Today’s post is about making ornaments while utilizing either resin with pigments and/or acrylic paint, which is my all-time favorite medium to work with, as I’ll explain why later, or Floetrol with acrylic paint.
HOMEMADE CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS
A Brief History
Two years ago this past August my middle daughter introduced me to Acrylic Pours, an abstract painting technique which uses Floetrol (a liquid latex paint additive) or any pouring medium and acrylic paint, first by showing me videos, which sparked my interest and then we tried our hand at it.
I was not impressed by my first abstract art that I made, using this medium, but I’m not sure what I was expecting. I continued working with the Acrylic Pours, and although I liked the colors, and it got easier, they still didn’t look anything like what I witnessed on the videos, and that’s when I learned more about ‘cells.’ Of course I saw them in videos and tried to recreate them with alcohol but only succeeded in very tiny ones until I did more research; it was then that I started using silicone in my pours, and that is what makes the cells in Acrylic Pours, because water and oil do not mix.
I have found that the brand of acrylic paint and amount of silicone in said paint will affect the amount and size of cells. I have also learned that the more cells there are the more the painting will shift and move, so what you see in the beginning of the pour is not necessarily how it will end up. I have had some that looked amazing when I started, only to be disappointed when they were dry.
There are other mediums that can be used in place of Floetrol; one of them is Liquitex Pouring Medium. I have used this a number of times and prefer it on canvas, because it already has a gloss to it, although working on wood, Floetrol flows better, but regardless whether working with Floetrol or Liquitex, either will have to be treated with a finish to prevent discoloration and protect the work from UV rays.
In time we acquired quite an array of paint, and every time we worked in the garage/art studio on an Acrylic Pour, Paul (husband) would walk in and see the paint run-off and exclaim, “That sure is a lot of paint you’re using!” He didn’t ever seem to understand how it worked. It didn’t matter how much paint we measured out, and it won’t matter; it’s flowing, especially if you use silicone. It will continue to flow, thus the run-off.
The paints I prefer (that I also use) are Master’s Touch, Liquitex Basics, and DecoArt. I also use glitter with my pours if I go with a metallic sheen. I usually purchase my canvases from Hobby Lobby, because I can’t find a better deal where I live. They usually have five 8X10 canvases for less than $10, but currently they’re on sale for $4.50. If I want to make a smaller canvas like a 6X6 or smaller, I have to order from Amazon, because then they have the better deal. Local places don’t always carry what I need or what I’m looking for.
After several months of working with acrylic, Floetrol (or Liquitex), and silicone on canvas and wood substrates, one day we eventually got brave and moved on to resin, which is decidedly more expensive than Floetrol and Liquitex, yet I find there’s more control when using it.
My daughter Hannah received some resin for her birthday so she let me use some. I first used it on a 4X4 wood substrate with mica pigments, but they can also be used with alcohol ink or acrylic paint. I was pleased with the turn-out, because there was no run-off like there is with Acrylic Pours, so I purchased more resin and more pigments, but you can even use discarded eye shadow as pigment if you so choose.
I like geodes and pieces that resemble geodes, so I purchased some silicone molds from Etsy and silicone forms, pigments, and glitter from JUST4YOUONLINEUK.com while getting my resin on Amazon, and for a time I was content to only make geode coasters. If we had rejects or just enough resin for one mold, my husband would hang it up in our back window, which fills with sunlight most of the day. It looks beautiful with the art pieces catching rays of light and reflecting them everywhere.
This year I ordered a few silicone ornament molds from Etsy while also purchasing clear plastic ball ornaments from Hobby Lobby. With the first couple of silicone ornaments I made I didn’t have enough resin to work with, but I already had my paint and mica added like I did. (I’m used to working with plenty of resin.) I didn’t think the ornaments would turn out good, however I was pleasantly surprised.
With my first ball ornaments I used resin, pigments, and pigment paste, going with a dirty pour, and they also worked out very well, but today I decided to use Floetrol, using the same method. At the very end I ran out of paint, so I scooped up the run-off and used that to cover the ornaments, and then I sprinkled them with glitter.
If you’ve never tried this kind of art and are interested, you probably have some basic ingredients at home, but if not, here is a list of supplies you can readily get (For Acrylic Pours):
- Acrylic Paint of your choice, but the cheaper you go, the less likely it is that you’ll enjoy the results. Here’s a list of my Go-to brands, but there are certainly a lot out there: Master’s Touch, FolkArt, DecoArt, and Liquitex
- Glitter, the finer the glitter, the better
- Pouring Medium: Liquitex Pouring Medium, Floetrol, PVA Glue like Elmer’s Glue All, DecoArt Pouring Medium
- Popsicle Sticks
- Paper Cups or something to mix the paint in that you won’t care about ruining or possibly discarding
- 12 inch long Rectangular Dry Foam Floral Holder
- Clear Plastic Ball Ornaments
- Parchment or Wax Paper
- Non-latex Gloves
When you have your supplies, pick out your paint colors. It’s a trial and error process, but hopefully I’ll save you some time. Don’t pick all of the same or similar colors, however do pick a white paint and another light color to offset the darker colors you will have and vice versa; it will make your ornaments pop more.
We’ll start with the Dirty Pour method, because its easier.
- Place parchment or wax paper down on a flat, level table you will be working on; next, place your foam floral holder on the parchment or wax paper. The paper will make for easier clean-up.
- Wear gloves, especially when you begin the actual pour, because it gets sticky and messy.
- You need 1 paper cup per paint color plus an extra cup for all of them to go into eventually. After picking my paints, I add the appropriate glitter to the paints, if I have matching glitter and paint. ( I really like glitter.)
- Next, add your Pouring Medium. Since I’ve been working with Floetrol on this particular project, I will give instructions for that; you want your paint to flow but you don’t want it to be runny. Usually a good ratio is one to one, but I’ve found that Master’s Touch is more of a medium to thick acrylic paint, so it tends to need more Floetrol, but I don’t want to add too much, because it can distort the color, so a lot of the time I’ll add a little bit of water, and I mean a little bit at a time, just to get the consistency right. Eventually I’ll get something to help me make videos so you guys can see what I’m talking about.
- Once you’ve mixed your Floetrol with your acrylic paints and glitter, it’s time to add each to the extra cup–the Dirty Pour.
- I start with white, but you are welcome to start with whatever color your heart fancies, but a good rule of thumb is to alternate your dark and light colors, again for added pop. You drip or pour a small amount into the empty cup with your first color, followed by your second, opposite color, and so on, in whatever order you choose. I usually have all of my colors lined out, and I do zig zags or messy circles when I’m pouring into the cup of paint. When it’s nearly full or I’m running out of the source of paint, then I’m ready to pour.
- Place 3 Popsicle sticks, evenly spaced, in the foam floral holder before placing the clear plastic ball ornaments, one on each stick.
- Take your now full cup of different layers of paint and pour onto your ornaments; sometimes you’ll have to spin the ornaments to get them completely covered.
- When you’re finished, your ornaments might not be as glittery or as flashy as you want, and after making sure that the paint is not running too much, it might be safe to add glitter. I do.
Now we’ll go over Clean Pours, which use more product.
- You do the first two things listed in the above, however instead of pouring the paints in the extra cup, you pour them directly onto the ornament (that’s on the Popsicle stick in the foam floral holder), which is why you will end up using a lot more paint. I personally have not used this method on ornaments, but I have on canvas.
- You continue alternating paint until the ornament is covered.
Now we’ll go over Resin Ornaments
- Resin Kit: Again there are many choices to choose from, but I usually purchase mine from Amazon or directly from the manufacturer, and it’s a one to one formula, however there are different ratios out there depending on the brand, so read your instructions. I’m very interested in getting an epoxy resin which is heat resistant; JUST4YOUONLINEUK sells some, and I’ve purchased their pigments, pigment pastes, and silicone forms; they’re one of my favorite online retailers I purchase from, although they’re overseas, so it takes a little longer than 2 day shipping to get to me.
- Pigments: These are mica either from eye shadow, like I mentioned, or specifically for resin art. I use Pearl Ex mica pigments, JUSTFORYOUONLINEUK pigments, Black Diamond, and Eye Candy.
- Pigment Paste or Acrylic paint: I haven’t really found anything like JUSTFORYOUONLINEUK’s pigment pastes, which are similar to acrylic paint, however I’m not really sure exactly what they are, because I can’t find a precise description other than what they do, but they are highly concentrated with deep, rich colors, and alone they can create cells and lacing.
- Alcohol Inks: Jacquard Pinata is one that I use, but once again there are more brands out there including Tim Holtz Adirondack Alcohol Ink and Copic Inks.
- Acrylic Inks: The ones I have are Golden High Flow Acrylic Inks, but I’ve also used Liquitex Acrylic Inks, though like other things arts-y, there are more choices. Most of the time I’ve learned to go with reviews or recomendations, because in the past when I’ve gone the cheap route, (I like a good deal), and our art supplies are in our garage/art studio, that at first was neither insulated nor had heat/AC in the appropriate seasons, those cheaper paints didn’t hold up as well as the more expensive ones, so now I don’t waste my time or money on the others; besides my art comes out so much nicer for it.
- Silicone Ornaments Molds
- Clear Plastic Ball Ornaments
- Paper Cups
- Popsicle Sticks
- Silicone Mixing Cups, but if you’re in a bind, red Solo cups or similar will work, but they produce a lot more waste
- 12 inch long Dry Foam Floral Holder
The resin kit will come with a bottle of resin and a bottle of hardener, and after reading your instructions on the ratio to use, determine how much you need. I used 300 ML or about 10 1/2 ounces total resin for 3 silicone mold ornaments (of which 2 were overfilled) and 3 plastic ball ornaments. Here are your remaining instructions:
- Add your paint, pigments, pigment pastes, and glitters to their individual paper cups; with resin, a little goes a long way.
- After pouring the resin and hardener in the same container, stir, but not vigorously or you will produce bubbles; you want slow, methodical stirring for about 2-3 minutes. Your Popsicle stick should move easily through the mixture when it’s ready.
- Pour about 1 1/2 – 2 cm of resin in each cup; if you have extra resin, just put it aside, you may find you’ll need it.
- Gently stir each cup of resin and paint, pigment, pigment paste, and/or glitter until well mixed.
- When using the silicone molds I just use the clean pour method, and I make the same suggestion as with Acrylic Pours, alternate light with dark colors for the best effect.
- When you’re satisfied with the amount of resin in your molds, use the torch on the resin, being careful not to light the mold or anything else on fire. The torch is to get rid of annoying bubbles in the resin.
- Now if you have remaining resin in your cups and want to, you can do either a clean pour or dirty pour on your clear plastic ball ornaments the same way you do with acrylic paint and pouring mediums.
There are several differences between Acrylic Pours and Resin Art. The ones that stand out to me are, first, the time issue: When working with acrylic paint and the pouring medium of your choice, you have more time in which to work; time is essentially on your side, so Acrylic Pours are a good choice for beginners. In fact it’s where a lot of artists started before going onto resin art.
Secondly, the price can be considerably different depending on your pouring medium. For example, if you use Floetrol for Acrylic Pours, a 128 fluid oz bottle at Lowe’s is only $14.67, excluding tax. That’s a big difference compared to a 1 gallon kit of resin from Amazon around $63, which is not the most expensive brand or kind; that’s just resin, not epoxy. Epoxy resin can go upwards of $289 on Amazon for a 3 gallon kit.
Another difference is waste. None of these items are washable. When we first began Acrylic Pours we used disposable aluminum pans, placed 4 solo cups in them (with our canvases on the cups), and then poured our art onto the canvases. Over time those pans would get distorted and would need to be discarded, because the canvases wouldn’t be level, and thus the paint wouldn’t stay put. It’s meant to flow, but not completely off the canvas.
Eventually we purchased huge plastic containers that our canvases could fit into so we could eliminate waste. We continue to use paper cups and Popsicle sticks, because they are biodegradable, and I purchased some silicone mixing cups to reduce our plastic waste.
I no longer do Acrylic Pours like I once did, because the time limit works for me with resin; which means it isn’t going to have all day to keep flowing, moving, and changing. Even if the resin is slightly more money than Floetrol, I don’t have to use as much paint, and I have more options; I can use alcohol inks, pigments, pigment pastes, etc. And I don’t have the waste of product that I have with the Acrylic Pours.
Feel free to check out my other art on Instagram at chickengirl891976. I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you enjoy art and if you tried these ornaments! I’d love to hear from you!