Epoxy Crafts by Bela Viczian

Browsing through various forums related to Aegina on Facebook, I stumbled upon an intriguing advertisement. A young man had posted pictures of his epoxy resin artworks. To say I was impressed would be an understatement—I was thrilled by the concept, the appearance of these products, and, notably, their affordability. In Serbia, the prices of such tables are considerably higher, and I believe that the quality, if not better, is at least comparable.

In this article, I’ll be delving into the story of Bela Viczian, his transition to Aegina, and how he began creating artistic pieces using wood and epoxy resin.

Since I’m not in Aegina (unfortunately), I sent him a few questions to which I received excellent responses. I’ll do my best to convey them here. I hope you will enjoy this online interview!

Ivan: What inspired you to start working with epoxy crafts?

Bela: I always liked making and creating nice things, from motorbike restorations, to painting and decorating, from 3d modeling to animation. I always preferred to be creative. I have a sort of a knack for learning things and solving problems, I just think it’s a natural behavioral pattern. Anyway, I love the shapes and colors of wood grain, I love the smell of wood, and I found epoxy art fascinating all my life. I thought I could give it a try.

 

Ivan: Why did you choose to use BPA-free, food-safe epoxy for your crafts? How does it contribute to the quality of your products?

Bela: Food safe epoxy was a must because I make tables and kitchenware, and hey, I don’t want people to get sick because of me :). When I found the resin I chose, it turned out to be bpa free too and uv resistant, and that was an added bonus too. Because it’s BPA free UV resistant resin it doesn’t have the things in it to make it easily perishable, in essence it’s harder, and more heavy duty, and can take more than regular epoxy resin.

 

Ivan: Where do you find Epoxy and wood?

Bela: I source my epoxy straight from the German factory and I ALWAYS source my wood from my local supplier who gets them from sustainable and ethical lumber mills and foresters from Greece, Ghana, Hungary, US, Canada, Thailand, Sweden, Serbia, and many more countries. Depending where the wood is originating from.

Ivan: That’s great. I know a man in my town who imports epoxy resin from Germany too. I have to paint my old bar, so I will give it a try with epoxy color, as soon as I finish using sandpaper. 

 

Ivan: How do you approach creating personalized pieces?

Bela: When a client has an idea we have a call and I want them to tell me all about their vision, the reasoning behind it, the back story, and a lot of personal details. Then we bounce some ideas on shapes and design materials and then I create a mockup sketch, a demo sample of the color for the epoxy. If it’s green lit, I go hunting for materials, wood, and things they want embedded in the epoxy. Once I have everything, I make a dry setup where I set up the piece without the epoxy to get an approval for the layout. We do the final touches here before the pour. Then I pour, shape, sand, polish, make a huge mess of the workshop, clean up and send the results to the client. If they like the piece I pack it up and either deliver them personally or ship them, depending on the request of the client of course.

Ivan: Wow, that looks like an UX design but only for crafting woods :). 

 

Ivan: Were there any significant challenges or learning curves when you first started working with epoxy?

Bela: YES. Building the workshop, I was lucky because the house we rent has a little shed. I cleaned it up and I had the space. I did a month of research on what essential tools you need in a workshop, made a budget and started ordering stuff. The first challenge was to find cheap but good tools. It was a hit or miss, for example the first router I bought almost killed me, because it went haywire and spun up to the point the motor exploded. Then the second challenge is to learn how to use power tools safely. I almost lost an eye when I tried to slice an olive branch with a miter saw and it shot out, breaking the plastic cover and shattering everywhere and hitting my eyelid so hard i count see for a day. After numerous trials and errors in the designs and layout, as well as in the working process—sequencing tasks, rectifying mistakes, and so forth—the project gradually took shape. By far, the two most crucial aspects are mastering the use of power tools and ensuring proper protection against flying debris and toxic fumes, including alcohols, mineral solvents, and similar substances. After those problems were tackled, I was able to focus more on the art and less the techniques.

Ivan: It looks like it wasn’t easy at all. We sometimes have to learn from our mistakes. The good thing is that you didn’t quit after all those problems.

 

Ivan: What has been the response to your crafts since you started selling them?

I get a lot of acknowledgement on the design and character of the items, people in my friend group and around the island like them very much. But I don’t not known enough yet how to get a wider audience. Sales are slow, but that is to be expected for a 2 month old business. I made a YouTube channel to allow people to visit me and my workshop virtually every week. I post weekly workshop diaries where I document what has been happening in the week, all the wins and fails without any marketing BS and Instagram perfect editing. I like to keep things real, honest. I might be old fashioned that way but that is how I grew up and I stick to my values.

Ivan: I agree totally with you. I am in a marketing business, and I know exactly what my clients want to hear from me. Let’s be honest, to find yourself on the first page of Google without paying any ads – not easy at all. You will need at least 6 months to do all organic SEO. But that is another story. Just keep going, the results will be there.

 

Ivan: What advice do you have for others looking to start an online business in the crafts industry?

Bela: Hmm, this is a hard one. Well, I guess I would make sure I have a steady income and start my business on the side if I could. Make sure to always keep making, failure is part of the learning process and try not to get discouraged by it. For me it’s a passion, my workshop is my sanctuary, my safe space. Creation is a therapy where I can turn down the volume of the world and be at peace. So I guess my advice would be to do something you can do wholeheartedly for yourself and not only to make money. Do something you love and money will come. At least this is what I believe in.

 

Ivan: What aspects of working with epoxy and crafting bring you the most satisfaction and joy?

Bela: The sensory feedback while making, the smell of wood, the tactile feeling of the grain, the smoothness of the epoxy, the colors and shapes. I love it because it makes me feel calm. When I’m making for myself or for fun I usually have an idea of what I want, then when I start the process I try new things and they might bring a different outcome. Like when I used food stains to color wood, then I torched it with fire and it made the color disappear and stay only in the grains of the wood, I was like – I didn’t expect that to happen, but hey, lets see where it takes us, let’s go with this. In general, the new discoveries and letting the process guide me gives me joy. It feels like I’m an assistant of the art piece and I help the piece to come to life and it guides my hands.

Ivan: You really like what you do. I hope you will continue doing that for a very long time. We have to find a way to transport one of your tables in my car without being noticed by the border police :). 

 

Ivan: How has pursuing this passion impacted your life, especially after losing your previous job?

Bela: Due to being on the spectrum, I tend to hyper-focus on stressful situations and problems. While this sometimes leads me to quick solutions, after spending countless sleepless nights trying to secure employment following the closure of my previous company and dedicating every waking hour to finding a job in a saturated virtual production market from Aegina, along with the pressure of ensuring my family’s financial stability in the coming months, I eventually reached a breaking point. I broke down to my wife and told her I just want a simple life, where I can make enough money to have a home and afford living. And with that I knew what I want to do with my life. I want to make nice things for nice people, and have enough money to live a peaceful life. Now to be totally honest I was scared when I started building the workshop and spending the last of our savings. But once I was in my workshop I felt peace. I felt I belonged here, it felt right you know? I’m happy when I’m making in the workshop and I feel accomplished with every art piece. I feel whole for the first time in my life.

Ivan: Thank you for your honest words. I know that Aegina is a beautiful place and I would like to live there with my family one day. I am glad you found what you like the most. 

 

Ivan: Are there any local or online communities that have supported or inspired your work?

Bela: Aegina is my home. This is the place where I will live out the rest of my life. I could write a book about how I got here and all that. When I got here years ago I knew it in my guts – I arrived home. The history and the nature of the island inspires me a lot. In regards to local or online groups supporting it, I can’t say much. Many people know me on the island but not many know about my work yet. Same things online, It’s hard to get noticed in the flood of information these days I guess.  All my friends support me here on the island and online, and I’m always happy to give a tour of my workshop to anyone interested in my art.

 

Ivan: Do you collaborate with other artisans or artists in the crafting community?

Bela: Nobody reached out to me yet but I’m always down to make awesome stuff!

 

Ivan: This is the last question, I promise :). So, what are your future goals and aspirations for your epoxy craft business?

Bela: Okay, so this is really simple. I come from eastern Europe, both me and my wife come from a poor family, we have no generational wealth, or anything to our name really. We lived in a rental apartment all our life and had no support from anyone.

My goal with the business is simple – I want to afford a place that we can call our own, I want to afford to have a child, I want to afford to have enough to raise and support my family.

My goals with the art and actual creation aspect of Aegina craft are a lot, I want to learn how to do jointry, I want to learn how to do wood carving, I want to learn how to work with different wood types, I want to learn how to do classical wood inlays, I want to learn other nations traditional woodcraft techniques, I want to learn how to paint epoxy with different materials, how to shape and sculpt it, I want to enhance my art with resin more and so so much more!

 

Ivan: Thank you so much for your time. I hope this article will be seen all over Greece :). If I come to Aegina this year, I will give you a call. I want to make pictures and videos for my website and to spend some quality time with you. 

 

Thanks for reading, please visit me again :).