There are many things you can add to epoxy resin to make it colorful, sparkly, or decorative. When you add something to resin, it is often referred to as an “inclusion” or an “additive.” These can include colorants, objects, and more.
While there are tons of different things you can add to craft resin, there are also a few things you should not add. At the end of this post, you can find a helpful overview of the items you should not put in resin.
If you’re wondering what you can add to resin and need some inspiration, check out these fun ideas. The possibilities are endless for making your resin projects look unique and beautiful!
Adding glitter to resin is a fun way to make your projects sparkle and shine. Glitter is great for making resin jewelry, coasters, tumblers, and more. You can use craft glitter, cosmetic glitter, and even glass glitter to get cool effects. When adding glitter, keep in mind that finer particles will stay suspended in your project, while large glitter pieces tend to sink. It’s always a good idea to make a small sample before using glitter in a large piece.
Mica, glow powder, fluorescent powder, liquid dye, and alcohol ink all work great in resin. Mica is wonderful for making geode and gemstone-inspired resin pieces, as well as ocean art and other similar effects. Colorants like glow powder and fluorescent powder are fun for making projects that look beautiful during the day and at night! For best results, be sure to break up any clumps before adding powdered colorants.
To maintain transparency in your projects, colorants like liquid dye or alcohol ink are great. These are super concentrated, so you only need a tiny amount to add color. Keep in mind that if you’re using an alcohol-based dye, you will want to avoid using a torch to pop bubbles in your project.
Many people use pennies or other coins to create unique table tops. When they’re arranged in a pattern, coins make a unique mosaic effect. Resin is also a great way to show off a coin collection that you want to keep on display. Just be sure to not embed any coins that might be super rare or valuable, as they cannot be removed once added to resin.
Photos & Memorabilia
Resin is great for preserving trinkets and keepsakes that you want to turn into functional pieces. For example, you can make coasters with your favorite photographs, or embed a favorite trinket in a resin paperweight. Just keep in mind that you can’t remove items from resin once they are added. Think carefully before using one-of-a-kind items in resin.
One of the most magical ways to enhance resin is to embed fairy lights in it! Adding string lights is easy. Simply pour a base layer of resin and let it harden for 2-3 hours. Next, arrange the fairy lights on top of the base layer. Finally, pour a top layer of resin to encase the lights inside.
The best fairy lights for resin are the battery-operated type made with wire and tiny lights. Christmas lights are quite large by comparison, and won’t have the same aesthetic appeal.
Charms & Beads
Like glitter and mica, you can use beads and other accessories to make your projects stand out. Keep in mind that beads may trap air, creating bubbles in your finished project. It’s a good idea to soak beads in your mixed resin for a few minutes before using the beads in a mold. This will allow the air to escape from the bead holes before making your project.
Dried Flowers & Botanicals
Dried flowers are a very popular item to add to resin. Because of how fragile they are, it’s a good idea to cover dried botanicals and flowers with clear acrylic spray before adding them to resin. This makes it easier to handle the delicate pieces without causing damage.
Because of how lightweight flowers and botanical petals are, they tend to float in resin. For best results, you will want to pour a thin layer of resin and add your flowers to the surface. Let this layer cure for 2-3 hours, then pour another layer of resin on top to seal the botanicals inside.
Sprinkles, Coffee Beans & Spices
Dried items like coffee beans, sprinkles, and spices can add a cool effect in resin art. Coffee beans look neat in coasters or serving trays, while sprinkles look fun in everything from bangles to resin cake stands. Like dried botanicals, these items may float in your resin project. Always make a small test batch to see how they will perform. You can experiment with pouring a top layer as described above for dried flowers.
Rocks & Shells
There are so many cool ways to preserve items you find in nature! Seashells, gemstones, pebbles, and other objects can be used to make nature-inspired artwork, tabletops, and more. Keep in mind that natural objects – especially shells – may trap air and release bubbles into your final project. When working with porous objects, it’s a good idea to seal the outside with clear acrylic spray or even a thin layer of resin before embedding it in a project.
Other Pieces of Resin
Have bits of resin left over from other projects? Embed them in your next project for a cool terrazzo effect! Saving your resin scraps is a great way to reduce waste. You can save resin drips as well as bits that spill over the edge of your mold/casting surface. Simply add these pieces to fresh resin to give it a totally unique effect.
What NOT to Put in Resin
There are so many fun things to add to resin, but it’s important not to get carried away. Certain items are not suitable for using in epoxy resin. Here are some resin inclusions you might want to avoid.
Oil or Water-Based Paint & Colorants
Resin and water do not mix well. If you use water-based colorants in your projects, it tends to affect how the resin cures. Oftentimes, the resin will never fully cure, remaining sticky or bendy. Some people use water-based acrylic paints to tint resin and get good results. However, it’s important to only use a small amount.
Likewise, oil-based paints and colorants will not mix nicely with resin. Instead of blending, oil-based colorants tend to look splotchy and uneven. It’s best to use powdered pigments, liquid dyes, or alcohol inks.
Fresh Flowers, Food, etc.
As tempting as it might be to preserve your wedding bouquet or a corsage in resin, it’s not a good idea. Unfortunately, fresh flowers tend to turn brown and even rot in resin. In order to preserve flowers in resin, they need to be fully dry beforehand. There are many methods for drying bouquets – either with air drying techniques or desiccants.
The same holds true for fresh food items such as fruit. Even though items embedded in resin aren’t exposed to the air, they will eventually break down and rot.
Any time you use natural items in resin, they need to be fully dry inside and out. If you have your heart set on using fresh and natural items in resin, try looking for replicas made of plastic, clay, or other materials instead.
Sentimental or Irreplaceable Items
When embedding items in resin, it’s important to keep in mind that objects cannot be removed from resin after they are added. It’s always a good idea to think carefully before adding unique and irreplaceable mementos to resin. For example, you might want to avoid using historic family photographs, childhood keepsakes, sentimental notes, and other similar items.
Where possible, it might be preferable to make a copy of the item and use that instead of the original. If you do plan on using one-of-a-kind items in resin, it’s always smart to make a practice piece first. If you’re new to resin, it’s also a good idea to make sure you get some experience before working with sentimental and unique resin inclusions.
Tips for Including Items in Resin
Any time you try a new resin technique, you might want to make a small test batch first. Resin additives might not always behave the way you expect, so making a small batch will help you save time and materials.
Keep in mind that lightweight and airy items tend to float in resin, and will often need a second layer of resin poured over the top in order to embed the items. On the other hand, heavy or dense items will sink in resin. If you want these items to be suspended, you will need to pour a base layer of resin and let it cure for a few hours before adding the items and pouring a fresh layer of resin on top.
When adding items to your projects, it’s helpful to keep the resin working time in mind. Our resin remains workable for up to 30-40 minutes, which is plenty of time to arrange your items. However, the resin will become thicker as time passes. You will have the most flexibility during the first 15-20 minutes. Either way, it’s a good idea to have all of your additives ready to go before you mix up your resin.