I never really thought about the environmental impacts of my art projects until I started using epoxy resin. Wasting resin is a concern because the consequence of unused, leftover, or any resin that doesn’t make it to your art piece is that it usually ends up as trash. Oh, and it’s an expensive material to work with- we don’t want to waste money either! With the frequency that I use resin, I have become VERY aware of the potential amount of waste I create and have my own ways for dealing with it. I don’t have all the answers for what to do with leftover resin, some of my ideas about waste come from a mindset that what I choose to do is the lesser of 2 evils. For instance, I try at all costs not to sand down resin. This means I prep many of my items with tape (when resin might run over the sides). I realize I have to throw away the tape with resin on it, but the alternative would be creating micro particles that stay in the environment, are not safe to breathe- I definitely don’t want those things in the ocean or my lungs. I know that dust containment systems exist but usually the amount of sanding I need to do is dremel sized and it still gets messy! If for some reason, resin on the back of an item won’t effect the functionality of the item- I leave those drips there! No tape waste, no sanding (maybe just a little judgement for an “unfinished” piece?).
Here are a few (possibly weird) things I do to avoid throwing things away! I am not suggesting you take up my all my practices, and I’m not judging anyone for throwing things away, but I hope that maybe you’ll think about your consumption so we can share ideas about creating less waste.
1. Molds- get yourself some molds for little bits of extra resin. That resin that looks like hardly anything at the bottom of your cup can be used to make earrings, a magnet, keychains a ring cone, etc. Molds are usually inexpensive and can be reused for a long time with proper care.
2. Mixing cups and sticks- I mainly use silicone mixing, measuring and stir sticks. But when I don’t, I reuse my color mixing cups and popsicle sticks. I just place my popsicle sticks on top of the cups and the next time I resin I use the same cup and the same stick or the other side of the stick. I’ve used cups until they are completely solid filled with cured resin! For your silicone mixing/measuring cups- I want you to know that these probably wont last forever! They get little micro tears from mixing, pulling out hardened resin and sometimes the resin will permanently stick to them (I’ve had this happen the 2 times I’ve experienced an exothermic reaction). Its best if you can pull the resin out of the cups while it’s still pliable (that time will depend on your resin brand). If I can’t pull out out the resin without damaging the cup then I continue to use the cups for mixing colors until completely full.
3. Silicone catch mat- I use a silicone catch mat (baking mat) under my pieces that have resin run off and in my mixing area (where I set down my cups). When resin runs off a piece it can create really pretty patterns. If you use a silicone mat you can peel off the pieces and re-purpose them. I have cut up pieces and added little drips into molds to make resin ring cones and bracelets. Here’s a bracelet I made using drip off pieces.
I've also seen people who make pendants out of the collected drips. Pro tip: resin gets harder over time, so if you need to cut something into a smaller piece make sure you do it shortly after it’s cured. When I first started using resin, I would use big boxes and have to throw them away after they got all filled with drips because I could no longer create a level surface. Here is what my box full of drips looked like! 😬
With the mat I can (and have been) using the same box for over 8 months! Wow, I’ve come a long way!
4. Wash waste- this is going to be weird but honest— I rarely ever wash my silicone mixing cups in the sink! You guys, I’m such a freak about little tiny plastics going into water! Like I said earlier, pulling out resin from silicone cups is pretty easy if you do it the next day- but it’s not always perfect. Little pieces can remain on the walls and sometimes I just leave them and mix away. If any little piece come off the sides during mixing I can pull them out and sometimes need to pick out a piece after they have been poured. Most of the time those little pieces stay right in place, they stick to the new resin and get pulled out the next day!
5. Re-purposing cured resin- I’m still experimenting! I have a bag of pieces just waiting to become something that’s not trash. If you have any ideas please share them and if you want to experiment with some of my left overs, I will gladly send some your way. In the mean time, here is a little project I’ve been experimenting with. Building wave texture with cured resin pieces.
I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions about sustainability in art! www.mermaidmoxie.com