Resin Cast Photography




Tired of emptying your pockets to have your photos mounted and framed? The quality, expense and lack of variety at most framing shops is pretty frustrating. Not only that, putting yourself at the mercy of a someone else's schedule when you're in a hurry to hang or install a show is stressful. Take matters into your own hands and polish off work by casting photos in crystal clear, UV protective epoxy resin. Casting photos in resin is fool-proof and an easy solution to protecting your work while minimizing distractions from the surface of your pieces. This step-by-step tutorial will address how to construct a clean wooden surface to mount your images, seal them, and cast them in resin. It’s easier than you probably expect and the results are stunning.

The main ingredient for this project is EX-74. There're dozens of epoxy and polyester resins on the market, but in my experience EX-74's the safest to handle and it stands the test of time preserving it's glasslike sheen. It's a two part mixture; one part resin and an equal part hardener. One quart is about the amount I'd suggest using to cover a 15x15" surface; .5 qts resin + .5 qts hardener =15x15" piece. Let this be your base number in determining how many quarts you will need to cast your piece. EX-74's available by the gallon at TAP Plastics or the manufacturer's website

Additional supplies: workable fixative, respirator, rubber gloves, heat gun, 2 calibrated gallon buckets, stir-stick, wood patch, spackle spreader, wood glue, acrylic gel medium, exacto or razor, pine struts ~.5"x1.5”, 1/4” mdf slab, tape measure, foam roller, primer, paint brush. Power tools included a table saw, chop saw, belt sander, and nail-gun.

Step 1: Building Your Canvas

  1. Cut your mdf 1/8” smaller than your image in length and width. This will ensure that your image bleeds all the way to the edge of the surface of your canvas. For example, if your photograph is 8x10, cut your mdf 7 7/8” by 9 7/8”.
  2. Similarly, cut your pine framing pieces 1/8” shorter than the width and the height of you image. Cut at 45 degree angles. Where the top and bottom pieces of your frame meet the left and right pieces they should form 90 degree angles.
  3. Dab wood glue to the end of each strut, hold them together tightly and apply two nails anchoring them together.
  4. Next, apply wood glue to the top of your frame where the mdf will go. Place your mdf on top and align it with the frame as accurately as possible. Nail it down.
  5. Spackle up the nail holes with wood patch. Spackle any gaps between your framing pieces if they didn’t join perfectly at the corners. Allow an hour to dry.
  6. Sand the excess wood patch from your canvas to create a flush surface, and so that the edge of the mdf is flush with that of the pine frame.
  7. With painters tape, mask off the pine frame of your canvas leaving only the 1/4" mdf exposed. Paint the outer 1/4" edge white and allow to dry.

At this point, your photograph should be a hair larger than the surface of the canvas. Don’t trim your image to the canvas just yet. It’s best to trim after it's mounted.

Step 2: Sealing Your Image

Sealing your photo is important in order to keep it from buckling and absorbing the resin.

  1. Wearing your respirator, coat your photo front and back with workable fixative in 3 thorough coats. Keep the nozzle at least 1' away from your photo. Fixative might have just turned your glossy image to matte, but the frosty matte will completely disappear after the resin's poured.
  2. If your image was exposed on an emulsion style photo paper, fixative alone will keep moisture from permeating it's surface. However, if your image was printed on a pulpier, textured card-stock, spray it with fixative then paint it with a clear gel medium to create a barrier between your image and the resin. Whatever brushstrokes or textures appear in coating you image will disappear after the resin cast.

Step 3: Mounting Your Photograph

  1. Create a clean working surface where you feel comfortable laying you image face down. Butcher paper works great.
  2. With your foam roller, spread a modest amount of acrylic gel medium across the surface of your canvas. You want the surface completely covered, but without excess. Be sure to get the corners.
  3. Next, firmly hold your photo face down and roll a light amount of gel medium on the back side.
  4. Carefully lay your photo atop the canvas, registering each corner to that of the canvas. Once in place, apply pressure and place face down on your clean surface. Rest a heavy weight on top (perhaps your resin), and allow to dry overnight.
  5. After your image is mounted, gently trim the overhanging photo from your canvas with a razor. Rest your razor or exacto blade against the mdf to make sure your image is cut flush with the canvas.

Step 4: Resin Casting

Put on your respirator and rubber gloves. EX-74 is safe and simple to use if exercising simple precaution. Tarp off a level area for casting. As the poured resin levels atop your piece, the excess will drip off onto the tarp beneath it

  1. In your calibrated bucket, mix your resin and hardener in as equal parts possible. Stir thoroughly in clockwise and counterclockwise directions and then scrape the sides of your tub to collect any unmixed solution. While the resin and hardener are both clear compounds, you can see separation between the two. Stir until you can't see any separation.
  2. Pour your resin mixture into your fresh bucket and repeat.
  3. Place your piece atop a bucket or another level surface elevating it from the tarp. Drizzle resin across the surface of your piece. Spread with your stir stick making sure the entire piece is covered with 1/8-1/4" resin.
  4. Blow the surface with a heat gun keeping at least 1' from the piece. The heat will bring air bubbles to the surface and pop them. Be sure not to direct the heat on an area for too long. Allow your piece to cure overnight.
  • After your piece is cured solid, be careful not to blemish the surface. While EX-74 cures to look like glass, it can't be treated like glass. Epoxy plastic is relatively soft, and can scratch if grazed with sharp material or cleaned with solutions containing alcohol. To clean, lightly dust the surface with a scanner wipe or soft cotton. If there are smudges, gently wipe with water, Brillianize or Plexi-Clean solution.



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    29 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 2

    How is it that the photo does not stick to the surface you put it on to cure after the acrylic gel medium.


    3 years ago

    Was wondering if you had any clue what has messed up my project. In june I mounted with double tack sheet a photo to a piece of solid oak 2 inches thick, then covered in resin. It went to two galleries and looked great,but now 3 months later I have serious buckling problems. The photo has buckled up and is acctually pushing up the resin. A weight on it flattens it but it pops back up, clearly the photo is not sticking to wood anymore. I love this look but if I can't figure out the solution I won't try it again. You suggestion to seal the photo sounds like something I missed, but the fact that it was fine for over 2 months makes me thing that's not the issue. I've used double tack sheets on many photo mountings, had only minor problems with egdes unsticking, nothing where large bubbles pull free. Maybe moisture wicking into wood from backside? Anyone have any ideas?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You've done a very good job of clearly explaining the process. I've not worked with resin before. Is this something middle school students could do if there were enough parent volunteers on hand?

    10 replies

    Speaking from my own experience, I wouldn't try it. Resin can be hard enough to keep contained to your work area when there's no other hands involved. It sticks to everything and will ruin clothes in an instant.

    I did it in year 7 and used it this year (year 9). Its not that hard to use- you just have to have a little common sense.

    ...and I was wondering about the smell. There are probably rules about having a hood to take care of the gassing. Somebody would probably show up in their $150.00 Nikes...Thanks.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Smell in this case means toxic chemicals - some one needs to look at the material safety data sheet (MSDS) which I have not the time to do right now - or even read carefully the back of the can. When it says breathing may cause central nervous system damage (brain nerves) and even death - it means it. I see these suggestions all over youtube now and it is scary no one seems to take the warnings seriously. (often)


    Resin does not release any significant amount of fumes because it is not solvent based. Inhalation is not a big concern with resin. The only health concern in using it is if it is improperly cleaned up using acetone. Acetone should never be used around resins because it can carry them through the skin and into the bloodstream.


    NightHakinLight I beg highly to differ and can with 3 degrees (biochemistry, arts/chemistry of arts and health fields) (remember the artist Eva Hess - dead from working with epoxy resins) point you to the proper literature. "resin is not solvent based" (yes it is!) Some are already mixed into the product ie reason why it is liquid, or if it comes in powder form (industrial) it is added later. But I can assure you the solvent is there or it would not be well solvent! (liquid). When they are combined as in a "two part" resin (and there are many types) epoxy being ONE version of many, the combinations causes an exothermic (heat) reaction and it "cures".

    2 - remember many toxic chemicals have no odor (CO for one). You may have meant non petro solvent based as all products have a solvent even if it is water. Acetone is as well toxic. As well the two part (or even single) glues are forms (variations of formula's) of epoxy - some need to be heat/reassure cured (industrial) and some two part "curing". All are exothermic.

    As well the limbic system of the brain is the main entry point for "fumes" (gases). Not just the skin. I have known many artists/people on Canal street in NYC who died (one owner of epoxy resin shop that made fiber glass - the filler, products, ie bird baths so on). All are in the same class but may have a different trade name - you can look up the OSHA chemical reference book as well.

    I have an extensive background in plastics (epoxies are classed under this class) as I used to work with them (but again wore and did proper procedures to protect myself).

    Note below - the finished product says "almost non - toxic" not completely inert - big difference if one uses them a lot over time.

    As well this review was for a manufacturer... note near the end "loss of consciousness" and this does not include long term over time repeated exposures.

    There is as well much literature (scientific, lab our board, medical) on the exact mechanism whereby enzyme, and other systems are damaged by exposure.

    If one looks at each of the chemicals listed one can find the damage that can be done, without proper protection.

    Now you can add your science to show solvents are not in resins.

    I know the end result of being exposed long term to these class of chemicals and just putting out some warning signals. It I can assure you is on the back of the can as well.

    Acetone would be listed as a co toxin (when more then one are involved in exposures)... there is safe and safer but all in one form or another are toxic and need proper protection guidelines when used.


    Just some quick searching.

    "The hardened, finished polymers are almost non-toxic; it is exposure to the uncured resin components that can be harmful. In a two-component epoxy product, the epoxy resin andthe curing agent are packaged separately and must be mixed together just before being used.

    Each component can be hazardous.

    In a single-component product, the resin and the curing agent are supplied in a pre-mixed form. Single-component systems are usually safer, because the hazardous chemicals are already partly combined into less toxic polymers and because they do not evaporate into the air as easily.

    You Have the Right to Know:

    (GISO 5194), your employer must tell you if you are working with any hazardous substances, including epoxies, and must train you to use them safely.

    Because different additives to epoxy resin systems can affect your health in different ways, you should find out what chemicals are in the products you use.

    Epoxy Resin Systems

    Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for the products in your work area.

    An MSDS liststhe hazardous chemical contents of a product, describes its health and safety hazards, and gives methods for its safe use, storage, and disposal. The MSDS should also include information on fire and explosion hazards, reactivity, first aid, and procedures for handling

    leaks and spills. Your employer must have an MSDS for any workplace product that contains a hazardous substance, and must make the MSDS available to employees on request.

    This Fact Sheet is an aid for worker training programs. It does not take the place of Material Safety Data Sheets. HESIS Fact Sheets are available for several of the chemicals commonly added to epoxy resin systems; see page 6.

    Examples of Epoxy Resin System Chemicals

    Epoxy Resins

    (monomers or oligomers) can be powders, or they can be thick, clear or

    yellow liquids. Some common epoxy resins are: the diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A

    (DGEBA), novolac resins, cycloaliphatic epoxy resins, brominated resins, epoxidized olefins, Epon R and Epikote R


    Curing Agents

    react with epoxy resin monomers to form epoxy products. They are

    usually liquids with strong, unpleasant odors. There are several categories of curing agents. Examples include:

    Aliphatic amines

    such as triethylenetetramine (TETA) and diethylenetriamine


    Aromatic amines

    , including diaminodiphenyl sulfone (DDS) and dimethylaniline



    such as phthalic anhydride and nadic methyl anhydride (NMA);

    Amine/phenol formaldehydes

    such as urea formaldehyde and melamine


    Catalytic curing agents

    such as tertiary amines and boron trifluoride complexes.


    and solvents are used to dilute or thin epoxy resins. Diluents are usually

    clear liquids. Some examples are:

    Glycidyl ethers

    (reactive diluents) such as n-butyl glycidyl ether (BGE),

    isopropyl glycidyl ether (IGE) and phenyl glycidyl ether (PGE);

    Organic solvents

    such as toluene (toluol), xylene (xylenol), acetone, methyl ethyl (3 of 9) [5/6/2008 1:35:03 PM]

    Epoxy Resin Systems

    ketone (MEK), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), and glycol ethers.


    add bulk and body to epoxy products. They are usually powders or fibers

    such as sand, clay, calcium carbonate, fiberglass, asbestos, or silica.



    The chemicals in epoxy resin systems can affect your health when they come in contact with your skin, or if they evaporate or form a mist or dust in the air you breathe. The main effects of overexposure are irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, skin allergies, and

    asthma. The solvent additives can cause other effects such as headaches, dizziness, and confusion.


    Vapors and spray mists of most epoxy resin system chemicals can irritate your

    lungs. Some people develop asthma from the curing agents. Symptoms of asthma include chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. These symptoms may occur

    after work or at night. Once a person becomes allergic to curing agents, even the dusts from sanding or grinding the hardened plastics can cause an asthma attack.


    Epoxy resins can cause skin irritation. Symptoms include redness, swelling, flaking,and itching on the hands, face, or other areas of contact. Some people develop a skin allergy or sensitivity to epoxy liquids or mists. Skin allergies may develop after just a few days of contact or after many years of exposure to epoxies. Sensitized skin may become red, inflamed, blistered, and itchy even from brief contact with epoxy resins.

    Eyes, Nose, and Throat:

    Most epoxy resin system chemicals and their vapors (especially

    the curing agents and solvents) can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. Some people develop headaches as a result of this irritation. If the liquids are splashed into your eye they will sting, and they can severely damage the eye. In case of eye contact, immediately rinse the eyes with water. Continue rinsing for 15 minutes and then seek medical attention.

    Nervous System:

    Solvents inhaled or absorbed through your skin can affect your central

    nervous system (your brain).

    Symptoms of solvent

    overexposure include headache, nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, confusion, and loss of consciousness. For more information, ask for the HESIS Guide to Industrial Solvents. (4 of 9) [5/6/2008 1:35:03 PM]

    Kit Vogelsazure

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction


    I appreciate you lending your experiences and information to this discussion, as I think the MSDS and warning labels should be considered by all who are looking to pioneer resin casting. I also work with epoxies at my day job and am well aware of the hazards if not handled properly. While there are many different resins on the market and their chemistry/warning labels might differ, I'll certainly advocate playing it safe and wearing a respirator and gloves in all cases.


    NightHawkinLight - to be fair I dug out my 3 inch book on plastics/resins chemistry of and maybe you meant the following (see below). (great book for all would be "artists beware" written by Dr. Michael McCann PhD, CIH (when I was at an end stage he sent me tons of material and to Dr. Ziem specialist in toxity exposures from Vietnam Vets - A truly amazing man.)

    (forgive font' know how to shrink font sizes)

    "non solvent" and usually for high end industrial use.

    Novolac epoxy resin

    Reaction of phenols with formaldehyde and subsequent glycidylation
    with epichlorohydrin produces epoxidised novolacs, such as epoxy phenol
    novolacs (EPN) and epoxy cresol novolacs (ECN). These are highly viscous
    to solid resins with typical mean epoxide functionality of around 2 to
    6. The high epoxide functionality of these resins forms a highly
    crosslinked polymer network displaying high temperature and chemical
    resistance, but low flexibility. 100% solids hybrid novolac epoxy resin
    systems have been developed that contain no solvents and no volatile or
    organic compounds. These hybrid novolac epoxies have been documented to
    withstand up to 98% sulfuric acid.

    Artist Beware, Updated and Revised: The Hazards in Working with All Art and Craft Materials and the Precautions... by Michael McCann PhD CIH
    (Jun 1, 2005)

    So you may have meant this "non solvent" but it is so high end ie industrial and I just assumed the project here mentioned meant the typical over the counter can. Who knows.

    None the less I am many others ended up nearly dead, or dead due to repeated exposure to these products. I mention this as I did not know prior myself... I learned the very hard way about the toxicity and damage these products due over time to the human (and all other creatures) physiology.

    As well the governing bodies meant to protect one such as the EPA, FDA are well behind on the safety of these and other toxic chemicals. Think Bayor Aspirin Bayor Pesticide (Monsanto) and one can only imagine why... Huge influences by manufacturers.

    Be well and take precautions is all I meant to say.

    Kit VogelBillMil

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Definitely get comfortable with it yourself before making it a school project. It's not a matter of having enough hands to have a workshop like that, as much as it's having experience getting the process down.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    That's a great idea!

    Is the effect of the resin similar to diasec - does it give this brilliant and sharp appearance to the photographs?

    1 reply
    Kit Vogelspunk

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction


    I've never used diasec, but yes it does. As mentioned before, though, it will slightly dull your brights (ever so slightly) due to the refracted light that would otherwise hit the bare surface of your photo. Best to amp up your brights if possible. Best


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Looks great and thanks for sharing. I've been thinking about a project like this for a while now. Couple of questions: could you paint the sides instead of leaving them natural color? I was thinking of a nice, rich black to make the photo pop. What type of paint would you use to produce the best result with the resin?

    1 reply
    Kit Vogelrmiller21

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    You can paint the sides if you like. In my experience, any type of paint should work just fine. Good luck


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great ideal. If I could suggest using two mixing containers. Punch a 1/4" hole close to the bottom of one container, place a piece of tape over this hole. Mix your epoxy in the other container than gentilly pour the premixed epoxy into the container with the taped hole. Hold the epoxy container slightly above your work and remove the tape. The air bubbles will rise to the surface allowing the epoxy that comes out of the hole almost free of suspended bubbles.

    1 reply