Resin painting is a lot of fun, and this project is a great way for you to jump into it, especially if you have little or no experience with resin. It didn’t take much convincing for me to come up with a small resin project perfect for this time of year, that lets you try colors, metallics, and the opportunity to create your own handcrafted gift for loved ones. Sure you could just mix it up, and pour it into a mold, but this will be so much more exciting and more like a mad scientist experiment.
Making gift coasters is such a simple way to make highly-customized art gifts. You can also play with different colors, since your canvas will be small, then create another one that matches or is completely different. The possibilities of what you can use to color your resin are limitless, but for this tutorial, we are going to focus on using store-bought pigments, glitter, and dyes.
We’re using clear resin so that our coasters are filled with depth and dimension. The brand you choose to use isn’t that important, just carefully read the instructions on mixing and curing times. Resin is either measured by volume or by weight, so read the instructions carefully. We will only be using a small amount of resin, so this is the perfect try-me resin project. If you are purchasing dye for this project, ensure you use translucent dyes.
I was lucky enough to have found some old coasters at a thrift store to reuse for this project today. They are paperboard with cork on the back.
Not having old coasters doesn’t mean you can’t make these for yourself. In the past, I have used cut pieces of masonite board that I coated in resin and then when they were cured, I glued a piece of felt to the back to protect the surface it will be used on. I’ve also recycled fence wood- just cut out a circle or square a little bigger than needed to fit a mug. Sand any rough edges. It’s my experience that fence wood is too thick, but if that’s what you have, go for it!
Full supply list:
- Clear resin
- Resin dyes and pigments
- Small paper cups
- Medium plastic cups
- Craft sticks to stir
- Disposable plastic spoons
- Plastic drop cloth
- Optional pearl pigments
- Optional metallic pigments
- Disposable gloves
- Paper towels
Always use resin in a heated space, it has to have around 74 degrees F to cure at a normal speed. Cooler spaces will slow it way down.
Step 1 Paint/Prime
Paint your chosen coasters white before beginning. Paint the top and sides. This step makes the colors richer, dimensional, and vibrant. Any white paint will do, since it’s going to be covered. Do two coats of this, so the pattern or wood doesn’t show through.
When it’s dry, use masking tape, or blue tape on bottom edges so you can peel off the resin drips.
Step 2 Protect Surfaces
Lay plastic down on your work surface and lay out all your supplies you’ll need. Resin is a very runny liquid and is very hard to clean off surfaces you don’t want it. If you need a scale, put a small paper towel on it. This stuff loves to drip and can end up on floors, cover it up. Pull your hair back, wear crappy clothes, and have a trash nearby.
Get out all your things to mix and stir and set them easily within reach. Throw away used stir sticks, gloves, etc, as you use them to minimize a resin mess.
Remember to wipe up any spills, drips, or oops as they happen.
Step 3 Measure Resin
Using gloves, follow the instructions for your resin. They’re all different, so carefully measure out the part A and then the part B, into separate containers. Pour the thickest one into a medium cup and the other into a smaller cup. If it’s measured by volume, use two medium cups so you can visually tell that their the same. Don’t mix it quite yet.
Don’t use anything that touches one, on the other. You can even label your lids with which one they go on. Keep the containers clean and wipe up drips with a clean paper towel.
Note: Usually part A or B will be a lot thicker than the other. If you can pour/measure the thick liquid into a large cup, you can add the harder/catalyst (other part) to it and stir in that cup. You don’t want to transfer the very thick one from a cup to another cup because you will struggle to get it out & it will be miss-measured. Especially resin measured by weight.
Step 4 Mix Resin and Dyes
Mix your 2 parts together in a cup big enough to hold both. Stir well, making sure you scrape the sides and bottom in the process. I prefer using wood craft sticks to stir (for less waste), but I use plastic disposable spoons too.
Pour smaller amounts (1/2 to 1 inch) of the mixed resin into small cups for different colors. Give each their own stir stick. Add colors to individual cups and stir. Make them all a little different. We’ll cover other things you can use to color resin, in another tutorial.
We’re going to be using:
- Resin liquid dyes
- Resin powdered metallic pigments
- mixing your own colors (red+blue)
- adding glitter to color
Note: Specialty pigments for resin can be found at artists/sculpting suppliers. If you’re in the Northern Colorado area, check out The Sculpture Depot in Loveland.
Step 5 Paint with Resin
Set your first coaster on a small upside-down cup to elevate it off the table in a spot it can drip and cure. You don’t want to move these again. Place a few of these so you are ready to go!
Pick a first color and use a spoon to pour or drip the color onto the coaster. You can pour directional lines, circles, spots, or whatever. Just a little though.
Use your next color and add a spoonful or resin on a different place, in whatever design your heart tells you to. Play with changing directions or adding a few big spots.
Continue on like this, adding layers of colors until the whole surface is mostly covered. It will be dripping off the edges and that’s fine. Use a spoon or stick to smooth resin over the edges too. Here’s several examples.
Step 6 Use a Torch
Use a torch on the surface and watch your colors dance and blend in unexpected ways. This is an optional step, if you don’t have a torch, but my favorite color combos come to life doing this. You don’t want to ignite anything, but lightly run the flame over the surface of the liquid resin on the coasters. I’ve seen people try butane lighters, but I haven’t. This is especially neat on metallics.
Step 7 Cure
Let everything cure undisturbed for usually 24 hours before attempting to touch it. Some resins cure faster, or slower. Give it time to finish and they will be amazing!
Step 7 Remove Tape
Peel the tape off the back, removing all the extra drips. This can be tricky and you may need to use a butter knife or fingernails to help lift the spots that have resin, it really wants to stick. If you didn’t bother taping yours, you will need to sand them now to remove the drips.
If there are any sharp spots, which there usually are, use fine sand paper right around the bottom edge to eliminate cuts or scratches on tables.
If you’ve used a cut board, you can now cut out and glue felt onto the bottom.
What great artistic coasters these are! The possibilities are endless. I hope you have fun trying out this project and we would love to see what you did. Email us pictures of your projects at Ibreatheidiy@gmail.com.