Are all resins the same?
There are resins marketed for marine use, bar tops, and artistic purposes, and they come in a variety of costs, with the ones marketed toward the artists being the most expensive, of course.
But resin is resin, right? Why pay extra for the “Art Resin?” Resin comes in two bottles of equal volume. If you buy a gallon of resin, it will come in two half-gallon bottles. One bottle has the resin, the other has the hardener.
Well, I checked out a few brands. I tried East Coast Resin, Art Resin, and Art n’ Glow Resin, in that order. I couldn’t tell a difference despite the wide range of price points. I had more air bubble problems with one versus the other, but I think it was the way I mixed it. I will probably stick with Art N’ Glow because it is the cheapest. Why not right?
So for each of these brands, the following is true:
- The product will come in two equal containers. If you purchase a gallon of resin, you will actually receive a half gallon of resin and a half gallon of hardener. The resin does not cure until you add the hardener and the molecules combine to make a solid.
- You mix equal parts hardener and resin. It is helpful to have large mixing containers that are translucent and have volume measurements marked on the side. They sell these at your local hardware store.
- Resin prefers warmth. One of the brands I tried, East Coast Resin actually instructs the user to keep the resin at 80 degrees F or higher. My first attempt was in a 65 degree art room. I warmed up the bottles on top of the radiator and that worked.
- Resin is messy, so cover surfaces. Have paper towels handy and wear gloves. Do NOT pour extra resin down the sink! Wipe it into the trash with a paper towel. Clean the residue off your tools with rubbing alcohol.
- Elevate your artwork so the excess can level out and flow off. If you don’t, you could fuse your artwork to the table with resin. It is also helpful to tape off the back to protect it from drips that collect and gather there. It is also a good idea to check your surface with a level to ensure an even coat and avoid too much run off.
- Resin is self leveling. All the streaky peaks and valleys will disappear. The main thing you need to worry about is bald spots and air bubbles. Lint and hair are a hazard too. Shine a bright light from the side to spot these irregularities BEFORE the resin dries. You can dip them out with a needle tool and it will level itself back out.
- Your working time is usually around 45 minutes. After that the resin will begin to bond to the hardener, starting the curing process. At this point you don’t want to mar the surface or it will no longer level itself out.
- Resin is dry to the touch in less than 24 hours but you should give it 48 hours before handling the piece. Otherwise you could end up with dents and fingerprints.