The Scoop on Substrates
Did you know that you can use a wide variety of surfaces for resin artwork? If you look around your home, you probably have many available that you never considered before. In this article, I will discuss several substrates that you can use when painting with resin.
Canvas is a great surface to paint with resin. They come in a wide range of sizes and are pre-primed and ready to use. I like to do test pours on small canvases ranging in size from 6 inches to 12 inches square, when I am working out color schemes or experimenting with techniques or additives. I usually do them on small canvases because they are inexpensive. Once I have tested different color combinations along with the technique, I will do a “true pour” on a larger substrate such as cradled birch or others listed in this article. If you choose to use a very large canvas for your pour, make sure you have added evenly spaced support underneath. Failure to evenly support your canvas will result in pooling because the canvas surface will not stay level.
Prior to painting with resin, use a spray bottle to mist water over your canvas. Allow it to dry completely. This will help to tighten the canvas. To prevent sagging in the center, add some extra support under the canvas prior to starting your painting. I have found that anything that is 24”x24” requires extra support. On that size canvas, I place paint stir sticks between the canvas and the wood frame. You can get the stir sticks free or inexpensively at your local hardware store. Once the painting has cured, simply remove them .
You can purchase canvases at your local craft store such as Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. They are also available online at Amazon, createforless.com, Cheapjoes.com and other art supply sites.
Cradled Birch & Wooden Artist Panel
You can order cradled birch and wooden artist panels online through art supply sites and even Amazon. Cradled birch and wooden art panels are more expensive than canvas, but still affordable. These wood surfaces are my preferred surface for resin painting because sagging isn’t an issue and they are very sturdy. The reason cradled birch and wooden art panels work so well is because the wood substrate is framed with more wood. This is what prevents the wood from warping. If you were do a resin painting on a sheet of plywood or a wood panel from the hardware store, your painting will would warp because it isn’t secured with the frame.
Priming cradled birch and wooden artist panels is really a matter of personal preference. When I first started pouring on cradled birch and wooden artist panels, I did a pour on one primed board and one that wasn’t primed. I discovered that the only real difference between the two boards was the primed one made the colors pop better because they were poured on a white surface. If you are incorporating translucent colors into your pours, it would be wise to prime your board before pouring. If you are painting with opaque colors in your resin, there is no need to prime the surface unless that is your preference.
Another consideration you should make prior to pouring on cradled birch and wooden artist panels is how you want the sides to look when the painting is complete. There are two main choices on how to treat the sides of your substrate. You can either allow the resin to flow over the edges and down the sides or tape off the edges. By allowing your pour to flow over the edges of the panel, your painting will continue on to the sides. This look can be quite stunning. Prior to pouring put a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the underside of your substrate starting and the edge and going inward about an inch. This will help to keep the resin from curing on the underside of your substrate. After your pour is complete, take a popsicle stick and drag along the underside to help remove resin that has dripped beneath the substrate. You will need to do this several times as your painting cures since the resin will continue to self-level as it cures. After the painting has completely cured, use a cloth or paper towel to wipe off the petroleum jelly and resin drips that remain.
Taping off the sides of your substrate will help to keep your sides clear of resin. I prefer to use flashing tape because it adheres to the substrate so well. You can purchase flashing tape at your local hardware store or online at Amazon. It is a stiffer tape that is made from aluminum and looks like regular aluminum foil. I recommend purchasing the two inch roll so that you have enough width to work with. You will need to apply the tape to your substrate so that it sits at least half an inch higher than the surface of your substrate. Use a plastic credit card to smooth the tape over the edges of your substrate. Make sure that there are no wrinkles or bubbles and that the tape has firmly adhered to your substrate. The tape will keep the resin contained on the surface of the substrate. After the resin has cured, peel the tape off. You will most likely need to sand the edges with an extra fine grit sandpaper to remove any sharp or uneven spots. You can either leave the sides of your substrate unfinished or paint in your choice of color.
Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product and is generally denser than plywood. Pre-cut MDF boards come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. They are relatively inexpensive and can be found at your local craft store as well as online. They require no priming . Like with the cradled birch and wooden art boards, you can prime the surface if you wish for your colors to really pop. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Vinyl records make great substrates for small resin paintings. If you don’t have any packed up somewhere, head over to your local Goodwill store. They often will have entire albums or box sets for sale for about $1 each. You can also find inexpensive used vinyl records on eBay. Tape the hole in the center to prevent resin from dripping through to the other side. I prefer to prime vinyl records before I start painting so that I am working on a white surface. Otherwise, some colors won’t show up as well against the black background. Always put a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the outer edge of the same side as the tape. This will help keep the resin from sticking to the backside of your painting. When the painting has cured, wipe the petroleum jelly off the back with a paper towel or dry cloth. If you have any resin drips, simply trim with a pair of scissors or Exacto knife. (watch out for your fingers!)
If you use a heat gun or torch to manipulate the resin and remove air bubbles, do so carefully. Keep the heat at least 4 inches from the surface of your record and make to avoid focusing the heat in one place for more than a few seconds. Too much heat will warp your record.
Tile is another great surface to paint on with resin. You can use glazed or unglazed tiles, both will work well. Regular white square bathroom tiles can be found at your local hardware store for about half a dollar each. Resined tiles make great coasters or trivets. They require no priming and make for quick projects as well as great.
What other surfaces for resin artwork have you used?
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