Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to work with resin

If you have seen Riusuke Fukahori's ambered almost real goldfishes, I'm very sure you've also been amazed. He works patiently (and hazardously) with resin. So, his work inspired me to experiment with resins and integrate the material with my works.

Resin is a clear viscous liquid that hardens to a glass-like material through a chemical reaction with a catalyst. There are many types of resin and its applications, better search the web for proper terms and guidance.

If it's your first time to handle a material like this, I suggest that you first search a lot of info on Google and Youtube before making something ambitious. Although I've read a lot of info regarding resin, my first attempts were not very successful. It takes a LOT of patience and couple of tries before getting the right process for your own project. 

Even if it looks fun to do, be forewarned that resin is a VERY TOXIC substance. Wear proper safety tools and protection like respirators, gloves, aprons, etc. Take precautionary measures as well: work only outdoors as it gives off a very odorous/toxic smell, stay away from flammables. THIS SUBSTANCE IS NOT FIT FOR CHILDREN.

I was thinking of a 3D floating illustration cast in resin for an exhibit so I made them in pieces, 
to be layered later in batches to the resin mold. 

 I painted the back of the pieces with white acrylic and latex paint because when you dip the paper in resin, it will look transparent. 

Collect all your materials first before pouring in the resin.
I collected dried seeds and little flowers then colored them with acrylic for this project.

I got my gallon of polymer resin (clear cast) at Polymer Products Phils. (local chemical store with branches around metro, check their website) which costs Php7++ per gallon with MKEP catalyst. Quite expensive so make the most of it. A costlier but less odorous version (but still toxic, I think 350ml) can also be bought from Diovir with the brand name Easy Cast. Check for proper proportions on the web but sometimes they're not accurate enough. If you put less catalyst, it won't cure and stays sticky forever. When you put more catalyst, it cures very quickly, cracks, and turns very hot. 

The proportion I used for resin + catalyst was based on trial and error (you'll see later in the photos): for every cup (8oz.) of resin, I put 1 ml of catalyst (use a small syringe). This proportion is good enough for projects this size or smaller molds, it cures just at the right time: it gels around 15-30mins then harden after more than an hour and totally cured after a day. Some plastic cups can melt with curing resin (see photo above) so find sturdier cups. 

In the photo above, I placed the first batch of incorrect resin mixture into a glass bowl mold (I bought this bowl for this project only, don't use this for food after), which cured a bit faster than I thought so I made another mixture to pour in quickly to even the batch. Btw, mix the resin + catalyst thoroughly - it will turn yellowish after a while, but clears when cured. Also, don't worry about bubbles, it will rise up eventually.

When the first batch lightly cured and in a gel-like stage, I placed some seeds, making it float. To avoid bubbles on objects you place, dip first the objects in a mixture then gradually place it in the mold with a stick.

I tried to color some mixture with oil paint and acrylic. The shelf life of a mixed resin is around 15-30 mins. with covered mold. Mixed resin doesn't cure in open air, so cover your mold as much as you can.

The colored mixture looks like a blob when dropped. 

The paint pigments scattered to a mess after a while.

My first failed attempt, I had to scoop it out quickly for another batch. I mixed in too much catalyst. I got so excited about the project so I messed up the correct mixture proportions. 

Almost successful attempt, if not for some bubbles trapped in the objects and some paint bleeding.

Unfortunately, this project was unsuccessful. I wasn't patient enough to get through each layer. 
So, I just made another artwork for the exhibit :-)


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Melissa Kojima said...

Thanks for sharing all your trial and errors even if it wasn't successful.

Sergio said...

I know! so you should learn from my mistakes!