Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Making Resin Electric Eel Wheel Nano Bobbins - Part One

Full disclosure - Having purchased Resin8’s Mould-it in the past, and used it for the first set of bobbin moulds, they sent me a few products to assist in finishing this blog post.  All opinions are my own.


I love my Electric Eel Wheel Nano - especially since I modified it to suit my style of spinning.  It’s cute, light as a feather, and incredibly portable.  The two e-spinners I use the most are my Nano and my Hansen Minispinner and I honestly can’t decide which is my favourite!  Having said that, there’s something about the bobbins that kind of bothers me...

The Nano was intentionally designed to be the smallest, most affordable e-spinner on the market and it lives up to that principle admirably. The identical bobbin ends pop on and off for compact storage, but because the bobbin tube slots into a channel on the bobbin end, the central tube needs to be wider than the two holes in the bobbin ends that sit on the flyer rod. Most people love the fact that the bobbins break down for storage, but I can't help but wonder just how much more yarn I could get on there if they were made as a single unit with only one brake band end groove.


A little back story...

A few years ago I made resin bobbins for my Electric Eel Wheel 4.

I needed two more bobbins, but the cost of shipping them from the US was going to be more than the price of the bobbins themselves.  As a prototype, they worked well, but the Ice Resin I used wasn't appropriate.  In the summer months, the large, flat ends would distort in the heat and I used to have to put them in hot water to flatten them out again.  I didn't use a mould to make them, I just cut acetate circles to size and poured resin on either side, leaving it to cure in between.  The resulting bobbin ends were quite thin, which may have been a big part of the problem.  Although the project wasn't a complete success, I learned a lot in the process.

Later, when I purchased my Electric Eel Wheel 5, I decided to attempt to make my own flyer. My husband had purchased a 3D printer and I had the idea of designing a pretty, leafy flyer for my EEW5.

My main reason for wanting a flyer with holes in was to find out if it made the view of the bobbin more accessible while spinning.  Unfortunately, it didn't. Sadly it was still much easier to see how much yarn was on the bobbin by turning the wheel by 45 degrees.

I'd been playing a bit more with resin and I thought it would be cool to make a mould out of my 3D printed flyer to see what it would look like with a glossy, glittery flyer and whether resin would be the answer to being able to see the bobbin while spinning.

Although the colours came out a little darker than planned, (It was supposed to be a glittery blue colour),  I was finally able to see the bobbin through the flyer for the first time - but of course, the Electric Eel Wheel bobbins are opaque so that still didn't buy me very much...

...Back to today

So, for nearly a year, I've been working on designing and making my own resin Nano bobbins.  

I had 3 motivations; I wanted to increase the capacity of the Nano bobbins, I wanted a way to personalise it and have those ‘see-through’  bobbins I’ve always wanted, but also, I’ve never been overly keen on the 100% opaque plastic aesthetic of the Nano.  

It often resides on my conservatory windowsill and I wanted a way to make it look more elegant while I wasn’t using it - I wanted it to be as attractive and ornamental as any treadle spinning wheel.

Making my mould 

I designed very basic Nano bobbin ends in Tinkercad -

I wanted the ends to be as simple as possible as I knew I wanted to add a section of colour to the resin.

Once the bobbin ends were printed out, I coated the tops with doming resin from Resin8.  This is how the 3D printed bobbin ends looked before and after I put doming resin on them.

I needed the resin to be as smooth and glossy as possible before I made the moulds as I wanted my final resin bobbin ends to be transparent.

I then went on to make my moulds using my preferred method.  I thought they were pretty smooth, but when I took my resin bobbin ends out, I saw that tiny flecks of fibre had settled on my curing resin. (The hazards of storing fibre and playing with resin in the same room!)

I wasn't too disappointed though.  I knew that the 3D printing would have left ridges in the side, so I was already prepared to make a second mould.

I sanded back the resin bobbin ends that I made from my first moulds and poured a second coat of resin over the top, using a silicone brush to make sure the whole thing was covered in resin.

This is my set-up for pouring the resin glaze coat.  I painted the back first with liquid latex so that any drips that settled on the back could be easily pulled off.  Quick tip - I like to pour resin over a tiny silicone ice cube tray so that any drips settle in the cubes and I can use them later in another project.

This time, while the resin glaze coat cured, I put them in a box designed for storing A4 paper to prevent dust from settling on the sticky resin.

The second glaze coat of resin left a much smoother finish, so they're ready for making the final mould out of...

Materials needed to make my silicone mould

  • Sticky back plastic
  • Resin bobbin ends - or whatever you want to make a mould of.
  • Digital weighing scales.
  • A ‘wall’ to contain the liquid silicone.  Lego works well, or a plastic container with the bottom cut out.  I’ll be using a scone sized cookie cutter as it is about 10mm wider than my bobbin ends.
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks.
  • Two-part liquid silicone.  I’ve tried a couple of liquid silicones and I prefer Resin8 Mould-it.  It has quite a low viscosity which means that it is easier to get a more detailed mould out of.  I’ve also heard very good things about Moldstar 15, but unfortunately shipping from the US makes it quite a bit more expensive for me.
  • Measuring cups.
  • Stirring sticks.

I made a short video of me making the final silicone mould, as I'm sure it's much easier to follow than a photo tutorial - 

I've time-stamped a few key points of the video to break down the process - 

Just click on the links below to jump to the relevant part of the video -

... and here they are!  They’re not absolutely flawless, but I’m still really pleased with how they’ve turned out.

On to making bobbin ends!

Shimmering Sky Resin Bobbins

I’m going to show how I made two styles of resin bobbin ends.  The first is a kind of stylised cloud over a shimmering sky.  

This is a design I’ve had in my head for months, and the inspiration for it came from my current long-term spinning project - 

I've been experimenting with blending a spectrum as I wanted to build up my own reference library of blended wool shades from the minimum number of base colours.

Quite coincidentally, I started planning my spectrum project just before the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown was announced. Shortly after, children started to hang rainbows in their windows to help keep everyone's spirits up.  I thought it would be amazing to literally, spin a rainbow over a sparkling sky!

Materials used to make the Shimmering Sky bobbin ends


Again, I made a video of the process as it’s much easier to show you, rather than tell you what I did.

Resin8 sent me some of their new mica flakes to try out and I thought that the dusty blue would make a perfect stylised cloud. Mica flakes are really lovely if you just want a random smattering of natural, colourful sparkle.  Unfortunately I wanted to control their placement, and although they're heavy enough to sink to the bottom, they’re light enough to have a tendency to wander around and spread out while the resin is curing.  After a little experimenting I found that I could get the dense cloud effect I wanted by coating the flakes very lightly in resin and placing them in the mould to cure in place before I added the next layer of resin.

Here are a few key points of my video and their starting points:-

They're even better than I imagined!  I can't wait to build a rainbow of yarn above those sparkling clouds!


Resin Petri Effect Bobbins

Anyone that enjoys experimenting and learning about different resin techniques will probably succumb to trying the popular Resin Petri Dish effect, developed and made popular by the talented artist, Josie Lewis.

Image copyright - Josie Lewis

The magical thing about resin art is that quite often, you don't really know how your finished object is going to look until you unmould it, and this is especially true with the resin petri dish effect.  Basically, you drop coloured alcohol inks into the resin, followed by white alcohol ink - as the white is denser than the transparent coloured inks, it pushes the colours down into the resin, creating tendrils and cool organic effects.

Resin8 sent me some Fill-It resin to make my bobbin ends with.  Fill-It is perfect if your priority is - as mine is - getting crystal clear, strong resin pieces with very few bubbles.  It has the lowest viscosity of any resin I have ever used, with a long pot life and a curing time of 3 to 4 days.  I'm learning that water-clear resin requires patience!

In the past, when I've tried the resin petri effect, I've either dropped the inks in straight after mixing, or waited 15 minutes or so for the resin to thicken up before dropping in my inks.  If the resin is too runny, the white ink will drop down too quickly and leave white splodges on the surface, if it’s too thick, the ink will just sit on the back - so there is a lot of trial and error.

As the Fill-It resin was so runny to start off with, I actually waited closer to 7 hours to drop my inks in -when it had thickened up quite a bit. This was my first time trying the resin petri effect with Fill-It, so 7 hours was quite an arbitrary figure.

Materials used to make my resin Petri dish effect bobbin ends

Here’s the video of my process for making the resin Petri effect Nano bobbin ends -

Here are a few key points of my video and their starting points:-

Click on the video links below to jump to the relevant part of the video - 

As you can see, my resin overflowed a little.  I’m used to slowly filling my moulds until the resin starts to dome, but of course, Fill-It resin is not a doming resin and so I got a few extra drips that needed removing.

I added a thin coat of doming resin to the back with a silicone brush (not captured on video).  

When that had cured, I went on to grind down any sharp edges and then buff them with a nail drill tool.

Here they are, waiting to be turned into bobbins.  I just love those edges!

This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links to similar products that I purchased myself to make the Electric Eel Wheel Nano bobbins. If you click through and purchase anything from Amazon, I may receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.

At this point, I normally suggest similar related blog posts, however, my list of spinning-related content is becoming a little unmanageable...  If you'd like to read more blog posts about spinning and fibre preparation, please take a look at this page here where you will find links to all of my spinning and fibre articles.  

Thank you for reading, and happy spinning! 

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