Awesome Astronomy Coasters, Using Resin | Alison Camacho | Skillshare

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Awesome Astronomy Coasters, Using Resin

teacher avatar Alison Camacho, Resin Artist and owner of fuzzycomma

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project

    • 3. Tile Preparation

    • 4. Finding Real Astronomy Images

    • 5. Mounting Photographs

    • 6. Embellishing Images

    • 7. Fantasy Space Art

    • 8. Resin Coating and Finishing

    • 9. Final Thoughts

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About This Class




This is a course designed to allow anyone to create resin-based mixed Awesome Astronomy Coasters, either using real astronomical images, or creating their own fantasy space scenes.

Beginners and experienced artists alike can be inspired by the Hubble Space Telescope photographs and should enjoy creating the astronomy artwork project for this class.

Perhaps you have an astronomer in your life who would not be interested in anything other than the real sky? This class could allow you to make them the perfect gift!

Perhaps you are interested in creating coasters with astronomy based, but imaginary scenes? This class will teach you how to use resin to create space artwork which is out of this world!

In this class you will learn:

  • Where to find inspirational real space images without breaking copyright rules.

  • How to successfully mount your image(s) onto your tile and construct your picture.

  • How to protect and finish your coasters with resin, 

Having completed the course you will feel confident in creating your own unique  space-themed coasters which you will love.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alison Camacho

Resin Artist and owner of fuzzycomma


Hello, I'm Alison.

I'm a resin artist based in Bristol UK. I own the fuzzycomma art brand and website. I specialise in geode and astronomy resin art although I am often tempted into creating art which attempts to help save the planet. I am passionate about preserving our world for future generations and so I like to reuse resources that would otherwise get thrown away, and I hate waste. In line with this philosophy, I also upcycle furniture - particularly small tables, often using a geode or astronomy theme (sometimes all at once) and, of course, resin! A defining feature of my art, and of my life, is my love of colour.

I am constantly refining my art and learning new techniques which I aim to pass onto my students. I have nearly 20 years experienc... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Do you ever look up in the night sky and feel that feeling of vertigo, like you're falling upwards? Do you see images of the heavens on the internet or TV, and think, "How cool"? Do you wonder at the beauty of the stars? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, how would you like a little reminder of the spectacular expanse of the universe every time you have a cup of coffee? Then this course is for you. I will teach you where you can find copyright-free, astonishing astronomy images and go through how to use them to create unique and fascinating coasters. You can build up a whole set of galaxies or moons, or work on a planet theme. You can create interesting and unusual gifts for those difficult-to-buy-for friends. Perhaps you would like to create your own space art. Why be limited to the real sky? Learn how to make glowing nebulae and stars which look like they really shine. Learn how to use unexpected elements like glow in the dark paint and glitter to really make your coasters stand out from the crowd. Let your creativity fly free. You will learn how to protect your coasters with food- safe resin so that they are really durable and useful. My name is Alison. I'm a resin artist and I own the fuzzycomma art brand. I love resin as an art medium for its unparalleled depth, versatility and shine. So I hope you will join me and create some Awesome Astronomy Coasters that you, your family and friends will all love. 2. Project: You'll project is very simply to create a coaster, at least one, and preferably a set of four or however many you need for your family. Any space theme is cool. Planets, nebulae, galaxies or star clusters, constellations, real or imaginary. Even the sky is not a limit. You can print real astronomical pictures and then embellish them. Or try some fluid inks or acrylic paints to create nebulae of your own, never seen before. You can practice using resin and building up art work with real depth by layering coloured, translucent colours. Beware, resin is addictive. Soon you will find yourself producing multimedia, complex, multi-layered, glittering artworks as table centre-pieces or glamorous trays for special occasions. Go on! Let your star shine! 3. Tile Preparation: When making astronomy coasters I usually choose to use plain, black, glazed, ceramic tiles, 100 millimeter or four inches square. If you cannot find black tiles, then any colour will do. You can always paint them black before you start. You don't actually need to have any substrate, board, behind your pictures at all, if your pictures are small enough. I've got some 100 millimeter square pictures here, astronomy pictures. This one's the lakes of Titan. That's Jupiter, that's the Crab Nebula. And this one is Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters. Gorgeous pictures! But if they're small enough like this, you can use a cup some other thing to support it. Pour resin on the top. You can end up with something that's really quite tough. I've made coasters from these (they're only for use in my house) but I've attached to the back foam board. I'll put this under the camera so you can see. So there it is. This is Io, one of the moons of Jupiter, It's been coated in resin. And if I turn it sideways, you can see that some foam board, this is about five millimetres thick, has been attached, but it's a smaller diameter, than the original picture, and that way it doesn't, it's not visible when you use it as a coaster. Tiles are my favourite substrate, however, because they stand up to family use better. You can choose bigger tiles for bigger coasters, and they don't even need to be square. Hexagonal tiles make very interesting coasters. Really big rectangular bathroom tiles can make awesome placemats. Once I have chosen my tiles I usually paint any white or raw ceramic parts with black acrylic paint. There are other types and colours of paint that are also suitable. Black furniture or spray paint or maybe even blue-black or deep violet. I usually paint the underside fully just to give a neat finish. Remember when using spray paints to have a well ventilated room or preferably spray it outside. Shake the can well and check it is spraying evenly before using smooth strokes about ten to 20 centimetres from the surface you're spraying. Let the top and edges dry before turning the tiles over and spraying the backs. Several thin layers are better than one thick layer. It doesn't matter what finish your paint has. Matt, satin or gloss, because once coated with resin, all of them will have an equally really deep gloss shine. 4. Finding Real Astronomy Images: Once you know what size of tile or substrate you're working with, and you want to use real astronomy images on your coasters, then you can go ahead and choose some pictures and get them printed. NASA and Hubble have made virtually all their photographs copyright free; So long as you acknowledge them, where you use their data or photographs. Looking through the NASA gallery is an awesome exercise. You will be astonished and amazed at the variety and excellence of the images available from Jupiter's blue clouds to the peculiar Hoag's ring-shaped galaxy. There are planetary nebulae shaped like an Eskimo, a Blue Snowball, a Butterfly, and a Cat's Eye. There are spiral galaxies, antennae galaxies, and galaxies shaped like a cigar or a sombrero. Give yourself time to browse the spectacular moons and planets, stars and supernova remnants. Check out the false colour x-ray images from the Chandra satellite or infrared images. You could even use SOHO images of how the Sun appeared on your children's birthdays or a special anniversary, to make your coasters properly personal. You will need to download the images you want and then print them, either yourself, or get them professionally printed. If you have proper photographic printing capability, then go ahead and do it yourself. But beware as regular paper will go translucent and coated with resin, so you must print onto proper photographic paper. Alternatively, you can get photographs printed on line for just a few pence per print for a 100 millimetre square pictures. The finish of the print, matt satin or gloss is not important, as they will all have a fabulously glossy finish when coated with resin. If you can choose the size, I recommend getting your pictures printed just a little bit bigger than your tiles so that there's a little bit of overlap and you can cut them down to size so that they exactly fit. 5. Mounting Photographs: In this video, I show you how to mount your photographs onto tiles. This one is the seven sisters or Pleiades. This is the Crab Nebula, Orion Nebula, and the Antennae galaxies seen in X-ray. And I am intending to mount these photographs onto these black 100 millimetre, ten centimetre tiles. If I place the picture directly on top of the tile, you can see that actually the picture is a little bit too big for the tile. You can see that it overhangs. To make sure that I cut my image square, I'm going to use a guillotine. And this is just a small plastic guillotine, obviously with a metal blade. And I'm going to cut off about four or five millimetres from one side before cutting it exactly to size on the other. So I've cut off a little sliver, and now I'm going to make my image exactly the right size. So this is now 9.2 centimetres this way. And I have to do a similar trick the other way. Another feature of these tiles is that they have a slightly domed edge. You can see the light catching the corner there. And because of that domed edge the corner of my picture is going to tend to peel up. So in order to avoid that, I'm going to cut off the corners of my pictures. It's a rounded picture corner cutter tool. So I put my picture in, make sure that it's snug against both these edges. And then we'll probably hear the click as it cuts, the tiny little corner off. And my corner is now is rounded. So there's the piece that I've cut off and the round the corner that remains. This is equipment that you're going to need in order to mount your photographs onto tiles. This process can be used for mounting photographs that are much larger than these onto boards that are much larger than these tiles. The same principles apply. I'm going to be using this permanent spray adhesive In order to stick the photographs onto the tiles. But this sprays and it goes everywhere. And consequently, I need to make sure that my picture is going to be in exactly the right place when I stick it down. And in order to do that, I am first of all, before I spray anything with any sort of glue, going to apply some tape to make sure that my pictures stick in the right place. I've got some kitchen roll and some propan-2-ol. This is propanol or IPA, isopropyl alcohol and is a solvent. And you can clean the top surface of your tile off beautifully. Make sure that there are no fingerprints and there's no grease or dirt on your tile. Now, some of that black will be the acrylic paint. You do not need to remove the acrylic paint from round the outside edge, but you do need to make sure that the rest of your tile is clean. So once you've done one tile, swap to a new bit of kitchen, roll add a little bit more IPA and clean the next surface. It's a good idea to check that the tape that you have, masking tape, is not so sticky that it brings the surface off your photograph. That would be awkward. And you would have to make good afterwards. So it's better to avoid these problems. All four of my pictures now hinged on ready for me to apply glue. You can see that I'm going to do them one at a time. This one is the Orion Nebula. I've got my picture in the correct place. It's flapped back and I'm shaking my adhesive. You need to shake it for several minutes to make sure that it's completely mixed before you start to spray. There's the nozzle. And make sure that I'm spraying in the right direction. I need to be about ten to 20 centimetres away. I'm going to put it on the tile, but also on the back of the picture. Make sure you completely cover the surface. Going to put this over. I'm going to use a piece of paper to make sure that I don't damage the surface of the photo while I'm pressing it down. This is then going the other way up onto my duvet, my soft surface. So now you can see my four coasters. I'm not going to move them, but what I am going to do is put a heavy board down on top of them. The tiles are underneath this board, squashed between the board, which is quite a thick heavy board, and the padded duvet underneath, to give a nice even pressure to make sure that the picture sticks properly. Once the glue has dried, you can see the result. Because the photograph is smaller than the tile there is a narrow region all around the edges where some glue is exposed. Believe it or not, this won't show once the tile is resined. In order to make sure no lint is stuck to the exposed glue, I use IPA alcohol to wipe around the edges. Do not use acetone or nail polish remover for this job, it will damage the photograph and you need to be careful, even with the IPA. As a final preparation I use a black acrylic paint pen to make sure that the white edges of the photograph don't show. If there is any damage to the black painted edges. They can be fixed at this stage too. Once this is done, your coasters are ready to be covered in resin. 6. Embellishing Images: Once your NASA photographs are mounted, you can just coat with resin without any further modifications. However, I prefer to create a little unexpected extra dimension by adding UV sensitive or glow in the dark pigments. These can be in the form of powder pigments. I usually mix them with a little varnish to apply them. Or you can use a glow-under-UV nail polish paint. You need to select one that doesn't have too much colour of its own, if you don't want to change the nature of the real images you've selected. I like to use more than one colour of glowing pigment, as I'm of the opinion that more and brighter colours is almost always better. I'll usually apply these pigments over any stars in the image, using a wire to control the exact placement of the pigment drops. I'll use a paintbrush to spread the pigment more thinly if I'm using it to emphasize the glowing gases in a nebula or of a galaxy, for example. You might like to add a bit of glitter to your pigments. However, I have found that adding fine holographic glitter to the resin coating layer works incredibly well to suggest twinkling stars and to grab visitors attention to your interesting and fabulous coasters. The only condition of using NASA's images is that you must acknowledge that the image belongs to them. I'll usually put copyright NASA on the back of each tile. I also think it adds to the captivating nature of the coasters, if you name the object in your photo. For bigger artworks using real astronomy images, I put a full description of the astronomical feature on the back. Whatever you choose to do, remember that copyright NASA is the minimum required. Once you are happy with your tiles, it's time to coat them with resin. So skip to that video if you don't want to learn how to create your own fantasy nebula space pictures. If you want to let your creative side take over a little, however, stay tuned to see how to create new and completely unique space art coasters. 7. Fantasy Space Art: In this chapter, I show you how to make a fantasy art picture. By this, I mean create imaginary space scenes. In particular, gaseous nebulae and stars using inks and acrylic paints on tiles, but it could be on any supporting medium. This first sequence shows making nebulae using pearlescent and mica pigmented inks. These have been diluted with added extra alcohol. The method I use is to build up the complexity of the image by adding layers. I'm being very free with the ink for the first layer which you can see me creating here. Don't be afraid to just put ink down, mix the colours, let the inks move around. If you don't like a region of your creation, just paint over it. Move the inks using a straw or a heat gun. You can add more colourless alcohol too, if you like. You can see how the pigments have clumped slightly, but this is an excellent effect for a star field. You can also see the iridescence of these inks, and this is also a desirable feature for an astronomical artwork. The next step is to add dark or dust nebulae, and this is done using drops of undiluted black ink and pushing it into interesting shapes with a straw. The next step is adding silver holographic glitter to the still-wet black ink. The glitter adds stars and sparkles to the design and shows up beautifully against the black background, at the same time as reducing the contrast of the dark nebulae against the pearlescent nebulae behind them. Here, I start with colourless alcohol and add a pale blue ink. You can see the mica-particles sparkling as they move when the liquids mix. An alternative to alcohol ink is acrylic paint. Here you can see the blue paint is diluted with water. Over that, I add alcohol inks. The alcohol is miscible with water and so these media can be mixed successfully. Here you can see the layering of liquid pigments on top of one another. And the movement allowed by their fluidity creates interesting cloud effects with never ending intricacy and uniqueness. Blowing through a straw gives some control of mixing and differences and viscosity give yet more fascinating effects. Here I am doing essentially the same thing to four different tiles as they are a coaster set. And the results have the same tone, but the details are very different. Try using a variety of colours. Here, the pale pink contrast beautifully with the blue and green base layers. And the dilute, and very pale, blue ink, works well on top, giving subtle changes to the overall composition. Using a heat gun to dry, or partially-dry, the pigments between layers, allows you to work faster and maintain focus and continuity. After you are satisfied with your nebulae, try adding different sorts of glitter. Here I'm using Advanced Metallics white-brass, real metal glitter. Again, I use undiluted black ink to create dark dust nebulae. You can see the background pigments are not totally dry and move when I blow the ink with the straw. Since my tile substrate is black, this is not a problem as I can rearrange the pigments manually and I end up with a very unique and organic look. Don't be afraid to really experiment and move your pigments about. Keep practising and working a piece until you are satisfied. I use thin and fluid white paint and an old toothbrush to splatter, fine star dots across my finished nebulae backgrounds. In this next sequence, my remit was to make primarily blue coasters. I start with a pale pearlescent layer of inks and then put very watered down acrylic paint on top. I also experiment with different glitters. I start with a deep blue, then I add black clouds and white brass glitter over them. Not satisfied with how blue these are, I add a further pigment layer and then more glitter, this time a holographic turquoise. Then finally another dark nebula layer over the top, giving both contrast and depth. You can see me moving the glitter with my fingers, but largely the different colour glitter areas don't overlap. The glitter adds visual interests and fine details. I find adding a few larger stars gives drama. It is easy to use thined white paint and a wire to place them precisely where required. Consider the balance of the composition. But remember too much symmetry is dull in my opinion. Remember that larger bright stars can illuminate gas clouds in the real universe, called reflection nebulae. Appropriate positioning of a few large stars can improve your space scene enormously. Once your large stars have dried, you can add starburst lines to them. These are crosses of white, or the colour of the star, which extend away from the star and really attract the attention of the viewer. Starburst lines or really a phenomena of the camera optics. Next, you might consider adding a glow to the larger stars. I use a pearl mica powder pigment and paint it on dry. The resin layer over the top will fix it permanently in place. You don't have to use white powder pigment to create this glow. They can be any colour a star might be. Stars have something called colour temperature, cool stars are red, medium stars like our sun give out more yellow and green light and really hot stars are blue or even violet. Remember, this is a fantasy space creation. Experiment and see what effects you like. 8. Resin Coating and Finishing: Resin needs to be mixed carefully in the correct proportions. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your resin. Only mix enough for your project. It is too expensive to waste. A formula for working out how much you will need is given in the resources documents attached to this course. Thoroughly mix the two components. I usually transfer the resin from one cup to another, several times, to ensure complete mixing. If you are making coasters like I am here, you will need to ensure that the edges of your tile is coated with resin. If your artwork is going to be frame mounted, that might not be so important. You can see I use a cup to hold up my artwork. For bigger pictures you might need four cups, and this will allow the clear resin to flow over the edges. You might need to wipe drips off the bottom edges with your finger, even if you have masked the edges underneath. Once your edges are coated and you are doing a clear flood coat, you need to make sure that you have completely covered the top surface with resin. I pour a little puddle of resin and then redistribute it using my fingers. Then I tilt the artwork, or move my head if it's too big to tilt, and use the reflections of the light from the resin surface to make sure that it is all covered and that there are no missed bits. The resins that I recommend and have a working time or a pot life of about 40 minutes so you don't need to feel rushed. And you can put a second layer on top of the first one without any preparation, if you do it before the first layer has fully cured. That's usually anytime within seven days of putting the first layer down. For each 100 millimetre square tile, you need ten grams or ten centimetres cubed of resin. If you allow a bit extra to flow over the edges, you can use an estimate of 15 grams of resin per tile on 15 millilitres. Allowing the resin to flow right over the edges of the tile will prevent the resin from delaminating from the tile, even if you have a properly glossy glazed tile. When the entire surface is covered, the next step is to pop any bubbles. In this speeded up sequence, I'm using a heat gun to pop the bubbles. It has the added effect of making the resin hotter and more liquid. So it becomes flat quicker, but it also flows over the edges more. And you will have to wipe off drips. You will need to make sure your artwork is completely level when you leave it to cure; after-all, you don't want all your resin to slide off. I usually put a second layer of resin on for extra protection, but deciding if this is something that you want to do will depend on the appearance after one coat and whether it has to withstand a hot cup of coffee. Today, I'm going to show you how to clean up the back of your coasters. You can see that I have got a number of coasters here that have already been resined. And some of them are almost completely clean of resin on the back and some of them have big drips. So I don't know if you can see this drip here. And there are thicker ones. Can you see? Me drips... They're quite hard. They've been left to cure for nearly a week now. And the tops are beautiful, but we have to get rid of the drips so that we can put the little feet on and make these into successful coasters. So I've put the four that I'm going to start with, upside down so that the dust can't land on the shiny resin surface. And I'm going to work on this one on my closeup camera, that's just out of view here. And I'm going to put my dust mask on. And when I edit the video, I will almost certainly suppress the sound because... it does make a bit of noise, I'll show you. And you can see the dust coming off. This has been well used, this tool. Okay, so let's put my dust mask on and start sanding. When sanding, don't forget to leave some resin, so don't grind it off all the way down to the tile itself. This will improve the adherence of the resin to the top of the tile. And don't forget to wear a dust mask. Once I'm happy with how flat the back of the tile is, I usually add little foam feet, kept in place using hot glue. You can buy self-adhesive rubber feet if you prefer. Don't forget to write copyright NaASA, if you have used one of their pictures on your coaster. Please make sure you really allow the resin time to cure properly before putting really hot drink onto it. Exactly how long that will be will depend on the exact resin and the curing conditions. It takes longer if it's cold, for example. I use a rising called Glass Cast three, and I allow seven days for full curing. 9. Final Thoughts: How about extending your coaster project to make a matching set of placements using wood or big tiles as your substrates. Could you make an astronomy table centrepiece? You can use the same techniques to make much bigger art works to hang on the wall using MDF as a substrate. If you choose to do this, you will need to select very high-definition photographs from the Hubble website, unless you are creating a large fantasy art piece. I have made galaxies stand out, quite literally, by covering them with glass crystals, which are then held in place using a resin layer. This is how I created this Pinwheel galaxy table top. If you've caught the resin bug, you are probably thinking about all sorts of other things you can create using resin. Amazing resin geode art springs to mind, and I will be publishing a geode art course soon. Follow me so you can be sure not to miss it.