Embedding items is one of epoxy resin's most appealing uses. Because epoxy is naturally transparent once cured, it becomes an attractive way to showcase memorabilia that are fragile or have odd shapes, such as bottle caps, photographs, and minerals. In fact, there are few limitations to what's possible with this.
Though this guide should work for any decent epoxy brand, if you're using something other than our UltraClear brand, we recommend you check with the manufacturer to get confirmation.
What shouldn't be embedded in epoxy?
Since the variety of items that can be embedded is so vast, let's talk about what things you shouldn't attempt to embed within your epoxy. Some of these are self-evident:
- Food, plants, animals - Anything that will decay or rot over time is a bad option for embedding. Even when sealed within the epoxy, such natural processes can still take place. These items also tend to hold moisture, which disrupts the epoxy's ability to bond or cure properly.
- Liquids - Because epoxy relies on dry materials for adhering, you should not attempt to preserve liquid within epoxy.
- Anything you may want back - Embedding is more-or-less an irreversible decision. It's nearly impossible to retrieve an embedded item without causing significant damage or destroying it entirely, so choose only items that you intend to preserve this way permanently.
Which epoxy should be used for embedding?
We have two different types of epoxy: table top epoxy and deep pour epoxy. For embedding objects, you'll usually need deep pour epoxy. This is because one of deep pour epoxy's purposes is pouring in thick layers—our brand of deep pour allows for up to two inches thick in a single layer.
Table top epoxy, on the other hand, is a self-leveling epoxy that cures at 1/8 of an inch. To embed an object using table top epoxy, you'd need to pour a single layer, then wait for it to partially cure before applying the next layer, repeating these steps until all objects are fully encased within the epoxy.
Although it is possible to use table top epoxy for embedding small, thin objects like coins or photos, it's not very practical for larger items. We recommend using deep pour epoxy for those.
Also, if you use deep pour epoxy but expect your finished project to receive a lot of interaction, such as with a penny bar top or bottle cap table, we suggest giving the project a topcoat of table top epoxy at the end to ensure the strongest protection. Table top epoxy is tougher than deep pour epoxy when cured, providing a long lasting, resilient finish with the same level of glasslike clarity.
Preparing each object for embedding
Before you pour epoxy over the items you'll be embedding, you need to make sure they'll stay in their intended positions.
To do this, you can use a simple glue like Elmer's to adhere them to your surface area, or you can use our table top epoxy to apply a slightly thicker than usual seal coat to your surface area, and then press the items wherever you want them to be onto the seal coat.
For the seal coat method, allow the epoxy seal coat to cure for 24 hours. From there you can continue your project as usual with the pouring phase, adding one layer of epoxy at a time until you've covered everything sufficiently.
Be sure to read your chosen epoxy brand's instructions carefully to avoid missing any steps; they're essential for achieving the best finish. If you're using our brand, you can always find detailed sets of instructions for our table top epoxy here and for our deep pour epoxy here.
How to embed fragile items in epoxy
For objects that are flimsy or fragile, you'll want to first cover them with a waterbase sealer like Mod Podge. This will enable the epoxy to properly bond with them. It will also provide protection during the curing phase.
Make sure you still glue them to your surface before pouring the epoxy, as mentioned in the previous section.
You can find waterbase sealers at most home improvement stores. We also sell Mod Podge on our website.
Have any questions? Let us know!
Here at UltraClear Epoxy, we pride ourselves on providing quality customer support and assistance.
If you have any questions about embedding that aren't addressed here, or if you'd like help with planning your epoxy project, call or email us using our contact page. You can also text chat with one of our experts online by clicking the help button at the bottom right of your screen.