10 Minute Read-by Shaun Mills
A lot of Artists (myself included) have been pouring resin for a long time and made all the usual mistakes and learnt from them but If you have always wanted to try pouring resin for yourself or you just wanted to know how it is done, here is some simple steps outlining the basic process involved and things to watch for when starting out.
- Choose a place suitable to work
This seems obvious but once you have wet, runny and rapidly curing resin it is too late to do the ‘mad panic’ because you just realized the surface you are using is not level causing your beautiful artwork to run off the side or pool in the middle. For this reason, I say the most important step in starting a project is planning.
Select a space that is Flat and Level (I often use a spirit level to be sure), And preferably in a sealed environment such as a room you are able to close or at least make sure you are able to put a box or tub over your finished work to stop hair, Insects and other foreign materials contaminating your wet sticky artwork as it cures. (anything that falls into wet resin will become ‘cast’ into the surface permanently. So, try to avoid all contaminants and NEVER cure resin uncovered outdoors)
Next, prepare yourself for excess resin to run off or drip from the sides of your work. So I recommend laying down a non-stick liner such as peel ply (but you can certainly use builders plastic, a tarp or even an old bed sheet but keep in mind with fabric that the resin will leak through it and stick the sheet to the table beneath causing damage)
PRO TIP: When you have done a few pieces and start to feel confident working with resin you can use the natural fluid nature of the resin to your advantage by creating an uneven or not level surface strategically to compliment a piece. Also keep in mind that Epoxy Resin gives off gasses that should not be breathed so always use an appropriate respirator.
- Select your Medium
In layman terms, pick what item you want to do your design on. There are many different possibilities for this however the simplest for a beginner is a wooden board, they are available in all good Art supplies stores and often come in the same sizes as canvas’. Of course, you could use a canvas, but this is more difficult than it outwardly appears as the weight of resin will stretch the canvas causing a low spot in the middle and your artwork will tend to pool. For those that are creative you can even put your artwork design on tables, chopping boards and countertops to name a few.
PRO TIP: Keep in mind that every surface to be coated must be prepared and primed to give the epoxy the best chance of adhesion. If you would like to use a canvas cut a board of thick rigid cardboard the exact dimensions of the backside of your canvas, and secure it in place touching the rear surface of the canvas, this will make the canvas to be coated rigid and flat until it dries and then you can remove the cardboard.
- Prepare your supplies
Now that you have your piece to be coated set up on your work surface gather all equipment needed to do the job. Things you will need are:
Epoxy Resin: Get an appropriate resin to suit your needs (see my other blog post ‘What is Epoxy Resin’ for more information relating to selection of resin)
Mixing Cups: For this you can buy incremented paint mixing cups or if your resin is mixed according to weight, plastic disposable cups from the picnic isle in your local supermarket will do just fine.
Wooden Stirring Sticks: Also known as tongue depressors (yes, the ones your doctor uses when they make you say ‘Ahh’). These are available at all art supply stores and work so well because they are large and flat. When mixing resin, you want to be careful not to introduce excess air bubbles, so mixing is always done with the stick touching the base of the mixing cup.
PPE: Personal Protective Equipment, Resin is permanent and as such cannot easily be washed off your clothes or hands and gives off gasses so always make sure to use the following: Apron or Smock, Wear Disposable gloves to protect your hands, Safety Glasses or Goggles in case of any splash or splatter and Respirator to protect your lungs
Pigments or Colors: This is the fun part, choosing your favorite colors and pigments, always follow manufacturer’s instructions for these but as a general rule stick to a maximum of 5-10% pigment mixing ratio.
- Mix the Resin
As I touched on earlier there are many types of Epoxy Resin for all different applications. And most of these are mixed using either ‘by volume’ or ‘by weight’ so please refer to the exact manufacturers specifications and do not interchange these instructions or worse, guess mixing ratios. When mixed properly resin will cure hard, durable and have a smooth gloss appearance. If diligence is not taken at the mixing step then your resin may stay ‘tacky’, not cure properly or even remain a liquid if you get it very wrong, so always pay attention and don’t skim over the importance of mixing. Once fully mixed, resin can be transferred to smaller cups for adding colors.
Once you have thoroughly mixed your resin components, you can add color pigments to create limitless possibilities, or when left un-tinted resin will dry to a brilliant clear almost ‘glass like’ finish.
PRO TIP: Make sure you have everything set up ready to go before mixing the resin as it will immediately begin to cure once mixed. A handy hint is to start a timer or take note of the time when you mix the resin as working time for most resin products is around 40mins and you do not want to run out of workable time.
- Creating Your Masterpiece
Now that you have your piece set up in a suitable prepared workspace, you are wearing all appropriate PPE and you have mixed the resin and tinted what you need to, you are ready to start. Make sure to sit your artwork up off the table surface using upside down plastic cups or similar as the excess resin dripping from the edges will stick your piece to the tarp or sheet you laid down in step 1. There are lots of videos and information online about all the different techniques of pouring art (see my blog ‘Techniques for Pouring Resin’) but the basic tool required is a Heat Gun and Blow torch (see below). The Heat Gun will quickly become your ‘new best friend’ whilst pouring resin, as it can help remove bubbles, level the surface of the resin and blow or wash colors together. The blow torch is a much higher heat that must be moved over the surface far more quickly than the heat gun but can remove bubbles far quicker and more efficient for that professional smooth glossy surface. Resins for art are generally cured enough by 24 hours that they can be moved but still may be dented with a finger. At this point, you can carefully move your resin painting to another area to finish curing and use the resin painting space for your next project. Most resins will take 7 days to achieve full cure, so keep this in mind if you choose to do a countertop or other area you are likely to need to use within the next week.
PRO TIP: Resin will Blister irreparably if you apply concentrated heat to an area for too long. This damage cannot be repaired and can happen very quickly, I always suggest doing multiple quick passes of a piece with the heat source inspecting the results after each. “you can always run over it again, but you can’t fix it if you over do it.”