The tutorials I wrote on how to make real flower resin jewelry have been wildly popular. This spring and summer I had a lot of fun as I continued my experiments with this technique. What I wanted to do was to improve on the pressed flower method. Firstly I wanted to eliminate the first resin step which became the foundation for the pressed flowers. Secondly, I wanted to deal with the pigment loss. Yellow flowers seem keep their colors but other flowers, especially the blue ones, faded with time and exposure to sunlight.
First step is to collect flowers. This spring, I harvested quite a few wild violets growing in my lawn as well as other flowers and leaves from my garden.
My favorites were glory in the snow flowers! You can tell I enjoyed photographing these bluish-purple blooms. They looked more purple here than they really are :
I sped up the pressing step by using a microwave flower press - it takes about a minute or less! See my past post How to Press Flowers Using the Microwave for more details.
After microwaving, I left the blooms alone for a few days to dry thoroughly before carefully removing them.
I used paper punches and photo paper (both courtesy of Little Windows) to cut out shapes to use as the foundation for the flowers. I got the idea from when I did my tutorial on how to make resin photo jewelry. The plain white photo paper needed no further preparation for resin work. You have to seal first if you use regular card or paper otherwise they become translucent. I also punched shrink plastic (easier to punch when compared to say recycled clear plastic food containers) for clear foundations.
I added some Mod Podge sparingly on the cut outs and glued the pressed flowers on them. Do not use too much Mod Podge. The white glue does leave a faint haze. If you want to avoid this, use a spray varnish (see my tutorial on Easy No Resin Real Pressed Flower and Leaf Jewelry Tutorial).
Drawing inks are great for enhancing the natural color of the blooms without obscuring the fine details of the flowers. Not to mention a "prophylactic" against premature fading. Do not use acrylic paints which are too thick.
I did have to mix the inks to get the right shade.
These pink bleeding hearts were collected the previous year and stored in a plastic container. The pink had become very dull but the pearlescent ink improved things.
Once the ink is dry, seal the flowers with more Mod Podge. This is to prevent the resin from making the still porous petals becoming translucent. I wasn't careful enough and manage to tear the petals here :
Onward to Little Window's Brilliant Resin which is a 2: 1 (Part A : Part B) type. This resin is a good one to use for jewelry making - clear and has a longer shelf life than many others. And a low bubble producer. It domes very well. I often use small scales to weigh out the portions but this time, since I needed a large batch, I used the cups that come with the resin. Remember to mark the line you need with a marker pen. Once you pour the resin part in, you won't be able to see the lines any more!
I made up the resin as instructed and poured in the molds - about 60-75% full. I used Little Windows' latest medium silicon mold which I received for review. This mold tray has different shapes. I noticed there are cutting lines should one want to separate the tray into smaller ones.
Then I slid in the prepared and sealed flowers on their photo paper base.
I had to make sure that each piece was properly placed at the bottom without any trapped bubbles underneath. I also popped any bubbles. It is important to keep watch for bubbles for the next half hour or so and assist the bubbles to the surface.
As this is a doming resin, bubbles are more likely to get trapped. As I had worked with a large resin batch, the resin was beginning to get viscous at this point making the bubbles travel very slowly. If you want to avoid bubbles as much as possible, try working with small batches. Waving a small torch around works best if you were coating a painting or canvas. It is more difficult with molds.
Cover the mold with a plastic lid (I used the one for the mold itself) and let the resin cure for 24 hours.
I much prefer silicone molds compared to Little Windows plastic trays. Unmolding is a breeze!
Then a light sanding of the edge of each resin piece. If you don't have many pieces to work with, just use wet and dry sandpaper and submerge in water which traps the dust. You can use different grades of sandpaper working up to fine like 1500, 2000.
As I had a number of pieces to sand, I used my Dremel. The little drum sanders are only available in coarser grits. So I used my split mandrels with finer grades of sandpaper. Had to wear a dustmask!
I used glue on bails for the photo paper ones. E6000 is a good glue for this. Avoid Super New Glue (not the regular Super Glue) for this application as it doesn't seem to set on resin.
I drilled holes for the ones where the foundation was shrink plastic which became clear in resin. I usually drill a little way in with a spiral ratchet hand drill and then switch to a proper drill with a small bit to make the job faster.
These are the clear ones with simple wire bails :
I prefer the pendants with the white backgrounds as they do make the flowers stand out. There are some bubbles but they look like little glitters -at least to me! The molds are such that the resulting rims frame the resin pieces very well.
I added a halo of pearlescent white ink around the blue flower and leaves (second pendant from the right) as an experiment.