Resin Art for Beginners: Why Everyone's Doing It

Artist Lorna Ballantyne-Epps and proprietor of The Levee Art Gallery & Studios in Maitland answers some of your burning FAQs about using resin in art

Creativity 7 min read Jun 16, 2022


Resin is a great medium for artists of all skill levels. It can be used on glass, wood, plastic, paper, canvas, even ceramic tiles.

This style can seem intimidating if you’re new to it, but it’s actually a great craft for first-time painters. In this article, we’ll explore resin as a medium for art, the art supplies you’ll need for your project, and some common questions about resin art that beginners are afraid to ask!


What is Resin?

Resin is a liquid that’s typically made from a mix of different types of natural materials like tree sap or petroleum products like oil or gasoline. When it cures and hardens into its final form, it transforms into a strong plastic-like substance that can be used as a coating or an adhesive.

Used by humans for thousands of years as a sealant and adhesive, it wasn’t until recently that artists figured out how to use resin as a medium for creating jewelry, paintings, home decor, and other things. Today, it has a wide range of uses and is especially popular for its versatility, even among beginner painters who are curious about resin art.

You can use resin in any number of ways. It can be poured over objects to create casts or cover them with a protective layer. You can also use it to coat objects with a hard resin shell or paint over them with a liquid form of the material.

What Type of Resin is Used in Art?

The most common types of resin are acrylic and epoxy. They have different properties but can be used in similar ways.

An important note: If you’re a beginner in resin art, make sure to wear protective clothing and work in well-ventilated conditions. In addition, remember to follow the directions on the package because it can be hazardous if you don’t use it properly.

Acrylic resin

Acrylic resin is available in many different colors and preferred by artists, because it’s easier to use than other types. Sold as a liquid, it can be poured into moulds to create a copy of an object, like leaves or stones, or for casting metal objects such as jewelry.

When the resin has set, you can easily remove the object from the mould by gently tapping it and then pulling it out. The mould will harden quickly and can then be used for casting sculptures or jewelry. You can also paint the surface of your artwork after it’s been cast, making it look more realistic than other types of resin.

You’ll need to allow the mould to dry completely before using it again, but you can achieve some amazing results with this technique.


Epoxy resin

Epoxy resin is a two-part system – one liquid and one solid – that cures when mixed together. When combined, they form a gel-like substance that can be used in many different ways. Used mainly as an adhesive or coating, the resin will start to harden when it comes into contact with air.

Usually available only in clear or black, epoxy resin is typically used to make molds and castings, such as for making jewelry and other types of glassware, but it can also be used to create unique art pieces. It’s more flexible and less likely to crack or warp under pressure, and once hardened, you can polish resin to a high shine or leave it matte and textured.

Buying Resin Art Supplies

Resin art supplies are fairly straightforward. You will find this list useful when you are shopping for your first resin art project.

Alcohol inks

Alcohol inks are the first thing you need if you want to get started with resin art. These are alcohol-based paints that can be used on paper and other surfaces. When you mix them with resin, they create beautiful effects that look just like stained glass.

In addition to the alcohol inks themselves, you will also need some kind of sealer. This is because alcohol ink is not water resistant at all and it will wash off your work if you don’t seal it. You can use acrylic paint for this or another type of sealer for this.

Pigments

Pigments are finely ground powders of natural minerals and plant materials, which give them their distinctive hue. These particles can be suspended in a liquid or gel, which allows them to be mixed into the resin.

The most common way of adding pigments is by combining them with alcohol before adding them to the resin, to allow it to mix better and be evenly dispersed throughout the piece. A tip on resin art for beginners: When using alcohol is to let it sit for a while before using it otherwise it may foam up and make a mess.

Another option is to add powders directly into your resin or even to paint on top of your finished pieces. However you choose to use your pigments, you can use a simple paint brush, palette knife, or spatula to mix your colors together.


Dyes

Dyes are liquid colorants used to tint resin. You can use them to create your own colors or as a base to make your own custom colors. They can be applied to the surface of the resin or under it.

The amount of dye needed will vary based on the amount of resin you are coloring. The stronger the color that you want, the more time it will take to settle into the resin. This means that if you want your project to be red instead of pink, it may take longer than anticipated for the red to become more intense in color over time.

Be sure to choose dyes that are safe for use with resin. Some dyes can eat away at the surface of the resin and cause it to become cloudy or discolored.

Moulds

If you’re creating 3D objects, you will need a mould to pour your resin into. The type of mould you use will depend on the kind of piece you want to create. For example, if you are making jewellery or other small items, you may want to use a silicone mould as these are flexible and easy to manipulate. For larger pieces or those with complex shapes, a hard plastic mould is better suited.

After choosing the right mould for your project, you can begin creating your artwork. When creating resin art, it is best to use an acrylic paint as this will dry quickly and won’t damage the surface of your moulds when painting over them again later on in the process.

Once you have painted your design onto your moulds, it’s time to pour in the resin! Be careful not to overfill your molds as this could cause bubbles within the final product which can ruin its appearance once it is finished curing.

Stickers, images, and decals

Want to add some pizzazz to your resin art project? How about some stickers? They are easy to apply and remove, and can be used on any surface, from metal and glass to plastic. The best part about using stickers is that you can get creative with them by mixing and matching different designs or colors. You can also create your own custom stickers for your resin art projects.

Images can also be added to any surface using the same method as stickers. The only difference is that images are printed on a special kind of paper that can withstand heat without curling up or losing its color.

If you want something more permanent, consider using decals instead of stickers or images. Decals tend to be very durable and will last for many years without peeling off or cracking from heat exposure like other types of decorations might do over time.


Lorna Ballantyne-Epps on Resin Art Dos and Don’ts

Resin art for beginners can be a little confusing, but it is nevertheless a wonderful medium to work with. In fact, we often receive queries about how to get started with resin art, so we thought we’d ask an expert!

Here, Lorna Ballantyne-Epps, abstract expressionist and owner of The Levee Art Gallery & Studios, answers some of those burning FAQs beginners have about resin art.

How do I protect my work surface?

Resin will dry on almost any surface including wood, paper and plastic. To protect my work surface from the resin, I cover it with wax paper or parchment paper before applying the resin. Some people also use cardboard, newspaper, or occasionally, a special type of plastic sheet that is meant for this purpose.

Whatever you decide to use, just make sure it does not have any holes in it! Resin will seep through the paper or cardboard and ruin whatever is underneath it, so make sure to place something thick enough on your surfaces to protect it from spills! You can also use a thin layer of Vaseline to prevent the resin from sticking to your table top.

Can I pour resin all at once?

Sure! In fact, I recommend that you do so if you are using a large amount of resin, as it will help prevent bubbles from forming and allow for more even drying. You should know though that it may take longer for a big batch of resin to cure if the entire piece is coated in one go.

Now, if you want to layer different colors of resin, it is best to use small amounts at a time and let them completely dry before adding another coat. It can also be sprayed or brushed on or used as a collage element. You can even use it as an underpainting for other media.


How long does curing take?

Well, it depends on the type of resin that you’re using and how thick your pieces are. You’ll need about 30 minutes for most resins, but if they’re thick or layered then it could take up to two hours or longer depending on the thickness and complexity of your piece (some resins require more exposure time than others). Some resins do not require curing at all!

Why are there bubbles in my resin artwork?

If you see bubbles in your artwork, it is probably because you were not able to mix the resin properly. It is a pretty common mistake in resin art for beginners who are not too familiar with the nature of the material.

When I combine two parts of resin together, I really try to get in there and stir thoroughly, until they are completely blended together. If this isn’t done properly, then you will end up with air trapped inside your artwork, which will then create bubbles in the surface of your piece when it cures.

How can I keep my artwork from becoming cloudy over time?

Resin is a polymer that reacts with oxygen over time to turn cloudy. This process is called oxidation and it can happen on any surface that is exposed to air for an extended period of time.

The best way to avoid your resin art turning cloudy is to use a clear resin, as it will not be affected by UV light. But if you want to use colored resins, you can layer a UV resistant top coat over it. Also, when planning a place for your art at home, remember to keep it away from direct light or fluorescent light.

Resin art for beginners especially is fun, easy, and quite rewarding if you take your time to learn the basics before getting started. And remember: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials and techniques. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at creating true works of art.

Learn how to master resin and create beautiful art with Lorna Ballantyne-Epps at her popular Resin Art Wall Decor workshops. And check out all her upcoming classes at Levee Art Studios!


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