Gather all your supplies. Once the resin is mixed you'll have a limited amount of time to pour before it starts setting up, so it's good to have everything close to hand.
You can get a lot of this stuff at your local hardware or craft store, or here is my Resin Art Shopping Cart at Amazon.com if you want to order everything at once.
- 2-part Epoxy Resin - Table Top resin or casting resin will work for smaller projects
- Alcohol inks for coloring in at least 3-4 colors - I used blue, sapphire, cerulean, teal, and green
- Mica powder in white for the surf
- Protective gloves
- A graduated measuring cup
- A larger plastic cup for mixing
- Stirring sticks
- 5-6 smaller cups for mixing individual colors (I used dixie cups, similar small cups are great)
- Glass or plastic or other translucent "canvas" - mine is a 12x12 piece of 1/4" acrylic
- Mirror effect spray paint
- Sand paper
- Heat gun
- Paper towels for cleanup
- Plastic drop cloths
- Something to place under your canvas to elevate it off the table
- White sand
- Seashells or other 3d decor
You'll want to work in a dust-free environment, with low humidity and a temperature range that matches the recommended working temperature on your resin. This brand recommends 75-85F, so I also have a space heater and an air purifier in my work area.
If your acrylic is perfectly clear, it'll be easy to see through the ocean waves and spot the electronics inside. To prevent this, I prepped my acrylic by sanding it with a piece of sandpaper on both sides until it was nice and cloudy.
Then I sprayed one side with 1-2 coats of Mirror Effect spray paint. This will create a semi-translucent one-way mirror effect. It's one of my favorite ways to create a soft diffusion with LED lights. Go easy on this - you can always add another layer of paint later on to the back of your piece if it's too transparent.
Place the acrylic on your plastic-covered table, with a piece of wood or something underneath so the drips can fall off the edges easily onto your plastic.
How Much Resin?
The amount to use will depend on the size of your piece. My resin bottle said that 1 gallon would cover 12 square feet at 1/8" thick, so for 1 square foot I used 1/12 of a gallon, or 16 ounces. That's two cups, which makes measuring super easy - I used one cup of part A and one cup of part B.
Follow the directions on your resin bottle, paying attention to working temperatures and mixing times. I'm using table top resin, which wants to be mixed for five full minutes. Don't under-mix, or your resin won't cure evenly.
Mix it by hand with a stirring stick, and mix slowly to minimize the amount of bubbles that get pulled into your resin. Scrape the sides and bottom of the cup and your stirring stick while you mix.
Set out your small mixing cups. Have one for each alcohol-ink color you're using, one for the white mica powder, and one for the sand.
Pour about 1 inch of resin into each of your small cups. Make sure to keep about 1/4 of the resin in reserve in the main stirring cup - we'll need some clear resin too so don't color it all.
Mix in about 1/4 teaspoon of white mica powder into the cup. Mix it well. Add more if it doesn't look opaque enough.
Add a few drops of alcohol inks to each of your color cups. Don't go overboard - we want translucent color - but make them nice and bright.
Stir about 1/4 c of white sand into your remaining cup. Add enough resin to the sand that it's sticky and gloppy without being runny. We want the sand to pile up a bit.
Start in a corner of your piece with the sand. Pile it up until it looks beachy.
Pour the colored resin in waves, leaving the area by the beach empty for now - we'll fill that part with clear resin in a bit.
Use your gloved fingertips to gently mix the colors until you have a nice ocean-y gradient.
Pour some of your clear resin into the gap and mix that in as well.
Wait about 2 minutes to let the resin just start to set up. If bubbles form on the surface, use your heat gun about 6-8 inches above the surface to gently heat the air and pop the bubbles.
We want the resin to be a bit firm so the white "surf" floats on the top instead of mixing into the blues and greens.
While you're waiting, dip your sea shells into the clear resin to coat them. This will make them stick to your piece better, and the extra resin will pool around their base, making them look like they're sitting in wet sand. Place them firmly into the sand-resin mixture.
After your 2 minutes are up, pour a couple stripes of white resin where you want the waves to go. Be sparing with the white! You can always add more, but it's easy to get too much.
Now for the fun part: grab your hair drier and turn it to "high". Blow warm air across the resin and watch the ocean waves appear.
Let it pour off the edges a bit, and make sure your whole piece is covered.
I let my piece dry overnight, then mixed up a little more resin and added a second wave on top of the first wave.
Let your piece cure for the recommended time specified in the directions - usually 24-48 hours. Trim off any drips on the back of your piece with a pair of flush-cut snips.