In this blog I will present commented discussions on the advantages and disadvantages of various art resins; discuss how to prepare flowers for use with resin and which flowers have worked best/not worked for me. I will be presenting interviews and discussions with other pressed flower and resin artists. I will have a "tip of the day" section.

I'm hoping that lots of you contribute; comments, arguments and disagreements are always welcome. Resin is such a complex medium that we all have something to learn. Besides, tweaks and even new resin products are coming out all the time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Delightfully Different Pressed Flower Jewelry Artist; and To Dye For???

I'd like to introduce Wenland, a pressed flower jewelry artist with a different approach.
These flowers are on slabs of Onyx. I find the effect stunning! (
This looks like a tiny perfume bottle, but is a glass tile! (

The next one features a flower on a mother of pearl flat oval:

Wenland has been working with pressed flowers for 10 years now.  I love her work.

Re "to Dye for":  my biggest conundrum has been the question of coloring or dying the flowers in jewelry. I have literally agonized over this question, and at a couple of points actually nearly quit making my jewelry.
Many pressed flower artists--possibly most, add coloring or dyes to the flowers so they won't fade, and to correct colors that are off because of age, glues, spots, etc.  The World Wide Pressed Flower Guild (WWPFG) ( has many posts, guides and classes about how to use dyes and colorings, the products, and different results obtainable.  The best pressed flower artists in the world belong to this guild. ( I am certainly not in that category!) And some of the most lovely pressed flower jewelry on the market is made with flowers whose color has been enhanced.  (See Wenland, above!)

I love  the natural colors of flowers and find I prefer to make my jewelry without enhancing the colors. And I love the fact that vintage and antique lockets and pendants with the natural flowers show the lovely antiquing. Yet I started to be concerned that I was charging what I consider a large amount of money ($20.00: I'm from the old school--my kid says the VERY old school!) for pressed  flowers that would fade, be it in 2 or 5 or 50 years.
My friend  Dianne of a Gift For All Seasons, and my husband helped me see reason. She pointed out that we do the very best we can to adequately describe our product, and give instructions for taking care of it, and then it's out of our hands. My husband pointed out that if someone buys jewelry they expect to last a lifetime, they'd be more likely to pay $200 than $20.00 nowadays.
  So I've decided to try to follow the "Serenity Prayer" advise, and just make my jewelry the way that makes me happy.
Thank you for visiting my blog.  Comments are welcome.  Chris

 TIP OF THE DAY: I have been using Diamond Glaze to correct little scratches and sanded areas on my not-quite-finished jewelry, rather than mix up another batch of two-part resin, and the results have been good.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

RESINS, GLAZES, GLOSSES: Let's Make Some Sense of it All!

I've been working with jewelry-grade resins, glazes, and glosses for 5 years now, and until this week hadn't really sat down and separated out all the different types and brands of what are called resins.  Wow! I found a lot of cross over in terms, but managed to separate 3 basic types of resin products: epoxy resins; polyester resins;  water based resins (include ultraviolet resins).  Please note, I've tried to be accurate but there are so many products and so many variations that I'm sure to have erred in places.  I welcome your corrections and comments
A resin is a natural or artificial thick liquid  which becomes a hardened plastic-like substance on exposure to air. (Obviously, this is oversimplified; I'm no chemist.  However, this definition brings it down to the basic idea; liquid, exposed to air, plastic- like hard)
This definition explained one basic thing to me: you can't depend on the word resin to tell you how something will behave in crafting.

So lets break this down into the different types. I made a quick-reference chart.
A 4 year old Envirotex Lite pendant I left in a gold-paper covered jewelry gift box for 6 months.  It took on the color of the paper.

EPOXY RESINS: (can also be made into 2 part glues )-
    Definition:  two part resins requiring a hardening substance to be mixed together
     Advantages:  By far the hardest, most durable of the resin; 
     Disadvantages : Toxic: must use good ventilation, gloves, should use a mask
    Can discolor over time if exposed to ultraviolet light via  sunlight or fluorescents.
    Produce heat when curing: if mixed wrong can destroy embedded objects from the heat
    There is a limit on the depth to which it can be poured.
    Supposedly it is limited to 1/8 inch and is called "coating" however, I regularly pour resin     jewelry up to 1 inch thick without problem.     Bubbles can be a problem, but they can be controlled by  prewarming the resin; using a straw, heat gun or torch over   the top of the poured resin     
BRANDS:  Envirotex Lite,  Colores Doming Resin, Luxe Doming Resin, System Three epoxy resin (a marine grade resin, not generally used for jewelry;)
A pendant made several year ago from Envirotex Lite.  It is so hard I can't scratch it. It has been dropped, stepped on , and otherwise mistreated; is still great.Flowers are (non dyed) forget me nots.

POLYESTER RESINS: Still 2 part, but uses a small proportion of hardening catalyst to large proportion of resin
         Advantages: more forgiving of proportions; also extremely durable
         can be mixed thicker ; is called casting resin for this reason   
        Disadvantages:  a very strong noxious order; it will sometimes
         remain with the finished product for a week or two
        Toxic: must use ventilation, gloves, mask (if nothing else,
         to help cut the odor!)
         Bubbles; but they actually resolve on their own better than in epoxy resin
BRANDS: Castin' Craft EasyCast Resin

         These include resin gels, glazes, uv resins, some glosses,
         "liquid glass."  These generally don't require mixing, although
         there are some embossing powders which fall into this
         category, which can be melted into a glaze.(UTEE)
   Advantages:  generally don't have to be mixed (generally come in a squeeze bottle)  so less
        messy and  easier to use. Dry faster, often with a uv lamp or low heat oven.
       Used for surface finishing; generally cannot make a whole piece of jewelry using just these
      less durable and not as hard (scratch easier)
      more expensive
      Bubbles are harder to manage  (surface bubbles.)
  Brands:  Magic Gloss; Ultradome; Gel du Soleil; Diamond Glaze

As I said, I know the lists of the brands isn't complete.  But I hope this helps straighten out the types of resins for you.  Chris





Sunday, October 3, 2010

Interview with Dianne of GiftForAllSeasons, Etsy; and why I use resin instead of glass

I am so proud to be able to present an interview with Dianne of AGiftForAllSeasons, I feel that she is the top resin-pressed flower artist on Etsy and also off!

1)How did you first start working with pressed flowers?
I have been pressing flowers for as long as I can remember. My grandmother and mother were fantastic gardeners. I am self taught as far as learning the art of pressing flowers, and I did pressed flowers mats for photos, and some jewelry, and sold them at craft shows, church fund raisers, etc. I was hired by a lady who had a cottage industry who hired mothers that wanted to work from home making pressed flower jewelry, and still allowing us all to stay home with our children. I learned a lot from her. After she closed her company here in the states, I loved it so much, and decided to branch out and continue to do what I so loved to do. I have companies who buy from me, and sell my jewelry at different shows around the country. I found out about Etsy a little over a year ago. I was really intrigued, and scared at the same time, but all of my wonderful friends encouraged me to give it a try. I love selling on Etsy, and I have met so many wonderful people along the way, and we are all are so supportive of one another. It's a very nurturing environment for any crafter.
2) What do you enjoy most about making pressed flower jewelry?
I really love it all, every phase of it, from going to the garden centers, looking for that new found flower or plant, and taking in colors, shapes, and the unusual. I love gardening, so that comes very easy, from planting, watering, pinching, deadheading, fertilizing, weeding, and on and on, I love it all. Love getting up each morning to see what new treasures are blooming. I enjoy the pressing process very much as well. I find it very relaxing, and is such an important part of the whole process. How you placed a flower/leaf into the flower press, will determine how the jewelry, photo mat, etc. will look when finished. Pressing takes patience, and a lot of time. From carefully harvesting each tiny bloom, or leaf at it's most perfect, in shape, color, and size is so important. It must be done early morning, when not too hot, not wet, and when the flowers are just waking. Early evening is a good time too, once the sun has started to set, and flowers are not wet from rain or from watering. How it is placed in the flower press is how the finished flower or leaf will look. I go into another world, where time doesn't matter. I completely lose track of time, myself, and go into a zone of another world. Also true for when I start creating something new, whether it's for a wedding order, jewelry, a keychain, photo mat for my shop, doesn't matter, love it all. Many times in the middle of night I will get an idea, or inspiring thought, jot it down, or sometimes I just have to get up and put my ideas to into motion.
3) Can you tell us about some resin challenges you've encountered when working with resin and pressed flowers, and how you've overcome them.
Depending on the type of resin, I will have different challenges. Probably the most important thing is measuring the right amounts of resin/hardener/catalyst, depending on the type of resin, and mixing extremely well. If not mixed together well, the resin won't dry properly, and will remain sticky or tacky, and your piece will be unwearable.
I learned this the hard way. With my metal pieces, the resin I use doesn't set as quickly as the transparent pieces. This resin sets up slower, so you must "babysit" each piece to make sure the flowers don't shift, or move.
Toothpicks have become one of my most important tools, as I can pick up the tiny, and move the delicate flowers, without breaking them. Works great! Not so great though for my arthritis holding a toothpick like a pencil for hours on end. This will take several hours sometimes depending on the temperature, and I will sit and make sure each tiny flower is where I want it, and doesn't drift, or move out of place. The transparent pieces you must work quite a bit faster, as it will start to thicken within 10-15 minutes on a warm day, a tad longer on a cooler day. Air bubbles are always an issue. A hairdryer on low will help take care of most of them.

4 Do you have some hints for someone just starting to work with pressed flower jewelry?
Start small. Experiment with pressing flowers and leaves first, and see what works with your climate, and what is available. Pansies, and most leaves are always a great place to start, as they almost always press beautifully. Patience is key. I press flowers everyday during our Summer months, but once in the flower press, must wait at least 30 days, some flowers much longer, several months. No peeking! If you peek too soon, the flowers will rip, tear or stick if not totally dry. I live in a suburb of Denver, so our growing season in very short, 3, maybe 4 months a year, from late May to August, and if we are lucky, into September. Last year it snowed here the last day of Summer! Compared to California, the Northwest or the south, where in most locations, you can garden all year. So it's a mad rush to get enough pressed to carry me from Autumn till Summer of the following year. I need enough to create all Winter long.
Once you feel comfortable pressing, try anything, as long as it's not to thick. Look at shapes that appeal to you, things that will add interest. Some of the things I've tried to press, and wasn't sure if it would press well, turn out to be some of my favorites. Sometimes the tiniest of flowers or leaves, and be the most interesting, and compliment your creations more that a big accent. Know when to stop. Many times, less is more. Stop, and look before adding more. You can always add more, but once dry, very hard to remove flowers once resin is starting to dry, or is dried. Make sure your choices don't over power one another, but are in harmony with each other. Don't give up, it takes practice, and with each success, will encourage you to make another, and on and on. It's easy to become hooked on creating with pressed flowers.

5. The colors blends in your jewelry are stunning and often unusual. How do you decide what colors to use?
I choose what I like. I don't think there are any rules. Do what is appealing to your eye. I like bright, contrasting colors, such as bright blue and bright pink. They compliment each other beautifully. You can always lay your pressed flowers side by side on white paper before starting, and see what works, and what you like. Sometimes I just start making a piece, and go through what flowers just came out of the flower press. Some things work, some don't. But it's such a fun journey, and even my mistakes are a success, and a learning process. Trial and error is how I have taught myself, and over the past 24+ years have perfected some things, and still working, and learning on lots of others. Still learning, and it's never ending, always evolving, never boring. Still love it, and have such a passion for what I do, all these years later.

Thank you so much Dianne! You have been my inspiration.

Some of the most beautiful pressed flower jewelry I see today is under glass. I love the  glass pressed flower work of Botanical Creations ( Etsy, who has sold hundreds of pieces, all glass. Certainly there are advantages of glass: it is more durable; it is heavier (an advantage or disadvantage, admittedly).If you want the piece on a leather cord, you need a heavier piece. There are lovely Greek leather cords of all colors and thicknesses now. Often, a resin piece simply isn't heavy enough to sit well.
There are no problems with bubbles behind glass. Layering is simple, you just...layer; no pouring multiple times.  Finishing is easy.No sanding and re-pouring. The colors are not affected by glass, whereas resin can change the color of some flowers. Magnification is better with glass unless the front of the resin piece is quite thick in front of the flowers.
I've almost convinced myself,  but for two reasons.  The first is  an almost silly reason: I love the challenge! I worked so very hard for the first few years to learn resin, without any support. I had one booklet from the Envirotech company for the first two years until the internet grew and more resin products came out..  I'm proud of myself that I overcame a lot of obstacles to, eventually, produce nice jewelry. Certainly I could have saved myself at least a year if I had deigned to follow directions, but I did learn a lot along the way!
The other reason makes more sense: the use of a mold (outside a glass factory) means that the shapes for resin are almost unlimited. I spend a lot of time (and too much money!) looking for new pendant settings and for new mold shapes. I have a large variety of colors, as I've been able to add both opaque and clear colors to the resin . If I were more adventurous, and handier, I could make my own molds from silicone
So my reasons for using resin are the challenge and the malleability. I could probably sell more jewelry If I switched to glass, but then I wouldn't have the joy of doing what I do now.
Hint of the day  (I keep forgetting to include this!  Sorry): if you want your resin product flexible, add more of the less strong color. Resin dyes can be purchased in concentrated or regular, and in opaque or clear. In addition, you can just add acrylic craft paint, or powders. I've found that just about any additions except the concentrated dyes will change the resin''s flexibility.
Thank you for visiting my blog.  Chris