Resin is the latest buzzword in the field of art and craft. You may have seen videos of amazing resin art in your social media feeds. So, what is resin? Get to know about types of resin, epoxy resin supplies, application of resin in art and craft; in short, everything about resin in this article.
History of Resin and How did it all begin?
Before getting into details of resin art, let’s understand the basics.
What is Resin?
Resin is a naturally occurring substance found mainly in plants and bugs. In fact, it remained in use since long. In ancient Greece and Egypt, it's a valuable substance for religious rituals. For example, Shellac, balsam, and amber are resin obtained from nature. Plants secrete and use this substance as protection in case of injuries and safety against insects.
Before the arrival of synthetic resin, people use natural plastics like gutta-percha, lac, and cemented asbestos for commercial molding.
Synthetic resin was introduced by Leo H. Baekeland in 1909. He called it “bakelite” and it's considered the first completely synthetic resin. This resin could be molded and used in various distinctive ways. In short, synthetic resin is a viscous substance which is converted into rigid polymers by curing (hardening by cross-linking polymer chains).
What is Resin Art made up of?
People create resin art mostly using synthetic resin like epoxy resin. In 1930s, two scientists Dr. Pierre Castan and Dr. Sylvan Greenlee invented epoxy resin. The word “Epoxy” is a combination of two Greek prefixes “epi” and “oxy. Epi means “upon” and oxy means sharp or acidic. Epoxy resin is created by mixing resin and the hardening agent in equal quantities. In the past, it's popular for two things: chemical resistance and adhesive qualities. As the time passed and the properties of epoxy resin became more evident, its use in art and craft increased.
Properties of Resin
Resin has four main properties.
- Water Resistance
Firstly, resin offers resistance against water. Hence, people use it for sealing and bonding. People also use it to protect delicate artwork from weather-related wear and tear. It can seal any surface, from concrete to wood and masonry to metals and plastic.
Secondly, resin is a versatile substance for creating products of distinct types, sizes, and shapes. While one kind of resin is used to make garbage bins, another type is used to make jewelry.
- Low Maintenance
Thirdly, resin products do not require much maintenance. Accordingly, you can easily wipe off any dust or stains. In extreme cases, a pressure wash will turn the product look as good as new.
Certain types of resins are made from recycled material, making it an environment friendly substance.
Why Resin Art Become So Popular?
Resin art isn’t new. In last few years, it became popular in the wake of corona virus when resin artists started making videos of their resin art creations. Obviously, there are hundreds of videos of resin art, including DIY projects for beginners to complex projects made by experts. Needless to say, every project is a masterpiece in itself.
How to Choose Resin for Your Resin Projects?
Choosing resin for any project depends upon various factors including:
Time taken for the viscosity of the solution to double. For example, if the initial viscosity of resin is 5000 cps and it doubles to 10000 cps in 15 minutes then the pot time is 15 minutes.
Time you can take to use resin (coating, casting etc.) before it starts to get hard.
Time resin takes to harden/set completely.
Whether it is a jewelry item, or an art piece, you want the crystal clear finish (unless the project demands a specific color or tint in the resin). A clear or color-free resin might be expensive, but it will give an accurate result. Epoxy resin is a clear resin, but on the contrast polyurethane is opaque white.
You require a different kind of resin depending on its application. For filling molds or objects with solid sides, you need casting resin. For objects without sides, you need a thicker and more sturdy resin that sits perfectly on the artwork without running down the sides.
Which Type of Resin Should I Choose? Uncovering the Differences
Here is a brief description of the types of resin for art and craft and decorative purposes.
UV resin is polymerized and cured by energy radiated from UV irradiation devices. You can use it for bonding and sealing. In art and craft, artists often use it to seal collages and create an enameled look on jewelry. It doesn't need a hardening agent and takes only a few minutes to cure under UV lamp.
People use it mainly for coating and sealing purposes, such as furniture, floor and plastic coating, and product finishing. Its pot time is a few minutes and can take from minutes to hours to cure. Some polyurethane resins have a very quick cure time. Besides, their another down side is their moisture sensitivity. They don’t cure well in humid weather and may require special color additives for the same reason.
It is the most popular type of resin for art fields. It is heat resistant and has excellent adhesive properties. The pot time is about 30-40 minutes and can take from 24-72 hours to get hard. The down side of working with epoxy is that it's a little bit expensive than other type of resin.
Polyester Resin or Fiberglass Resin
This flexible, low-cost, and heat-resistant resin is used in the construction industry, decorations, and furniture. Its pot time is few minutes and can take over 12 hours to cure. The benefit of using polyester resin is that it cures to a very hard finish and gives a smooth shiny look when sanded and buffed. However it turns yellow after some time.
After knowing these types and differences, one should always use epoxy as first choice if working with resin as a beginner. Because epoxy is easy to work with. As shown above, it's convenient to manipulate. Also it does not get affected by humidity. It has the most extended shelf life as well.
Applications of Resin in Art and Craft
Resin became popular because of its application in art and craft. Besides industry experts, no one knew about the applications of resins before it hit YouTube and TikTok. As can be seen, there are innumerable uses of resin in art and craft. Below are some relatively easier projects you can make using resin.
You can use resin to make magnificent jewelry pieces. Be it pins, pendants, rings, and charms, the options are endless. More importantly, it does not require much experience and supplies to create a resin necklace or earrings for you, your friends and family. You can even start your small business of resin jewelry.
Transform the vintage furniture like old tables or bar stools with pennies, broken china, marbles, or bottle caps submerged in resin. Some people have turned this pastime hobby into a full-fledged business.
You can add resin to whimsical items like butterflies, dried flowers, feathers, leaves, pine cones, bugs, etc. to preserve them. In this way, when the resin hardens, it preserve the items inside and converted them into paperweights, jewelry items, and even furniture.
Resin is used as part of paint to enhance the colors, look, and finish of painting. After that, it can coat the painting to make it waterproof. With this intention, you can make a marbleized abstract painting by mixing epoxy resin with paints. You can also incorporate resin with fluid pouring to create a lacing effect in paintings.
Supplies Needed for Resin Art
To create resin art, you need some basic supplies that remain more or less the same in any resin art project. However, for more complex projects, you may require specialized supplies. Here we will talk about epoxy resin supplies for instance.
Resin is the main component of any resin art project. If you use resin for coating applications, it's called epoxy resin. When you use resin for filling in the molds, it's called casting resin. However, you can use any resin in 1:1 proportion of resin and hardener.
Disposable Mixing Cups
For any resin art project, you need accurate measurements. Therefore, you need mixing cups with measurement lines to ensure you add the right amount of resin and hardener. You may need more cups depending on the number of colors used in the project.
You can buy resin stir sticks or regular Popsicle sticks to stir the mixture (get a separate stick for every cup to avoid color mixing).
Disposable Gloves and Safety Glasses
To protect your hands and eyes from resin and colors/paint splashes, make sure you wear disposable gloves and safety glasses.
Is Resin Dangerous? Safety Measures while working with resin
Resin is a chemical compound. Although working with epoxy resin is relatively safe as it is considered non-toxic, if mishandled, it can cause serious injuries.
When is Epoxy Resin Dangerous?
Epoxy resin can be dangerous in its certain forms. Epoxy resin has three forms: cured, uncured and dust. When epoxy is cured (hardened) it is the safest. Uncured epoxy is the liquid form of epoxy. When mixing with the hardening agent, an exothermic reaction occurs and one should take necessary precautionary measures during this process. When smoothen a surface, dust particles fly in the air and one should wear a respirator and glasses during this stage.
The significant risks involve oral exposure (ingestion by mouth), dermal exposure (through the skin), and inhalation of vapors or dust.
Safety Measures while working with Epoxy Resin
We strongly recommend you following safety measures while working with resin:
- Stay extremely clean
- Ensure good ventilation at the workplace (wear a respirator in case of inadequate ventilation). Opening a window or turning on the fan can help in the rotation of air and reduced chances of vapor inhalation
- Use tools designed especially for working with resin
- Always wear safety glasses, gloves, and shoes
- Wash hands thoroughly with water (never use vinegar, acetone, alcohol, or varsol as they tend to absorb in the skin) and use skin creams to avoid dryness and cracking
- Do not wear rings, watches, and bracelets while working with resin
- Avoid eating and smoking in the work area
- Don’t leave the cans without lids and always place them on plastic films
- Use sawdust, paper, and cloth as an absorbent in case of spills
- Use a resin that is approved/recommended for art and craft
- Don’t forget to read the safety instructions on the packages.
How Resin Art Works And Can I Make My Own?
Resin art is an emerging art form. Every resin artwork is one-of-a-kind. No one can completely duplicate resin art. The best part is that you don’t need to be a professional jewelry maker or an artist to use resin. However, you need to have the ability to follow instructions. There are several online resources, including written and video tutorials, books, and online courses to learn the art.
Select a tutorial, buy the supplies from your local market or online stores and get going. You can check out our tutorial How to Make Resin Art, from which you can have a basic understanding of making resin art works. You can also search some simple projects like Resin Art for Beginners, How to make resin keychain or How to make resin necklaces on YouTube. Old and broken jewelry pieces, key chains, and other decorative items can be transformed through resin art. Once you get better at using resin, you can start bigger projects like transforming a furniture piece or making wall art.
Resin is a versatile material to work with. With basic knowledge and general know-how, you can create impressive resin art. The sky is the limit for applications of resin in the field of art and craft.