Let’s talk a little about coloring your resin. There are a few things you can do and a few things you can’t do when it comes to coloring resin. Knowing these guidelines will help ensure resin coloring success. Then, once you get a handle on the rules of how to color clear epoxy resin, you can learn when to break them.
To get the best results when coloring resin, use colorants designed specifically to color the resin you are working with. There are two reasons for this:
1. By using the same brand of resin and colorants, you can be assured that your resin is going to cure the way you expect. This means that the resin should not cure any differently (hardness, clarity, etc.) than without the colors added.
2. Colors designed specifically for a brand of resin should also cure with that color. i.e. the colors shouldn’t fade or turn a different color once added to the resin.
Can you use one brand’s colors with another brand’s resin?
The answer is *yes*, but with a footnote. The footnote is that whenever I have done that I have never had any curing problems. I have, however, gotten a different color than I was expecting.
If you have ever purchased a resin kit and noticed that the hardener is a little yellow (example above), you may find that the resin part has blue added to it. When you mix the two parts together, the result will be clear. I have experienced problems where I used one brand’s green, yellow and/or blue and put it into a different brand’s resin only to get a color I wasn’t expecting despite the resin curing normally. You can see what I’m talking about in the results of one of my resin experiments.
Now that you know the basic resin coloring rules, let’s try to break them. It’s one of the neat things I would encourage you to do with resin.
Here are my basic resin coloring guidelines if you want to try non-traditional colorants:
- 1. Try and use as little of the color as possible. Add until you get the effect you want, then stop. Resin hates moisture, so you don’t want to add any more moisture than is absolutely necessary.
2. Make sure the colorant is as dry as possible. I have used eye shadows and spices from my kitchen cabinet that were not clumped and still a loose powder.
3. Understand the resin you are working with before you try to color it. For example, epoxies can be forgiving about colorants. Polyurethanes, not so much. Something you might ordinarily use to color an epoxy might have great results but may not work with a polyurethane. Polyurethanes are incredibly moisture sensitive.
What are some things you can try to use to color resin?
- 1. Acrylic paints. Go with no more than one part paint to ten parts mixed resin. Use even less if you can.
- Note: When it comes to acrylic paints, you get what you pay for. Some are inexpensive because they have a lot of water in them. It’s why sometimes when you use acrylic paints, your resin cures rubbery, bendy or not at all. If you want to try acrylic paints, try the ones that cost more because the color is more concentrated. You’re going to get more color in the same amount of paint than what you would in a cheaper paint.
- Another note: Good acrylic paint pigments are about as expensive as resin colors. You are not necessarily going to save yourself any money.
Note: Some alcohol colors will not keep their color in resin. I have used some brands that are not meant to color resin and have had problems with the pink and purple tones staying pink and purple in the resin. They will disappear.
3. Powders such as micas and eyeshadows.
5. Kitchen spices
6. Sidewalk chalk
7. Water color paints
What doesn’t work to color resin?
Oil paints. They make a globby mess with your resin.
Nail polish. It turns your resin an ugly amber.
Latex paint is hit or miss for me. I have used it sometimes only to find it can make your resin stringy.
My parting advice? Keep a resin journal. Write down your formulas and what you did. It will be a great way for you to recreate (or not!) something later.
What do you like to use to color clear epoxy resin?
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