If you’ve recently found yourself enamored with resin art, you’re not alone. Resin-based projects have been all the rage on social media lately, with artists showing off how they create everything from paintings to jewelry to geodes using this versatile form of unprocessed plastic. But if you were hoping to get in the trend, it’s important to know that there’s a lot more to making art with resin than just pouring plastic into molds—and more than one type of resin to work with during the process.

Below, we’re giving a quick overview of the basics, including the various types of resin and some fun resin art ideas to inspire your future projects. 

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What is Resin?

The term “resin” refers to a category of semi-solid natural and synthetic compounds that can be hardened into a highly durable plastic material.

Resins tend to be composite blends, meaning they are made from a combination of organic compounds that are held together with a chemical bond. It’s this bonding ability that makes resin such a versatile material to work with for art and other applications, since in addition to its own blended makeup resin can also be combined with other pigments and additives to create something totally new.

Three photos of resin earrings. they are pink and crecent shaped with resin flowers
Skillshare instructor Monique Smith shows off some of the jewelry pieces she’s made using resin.

For most art and jewelry making purposes, epoxy resin is combined with a hardener, after which it is cured and transformed from a liquid into a solid state. Similar to baking, achieving the right chemical reaction requires that you get your measurements just right. Unlike baking, though, you’ll have to wear protective equipment—including gloves and a mask—since both resin and hardener contain hazardous solvents.

Natural Resin vs. Synthetic Resin

Resins can be broken down further into two smaller categories: natural resins and synthetic resins.

  • Natural resins are a type of plant secretion, and are yellow or brown in color and all or mostly translucent. Plants release resin as a defense mechanism, with the sticky substance working to repel or entrap pests. Over time, natural resins can undergo their own hardening chemical reactions, such as in the case of amber, which is formed after resin has chemically matured for the not-so-short span of two to ten million years.
  • Synthetic resins, on the other hand, are made in a lab. They are chemically different from natural resins, though they do share many of the same physical properties. You’ll find the term synthetic resins applied to a wide variety of commercial products, including pretty much any semi-solid plastic that can harden under the right circumstances. This includes everything from industrial adhesives to nail polish, as well as art resin used in painting and other mediums.

Different Types of Resin

There are quite a few different types of resin, and all of them have unique properties and uses. Some, like polyethylene resins, acrylic resins, and polyamide resins are used primarily for industrial and commercial purposes. While others, including those below, also have a use in art.

What type of resin you choose for a project will depend on what you’re trying to create. Make sure to select the right resin for the job, and follow the package instructions carefully so that you end up with the right results.

Epoxy Resin

Epoxy, or polyepoxide, is probably the most popular type of art resin, largely due to the fact that it’s versatile and hardens to an almost crystal-clear level of transparency. It’s also the easiest option for beginner resin artists. The pre-solid viscous state of epoxy makes it ideal for molding into three-dimensional shapes, and it can be further combined with things like oil paints, flowers, wood, and alcohol ink to produce truly one-of-a-kind artwork.

Resin coasters with gold in it. Flowers on the table next to it
Epoxy resin can be molded, hardened, and combined with other materials to create original pieces, such as these resin coasters with gold foil.

Polyurethane Resin

Polyurethane resin is highly fluid before curing and easy to cast into a desired shape. And like epoxy, it can be enhanced with additives, including pigments and dyes. You can also use certain additives to alter the physical properties of the resin—for example, to slow down the curing time or increase the strength of the hardened plastic.

Silicone Resin

Silicone resin is highly heat resistant, and can be used to create a permanent, non-stick coating for your artwork. It’s also water resistant. More often than not, you’ll see it used as an additive itself to boost the durability of paints and varnishes for artwork, rather than as a three-dimensional moldering material.

Resin coaster painted to look like rolling waves on a beach
Resin can be used to create effects in addition to objects, such as these beachy resin waves made by Skillshare instructor Karim Aboud.

Polyester Resin (Fiberglass Resin)

Polyester resin (also called fiberglass resin) shares a lot of similarities with epoxy resin and is a lower-cost alternative with decent levels of water resistance. These advantages are somewhat offset however by the more fragile nature of cured polyester resin compared to epoxy and its more difficult mixing process.

Get Started With Resin Art Today

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5 Creative Ways to Use Resin for Art

What can you do with resin? All sorts of things! Use resin to elevate art prints, or to create original pieces from scratch. Some of the creative things that you can make with resin include:

1. Paintings

three close up pictures of resin paintings in teal and gold
Would you believe these are paintings?

Canvas, paints, and brushes aren’t the only ways to make a painting. Case in point: resin paintings, which are made by mixing pigments, dyes, or liquid tints with resin (usually epoxy) and applying it to a non-porous surface like wood, glass, plexiglass, plastic, or metal. Study up on techniques for painting with resin, and play around with using different types of additives to get different colors and effects. You can also mix in other types of materials, such as glitter or foil for a little bit of sparkle.

2. Jewelry

Blue resin dangling earrings in a white box
Resin can create gorgeous jewelry, like this necklace and earring set.

Resin jewelry is super popular right now, and for good reason. Working with resin opens up the door to all sorts of originality in the jewelry that you create and can be used with pigments, dyes, jewels, flowers, wood, and even hand-drawn illustrations. When you’re finished, you’ll have a sturdy, non-toxic, and totally waterproof piece of jewelry, with lots of opportunity if you’re interested in selling jewelry online.  

3. Geodes

gray marble geode looking resin coasters
These nature-inspired geodes are just as beautiful as the real thing.

A resin geode looks just like a natural geode, except it’s made by hand instead of by Mother Nature. Nail your design by working off of images of real geodes, adding in individualistic touches with your color choices and decorative elements. Depending on the finished texture you’re going for, you can either use an additional coat of resin to smooth out the surface, or use crystals or other gemstones to add in some textual variation.

4. Home Décor

Yellow and black  coasters with champagne glass on it
The durability of resin lends itself to home decor like coasters.

Because resin hardens into a durable plastic, it’s a great choice for handcrafted home décor. Create things like resin coasters, serving trays, and ornaments—or try your hand at resin furniture. Just be sure to use the right resin for the piece you’re making, especially if you’re creating functional home décor that will be more than just a pretty object on a shelf.

5. Dried Flower Art

Flower resin coasters
Adding resin to natural elements preserve them for life.

Using dried flowers in resin art is a fantastic use of the medium. It’s also extremely marketable, with people hiring resin artists to help preserve flowers from special events like weddings and proms. The best tip we can give you if you plan to explore this type of resin art: dry out the flowers completely before sealing them into resin, since they’ll rot if you don’t. And don’t limit yourself to one type of resin art when using dried flowers. They’re the perfect additives for making a whole host of resin projects, including jewelry, décor, furniture, and paintings.

The biggest limit to what you can make with resin might just be your imagination. Check out resin art tutorials to start learning the ins and outs of working with this versatile material, and discover the full scope of what you can create.

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