An Ode to ArtResin - Part 1
The profile looked almost too good to be true – all shiny, attractive, and fun. I was infatuated from afar. But I'm also a suspicious sort … was it all just smoke and mirrors? Would we get along? Would it be 45 minutes filled with awkwardness? A crushing disappointment? Would I have to hide my disastrous dalliance from my friends; pretend like it never happened, despite having jabbered on about my starry-eyed intentions for weeks? Worse still, would I set the place, and possibly my hair, on fire with the crème brulee torch? (There was some speculation on that. My reputation precedes me.) Now these are all weighty considerations, but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, so I made a date ... with ArtResin.
Now you may wonder, why all the fuss? Epoxy resin has been around for years and to my knowledge, no one was having a religious experience with it. I worked with it myself, when I did model-making in the film industry. That stuff required me to wear a respirator and a hazmat suit. Okay, maybe not a hazmat suit, but one of those white papery jumpsuits you see the detectives wear in TV crime dramas. One size fits all and not very fashion forward. But ArtResin is a different animal altogether! A gazelle instead of a wart hog. Bottled up liquid glee. And I don't have to suit up like a member of the bomb disposal unit every time I want to use it. In fact, I've done it barefoot!
Despite being an artist, there's also a part of me that's a nerdy research junkie, list-making, anal-retentive organizational, recovering perfectionist. So before the big day, I gobbled down every article, blog post, and video on the topic (ArtResin.com has oodles of valuable tips and videos), gathered supplies, made preparations and then did it all again, just for good measure. When the moment finally came, I was a titch jittery - a little excitement, a little trepidation. I set up the table with all my new supplies; propped my soon-to-be-resined test panel on some plastic cups and checked that it was level. I carefully measured the resin and hardener in equal amounts, and stirred them together – for 4 minutes instead of the required 3 … just the way I roll. I took a deep breath – my blue-gloved hands hovering over my artwork – and poured. It slid out of the cup like honey, pooling in a perfect, slowly expanding circle of luscious transparent goo. I spread it carefully and then picked up my torch and “kissed” (it's important you “kiss”!!) the resin with the flame. It was pure magic! As the flame passed over the surface, it melted into glossy, crystal clear perfection. I think I swooned! It looked good enough to lick! ( I didn't! Safety first!) My art had suddenly become a 6 inch square lollipop in front of my very eyes! I ran my light over it, checking for bubbles and dust. It appeared to be a perfect pour right out of the gate! And then ............................................I screwed it up.
The ArtResin performed perfectly … the artist, not so much. I had been negligent in my preparations. I hadn't made sure I had a cover ready to go. So I quickly scrounged an old cardboard box that would fit over it while it cured … and forgot to check it for dust and hair first. Consequently, my beautiful perfect test was marred by, you guessed it, hairs and dust, when I lifted the box off to admire it.
Lesson #1 – Be prepared! Have a clean box ready. I now use translucent Rubbermaid bins for smaller pieces because I can wash them out beforehand to make sure there's nothing in them to fall on the resin and they allow me a bit of a peek-a-boo view of the work. (I've discovered I'm not as patient as I believed myself to be and allowing it undisturbed curing time is torture! It's 24 hours before it's dry to the touch) Which leads me to the lesson I learned with the second test piece:
Lesson #2 - Keep your grubby hands off while it's curing! The box for the new test was clean, but I'm like a blonde, blue-eyed Gollum from "Lord of the Rings", and in my desire to gaze again and again upon the glossy beauty of my “Precious!”, I lifted the cover off and then on replacing it, accidentally touched the surface of the resin with the box just past the end of it's working time. I stared aghast at the gummy mess I'd just made on what had been pretty much perfect. I grabbed for the torch and thankfully it melted the mess back down, but the alcohol ink design I had been doing for that test, was now altered and not for the better.
Lesson #3 – Tape not just the sides of the panel but the bottom of the stretcher bars so you don't end up with resin stalactites cemented onto the underside of your cradled panel.
Probably the MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OF ALL, which thankfully I knew at the beginning …
Don't start with something big and important! Practice first! And practice on inexpensive materials and stuff you aren't emotionally attached to. It's costs less to screw up on something irrelevant than to pay for therapy later when you've murdered your favourite “baby” with an ill-conceived resin pour! I'm being overly dramatic … you can resuscitate a failed resin pour with a little sanding and a new coat.
After my first two tests, I pulled off a perfect pour and I was off to the races. Resining over prints of my work was almost near-perfect instant gratification! I can't say that about many art mediums I've used. Just for the heck of it, I started sealing my “Procrastination Rocks” with it (rocks I paint when I'm procrastinating about a painting I'm supposed to be working on) because, really, what doesn't look better with a coat of ArtResin on it?!
And because I was so gosh darn excited about the whole thing I talked about it to anyone who would listen … or who couldn't escape. They tended to look a bit glazed (unlike ArtResin coatings which are crystal clear!) until they actually saw some of the finished pieces and the wow factor seduced them. Now they want me to make them something.
I can't tell you when I've had so much fun. There is just so much gooey goodness and satisfaction in the process - not to mention the beautiful finished product. And quite frankly, if using a crème brulee torch in an art project doesn't totally stoke your inner 3 year old, I don't know what will! There are so many interesting things people have done with ArtResin that it's inspired me to really start thinking outside of the original box of just coating my art prints for a different and more contemporary look.
Art isn't just a practice, it's a grand adventure. And ArtResin isn't just epoxy resin, it's a gooey gateway to your most creative imaginings. A bridge from "ordinary" to "wow, cool!" As crazy as it sounds, I now lie in bed at night with resin schemes swirling in my head. It's a toy box of "what's next?", "how can I ....?", "wouldn't this be interesting ....!" And that's what art is about. Not just sharing your vision, which is important, but constantly exploring new ideas and new ways of doing things, simply for the sheer joy of exploration. ArtResin has become my new travelling companion on the journey.
And YES, ArtResin-ed prints mounted on panels will be for sale on the website, very soon! Followed in the not-too-distant future by a myriad of other fanciful ArtResin-coated creations. The love affair continues!
Stay tuned … I'm not done yet. I have some special ArtResin projects in the works and will be sharing that process in future blog articles.