I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Art Resin Epoxy, how much fun it is to work with, and the creativity that it can bring out in you. Cutting boards, river tables, tumblers, decorations, coasters, jewelry, I could go on. Plus, I like to be artistic but I also like to make utilitarian things – things you can use. Plus there is a lot of money in reselling things you make. There is a list published here about what people are selling, on what platform, and how much they are making. It is a great resource.
A friend of mine has been doing epoxy countertops, flooring, and more as an installer with the iCoat Network. His house is tricked out and he seems to be doing very well for himself. He gave me the iCoat website so I could buy my first bottle of Art Resin. This was my first lesson, the Art Resin is made from 2 different chemicals part A, an epoxy, and part B a hardener, when you mix the 2 of them at the right ratios they react and start to harden into a resin. I purchased a very affordable 16oz kit with silicone molds so I could get familiar with making coasters and other items that these reusable molds could help with. They arrived at my door super fast.
I put down some parchment paper in my kitchen and taped it down. I am not a messy person so I wasn’t at all worried about making a mess. I got a small mixing bucket and a few solo cups for mixing small batches. I had stirrers and some plastic knives which work great in the solo cups.
I mixed my first batch of iCoat Art Resin trying to follow the 1:1 instructions. iCoat’s bottles make it really easy to see how much you have poured. Lesson 2. Let the bottles level after pouring to see if you really have got a close 1:1 mix, otherwise, it can look like you do but you can see the settled epoxy and hardener don’t lie. Also, it doesn’t have to be really exact, that was good to know too.
The description of the iCoat product says “crystal-clear” but when I poured a 2mil amount in the mold it didn’t look that clear. I got on the chatbot on the iCoat site and they answered right away, here is where I got Lesson 3. As the mixture starts to activate it will get clearer without doing anything, but if you want it really clear “Hit it with a propane torch” they said. I don’t have a propane torch or even know how to use one. They asked if I “had a lighter gun” and they said “to use that about an inch away from the epoxy resin,” it worked great and instantly made it clearer. (I do now have a small propane torch, my neighbor showed me how to use it and it is a professional touch)
Lesson 4. Make sure you are working on a level surface as when the resin mix settles it self-levels, which is awesome unless you are on a slope.
In my molds I was doing a back-to-school idea I found online, easy, and a great first attempt. I added some stationery bits and pieces, crayons, pencils, erasers, paper clips, and some glitter for fun. Then I poured the rest of my mix to fill the mold to about 2mil from the top of the mold. Lesson 5. Things float! The crayons and the pencil started to float up and I had to keep pushing them down. They finally behaved once the resin was 30mins to an hour in. To fix this in the future, I waited after my first 2mil pour for it to tack up and added them and added a small mil or so of resin to set them in place before covering them completely, patience here is your friend.
The activation of the epoxy and hardener creates heat. It is amazing to feel the heat that is created in the mold, it is not going to burn you but still very interesting. Lesson 6. Things can melt, my wax Crayola crayons started to melt with the heat. Again back to the patience, I now coat them in advance with a thin layer of epoxy and let them get close to dry, this stops them from melting. Also, doing small layers reduces the heat effect. But working with objects that don’t melt is absolutely preferable.
I heat-torch my projects as I add epoxy to make them crystal clear, this releases the bubbles that can happen. Where do these bubbles come from? Lesson 7. As the mix settles and fills small air pockets, the air is forced upwards, the less viscous the bubbles will float and “outgas” the more viscous or thicker the resin as it set over time the bubbles will have a hard time releasing, this is where the heat torch is your friend. Bubbles in epoxy resin are also a byproduct of the quality of the mixture, iCoat assures me their product is American made and has the lease bubble issues due to its production. (See all epoxies are not the same)
I waited for the resin to cure, after a few hours it was setting up really nicely and after maybe 5 hours the shell was hard. I waited a full day until I took them out of the molds and here is where I learned Lesson 8. The mold was not releasing from the resin, one of my silicone molds actually started tearing. I didn’t think resin adhered to silicone but it does. I called iCoat and they said I could put the mold in boiling water, take it out, shake off the water and try and release it, that worked, and released the resin.
They followed up with this great advice for the future, Lesson 9. Like all epoxy resins are not the same, the same goes for silicone, there are different grades of silicone. iCoat gave me this great tip, very lightly rub vaseline into your molds before adding the epoxy resin, this worked like a charm, my next batch popped out with no problems. It also helps to vaseline the edges of the mold to free those pesky drips.
So, getting closer to the finish line, the Art Resin creation looked great apart from the edges that were a little raised. I wanted my work to look as great as possible, as I had put a lot of love into the things I was making. Here is Lesson 10. How to finish your work. Thinking that iCoat would have been sick of me calling them all the time, but that wasn’t the case, they encourage it. Tim gave me these great tips to complete my work. “There are several options to remove edges, 1. heat the edges and cut them with a sharp knife carefully to not dig out too much. 2. wait for the resin to fully cure, around 3 days, then starting with 220 grit sandpaper and working up, sand your resin to a smooth finish. A final buffing job makes it sparkle crystal clear.”
These are the 10 lessons I learned as a rookie working with Art Resin epoxy.