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A while ago I started crafting with epoxy resin. At first I just coated objects with clear resin, but recently I experimented with adding colors to it.

I got nice results with powders (like glittery eye shadow) and a tiny bit of acrylic paint, but the result always loses the crystal clarity of the resin and gets somewhat cloudy or opaque.

Next I bought transparent liquid glass paints in the hopes of mixing a more transparent but colorful resin. But to my surprise the color didn't mix with the resin at all and instead formed tiny flakes of (still liquid) color in the otherwise absolutely untinted resin. The effect is not bad, but not at all what I wanted.

enter image description here

The glass color was water soluble, but probably not acrylic paint. It didn't say exactly what was in there on the packaging.

My goal is to find something that will tint the resin but keep it translucent. If I go shopping in my craft store, how do I know which colors will mix with epoxy resin without having to buy a bunch of material for experimentation and ending up not using most of them?

I'd appreciate general answers like "acrylic paints mix well but oil paints don't" instead of naming specific brands of paints that might not be available where I live.

Since I got the best results with powders so far, I thought about buying high quality aquarelle paints (the solid blocks) and grinding them into powder, but I'm afraid the resin will get cloudy / opaque again and the money will be wasted.

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    I don't know the answer to the big question, but there are several youtube videos about unusual materials used to change the color and texture of resin. One channel tests things that are "already around the house" like food coloring and cocoa powder. When all else fails, just take note of the paints which are being used in resin art teaching videos. – Henry Taylor Apr 23 '19 at 21:48
  • @HenryTaylor Thanks for the comment, but I already know this video. It's one of those that inspired me to try resin in the first place and it's where I got the idea to use eye shadow from. Nontheless, all of the "ingredients" make the resin opaque. I want to find something that tints the resin but keeps it trasparent. – Elmy Apr 24 '19 at 4:02
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    I just want to say that I find this to be a great example of a question. One, it sounds very useful to many people and I'm surprised it's not been asked already. Two, you've included good information on what you've tried already, and Three, clear expectations on the outcome you need. I hope those with experience find their way to an answer for you. – user24 Apr 24 '19 at 14:24
  • What about ink? Won't that give a translucent effect? – Joachim Apr 24 '19 at 15:59
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    And there is something called ResinTint, of which you can also use a few drops to make the resin translucent, but this a brand name, and not what you're after, maybe. – Joachim Apr 24 '19 at 19:13
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You need something that's soluble in the liquid epoxy, or possibly a liquid that's miscible with it. Water isn't miscible with epoxy, and if you try too hard to mix it you'll produce cloudiness. I suspect that rules out acrylic paints as well. Typical solvents don't dissolve epoxy; some may be miscible. I'm not sure what the liquid phase is to investigate solubility.

Powders in general - unless you want a glitter or speckle effect - are unlikely to work however fine you grind them.

There are specific dyes for epoxy (Amazon example), and this article also recommends alcohol inks - you can try making your own from old marker pens if you just want a test batch, though I'd use solvent-based markers to start with (such as Sharpies or cheap equivalents). It would appear that alcohols mix with the solvents used in the epoxy components and in fact can apparently be used to thin epoxy.

You may have a little more trouble getting bubbles out than normal - a vacuum system is one way to help with this, but thinning should also help.

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  • This is largely theoretical, but now I want to try it myself! – Chris H Apr 24 '19 at 15:58
  • Thanks a lot, the links you provide are very useful to me, especially how to extraxt ink from pens. That epoxy can be thinned with denatured alcohol is exactly the kind of answer I was hoping for, because it allows me to search for alcohol-based dyes of any kind. – Elmy Apr 24 '19 at 18:30
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I've done this myself successfully with alcohol inks. I use the ones from Ranger; Piñata's inks are likely to work as well.

Avoid Sharpies as they tend to fade and change color over to time. I know this the hard way from having used them with polymer clay. :-(

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  • Good point in the second paragraph - even black sharpie fades quite quickly in full sunlight. If you can find them you might do better with overhead projector permanent pens. The resin should provide some protection from the UV light that causes fading, at least in thick layers, but reddish colours will fade by absorbing blue light as well. – Chris H May 9 '19 at 7:29
  • FYI, There is a type of Sharpie called "Sharpie Extreme" which is specifically designed to be much more fade-resistant than the normal sharpies. (I have been burned by writing labels on Ziploc bags with normal sharpies and finding them unreadable years later. I haven't so far had this problem with Sharpie Extreme.) With that said, I would generally suggest alcohol inks unless you absolutely need to use a Sharpie for some reason. – Some Guy Apr 3 at 10:42
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I found food coloring and acryllic paint to be the cheapest solutions, but certainly not the best. The results remain inconsistent, even with 2 colors of the same package.

Following Chris' answer I used alcohol based food colorings at first, but they are hard to dispense (too liquid, the resin turned cloudy because there was too much liquid compared to the amount of resin) and I usually cannot get alcohol based food colors where I live.

Then I tried sugar based (glucose syrup) food color gels and some of them work, some don't. They have a low water content (less risk of cloudyness) and are easier to dispense. I bought a package of 4 colors: one didn't mix evenly and caused speckles, one mixed very well but turned the resin into goop (it still cured very hard). I haven't tried the other 2 colors yet.

Another downside is that food colors are not meant to last long, so I suspect they will fade rather quickly if exposed to sunlight.

In my tests acryllic colors always mixed evenly with resin, but depending on the formular of the color, the result won't be translucent. Expecially cheap paints contain chalk-like powders as fillers, which will be wisible in the resin. Some paints changed colors quite drastically.

Here's a recent example of my castings and the same colors I used in the resin applied to paper:

enter image description here

From left to right:

  1. Blue food coloring. Turned the resin into goop, but cured correctly. The cloudyness is partially intended because I mixed a lot of tiny air bubbles into the goop.
  2. Red food coloring (of the same package as 1) didn't mix evenly and caused speckles instead. The color also changed in the resin.
  3. Dark red acryllic paint. As soon as I mixed it with resin, it turned into strawberry color. When the resin was cured, it looked more like sunflower yellow.
  4. Purple acryllic paint. Mixed perfectly and didn't change color at all.
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  • My daughter has some food colouring for use in kids craft activities. That's faded in the bottles, but it's kept in a very sunny room (though not in direct sunlight) – Chris H May 29 at 6:50

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