Last year, a friend and I visited Tanglewood Works in Hyattsville, Maryland. We were looking for some unique furniture for his dining room. We didn’t exactly find what he was looking for, but what I did find was my newest obsession: alcohol inks. I didn’t really know what they were, but Sue — the owner of Tanglewood Works — showed me what they could do and said, “I feel like you’ll really like these.” I left the store with 6 bottles of alcohol inks. Came back a week later for 3 more bottles. And another week later for 3 more. Who knows how many I have now!
The great, and not-so-great, thing about alcohol inks is that — as hard as you try — you can never achieve the same design twice. You can never replicate a piece. This gets annoying if you want to replicate something really cool, but it does make for a unique collection.
Sue introduced me to the art of painting tiles with alcohol inks. I’m an up-cycler, so I didn’t want to go buy new tiles. I skipped over to The Community Forklift to pick up some used or surplus tiles. I painted a bunch of tiles, loved the results, and sprayed them with both and Kamar varnish and triple glaze coating. I was ready to use my coasters! Except I wasn’t. The varnish and glaze didn’t do the job. It was okay, not great, for cold or room temperature beverages, but the coating completely failed when I plopped a hot mug of coffee on top of it. I mean major failure. The glaze sort of melted and stuck onto the cup, and the alcohol ink wiped right off. I live on the East Coast and spend half of the year drinking a crazy amount of hot tea. I needed a sealant that could get me through the cold winter days.
Enter: Epoxy resin. The idea of using epoxy resin, ME using epoxy resin, freaked me out. The internet told me it’s dangerous to work with (not after it’s hardened, it’s fine after it’s hardened), and you need protective gear, and if you’re even a tiny bit off in measuring the ingredients you’re going to fail miserably and destroy all of your hard work! I knew I needed to learn how to use epoxy resin if I wanted to make these damn coasters work. So, I took Sue’s 2-part epoxy resin class. Whoa. Epoxy resin changes ev-er-y-thing. It’s a beast to use, but when you get it right — ooooh when you get it right — it feels SO good. Not only is it waterproof, heat proof, and durable, but it makes your art pop in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It creates a sort of wonderful 3D effect because the design reflects against the resin.
I can’t stop making these things! There’s only one of me, and there’s no way that I need a ton of coasters hanging around my apartment (I just glanced over at my glass of water and it’s coaster-less — how!?!). I wasn’t going to put down the paints anytime soon, so I started making some for my friends. A few months ago, I branched out to selling them at craft fairs, and now I’ve listed a few on my Etsy shop (here, if you’re interested). I’ll keep you updated on my coaster creations as my design interests evolve! For now, here are a few pics of my first pieces.