How to Use Epoxy Resin for Beginners
Believe it or not, even epoxy experts were once beginners just like you. Like any other arts and crafts, you have to learn how to use epoxy resin first then practice until you’re a pro. Apply your creativity and don’t shy away or dwell on mistakes. Learn quickly and move. Playing around with your creativity not only shortens the learning curve but also develops your unique style than will differentiate you from the ever-growing crowd. Let’s jump right in!
The Basics of Epoxy Resin and Good Practices
Before you even touch anything, learn to choose the right resin. As a beginner, you have to consider pot time and ease of use. Stick with epoxy resin since it is easier to work with and has the longest pot time of about 20 to 40 minutes. This gives you ample time to craft your piece. Also, learn the basics and good practices.
Epoxy resins consist of the resin and the hardener, which are mixed in a specific resin to hardener ratio. It creates a chemical reaction and emits heat once you’ve added a hardener. On average, you have around 30 minutes of working time once you start mixing to hardening, known as pot time. It refers to the period your resin will still be liquid enough to work with. To avoid wastage, start by mixing your epoxy resin in small batches. The amount of time it takes for your epoxy to harden completely is known as curing time—epoxy resins cure for several hours. So, don’t rush your first epoxy piece to harden. Poking at it every minute to see if it’s hardened can undermine your art’s perfect finish.
Regardless of the type of resin, you have to read and follow the instructions and safety precautions. This includes mixing instructions, working area requirements, protective gear, and clean up. For starters, the work area should be sparkling clean and well-ventilated. Although protective gear varies for different epoxies, you should consider wearing rubber gloves, respirator, and eye protection. Rubber gloves are important because resins are extremely sticky and hard to remove once it gets on your skin. A respirator mask will protect you from any toxic fumes emitted during mixing. All waste materials should be disposed of in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and local regulations. It is never too early to nurture good resin practices.
Once you’ve internalized these three crucial founding good practices, you can dive in and start working with epoxy resin.
Beginners’ Guide for Working with Epoxy Resin
While working on epoxy resin for the first time may seem daunting, it’s not that hard. Here are a few tips to help you get started with epoxy resin:
Step 1: Preparation
The last thing you want is to finish mixing the epoxy resin only to realize you forgot one crucial tool or material. In the preparation stage, you gather everything you’ll need around your working area. As a beginner, you may need to create a checklist just to be on the safe side. Here is a simple checklist:
- Your epoxy resin, syringes for measuring, mixing stick, plastic disposable cups, molds, straw, and optional items like dyes and glitters.
- Cover your working area with wax paper (resin does not stick to wax paper).
- You’ll need a dome to cover and protect your work from dust and dirt once it’s done.
- Wrap or seal any pictures or paper-based memorabilia you want to include in your resin to prevent discoloration and water stains.
- Dry flowers and other vegetation first, then sprayed with a sealer to prevent discoloration.
With everything assembled around you and your work area ready, put on your protective gear and start your epoxy journey to stardom!
Step 2: Measuring Your Resin
Before mixing, wash your molds using water and place it on a napkin to dry. One good eco-friendly practice is to leave the water in the washing basin to use later for clean-up. Read the mixing ratio instruction on the resin kit carefully before opening the containers. Is the ratio 1:1, 1:2, or 2:1? Do you mix by volume or weight? Check out the pot time to plan based on the working window. Use one syringe to draw and measure the resin and another syringe for the hardener. Make sure you measure each exactly as instructed. Drain your resin and hardener into your mixing cup.
Step 3: Mixing Your Resin
Use the popsicle stick to mix your resin and hardener thoroughly and according to the instructions. The best practice is to mix quickly in a swirl, then scrape the sides and bottom with your popsicle stick before proceeding to mix. Repeat this mixing process until it’s perfectly mixed. To ensure consistency, you can always mix for 10 percent of the pot time like 4 min for 40 min pot time.
Step 4: Adding Dye or Glitter
While mixing, add any dyes or glitter you’ll be using as per the instructions. Note that glitter sinks to the bottom quickly, so you have to use a lot. Also, food color and resin don’t mix just like water and oil. You’ll have to start the process all over (please don’t repeat my mistakes). India ink, acrylic paints, or poster paints mix perfectly with epoxy resins.
Step 5: Placing in Mold
When it comes to pouring resin, a steady hand and undivided attention are the two ingredients of success. Pour slowly using your popsicle stick to scrape your perfectly mixed resin into the molds. Just like any thick liquid, resins settle either with a dip in or dome due to surface tension and high meniscus level. But, you shouldn’t worry too much about it in your first try. Place your charm, flower, or memorabilia on the thickened resin when it’s half set. Leave it to set fully.
Step 6: Perfecting the Finish
Sometimes, the fast pace of molding can lead to mistakes. But you can fix them easily. If you’re unsatisfied with the thickness, you can place another layer of resin on the piece. Skip this step if you molded like a pro.
Step 7: Moving to the Drying Place
At this stage, your resin is still at risk of disfiguration from too much shaking. You have to move it very gently and carefully to the drying place. The perfect drying place should be well-ventilated, dustless, and away from children or pets. You can cover it with a dome to protect from dust and other particles.
Step 8: Cleaning Up
With everything done, it’s time to clean up your work area. Don’t try washing the mixing cup and syringe straightaway. It is impossible to get all epoxy resin residue out without an overnight soak in soapy water. If you have to throw it away, follow disposal guidelines and regulations to the letter. You can throw everything else into the washbasin with the water you saved at the start and be prepared to scrub to get out all the resin. Rinse and dry before storing it in a secure place.
Step 9: Pop Your Product Out
Once your resin has hardened completely, pop it out from the mold carefully. Don’t use any sharp objects to avoid scratches. Your resin will pop out nicely if you bend the mold in the middle from the back. You can refine the finish by removing any excess resin pieces.
Step 10: Flaunt Your First Masterpiece
It is no use to put in the effort and time to create a masterpiece and deny yourself the opportunity to flaunt. You stick your piece on the fridge door using a glued magnet or glue it on your drawer. It is also perfect as a bookmark when stuck with a popsicle stick.
Completing your first epoxy resin project is great, right? But, it is only the first step in a long journey to stardom. You’ll have to practice again and again until you’re a pro. And don’t forget to pass your epoxy resin skills to your friends and family. Epoxy resin crafts are meant to be shared.