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.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Pressed Flower Artist With a Difference

Hi, I'm very happy to present another pressed flower artist I recently discovered on etsy. Her work is wonderful and she has a very different presentation: Winter Garden Studios at Etsy:  Adrienne DeLoe

How did you get started working with pressed flowers?
My father is a horticulturist, so I grew up around plants. We always had a gorgeous garden and I had my own little plot of land where I planted my favorite flowers.  I am from Colorado and my parents took us on camping and hiking trips often, which I loved. From a very young age, I was inspired by the beauty of nature and I continue to find inspiration there. I love to use botanicals not only in my jewelry making, but also in my fine artwork.

What are some of the challenges you find working with pressed botanicals?

It took me a long time to discover which plants work best in terms of maintaining their color. It also took a long time to discover which types of glue work best when working with pressed flowers. I have been doing this for almost 10 years and coming up with what you see in my work today was definitely a process of trial and error.

Your work is very unusual. How do you choose which plant/flower to work with?
I choose which plants to work with based on their design potential. I have a graphic design business as well as my jewelry business and I am a true designer at heart. I love plants that possess qualities of clean, modern design that I can use in interesting ways.

What is your favorite botanical?

I can honestly say that I don’t have a favorite botanical. I use different materials depending on what I feel inspired by at the moment, so the botanicals I use are always changing.

What is in your future as far as crafting?
I hope to continue to grow my business and perfect the processes in which I create. I am always looking for new opportunities and ways to make my jewelry the highest quality possible. I love what I do and I am excited to keep pushing forward!
Adrienne,  Thank You so much! I love to see such original work.

Hint of the day: Due to the many people in  the World Wide Pressed Flower Guild suggesting using patternless VIVA  paper towels, I've started using them for pressing flowers. The colors of my flowers are staying more vivid, and the the flowers are in better shape. I love it! (I generally use phonebooks with bricks on top!
Sometimes, I use a microwave. Yellow Kalanchoe  is one flower that does better in  microwave to start, then two weeks in a phone book.

I always appreciate your comments and support for newly discovered artists.  Chris

Monday, February 14, 2011


 Once in a while I come across someone's work I just can't get enough of. I'd love you to meet Anastasya, from Etsy shop Goodthings88 :

Hello, My name is Anastasiya and I'm the owner of "Goodthings" shop I make vintage style jewelry inspired by nature. I use floral patterns, vintage clip art images, my own photographs, wildlife scenes - everything nature-related and pressed flowers are not an exception.
How did you get started with resin and pressed flowers?

I remember myself always picking up fall leaves and sandwiching them between book sheets until they're dry and flat. But they all started withering and crumbling with time and I wasn't able to preserve them properly. So I thought why not embed them in resin, which I'm using  for coating my jewelry pieces. I used to sculpt a lot from polymer clay and resin adds this shiny finishing that makes everything look more winning and attractive. I really liked the result and that is how it turned into a big passion. I started watching tutorials, making my own molds and experimenting with a dyes. Since then I have always carried a little box with me to put some flowers in and looked out for some beautiful plants around my neighborhood. I guess I just have always loved plants and everything designed by nature.

What are your favorite flowers to work with?

I'd love to work with every flower as I believe all of them are beautiful. But, alas, my herbarium collection is not that big and I don't have access to many types. I really like tiny Baby Breath flowers, Hydrangeas, different foliage and sprigs. I don't usually combine flowers as i think they're pretty self-sufficient and represent themselves. So my design is pretty simple and minimalistic. I emphasize flowers with colored backgrounds or beautiful cameo frames to make them stand out.
What resin challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome some?

I'm pretty experienced working with epoxy resin. I've tried many brands and techniques so I developed my own creating process that allows me to avoid difficulties. I like this medium because of it durability, glossiness and complete transparency. But at the beginning I've learned my lesson about stickiness and bubbles as well. I don't have any of those right now because I learned how to mix everything very gently and always heat my resin until slightly warm and very liquid. First, I was trying to sink a flower into the mold full of resin but it messed up easily by toothpick and always kept bobbing up. So I thought it would be easier to make everything in several steps : first pour just a few drops to fix flower's position, wait until cured and only then add more resin. I always sand and polish my pieces, so there are no rough edges and imperfections. It takes time and involves a lot of meticulous work but it's definitely worth it.

What are your plans for the future?

I'd like to grow my own garden full of beautiful plants on the back yard and be able to enjoy their blooming all summer long! I'd like to stop by every morning to smell them and pick some to share with friend and, of course, preserve their beauty. 
Thank you so very much.
Tip of the day:   Use a bit of turtle wax inside jewelry molds, applied on a paper towel; let it dry then wipe the mold out with a dry paper towel. It works better than the spray resin release.

I always appreciate your comments. Thanks, Chris

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I've Met a Wonderful New (to me) Pressed Flower, Resin Jewelry Artist

Hi, I've been so lazy (and busy) (and having surgery) so I have been behind on posting interviews for new artists. This week I'm making up for lost time with two wonderful!! pressed flower and/or resin artists. 

How did you get started with resin and pressed flowers?
I have been working with pressed flowers since 1990 when a dear friend gave me a tiny 4x4" flower press.  I pressed a few things, put them away and kind of forgot about them for awhile...then finally got them out and put a small picture bouquet together with a little bow.  I remember being somewhat amazed at how easily it "came together" even seemed a bit momentous personally.  
I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ and constantly seek to know what He wants me to do and be involved in.  So...I felt like this was His "gift" to me--not only the beautiful flowers He's created, but also the ability to create beauty with them.
What kind of presses do you use?
Right after I "discovered" the art of pressing and designing with pressed flowers, I realized one tiny little press was not going to cut it.  My dad (who is almost 94 now) helped me design  a flower press that I think works the best of any I've seen or used.  Here's a picture of it...

 ( I began to make and package them for sale when others asked for them).   I have about 20 of these to accommodate all the pressing I do during flower season.  The slide-off slats make it easy to loosen and remove instead of having to put nuts and bolts back in place.  I found these presses quick and easy to use--which helps when you are doing millions of flowers! The flowers also dry more quickly as this press has holes in the outside pieces and can be stood on end so that air gets all the way around the press.  I put a sticky note on the outside detailing the contents and date of entry, then wait for 2 weeks to open them--then it's like Christmas!  I love to try all kinds of plant materials--to experiment--and have made enough mistakes through the years to learn a few things anyway!
Do you grow your own flowers to press?
Gradually, I have planted and now grow virtually all the flowers I use in my artwork.  And HERE is the fun part!  The gardening!  I absolutely love to plant and nurture and GROW things!!  Right now I am struggling with my yearly bout of "acute floral deprivation"--a disease I get every year about this time!  All is under several feet of snow up  here in the mountains of northeast Washington state. 

I especially like to combine my pressed flower artwork with sweet verse or Scripture...they seem to compliment each other and provide not only beauty for the eyes, but encouragement for the soul.  That has been very gratifying to me over the years, as customers have shared what a blessing the piece has been to a relative or friend or themselves.  "Say it with flowers"...I always did like that slogan!
Do you do custom work?
Yes, I have done lots and lots of it through the years--pieces for weddings, anniversaries, funerals, births, graduations, photos, etc. etc.  I love to design a custom piece around the style of the invitation or whatever I'm embellishing.  I work with people who have a very personal, specialized gift they want to give or memory to keep.

How have you marketed your artwork?
Over the past 20 years I have tried every avenue imaginable to market my pressed flower artwork...local shows, shows throughout the Northwest (both fine art and arts & craft shows), consignment sales through galleries & retail shops, art shows in conjunction with a yearly Garden Open House here at Mingo Gardens, giving how-to classes, having a small shop in my home, putting them in beauty parlors and wedding shops, and some lame attempts at internet sales (which is almost impossible to do on a dial-up connection!!).  I have  had only minimal "success" in all these ventures and finally realized I could not physically continue to haul all my artwork and booth set-up all around kingdom come any more.  After finally getting a little faster internet connection through the phone line, I launched my shop about a month ago.  I have 50 items listed at present--a variety of framed work, allbums, boxes, jewelry, bookmarks, tea trays, etc.  You are invited to come and visit!   Now I'm on a new adventure in search of a way to share and sell my work.
How did you get into working with jewelry and resin?
About the jewelry thing...Probably about 9 or  10 years ago I was searching for a way to make pressed flowers touchable and, yes, wearable.  I had made some brooches years ago, but not with resin.  I was not real techy so hadn't been on the internet to maybe see what else was being done out there, so I just remembered the resin stuff we used to use in the 70's and found some at a craft store.  The kind I found (and the only kind I have ever used) is the kind where you mix equal amounts of the stuff in two different bottles that come with the kit.  I have not ever molded it--only painted it on, or poured it over my flower designs on tea trays.  I found it challenging to work with since there is definitely a time limit as the resin begins to harden.  And there were those little bubbles to get out.  At first I just blew over the resin as it sat on the flowers--popping the tiny bubbles that kept coming up from under the flower petals in the design.  After almost hyperventilating ;O) I started using a blow drier.  I don't do a lot with resin, but I sure like what I've seen by the floral artists on etsy--very, very nice!  I especially like the glass that magnifies the flowers.  Besides, how cool is that to wear your garden!!!
 What are your favorite flowers to work with?
I love forget me nots and put them in almost everything I design.  I have them all over my gardens and love it when they bloom each early summer.  Of course, there are the pansies--I have gradually learned which ones hold their colors best and keep those growing in the garden.  I like to use black mondo grass for my more modern black and white pieces--so dramatic and classy!  I like toad flax for it's great spire shape.  I use grape tendrils (as well as lots of other kinds of tendrils) which will totally change the natural look of a design.  Double blue columbine and hydrangea are fantastic to press--but have to picked at just the right stage of bloom.  Larkspur are wonderful too--especially the white (one of the few flowers that press white white).  I could go on and on...(I already have, for goodness sake!)...
What resin challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome some?
I mentioned some above...It is very tricky to work with when attaching a flower to a bead (for a pendant or earring).  One has to be very careful not to plug up the beading hole with the runny resin.  Also, on larger applications, it is a problem that the resin may over time become a little yellowish instead of crystal clear...not sure what to do about that--except make sure when you pour your resin is fresh and hasn't been on the shelf for a long time.
What are your plans for the future?
The main reason I have continued to do this artwork for commerce is that we needed the extra income.  My husband and I have always been involved in Christian ministries (first at a group home for delinquent boys and then teaching at a small Christian school) for most of our nearly 43 years of marriage, so any extra income I could bring in was definitely helpful and needful.  This remains the case.  So, I keep at it.  I love the gardening, and I do very much enjoy the artistic outlet that this is for me.  And it IS something God has given me to do and to share with others.  Of course, I use the artwork for gifts and to bless other people as I feel led.  I am teaching my 4 granddaughters to do this artwork too.  They are all little flower lovers and SO creative.  It is a joy to share this with them!  I will continue to try to figure out the etsy shop thing and hope to be able to sell online.
Every spring I work at a local nursery--which is my favorite job I've ever had in the whole world!  Talk about being in your element!!!  I have learned SO much about plants, trees, and shrubs from my boss and his wife and can sometimes even help others (perennials are my specialty).  I really appreciate the opportunity to work there for the 3-4 month "window" we have up here in the mountains.  We also have an outdoor wedding venue here at Mingo Gardens.  We end up having usually several wedding each summer--so, there's another good excuse to garden!!
Thank you so much! 

Tip of the day:  when you put packing tape on the back pendants to protect them from a resin coating, don't use the  cheapest packing tape!  I generally use a good brand  and a thicker tape (Scotch makes one). I decided to "save some money" with a cheaper brand and ended
up ruining some pendants because i couldn't get the sticky stuff off the back. I tried using (1) adhesive remover, (2) nail polish remover and finally gave up. Even sanding doesn't work, it only clogs up the sandpaper.

I love comments and suggestions.  Thanks, Chris