If you love creating fun, funky eye candy with the minimum of fuss, you’ll love petri art.

Made popular by artist Josie Lewis of Petrified Rainbow, this fabulous art form combines resin with alcohol inks to create three dimensional splashes of colour with unpredictable results.

You can use this effect to make stunning coasters, pendants and paperweights – the only limit is your imagination!

Called petri art because it resembles the tiny particles found growing in petri dish experiments, this popular technique is simple to get started with as long as you get the basics right.

All you have to do is drop a few drops of alcohol ink into a resin filled mould and wait for it to set. Simple, right? Well not entirely. There are a few things you should be mindful of before you get started.

All alcohol inks are not created equal

The first thing you’ll discover is that not all alcohol inks are created equal! We’ve experimented with different brands and have found Jacquard Piñata inks by far the best for this type of project.

Some thinner alternatives tend to bleed, creating a murky, brown sludge.

Piñata inks are highly saturated, fast drying and tend to hold their colour better.

All resins are not created equal

As well as choosing the right inks, it’s essential to select the correct resin to get the best effects.

Generally, the more viscous resins, such as Resin8’s 1 to 1 Epoxy Resin, work best with alcohol inks. Resin8 Heat Resistant Epoxy Resin produces equally stunning results, and is perfect for coasters, although bear in mind that to be fully heat proof, it must have a clear, uncoloured layer of this special resin on each end.

Thinner resins don’t tend to work as well because the alcohol ink sinks down to the bottom too fast and blends. If you only have thinner resin to hand, you could always let it semi-cure (set) before adding your alcohol inks. So for example, if you’re using Resin8 Slowcure resin, you might want to wait a day before adding the inks.

The magic ingredient

The magic ingredient in any petri art project is white alcohol ink. Without it, you can’t easily get the petrified effect.

You can’t substitute white alcohol ink for any other kind of white pigment or colour. Believe us, we’ve tried! Unfortunately there’s a worldwide shortage of Piñata’s Blanco Blanco (white) ink, with few shops in the UK able to keep up with demand! Among the petri art community, Blanco Blanco is gold dust!

The good news is that Resin8 is now stocking this petri art staple.

When you’re applying your coloured inks, make sure you include some Blanco Blanco. We often start with a drop of the white, followed by two drops of another colour, followed by a drop of the white and two drops of another colour – but have fun and experiment!

Putting the coloured ink before the white will get a different effect. Give both a try but remember that when it comes to petri art, less is usually more!

Metallic alcohol inks

As well as a rainbow of gorgeous coloured inks, Piñata make special metallic inks, such as  Rich Gold, Silver and Copper. These are made from real metallic pigments and can give your project a shot of shimmer.

It’s important to give the bottle a good shake before you use it. You only need a drop or two to give your project that je ne sais quoi!

The element of surprise

Petri art is often unpredictable and because you are essentially working backwards, you usually won’t see the finished product until it’s fully set and you can pop it out of the mould. Patience will be your greatest virtue!

You will get different effects depending on the size and depth of your mould and the type of resin you use. Don’t have your heart set on an end result… just go with the flow! The hardest part is waiting for the resin to set.

Good to know

Unfortunately alcohol inks are not lightfast and will eventually fade. Humidity, temperature and the type of resins and additives you use may also affect how fast your project may fade.

Luckily Piñata Colors are made with dye based colourants, which don’t fade as much as some other alcohol inks, according to Jacquard. They recommend avoiding prolonged sunlight exposure. The Blanco Blanco and metallic colours are completely lightfast and shouldn’t fade.

Your barbecue lighter may be your favourite way of getting rid of pesky bubbles when you’re working with resin. Alcohol inks are incredibly flammable – so whatever you do, don’t flambé your project/house!

Petri art is highly addictive, quick to produce and relatively cost effective, as a small bottle of alcohol ink goes a long way! For tips and inspiration, check out the Petri Supernova Facebook group.

And watch this space for Resin8 petri art video tutorials!

Thanks to Tali from @tallulahdoesthehula for writing this blog post

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