It wasn’t so long ago that artists were limited to using a few natural ingredients to craft their works. Of course, creativity was not lacking in using stone, bronze, paint, or fabric. But modern innovations like electricity, plastic, and computers not only supply convenience, but they open up new mediums from artists to work in. One art form that has flourished thanks to technology is resin art.
Resin occurs naturally, and it occurs in forms like amber, frankincense, or copal from trees. But resin that’s used in art is typically made from synthetic materials. Synthetic resins start off as a liquid, and they turn into a hard polymer. This is achieved using a process called curing.
If you’ve ever seen a resin table or piece of furniture, you’ll know that they can be very beautiful — and pretty expensive. Making resin art is a time-consuming process that takes a bit of know-how, but that shouldn’t scare you off from trying. For one thing, a bottle of epoxy resin and hardener isn’t very expensive. And once you get the hang of what you’re doing, there’s pretty much no limit to what you can create.
Resin can be used in any number of molds to create unique works of art. Since the material starts off viscous and hardens, it can be made to look like swirling liquids, a spiraling galaxy, or any number of visually dazzling things. One common application is creating a resin “river” table. Joining two planks of wood with resin will give the appearance of a river flowing through a table.
Even if you’re not interested in resin for artistic endeavors, resin can be used on top of wooden tables to protect them. This is common in bars and restaurants, where the tables are exposed to a lot of moisture, stains, and pressure. If you have a piece of natural wood that you want to protect, resin can be a great way to do that. Not only that, resin can be used on any number of surfaces from stone to steel to carbon fiber.
One important thing worth noting is that, before it cures, epoxy resin is a toxic substance. Wear gloves, safety goggles, and consider a respirator. Make sure wherever you’re working gets fresh air. As long as you’re careful and clean up any spills, epoxy resin is safe for regular consumers to use. Also, make sure you work in warm conditions — this will allow the resin to properly dry. Whether you’re a budding artist or you’re looking to protect your furniture, these are some of our favorite epoxy resins available.
1. Pro Marine Supplies Epoxy Resin Coating
This epoxy resin is produced by Pro Marine Supplies, a brand with a focus on boat construction and repair. As such, these products are better suited for industrial work. This epoxy resin is clear, making it a good option for bar counters and furniture. It’s water- and UV-resistant, so you can use it on furniture that may be exposed to the outdoors. When applied, it gives a clear, glossy finish. Each order comes with two bottles. There’s a 1/2-gallon bottle of epoxy and a 1/2-gallon bottle of hardener, which are meant to be mixed at a 1:1 ratio. Besides protecting furniture, it’s also great for art projects.
Pros: UV-resistant resin. The clear and glossy finish makes it good for art projects or protecting wood furniture. Large 1-gallon volume. Free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Cons: Liquid is somewhat thick, so you need to be careful not to pour too much on the first coat.
2. Art N’ Glow Clear Casting and Coating Epoxy Resin
Perhaps you’re not looking to cast an entire table, or you’re not really sure what you’re doing and want to start small. This kit contains two 8 ounce bottles, so you won’t have to worry about having too much leftover resin. There is a bottle of hardener and epoxy, and it is meant to be mixed in an easy 1:1 ratio. It goes on clear and produces a high-gloss finish. It’s free of VOCs and BPAs, and UV-protection makes it resistant to yellowing. It’s self-leveling, which helps ensure a smooth and even surface. Art N’ Glow’s resin is made in the US, and designed to be suitable for coating and casting.
Pros: Self-leveling helps ensure a more evenly poured result. Free of VOCs or BPAs. Good for casting or coating. UV-resistant.
Cons: The long working time is designed to be beneficial for beginners, but it can be too long for some projects.
3. Dr. Crafty Clear Epoxy Resin Kit
As the name Dr. Crafty suggests, this resin was designed with crafters and artists in mind. There’s a 16-ounce bottle of resin and a 16-ounce bottle of hardener, making for a total 32 ounces of liquid. It’s a good option for beginners because helpful bonus accessories are included. There are cups for measuring and pouring, a plastic spatula, and five wooden sticks for stirring. The 1:1 ratio makes it easy to mix and get started, and there is 45 minutes of working time, which is more generous than some solutions which dry quickly.
Pros: Affordable value for 32 ounces of epoxy resin. Self-leveling and high-gloss finish. Comes with bonus accessories like a plastic spatula, stirring sticks, and measuring cups.
Cons: Takes a while to fully dry.
4. ArtResin – Epoxy Resin
Unsurprisingly, the epoxy resin from ArtResin is created for art and craft projects. It’s non-toxic and safe from BPAs and VOCs, and it’s food safe when properly cured. ArtResin’s epoxy is self-leveling, too, so it will be easier to pour and get an even cover. It’s also UV stabilized to help resist yellowing, and it goes on clear and provides a glossy finish. The total amount of solution is 1 gallon, including a 1/2 gallon of resin and a 1/2 gallon of epoxy.
Pros: Food safe, so it can be used for homemade serving trays and the like. Free of BPAs and VOCs, UV-stabilized.
5. East Coast Resin 1 Gallon Kit
This epoxy resin is from East Coast Resin, and it’s made specifically for tabletops and bars. Each order contains two half-gallon bottles, one of resin and one of hardener. They’re made to be mixed at an easy 1:1 ratio. The resin provides a clear, high gloss finish, and it provides UV resistance. The working time is 30-35 minutes, as opposed to longer 45 minute times. This makes it better for some projects, especially ones that may need to be done more quickly. In addition to wood, it can be used on plenty of other surfaces like porcelain, concrete, or stone, and it’s great for art projects, too.
Pros: Good value for a total of 1 gallon of resin. Glossy finish. UV, rain, and humidity resistant. Suitable for a wide variety of materials.
Cons: Scratches somewhat easily.
6. MAS Epoxy Resin One Gallon Kit
Another good option for tabletops is this resin from MAS. The kit consists of two bottles of liquid — a 1/2-gallon bottle of resin and a 1/2-gallon bottle of hardener. Like most of the other options on this list, the bottles are designed to be mixed in a convenient 1:1 ratio. Included with the bottles are a brush and a plastic spreading spatula. The resin is high gloss, clear, and self-leveling. Best of all, MAS’ epoxy resins are made in the US.
Pros: Sizable 1-gallon bottle of resin and hardener for a good value. Products are made in the US. Self-leveling and high gloss. Bonus accessories like a spreading spatula and a brush are included.
Cons: Short working time, meaning it will dry very quickly. This may be a problem for some projects.
7. Incredible Solutions Table Top & Bar Top Epoxy Resin
This epoxy resin from Incredible Solutions comes in two 1/2-gallon containers, making it best suited for larger projects like protecting tables and bar counters. The resin goes on clear and has a high gloss finish. UV protection helps reduce yellowing. The resin is self-leveling, making it easy to get an even coat while pouring. To add to the quality and safety, Incredible Solution’s resin is made in the US and is free from VOCs.
Pros: Goes on clear and is self-leveling. UV protection to resist yellowing. Low odor and free of toxic VOCs. Manufactured in the US. Vibrant shine.
Cons: Short working time.