Tips ALL resin artists should know!

One of the most important steps for creating a resin art piece is preparation. If you don't take the time to set everything up properly, it's likely your piece will not turn out how you planned. It might not cure, or it might not be level and the artwork will run off your piece. Protecting your workspace and your body is also very important.
 
SAFETY
First and foremost, safety is key. You should not work with resin unless you can guarantee you are doing so with proper protection.
  • Wear nitrile gloves to avoid resin touching your skin.
  • Wear an apron or other protective clothing.
  • Work in a well ventilated area.
  • Read the manufacturer's directions and follow ALL of their safety instructions. If they say you need to work with a respirator, use a respirator. Even if it does not say you have to do so, do your research before deciding not to use one. If you are not in a well ventilated space, you definitely need one.
  • Resin does not (usually) stick to plastic. Lay down a thick plastic sheet (you can get it at a home improvement store) to cover the floor in your work space.
  • Protect your work surface. I use plastic table cloths from the dollar store to cover my table.
  • Make sure you have a drip tray (or are OK with resin on your work surface). You will need to elevate your piece so that as the resin drips off the sides it does not stick to your table. I use cardboard box lids, plastic trays, or those metal lasagna tins from the dollar store.
  • Have extra gloves and paper towels available so you can clean up quickly if resin spills or gets on your skin. Do not use chemicals - soap and water should be sufficient.
  • Make sure the environment temperature is not too hot or too cold. About 70 degrees is ideal but each manufacturer has their own instructions. I like to work outside if weather is agreeable to avoid any issues with fumes.
SET UP
Setting up your work space and materials before getting started is important because you only have so much time to work with resin. Each brand is different. I prefer working with MasEpoxies or CounterCulture DIY, which have longer working times.
  • Choose which paints, pigments, or colorants you are going to use so you do not have to search for them after mixing your resin.
  • Have extra mixing cups, mixing sticks (I use popsicle sticks - you can get a pack of 1000 for cheap on Amazon), and paper towels readily available. You can reuse them after the resin hardens.
  • Make sure you have graduated measuring tools - resin requires an accurate ratio or it will not cure. I like to use a larger silicone cup that I can reuse and will pour it into smaller mixing cups for adding pigment.
  • Determine how you are going to elevate your work surface. I usually rest my canvas or wood panel on four solo cups in a box lid. Before you start working, use a level (I use the Bubble Level app for Android) to make sure your surface is flat. If it isn't perfectly level, the resin will pour off the sides and your piece will not dry how you intended.
  • Decide whether or not you want the resin to cover the sides of the piece. If not, tape the sides using painters tape (or even packing tape if that's all you have). Just be sure none of the sticky side will come in contact with the resin. It will leave a residue.
  • Tape the back of your canvas or board to prevent the resin from leaving hardened drips. It's worth taking the extra time so you do not have to sand them off later.
MIXING YOUR RESIN
  • Read ALL the manufacturer's instructions before starting.
  • For most of the brands I've used (Counter Culture DIY, Art Resin, KS Resin, Mas Epoxies, Pro Marine), it is a 1:1 ratio of hardener & resin.
  • Pour equal parts of each element (resin & hardener). There is a resin calculator on the ArtResin site that is helpful for determining how much total you need for a 1/8" coat on your canvas.
  • Mix thoroughly per manufacturer's instructions.
  • Pour small amounts of resin into small cups (I use small plastic cups), use a different cup for each color you plan to use.
  • Mix in a small amount of acrylic paint, powdered pigment, or other colorant. Make sure you use less than 10% color in your resin or it may mess up the chemical reaction and not cure correctly.
  • Stir thoroughly. Add any glitter if you want to do so or any extra pigment if not opaque enough for you.
  • Once mixed, be aware of the work time. Most resins I have used allow from 30-45 minutes of working time before the resin becomes too thick and hard to use.
  • Use a torch or heat gun to pop all bubbles in the piece.
PROTECTING WORK AS IT CURES
  • Store your artwork somewhere it will not be disturbed for at least 24 hours.
  • You can cover with a plastic tarp (or some other barrier) to avoid dust or other particles falling into the piece while it cures. Just be sure it is elevated and will not fall onto the piece.
  • Let it dry completely. Most resins will feel completely hardened after 24 hours, but for a FULL cure it may take days or weeks. Read the company's instructions to be sure.
FINISHING YOUR WORK
  • Heat the tape with your heat gun - it helps loosen it up so you can remove it easier. 
  • Sand any drips that were unable to be removed with heat. 
  • Paint the edges if you want to do so.
  • When deciding how to hang your work, I would suggest weighing it first. Different types of hanging accessories are designed to hold certain weights. Resin art can get heavy, especially if it is on canvas. The weight will vary depending on whether you add stones, jewels, multiple resin layers, etc. If it's very heavy, consider hanging at a stud or using an anchor in the wall.
  • Resin art can be cleaned similar to how you would clean glass. An easy way to do so is to spray it with Windex and use a paper towel to buff the piece. Be careful though - If you used paint pens to add detail, Windex may remove them. In that case, water is a good alternative.
 
For any newbies looking to take on the resin process, I know how tempting it can be to just jump in, but promise you: it's worth the extra time and effort to protect your work space and materials. It saves you time in the long run and you will produce higher quality pieces. I've learned the hard way that if you don't take those extra steps you might not have great results. Just do it. You'll thank yourself later.
 
If you have any further questions, send me a message via email (samanthasdoodles@gmail.com) or check me out on social media at the links below.
 

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