When I started making decorative tile art I used to just seal them with a gloss spray but when I wanted them to be a little more functional I looked into resins. It’s definitely one of those projects where “you can buy these in the store for $35 or make them yourself with $100 of art supplies”. Now I have the supplies like the sander and the heat gun the cost is not quite so bad but if you want to make just a few then I recommend going shopping in Macys lol. Seriously though you can create some wonderfully unique art and gifts. And it’s fun❤️
After mostly trial and error these are the steps I follow for creating alcohol ink coasters. Ensure you wear gloves and work in a well ventilated dust free area. I use ArtResin as the epoxy resin when I seal my tiles and it is pretty much odorless but you still don’t want to be breathing it in. There are plenty of other resins out there but I like ArtResin because it’s guaranteed not to yellow and I have found mixing it and using it extremely easy.
1. Wipe the tiles clean. I use alcohol or glass cleaning wipes to ensure I get rid of any grease or fingerprints.
2. Time to be creative. Create your patterns on your tiles with alcohol inks. I’ve found that if I use 4oz of the resin with 4oz of the hardener I can easily cover 16 tiles so I make 16 at a time and that’s just about the right number that you can easily work with without going crazy. You get about 45 minutes to work with the resin. I usually allow the inks to dry for at least 24 hours. If I use red inks I leave for up to 72 hours as I’ve had problems with red inks still being tacky days after I thought they were dry.😢
3. Seal your artwork. Once the inks are dry I seal my tiles with engine enamel or Krylon’s Crystal Clear to ensure that when I pour the resin over it doesn’t react with the inks. I leave the sealant to dry for 24 hours.
4. Tape off the underside. I’ve made tiles and then had to spend too much time sanding off the resin that drips and hardens on the underside of the tile. Tip: Use decorators tape to cover the underside edges of the tiles then when the resin has hardened you can just take that off and saves all that sanding!
5. Make up enough resin. Once the sealant is dry I mix the resin. As I said I usually work with 16 tiles at a time but if I have a commission for a set of four then 1 oz of each of the resin and hardener is more than enough. ArtResin recommend you stir the mixture for three minutes. I usually stir very slowly to minimize introducing bubbles into the resin. I also allow it to stand a couple of minutes to allow bubbles to rise to the top.
6. Apply the resin. Once I’m ready to apply the resin I place the tiles onto something like a votive, small tin or even small flowerpots to keep the tiles off the surface they are standing on. I usually put them in a box which I can then close when I’ve finished working the resin to ensure a dust free environment while the resin cures. I pour the resin into the middle of the tile then spread to the edgess using a sponge making sure there are no parts that are not resined.
7. Burst those bubbles. I use a small heat gun to skim just above the surface of the resin which helps burst any tiny bubbles.
8. Cure cure cure. I cover the box and leave the resin to cure for at least 24 hrs before I pull off the masking tape and then leave the tiles to cure for a further 48 hours.
9. Add the cork. Once cured I spray the underside with spray adhesive and apply cork that I’ve cut into whichever shape tile I’m using. The cork sticks pretty well if you do it this way. If you don’t want to use Contact you can buy cork tiles to cut up or even 4 squares of cork cut perfectly to fit 4.25 inch tiles from places like Joann’s.
Update 2016. As of 2016 I use a new resin developed by artists for artists and have updated the post to show this. ArtResin is available in a starter kit which is quite expensive compared to buying in larger quantities but if you like it as much as I do and you are going to do lots of resin art then it’s worth the cost.
Here’s the link to the ArtResin website where they have lots of other projects you can try.
More coaster projects
Stencil and Scrap Book Coasters 2012
Photo Coasters with cork backing 2011