I recently started creating art with resin and alcohol ink, and it has quickly become a passion of mine. Before I started, I watched every YouTube video I could find in order to learn some of the basics. Josie Lewis is a talented artist who is my resin role model, and she makes some of the most extraordinary pieces, including resin petri art. Her YouTube channel, Josie Lewis Art, is where I learned the most before I began.
Like many artists working with epoxy resin, I choose to use Art Resin, a high-gloss two-part epoxy resin which is non-toxic. As someone who has no professional training in working with resin, I have found Art Resin to be really easy to work with, and their customer service is fantastic. The brand was created by artists for artists, which has been a huge benefit for me because I’ve called with troubleshooting questions on a few occasions while experimenting with new techniques/applications; their artists have gone above and beyond to help talk me through any snags that I have encountered during my (ongoing) learning curve.
Creating with resin isn’t a cheap hobby, but the results are stunning! To get started, there are a number of materials you will need, so I’ve put together a list below (which includes Amazon links to the specific items I use)
Here’s what you need:
- Art Resin
- Butane torch
- Protective gloves (I use biodegradable latex gloves)
- Measuring cups (I got a set at the dollar store)
- Mixing bowl (I use a large plastic measuring cup with a handle and spout for easy pouring)
- Stirring utensil (I use a silicone spatula from the dollar store)
- Toothpicks (optional but helpful when removing air bubbles)
- Silicone mould (this is the one I used for this 4″ petri)
- Alcohol ink (the two most common brands are Tim Holtz and Pinata, I’ve tried both and personally prefer Pinata)
- Rubbing alcohol (for cleanup)
- Something to protect your workspace (large garbage bags, etc.)
- Something to cover your mould so that no dust lands in the resin during while dries (I use a large roasting pan that sits over my mould)
Before you begin:
- Resin epoxy starts off the same consistency as honey, and a chemical reaction between the resin and hardener causes the liquid to become solid (rock solid) over the course of 72 hours
- It’s sticky and messy, so protect your work space!! You can line your work surface with a large garbage bag
- Silicone is your best friend when working with resin. Silicone repels resin, so when resin hardens it can be peeled away from silicone. For this reason, I use silicone spatulas to mix my resin, I line my work surface with a giant silicone baking mat, and all the moulds that I use to pout my resin in are 100% silicone
- To clean your tools (hands included) when you’re done, you’ll want to have rubbing alcohol on hand. I use paper towel to wipe my spatula, mixing bowl and measuring cups down thoroughly as soon as I’m done and then use rubbing alcohol to remove any remaining residue (then wash with water and dish soap)
- Be sure to work in a dust-free area (and wipe your tools free of any dust or hairs before you begin – including any water stains on the inside of the mould)
- If you want your resin piece to have a high-gloss clear finish, you need a silicone mould that is glossy inside – if the mould is matte inside, your piece with have a frosted matte finish when it dries (this can be corrected afterwards, but you can save yourself an extra step by using a mould with your desired finish)
- Most of the time, your piece is ready to be removed from the silicone mould within 6-12 hours (drying time can vary dramatically depending on the climate in your area – I’ve had some dry within 3 hours and others take 12+ hours). It’s best to remove it once it is hard and not tacky to the touch, then place it on a flat surface (a clean silicone baking mat is ideal) to harden completely for the remainder of the 72 hours
- Occasionally I’ve had issues with my mould sticking to the edge of my resin piece as I remove it, which is a nightmare for two reasons: 1) my mould rips and is rendered useless, 2) my beautiful work of art is ruined around the edge. After mourning the loss of one too many expensive moulds, and grieving over the damage to some of my favourite creations, I decided to start taking preventive measures; before I pour my resin into my mould, I apply non-stick cooking spray to the end of a Q-tip and carefully grease the upper edge of the inner wall(s) of my mould
- White alcohol ink is the key to the magic in this process. The white ink reacts with the coloured ink and pushes the colour down from the surface in order for the colour to bloom into 3D stalactite-looking beautifulness. Without the white ink, the colour remains translucent and sits on the surface of the resin.
Here’s what to do:
- Wearing protective gloves, measure and combine equal parts Resin and Hardener in mixing bowl (for one 4 inch diameter petri, I usually mix 1/4 cup resin and 1/4 cup hardener)
- Stir slowly for 3-4 minutes, be sure to scrape the sides and bottom. Stirring too quickly will create more air bubbles in your resin (when the two parts are first combined the mixture becomes cloudy; when thoroughly mixed it should be clear with no visible streaks in it)
- Pour the mixture into your mould
- Let the resin sit for a few minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to the surface, then use your torch to quickly and carefully heat the surface of your resin. Heating the resin helps to thin it enough for the trapped bubbles to be released. You’ll want to keep the torch moving and not sit in one place to avoid burning the resin or mould.
- You may see bubbles along the edges of the mould, you can use a toothpick to pull these to the surface and then remove them with the torch
- After removing the bubbles the first time, I like to let it sit for a few more minutes and then go over it with the torch again to get any more bubbles that may have risen to the surface
- Have your bottles of alcohol ink open and ready, then carefully add your first drop of coloured ink, followed by a drop of white on top of the colour. For every drop of colour, you’ll want a drop of white on top. The colour will expand outward as it reacts with the resin, and when the white is added it will pull the colour down towards the bottom of the mould.
- Repeat with as many colours as you’d like. You can choose to fill the whole thing with colour, or leave some negative space so that parts remain clear
- NOTE: Art Resin has a working time of about 45 minutes before it thickens too much to continue, so be mindful of time while you’re working
- Cover your mould so that no dust or hairs land in the resin while it’s drying
- Drying time varies depending on temperature. I usually check mine after 8-10 hours to see if it’s ready to be removed from the mould – it will take 72 hours to fully harden, but you want to remove it from the mould sooner than that
- To clean your tools, use paper towel to wipe everything down (spatula, inside of mixing bowl and measuring cup, etc.), remove any sticky residue with rubbing alcohol, then wash with soap and water (when the resin hardens, you should be able to peel it off of any silicone tools)
Below is a time-lapse video of the mixing process (remember, stir slowly – the video is sped up because nobody wants to watch me stir for 3 minutes)
Here’s the pouring, removing air bubbles, and adding the alcohol ink.
Close-up. Look at how those colours bloomed 😍
Here is another one I did using blues and greens, with a few drops of silver.
These can be displayed as art, or used as coasters, paperweights, etc.
If you decide to give this a try, I’d love to see your beautiful creations! Tag me @4kids2moms on Instagram so I can see! 🙂