Updated: May 8
Information overload ;) for working with resin, both ArtWorks & Liquid Diamonds.
This information is full of guidance and ideas for optimum results for users of ArtWorks Resin and Liquid Diamonds Casting Resin.
Copyright of Michele Donohue, ArtWorks Resin Canada. All rights reserved.
This document may only be shared via the link back to this blog post.
Personal Note: This information is updated and added to, as time permits. I have tried to condense a ton of information that I had previously taken notes on for myself to use as a resin artist over the past 4+ years, (from before I started my resin business), plus some I've learned since. I am sharing it with others who may find some benefit to it. Resin in general, can be finicky so having loads of helpful information to learn from, can also help customers be more knowledgeable for best results with our resin products. Nothing is set in stone, or the same for everyone, but extra knowledge of a product like resin does go a long way to helping with successful projects.
All resins are not the same. There are various limitations with any epoxy resin, and they each have their pros and cons, which is why some resin artists have different brands they use for different projects. Becoming more knowledgeable of a resins pros & cons, helps an artist learn best ways to work with them, or work around them. Resin art has a big learning curve and like any medium, they each take time and practice to master, but once you do, you can achieve the most incredibly rewarding and beautiful results with both ArtWorks Resin & Liquid Diamonds Casting Resin.
ArtWorks Resin is a high-quality epoxy resin formulated specifically for use in artwork. It has been formulated with extra UV protection and HALS for more added UV Resistance. It is also used widely on tumblers, tabletops, bar tops, counter surfaces, & trays and is excellent for doming. It cures in 8-12 hours. It has no VOC's, does not have a foul odour, it is scratch resistant, and cures very rigid and rock hard (does not remain in a pliable state after curing, or go soft in hot climate. It is a medium viscosity (thick like syrup) resin. ArtWorks Resin cures crystal clear like glass. It is FDA 21CFR175.300 compliant.
Liquid Diamonds Casting Resin is an amazing high-quality casting resin. It is crystal clear and cures within 24 hours in correct room temperature. Liquid Diamonds was designed for the crafting industry. Many customers state it is the best casting, embedding & jewelry resin. Ideal applications are for castings, moulds, jewelry making, pen turning, and a variety of other areas. Because this product has such a low viscosity, it allows for micro-bubbles to dissipate more easily. It has no harsh chemicals such as solvents or alcohols and is VOC free. Safe to use on foams and delicate pieces. This resin can be used for coating or encapsulating as well. Excellent for silicone moulds, woods, concrete, pebble floors, tiles and rock. It is FDA 21CFR175.300 compliant.
There are a large variety of types of resins on the market for use in many different applications. Each resin has its unique features, pros & cons depending on what it is being used for. Some people like to use a variety of different resins for different purposes, and some prefer working with medium (thicker) or lower (thinner) viscosities depending on desired effects.
For example, there are numerous two-part epoxy resins. Some are designed for art, some designed for casting (craft type for more shallow moulds, and more industrial type for deeper pours), some designed specifically for kitchen countertops (often with higher heat tolerance), some designed for flooring, boats, etc. Every brand has different viscosities, cure rates, heat resistance ratings, work time, & more. Even in each category of resin, there are many types. There are deep pour casting resins made for projects like river tables, but even those need to be poured in layers (typically 2" depths), depending on volume required. People often may need to experiment with a few to find which works best for their intended use. For best results, use a resin that is designed for your specific types of projects.
There is also a product called UV Resin (1 part resin), which is not the same thing as a UV rated (2 part) epoxy resin. Some people get confused between them. A UV Resin is cured by using light (like the UV nail polish coatings). UV resin only cures under UV irradiation. It's maximum layer thickness is 1mm, and is typically only suited for smaller areas. The two part epoxy resins with a UV rating, is not cured with light, it just means that it has UV inhibitors added to reduce yellowing and surface degradation from UV exposure. Some have more than others, but know that those additives may affect the resin in another area, including price.
There is also polyester & polyurethane resins. These resins both cure very hard like glass, and can be polished to a high gloss, but unfortunately these types of resins are quite toxic & fumey, and you absolutely must wear a respirator when working with these resins. Polyester resin has a very short work time. Polyurethane is very sensitive to moisture and humidity, which makes it difficult to add any other elements such as pigments, dyes or other inclusions (unless they're specifically formulated).
Please review the helpful information & tips (as well as the safety information provided on website), prior to beginning working with resin.
Epoxy resins consist of a base (bottle of resin) and a curing agent (bottle of hardener). The two components are mixed in a certain ratio (ArtWorks Resin is a 1:1 ratio measured by volume (not weight), and Liquid Diamonds is a 2:1 ratio that can be measured by weight or volume . A chemical reaction occurs between the two parts generating heat (exothermic reaction) and hardening the mixture into an inert, hard plastic. Epoxy coatings are used because of their outstanding chemical resistance, durability, low porosity and strong bond strength. ALL resins will yellow over a period of time, however, ArtWorks Resin has been formulated to resist yellowing for a much longer period of time. Liquid Diamonds also has added UV inhibitors. It is not possible to determine how long it will take any cured resin brand to start becoming discoloured, as there are too many variables. Some of those variables are additives or substrates or items painted over substrate, overheating during work time, and where the art is being displayed. Resin art, much like most original art, should not be displayed in direct sunlight.
Prepare your work area:
Resin can be incredibly messy & sticky. For easier clean up afterwards, cover & protect your work area.
Surfaces resin does not stick well to are good for your work area: Heavy gauge plastic drop sheets (often used by house painters) can be reused, as resin once dried will peel easily off the thicker plastic (it can rip thinner plastic). Resin will not stick to polyethylene plastics. Laminating plastic does not melt or wrinkle as much as thinner plastic. Parchment paper (or the shiny side of freezer paper) can also be used under resin work surface for easy clean up. Resin does not stick to wax, so a wax paper (waxy side up), can be used. Silicone matts or teflon sheet liners (used in baking) also can work well.
Some people like to mist their work room area with water ahead of time, to bring down any dust in the air prior to starting with resin.
It's best to have all your supplies ready & near you before mixing the two parts together, so you don't waste work time (pot life) looking for things you need to use.
Have tweezers handy in case you need to pick out hair, dust or bugs (they seem attracted to resin).
Keep a roll of paper towels handy as well for quick wipe ups as needed.
Also, keep alcohol wipes (Clorox for example) handy for wiping resin off unwanted surfaces prior to it curing.
Work in a well-ventilated area, ideally with a good exhaust fan. Even though resin companies state non-toxic and no voc, we like to pre-warn that anyone can be sensitive or become sensitive when using any 2-part epoxies, regardless how safe their claims may be. More information on that in the safety page of our website.
Always wear disposable nitrile gloves and keep more handy while working. If you get resin on your clothing, it will likely not come off again. Wear old clothes with an apron, or painters full body coverup.
Always double check with a level, that your work area/substrate is level prior to starting a project.
Mixing containers & sticks:
Always use clean mixing containers & stir sticks (so nothing contaminates resin).
Silicone containers & mixing sticks are often preferred since they can be reused once wiped clean. But they must be clean!
Many people use wooden popsicle sticks or paint stir sticks, however, be aware it's possible wood may release air into resin during mixing, and cause additional bubbles to mix. Some people find using silicone or plastic stirring tools help reduce added air bubbles.
If you are using cups that do not have measurement markings, use a ruler and mark two containers at the same height in order to get an equal amount.
Some cups are not suited for mixing resin. Containers/cups with the #5 on the bottom, are made of polyethylene, and resin is much easier to remove from them, and they can be reused. Lowe's carries them in their paint department, and the smaller 2oz onesare available on Amazon.
Secure hair & loose clothing out of the way so it doesn't land in your work. Resin is hard to remove from hair. Check clothing doesn't have hair or fuzz that can fall into resin (which causes more work & extra layers of resin). Wear lint free clothing. You can buy inexpensive painting suits that are lint free (we have them on our website too).
Remember have your box of nitrile gloves ready and other PPE (see resin safety tab for more detailed info on this).
Temperature of resin & room:
Temperature is extremely important with epoxy resins. Best results and transparency are achieved when temperature is ideal and with lower humidity. A lower temperature with high humidity or unequal mixing of the two parts may cause clouding of the resin. Higher temperatures may cause too fast a curing reaction for some resin art techniques.
Apply resin in correct room temperature
at minimum 21C (70F) to 24C (75F),
(ideally best results are in the 24C (75F) range ), and temperature must remain consistent through curing process for best cure. Generally, all epoxies become too thick and cure too slowly to be applied at temperatures below 50 or 60 degrees F.
It is very important that epoxy is also at room temperature (approx. 20 to 24 C / 70-76F) before mixing. Don’t heat too much though. note: Higher heat will expedite curing, causing pre-mature exothermic reaction, causing yellowing and will make it more brittle. Be aware that since heat accelerates curing, warming your resin can reduce working time by about 10 minutes.
If the epoxy is too cold, the molecules are too small to make a complete chemical reaction to make it an inert final product, which can leave chemicals not bonded (which is a potential for poisoning). Follow each manufacturer’s instructions to a T. ALL epoxy resins are chemicals, and all the controlled variables must be adhered to. Chemicals are sensitive. Each brand has their own formulation that can be thrown off if not used as directed.
You will know your resin is too cold when it's thick, hard to work with, and cloudy looking due to 1000's of teeny-tiny micro-bubbles which are harder to torch out. Cold resin will also take far longer to cure.
If resin is too cold, you can set the Part A-Resin bottle in warm water (upright in a bucket, or tub), or set on a heating blanket, until it's room temperature (before mixing two parts together). Ensure you completely & thoroughly dry off the exterior of the bottle from any water drops (water drops in resin will ruin the chemical process and cause curing issues).
Epoxy resins curing properly can often be affected by ambient temperature being off, or humidity levels. After most of the epoxies have cured, it can handle temperatures below zero degrees F.
Liquid Diamonds is very sensitive to moisture. Humidity plays an important role. The room should be under 50% humidity ( better if it's under 30%). If it is humid, get a dehumidifier or several containers of Damp Rid to put in the room.
Pro Tip: Using a digital thermometer to check the temperature of your room, aim it at the resin containers to check before pouring, & at the substrate will take the guessing out of it. Ensure all tools are at room temperature. Cold tools can shock your resin. Make sure your resin is at least room temperature.
Resin Mixing Instructions
Every resin brand will have different directions. Never assume because you’ve used one, they’re all the same. Some are similar, but they are not all the same, so do review each brands instructions prior to working on your project.
Our website has a resin calculator page to help determine rough amounts needed. The first calculator on the page is for ArtWorks Resin (top coating projects), just enter the dimensions of the piece. The second calculator on the page is for Liquid Diamonds (casting projects in different shapes). The third section shows rough amounts suggested for tumbler makers.
ArtWorks Resin MIXING INSTRUCTIONS:
Use a 1:1 ratio of resin to hardener. Measure equal parts of resin and hardener into a mixing cup.
ArtWorks Resin should be measured by volume. (For an example, if you need a total of 2 oz, you would mix 1 oz of Part A plus 1 oz of Part B)
In round countainer, pour hardener (Part B) in to mixing cup, then resin (Part A ) into hardener in cup. Mix thoroughly but gently for 4 minutes. Stir gently, be sure to occasionally scrape along sides & bottom of container as well. A plastic or silicone mixing tool works great for stirring the resin. It's very important that epoxy is at proper temperature (approx 72-78 degrees F) before mixing. If the epoxy is too cold the molecules are too small to make a complete chemical reaction to make it an inert final product, and you will notice many more bubbles. If you have mixed for 4 minutes, but still see striations (like strings), than you can mix a little longer until there are no more striations. More details to follow below
LIQUID DIAMONDS MIXING INSTRUCTIONS:
In a round mixing cup, mix 2:1 ratio by weight or by volume (for example 10 ml of hardener to 20 ml of resin). Measuring Liquid Diamonds by weight is considered to be more accurate, but volume works well too. A simple kitchen scale will work for weighing purposes.
Always pour resin (part a) into hardener (part b), & stir well but gently, for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of cup. Stirring slowly helps to reduce & avoid air bubbles. It is very important that it is properly mixed. (Some people like to pour this mix into a new empty clean cup, then stir mixed resin for another 3 minutes to ensure it's thoroughly mixed. Although we have not found that to be necessary.) Instead of pouring into another cup, alternatively, we suggest you can let it stand in the initial mixed container for up to 5-10 minutes to degas & allow any bubbles to rise to the surface. If there are a few bubbles, a light pass over with a heat source will pop them. Suggested minimum per mix is at least 15 ml. Using plastic or silicone stirring tool also can help prevent bubbles (that a wood stir stick might add).
When pouring your resin into your application, try and pour as close to your pieces as possible. Pour in a linear line, so that resin flows from the front of your piece, to the back. These techniques help to avoid bubble entrapment.
With Liquid Diamonds , to dome, glaze or make colour swirls in blanks, allow mixture to set several more minutes for a thicker honey-like consistency. This is a slow cure resin and it can take 45 mins to 1 hour to get that consistency. If your piece will be turned on a lathe, please wait 24 to 48 hours to turn.
If you have never used a 2:1 resin, just remember to use twice the amount of resin as hardener.
Check out our handy resin calculator page (there are 2 calculator options) on the website, to get an estimate of how much total resin is needed for your project. Another way to see how much resin you may need, is to fill your mould with water, then dump it into a measuring cup. Or use a measuring cup to fill your mould to see how much is used. Then dry mould thoroughly as even a tiny bit of moisture will ruin the cure.
If resin appears cloudy, & your mix is correct, it is likely too cold.
Adding Colourants: Important Note:
If you are adding colourants to your resin, the general rule of thumb is to start with about 3% colourant ratio to resin, and only add more if needed, (you can check opacity on your stir stick), but never exceeding 10% colourant to resin ratio. Glitters do not colour the resin, so are the exception to that ratio rule, (however be aware that it does affect the chemical balance, and can reduce pot life). Once colours or glitters are added to your mixed epoxy, do not allow it to sit in the cups as the cure process will be sped up by these additions.
With ArtWorks Resin medium viscosity being thick, it will need to be used shortly after mixing.
Since Liquid Diamonds low viscosity is like water, you may want to let it sit in cup, until it gets to a honey like consistency before you add glitter or it will sink to the bottom of the layer your working on. That can mean resin needs to sit about 45 minutes to an hour depending on your environment, before adding the glitter. You do need to keep an eye on it.
When you mix your resin, & it’s a large amount, pour it into several different cups. This is because the more resin you have in one cup, The faster it generates heat, which means the faster it cures. Also wait to mix in your paints or pigments until right before you are going to pour that color. I used to add all of my paints and pigments to all my cups at the beginning, but I kept having cups of resin cure on me too quickly, and this is because different paints and pigments can cause resin to cure even faster. So when possible wait to add colourant until right before you're going to pour it. but have your colours handy & ready to go As needed.
Resin Heats Up - it’s supposed to, as that’s part of how it cures. It won’t cure correctly if it remains cold. However, If it heats up too much or too quickly it’s called Premature Exotherm! You want to avoid that type of heating up.
Note, adding anything in to epoxy resin, does affect the pot life (work time) of epoxy resins. However, just keep watch on any & all cups it's mixed in, if it's starting to warm up, it needs to be used ASAP. If it is not used quickly, and an uncontrolled (or premature) exothermic reaction has begun in the cup, it will overheat and get extremely hot in your cup. When this occurs the resin will quickly yellow from overheating/ burning, and will no longer be able to be used. Epoxy resin heating out of control can foam, smoke, give off dangerous vapors and generate enough heat to melt its container or cause nearby items to catch fire. If this occurs, , safely remove the overheating cup on to a fire-proof surface (a metal tray or concrete) outdoors. Once cooled, you can dispose of it. To avoid this issue, it is always advised to get your mixed resin on to the substrate as soon as possible. When it is applied in correct amounts for the circumstances, it does not build heat, so the temperature through the thickness of epoxy stays close to the ambient temperature of the room.
Work Time/Pot Life:
After the two epoxy parts (resin mixed into hardener) are combined, there is a working time (pot life), during which the epoxy can be applied or used. Generally the pot life will be anywhere from minutes to one hour or longer depending on the product specs. At the end of the pot life, the mixture becomes very warm (or even dangerously hot), and when past its pot life, it quickly begins to harden & yellow from overheating (pre-mature exothermic reaction) that occurs while still in cup.
ArtWorks Resin has a pot life of about 30 to 40 minutes.
Liquid Diamonds Casting Resin has a pot life of about 45 - 60 minutes at 150 grams. Low exotherm (heat) applied to your pieces.
In theory, a temperature change of 18 degrees F, will double or half the pot life and cure time of an epoxy. Higher temperatures will lower the viscosity (thin) the epoxy, but also reduce the working time a person has to apply the epoxy. Spreading out the epoxy once mixed, instead of leaving it concentrated in mixing cup or container, will help the potlife (work time).
Pouring Mixed Resin:
Once your resin is mixed pour onto the surface as soon as possible. If working on a panel, and just clear, pour most of it in the center and a slight line around all the edges, about 1/4” in. The majority in the centre should cover about 65% of the panel. This is enough to spread over the entire surface (unless there are porous areas).
Using a gloved (nitrile only) hand, or spreading trowel or other tool, pull the resin out to the edges, and all around. Resin has a surface tension and it will stop where it is pulled as long as too much resin has not been poured. Thicker resins (like ArtWorks Resin ) will not run over the sides as easily as the thinner resins (like Liquid Diamonds ).
If enough resin has not been made and you need more, there may be clouding or a ridge where the two meet. If this occurs, use your hand in a nitrile glove and attempt to mix the resin more completely on the surface. The resin may need to be warmed with a torch if it has already passed initial curing time (30-50 minutes dependent on resin).
Any item getting a layer of resin, should be very clean and dry. If your surface is very shiny/polished, it may require a light sanding to get a better bond. Some manufacturers recommend sanding in between layers if more than 24 hours passed between layers, however I have never done that (with either ArtWorks Resin or Liquid Diamonds or other resins I’ve used), and never had any delaminating occur. It is very important surface is cleaned of any oils from fingers or other contaminants that could affect final finish & cure.
If you are top coating your acrylic painting with any epoxy resin, it is important to allow your acrylic art layer to cure completely before coating with resin. Many acrylic art pieces with only a thin coat can take up to a full week to cure, many other pieces with thicker or textured paint layers, or medium or heavy body of acrylics, and especially acrylic pours, can take over 2 - 3 weeks to cure all the way through. Dry to the touch, does not necessarily mean it's cured all the way through. If any resin is applied before acrylics are completely cured all the way through, the moisture from the uncured acrylic will effect the curing of the resin negatively, and a nice topcoat will not be achievable. The same applies to anything being used prior to resin topcoat, everything must be fully dried and have zero moisture content.
If it is an acrylic pour with silicone added, ensure you’ve thoroughly cleaned all silicone off painting prior to applying the resin. Silicone and resin repel each other. Gently dry wipe off any silicone residue (it may not be visible) on surface with a soft cloth (t-shirt or microfiber or other soft material). Then using another soft clean cloth use a mixture of Dawn dish soap or other cleaners to clean really well. Then it must be dried thoroughly before applying resin. Some famous acrylic pour artists will actually apply a clear gel varnish coat (or clear sealer with varnish) at this point, prior to putting the resin top-coat on, to ensure a solid coverage over their acrylic pour. Golden and Liquitex both make good artist quality products for that purpose.
If an adhesive has been used to adhere materials to a board, it must be cured and fully dry before applying resin. If it’s not, bubbles can rise to the surface though the wet resin. Those bubbles are not ordinary resin bubbles, and will not likely be as easy to remove.
Some items will go transparent or translucent under resin if not sealed first. There are good artist quality mediums (by Golden & Liquitex) that can be used to seal those items. Another option is to laminate them prior to resin application. Some papers, leaves, feathers, photos, copies, etc. may need a sealer protective coating, so do a bit of research on it if uncertain.
Recoat / Flood Coat:
The best time to recoat many epoxies is within about 48 hours after the initial coat. Because some epoxies take days to reach full cure, a second coat applied shortly after the first coat will partially fuse to the first coat rather than forming a simple mechanical bond. Due to ArtWorks Resin being a faster curing resin, it can be recoated about 4 hours after initial coat. It is not necessary to sand between coats unless something on the finish requires it. If sanding is necessary wait 24 hours or more, for ease of sanding.
Resin Coated Sides or UnCoated/Clean Sides
Some people prefer no resin on their sides. We often refer to that as clean sides on their resin artwork. Some prefer the resin to flow over the sides, and carry the art design over the panel sides.
For both types of sides, always tape off the bottom of your panel/canvas in advance, for easier removal of resin drips. I use good quality 3M blue painters tape or green Frog tape. If you want clean sides, also add tape to the panel/canvas sides. Be sure to burnish the tape to the board for best bond.
For best coverage over the sides, it helps to have the edge rounded slightly so it can roll over the sides nicely, so a wood panel can be sanded slightly on that top corner edge if it's too sharp an edge. Many artists like to tape the sides a bit higher then the tops edge, then once they're done working with the resin, they will pull the tape off the sides, so the resin can flow over & coat the sides. This may not be suitable for certain designs however, in case the resin pools up at the tape, it may change your design lines. When I'm creating something specific, like a landscape or sunset, I do not use the higher taped edge. You might need to add a bit to areas that are missed on the sides. If your catch surface under neath is clean, you can pick some of the resin up from there (with similar colours), and add it to the spots where resin didn't cover on the sides. Or you can pull some out of the mix cups to add. Or use your heat gun or blow dryer to blow it a bit more over the edge, then take your gloved finger and help it.
Removal of the tape once resin is cured, is easier when using a heat gun (or blow dryer on hot), to loosen the tape adhesive as you go along. Also keep a utility razor sharp knife hand to carefully slice certain spots as needed.
Torching/heating to remove bubbles:
After spreading epoxy on surface, if there are bubbles, pass a heat source (butane or propane torch) carefully over project using short quick passes. Ensure the flame doesn't touch the resin. Product will self-level (your surface must be pre-levelled). Be careful not to over torch your resin. Keep the heat source moving, because if you leave it in one spot too long, you may over-heat the resin, which can cause fish eyes, or film or other curing issues.
Heat guns are not really suitable for getting rid of bubbles, since they do not degas resin. The flame from a torch sucks the oxygen (degases bubbles) from the resin, holding flame about 20 cm above resin. A heat gun often boils the resin (will release bubbles, but remember resin heats itself to cure, & the heat gun basically cooks it), which weakens curing. It is best not to overheat the resin for a flawless finish. Heat guns are often used to achieve certain effects, (artists are known to push the limits of numerous art supplies), & it can work, but know your heat limits or you can easily singe the resin. There are numerous tools that can be used to get effects. But if you do accidentally overheat or over work your resin, the finish will not be as glass like as it could be, so a flood-coat / dome-coat/ top-coat is typically what resin artists will end up doing.
Small butane (chef’s torches) often have a pointy flame. Keep it a few inches from the surface and move continuously over the entire piece.
If working on larger pieces, a propane torch is ideal. We put a wide flame tip on ours and noticed a much nicer end result when working on larger pieces.
Have a careful peak at your piece (check every 15 minutes or so for first hour), to see if there are any bubbles, hairs, fuzz, lint or flies in your piece. A straight pin, toothpick or tweezers can be used to remove anything in the piece. You may need to do a quick pass of the torch to get resin to self level in that spot again. Any flaws can typically be fixed in first hour and a bit.
If trying to avoid heat, and working on a small project, blowing through a straw can remove bubbles too. But be careful as moisture going through straw can accumulate, and moisture is not friends with resin. Also, if doing this, your respirator is not on, so be sure there is adequate ventilation.
Some artists will suggest and swear by using isopropyl alcohol, in a fine spray mist, to pop bubbles instead of heat. However, just be aware many resin manufacturers do not recommend that, as alcohol might affect the cure negatively, and it can break down the Epoxy where it contacts. If you choose to spray alcohol, it is at your own risk, and be aware that it "could" produce an undesireable cure finish.
If using resin in moulds, please see separate blog post about mould care and use, to help prolong mould life.
Heating/speed curing in any resin: Heat will expedite curing (but not necessarily in a good way), unnecessary yellowing can occur and brittleness are often results of speed curing.
Speed/fast curing (using a heat lamp, space heater, etc.), will make epoxy more brittle and cause pre mature yellowing. It's best to just keep your room at a consistent temperature that is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for it to work as intended. Even use caution when using heat to get rid of bubbles. Suggestion is quick, short passes only as the yellowing can start happening while it is still wet if too much heat is applied with any resin.
Both ArtWorks Resin and Liquid Diamonds Resin have a similar heat