubs. I literally found mine outside someone’s house, knocked on their door and asked if it was ok to take it. You don’t need to spend money on everything; try to make do and mend.
Brother QL500 label makers are great for keeping things neat and , I got it on eBay second hand and it saves us time, but you can write them out by hand. The 29x90mm labels are great all-rounders. Regular labels work too if you want to hand write them, and don’t forget to keep all your label backs, the shiny side is perfect for working hair on!
Highlighters for colour coding labels for the kits you’re sending out or when an order arrives – I’ve always done blue=breastmilk green=ashes orange=hair pink=cord/placenta. I use the same colours to mark them on spreadsheets on Google Drive which link to the orders on our website, but you could link to the conversation on Facebook with the client, or the Etsy purchase etc
Tablet in front of me for looking at orders whilst making. I have a Google Drive app on my iPad so I can see the current order sheet, I can rearrange columns etc. Free download templates coming soon! Make sure you get a screen protector because you’ll probably get resin on it. Keep it away from children and pets, it can be your work tablet. I like to listen to audio books whilst working, and Amazon have given me a link for you all to get a free audio book here:
Sending Kits for Breastmilk/Ashes etc
Large letter postage boxes are brilliant for posting out your sending kits and we recycle these when they’re not ripped
Some labeled 3ml pots for your clients’ hair, ashes and cord or for a higher-end look that’s plastic-free you can use small aluminium lip balm tins
Heat and freezer-proof plastic tubes for breastmilk, 10ml
This size clear hygiene bags are essential for the breastmilk tubes which sometimes leak, and we found we must tell clients to keep the two milk tubes in one bag and the hair pot in another because we’ve received hair soaked in milk before!
Plastic-free cellulose bags are great too if you’re trying to minimise plastic. They don’t work for breastmilk, but are great for the little pots for ashes/hair/cord. We’ll be adding a blog soon on minimising single-use plastic in keepsake jewellery if you’re worried about that. Even ashes and placenta powders sometimes leak so they need bags too to make sure nothing can escape and fall out of the pot into the box
First class large letter stamps one for the outside and one for inside of the box
Ultra Fine Sharpies… I can’t keep enough of these around and they’re essential for marking the breastmilk tubes, ash pots, bags, labels and metalworking. The ASDA CD pens wash off in the pressure cooker!
Cheap ring sizers are perfect if you’re selling rings and clients just send them back with their kits. Every six months or so we invest in a new batch to cover the ones that weren’t returned but in general clients are great (ask them to return it in the instructions).
Laserjet printer and printer paper for the sending instructions with the kits which the clients return as well (you can reuse them). Sample instructions coming soon!
Heat and freezer-proof plastic tubes like this, we send each client two tubes for their milk marked at 5ml and 7ml for the client to add milk between the lines, with their name and order number written on the sides and lid in Sharpie. When they arrive we pop them in the freezer and every few weeks we take one tube for each client and preserve a batch.
Storage for the test tubes like this rack
Plastic pipettes to add preservative (you are responsible for testing and purchasing the preservative at your own risk, please use care)
An electric pressure cooker is perfect for heat treating the milk and it’s ideal if you buy one with a steaming rack, which keeps the tubes propped up, but one like this cooling rack might fit. Once each tube is completely cooled we sort the tubes into their order containers and what’s left is kept in a cupboard
Preparation of Elements
Pestle and mortar is perfect for ashes, umbilical cord and breastmilk and you don’t need an expensive brand, just a white one. I sterilise it in between use with a plastic-free antibacterial wipe and recommend buying a different pestle and mortar for each element (you could paint the outside with nail polish such as blue for breastmilk, green for cremation ashes and pink for umbilical cords)
Our moulds are the best (but I’m biased, of course) and when you’re charging clients money to preserve something special, it’s worth investing in some good moulds. Water clear moulds mean you can see exactly where you’re placing elements, and check for air bubbles. When you’re selling high quality keepsakes you have to make sure your moulds are replaced as soon as they begin to cloud so you don’t lose shine
Cheap pendant moulds that don’t need drilling are fun and a great way to show locks of hair and flowers
Little gemstone moulds are great for casting ash and umbilical cord, which can have silver bails attached or be cast in a larger setting of clear resin
AliExpress moulds like this, you get £5 off when spend £45 with the code 10ANSFR
UV resin by Qiao Qiao, this brand is the best I’ve found. Other UV resins smell awful in comparison (occasionally you can get a bad batch of this but I check them before sending). I now think UV resin is vital for keepsake jewellery because it’s fast, meaning you can concentrate on one client’s order at once, not pour a dozen and wait days for it to cure. It works at low temperatures, I remember winters waiting forever for epoxy resin to cure, now I can finish an order in one sitting even in the British winters
48W LED UV Lamp with a low heat setting like this one is perfect, uses less energy than a bulb lamp and looks nice in my studio
Epoxy resin has its pros and cons too and many artists prefer it. I used to use Axson D150 Rigid exclusively after heartbreak with other brands (EcoResin for one). Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, weighing is more accurate (sometimes quantities by weight are a little different to volume – ask the company for advice!)
Cocktail Sticks are perfect for removing bubbles. I know some people use a lighter to get them out but that only works on open-back moulds, such as cabochons. The ideal way to remove bubbles is to work in the dark and let a piece sit for a few minutes to allow them to rise, before adding powders and other elements
Resin Sparkle Mixes we make are blends of ethical mica, plant based glitters and opalescent flakes, holographic and ghost pigments
Resin pigments and mica powders, craft shops like Hobbycraft sell edible shimmers that are perfect with resin. Please be careful because mica can come from dubious sources and there are many reports of young children being forced into labour in the mines in India
Titanium dioxide is a white UV stabiliser which helps with breastmilk preservation but be careful: a tiny little bit goes an awfully long way, and your resin won’t cure if you add too much, even epoxy resin. Because it’s classed as a white pigment, you really tell your clients that your jewellery contains this.
Bullseye spirit level makes sure the space where you’re drying is totally level
Needle files will remove a bit of resin at a time and are a great budget option but need a little time to use
A Dremel-style rotary tool is perfect for filing off bits of resin, metalworking, polishing etc. Get one with a flexible driver and a stand so you don’t have to hold the whole machine during use
Carbide burr bits for removing extra resin
Cotton buffing wheels are nice and gentle on plastic and metal, but you should try to make sure your resin pieces don’t need polishing. The best finish comes from a nice shiny mould. You can use your UV resin to apply another coat to any piece or just dome where you’ve drilled
Charm inserts from Ebay, Cookson Gold or Palmer Metals. You have to be careful because lots of inserts online say they’re solid sterling silver and are 925 stamped, but are just silver plated base metal. The price should give you an indication. If in doubt and you can afford to lose one, scratch it and put it in water for a few days. If it’s base metal it’ll rust.
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