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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Different View: Unique Pressed Flower Jewelry and Art

Hi! This summer in southern Oregon is turning out just gorgeous!  I've been able to gather and press more new kinds of flowers than any previous year.
I would like to introduce you to a pressed flower artist who uses stained glass with the flowers in a very unique way:  Chrys from aDifferentView

1) How did you get started with pressed flower art:
The short Version:
Quite by Accident.

The Details:
My art has been in a constant state of evolution until the last year or so. I have always dabbled in one form or another, from painting (all types), to sewing, to pen and ink, and so many other media in between. I even went so far as to pursue a BFA in graphic design, but I have made my career in ophthalmology research. About 4 years ago my father taught me the basics of stained glass. I made a few sun catchers, tea-light figurines, and now have completed 2 pet-portrait panels. Unfortunately, my pieces were not selling well enough to warrant keeping dozens of breakables around my house, especially for how often I move. So I went smaller, and began making glass bookmarks and little glass pendants. Those also were quite stagnant on my Etsy.

I have always been a "nature girl" and when things seemed to be going nowhere with my Etsy, I began trail walking more often and renewed my interest in herbalism. I began collecting flowers and herbs with the thought of trying out handcrafted incense blends. As I dried the herbs and flowers, I noticed how lovely the St. John's Wort and Cinquefoil flowers looked, even though they had not been put through a press. I had a thought to try preserving one of the St. John's Wort flowers in glass, and making a medallion from it for a birthday gift. That was when I knew I had found my little niche in the art-world! I have been creating my 'floral cameos' ever since.
2) What challenges have you encountered / What advice do you have for newcomers to pressed flower jewelry

The main challenges have been working through what will and will-not press well, and learning a whole new level of patience.

For the most part, if I try a flower and it does not do well in the press it's a case of "no worries, give her back to nature" and I toss the petals outside. Every once in a while it has happened that I have not been careful enough, and I put a damp flower in the press (it's been raining nonstop this spring, making my harvest season difficult!!). Twice now this has ruined several sheets of flowers from molding. It was a hard lesson, but I have been extra vigilant since the 2nd incident to make sure that when it's been raining, I blot the flowers and allow them to fully air-dry before pressing. And when I can help it, I wait a day after a rain to go harvesting. I have also started keeping a little record of what does press well so I can advise customers seeking original creation.

A note about pressing: flowers WILL look different when they come out of the press. It's inevitable, so I also try to keep a note of what has been put in so I will know what I am taking back out. I like to be able to tell people what they are wearing and there have been a few times I opened the press and had no clue what I was looking at! Sweet Williams are one flower that is very unusual after pressing.

3) Adding in a question here - Production Notes:
You can't rush this craft. People often ask me "how long a piece takes" and I can't honestly answer that. I find it easiest to work in 'batches', so I will make a dozen or so pendants at a time. But it's all in stages. You have to collect the flowers, press the flowers, wait and find which of those flowers can be used. Then there's cutting the glass and getting 2 pieces that match well (it is ridiculously difficult to cut a perfect circle out of glass. The circle cutters available do not work at the small size I need!) Then there is creating the arrangements, wrapping and soldering. And THEN the finishing. I have found recently that the more popular pendants are the ones that I put *less* into the finishing process... which surprised me. But it's a joy to give each medallion its own persona, so I will continue both forms.

4) What are your plans for the future?
I am currently working on an ACEO series, and some framed floral panels. The panel ideas was inspired by an Etsy team challenge, and my first attempt has gotten some wonderful feedback! I enjoy the larger pieces, and it will allow me to put larger flowers to use when I could not do so with my pendants. I am still trying out colour combinations and attempting to trouble-shoot how to preserve the flowers' appearance if they are to be hung in windows; but this is sure to be the next phase of evolution for my shop.

Thank you so much, Chrys

She has done things I hadn't even seen before, with the stained glass and flowers

Hint of the day:  I've tried every glue recommended for use securing resin to metal jewelry findings.  The only glue I've found totally dependable is two part epoxy glue. I use the 15 minute formula for heavier jewelry and the 5 minute formula for the lighter findings. It really is important to clean and score the two surfaces to be glued. I use a coarse sand paper.

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