Colourful resin bracelet with a sparkly magnetic clasp. Now available in my Resin Jewellery Shop.

Colourful resin bracelet with a sparkly magnetic clasp. Now available in my Resin Jewellery Shop.
These stylish bracelets feature a selection of crystal focals and silver beads and have a strong, crystal-encrusted magnetic clasp, making them perfect for the girl who can't get a regular bangle over her knuckles. They also come in larges sizes for girls with bigger wrists.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hawaiian Party - Make Your Own Starfish Food Label Holders with Resin

For an upcoming birthday celebration, I want to use starfish as food label holders to place in front of the platters on the food buffet but I only have one starfish so today I'm going to make a mould of it so that I can cast as many as I need. When you need to reproduce an object in quick time, then EasyMold Silicone Putty is a great choice for making your mould.

There are three parts to this tutorial: making the mould, casting the starfish in resin and finally, colouring the starfish.

Make the Mould

For this part you'll need EasyMold Silicone Putty and a starfish. You have just a few minutes to work with Silicone Putty so make sure you work quickly. Measure out equal quantities of the putty, making sure that you have enough to cover the starfish or object that you've chosen.

Place the two parts together and begin to blend them.

Keep mixing them until the putty is uniformly coloured and there is no streaking.....

and then roll it into a ball.

Flatten it so that it is large enough to fit over the starfish.

Centre the putty over the starfish.....

and push the putty onto the surface making sure you press it all the way around to pick up all the detail. Try to keep the mould at least 6mm (1/4") thick, especially over the high points so that they don't make a hole. Now leave the mould to cure for 25 minutes.

Once it's cured, you'll be able to easily remove the starfish by gently pulling the putty away on all sides.

Cast the Starfish

Note: I've found it best to leave the mould for 24 hours if you want to cast resin into it or you will end up with a very rough surface because of the gas that is given off whilst the putty is curing. If you're working with clay though, it's OK to use your mould straight away.

I'm casting with Castin'Craft's FastCast urethane resin. It's fast curing so it's perfect when you need a quick result. You have only a couple of minutes from the time you pour the two components together until it begins to gel, so you have to work quickly. We won't be adding any colourant to the resin because it cures white.

For this part you'll need the mould you made, FastCast, measuring cups and stir sticks or an acid brush. I've found these work better than a stir stick when you're mixing small amounts of FastCast.

Measure out equal quantities of Parts A and B.

The package instructions contain thorough instructions for mixing the resin but briefly, you need to stir thoroughly for at least 30 seconds, using either a disposable brush or a wooden stir stick, then pour the resin into a clean cup and use a clean brush/stir stick to mix it for another 30 seconds.

Pour the mixed resin to the top of the mould.

Now, sit back and watch it change from translucent to white......

....right in front of your eyes!

It will only take around 10-15 minutes to harden depending on your room temperature. To remove the cast from the mould, just gently pull back the silicone on all sides and pull the starfish out.

Here's the original starfish on the left and the cast resin piece on the right.

Make the Food Label Holders

Cut a slit across the top with a coping saw, just wide enough and deep enough to sit a card in.

 And then to give the starfish an opulent look, spray paint it with gold paint. I used a bright gold.

Freshly painted.....

And now it's ready to serve!

These starfish food label holders are perfect for a Hawaiian themed buffet. I'm really happy with how they've turned out.

I'll be posting more Hawaiian themed party decor in the coming months, so keep an eye out.

'Til next time....


If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Friday, May 26, 2017

Drying and Preserving Flowers for Resin

Give a girl a bunch of flowers and it will last a week.... but give her a resin bangle filled with flowers and it will last forever!

In recent weeks I've been using a lot of flowers in my resin bangles and I've had many questions on Instagram about how I've treated the flowers so this post answers some of them.

I've tried a few different drying methods and some of my results have been really good and some not so good. I want to share both the successes and the failures with you. The methods I've used include silica gel, salt, a dehydrator and a microwave press. The first three keep the flower's shape. The last one flattens them.
At the back: medium silica gel; large silica gel beads, small microwave flower press.
In the front: fine silica gel sand, large microwave flower press

Preserving in 3D

The first thing I tried was silica gel. The process is really simple. I use a microwave safe container when I'm using silica gel because I need quick results and the microwave will certainly give you that. You just place a layer of dessicant in the bottom of the container - I found that 1-2cm (1/2"-1") was sufficient. Then place your blooms and carefully spoon over another layer of dessicant as thick as the first layer.

Set the container aside and let the silica gel get to work. Or, if you're in a hurry like me and only need petals, place the container into the microwave on 50% power for 60 seconds.

Check the petals to see how they're going. If they feel like parchment, they're done. They'll be fragile but they shouldn't be brittle. If they crumble, you've overcooked them - shorten the time for the next batch, If they feel silky, they're not done yet so continue drying them at 10 second intervals (always at 50% power) until they feel papery all over. Each flower will be different - fleshy flowers will take longer and some flowers will darken and some will fade. Some won't be successful so it's a good idea to record your results for future reference.

Once they're dried, use a soft brush to dust them off and store them in an airtight container with a little bit of silica gel to keep them dry until you're ready to use them.

Now, to the Results....

The Failures!

You can see from the photos below that not all silica gels will give you equal results. Each of the three Silica gel products I tried preserved the shape and colour of the petals really well but the first brand I tried had large round beads. Notice how deeply dimpled these mint leaves are.

These leaves were dried with Dri Splendor which I found in the dried flower section at Michael's. Unfortunately, the results were the same whether I set the container aside for a few days to work its magic or whether I sped up the drying process in the microwave - pockmarked botanicals!

These crystals aren't my favourite for this purpose but they'll be great for putting in containers with my dried flowers to keep them dry.

I also tried some finer crystals that I sourced locally. These orangey-coloured crystals are much smaller in size and they turn a greeny-blue when they've reached their moisture-holding capacity. Even these smaller crystals left dimples.

And whilst I'm disappointed with the dimpling, the colours are really well preserved.

The Successes!

Next I tried Activa's Flower Drying Art and finally I got the results I was looking for. Petals were beautifully preserved. They were covered with a fine layer of silica dust but this is easily brushed away with a soft brush.

I also tried cooking salt and I found this worked almost as well as the Activa silica gel. The only difficulty I had was that the salt clumped around the entire petal and it was sometimes difficult to chip the salt away without damaging the petal. But the results were excellent and it's extremely economical.

Petals dried in the dehydrator preserved the colours better than any of the other methods but the petals are better suited to potpourri than for embedding in resin. It also took a few hours for them to dry but the advantage was being able to do so many all at once.

Pressing Flowers in the Microwave

Now, on to the Microfleur. I've had one of these for many years but had never really experimented with it until now. This is such a good invention. You can press flowers in the microwave without a Microfleur but the Microfleur just makes it really easy.

You simply lay out your petals (I didn't press the whole flower, just the individual petals)....

 ....and sandwich them between the cotton, the wool felt and the plates. There are clips to hold it all together. Then it goes into the microwave at 50% power. That's really important. To see what happens when you use full power, scroll down to the bottom of the post. I found that the large Microfleur needed longer - generally 1 minute to start with - whereas the smaller 5" Microfleur worked in as little as 30 seconds.

Check how the petals feel - they should be papery but not brittle. If needed, microwave in short bursts until they are completely dry. Once again, keep records of what you do - it really helps. Notice how the petals have changed colour - the pink petals became mauve.

Here's a geranium from my garden.

The colour change was really dramatic! This geranium was really difficult to remove and it's really fragile - I had to use a toothpick to gently ease it off the cloth. 

This wedding bouquet was full of bright tropical colours....

But when dried, it took on all these lovely soft vintagey colours.... you'd never guess they were the same flowers!

I've had most success with purples, pinks and yellows. Some of the reds went black and some of the whites I've dried have become a little brown but nowhere near as brown as this wrist corsage which was dried naturally.

If you've stuck around this long, you deserve to see my disasters too! Here's my first set of felt pads and cotton liners - charred into oblivion by forgetting to use 50% power.

And here's my second - singed, but still useable! Luckily, you can buy replacement pads. These are the 5" pads but you can also get replacements for the 9" Microfleur

So now you've seen how I do it, raid your garden, or your neighbourhood on your next walk and experiment. And of course, this is a great way to preserve a special bouquet. Once the petals are dry, pop them into resin and you have a bouquet that will last forever!

'Til next time.....


If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beaded Leather Kumihimo Bracelet with Sliding Knot

If you've mastered the basic 8-strand Kumihimo braid but would love to take it to the next level, then this project will be right up your alley. Without learning anything new, you can make a simple braid look very classy just by working with a different stringing material and adding beads. In this project, you'll learn how to make a Kumihimo braid with leather cord, how to add beads and then how to make your bracelet adjustable by tying a sliding knot - no clasp required.

 Here's what you'll need:

How to Create the Kumihimo Braid

Cut three 1m (39") lengths each of gold and silver cord and two 1m (39") lengths of black cord, Align the ends of the cords and tie them in a loose knot approximately 10cm (4") from the end.

Place the knot into the hole of the Kumihimo disk.

Set the cords into the slots of the disk using the photo below as a guide, i.e. on either side of the N, S, E and W markings.

Once all the cords have been placed in the slots, you can begin the braid. It consists of three simple steps. The first is to take the cord at the bottom on the left hand side of S and place it in the slot to the left of the N cords at the top.

Step 2: Then take the cord to the right of the N mark and place it in the slot to the right of the bottom cord.

Step 3: Rotate the disk anti-clockwise.

Continue with these three steps until the braid is approximately 15mm (5/8") long. Try to keep your tension even as you create the braid. A weight added to the braid can help with this or you can just pull it through as the braid gets longer.

Working the Beads into the Kumihimo Braid

Next it's time to add beads to the braid. I've strung twelve white beads on the bottom left black cord and twelve gold beads on the top right silver cord.

Tie a loose knot or add a bead stopper to the end of the two cords to keep the beads on.

Continue working the braid as before, but now when you come to a cord with a bead on it, slide a bead to the centre of the braid.

Then cross the cord to the other side of the disk as before. The bead must sit underneath the cord that it crosses over or it will end up inside the braid instead of on the outside of it.

Once you have worked all the strung beads into the braid, it's time to add the large hole bead. To do this, you will need to remove all eight of the cords from the disk, one pair at a time so that you can thread them through the bead.

Replace each pair of cords back into the slots of the disk as soon as they have been threaded through the bead.

Tighten up all the cords so that the bead now sits in the hole of the disk.

String the remaining beads on the black and silver cords opposite each other and continue braiding until all the beads have been used.

Whilst the braid is still on the disk, take a length of sewing thread and wrap it around the ends of the braid, knotting it securely so that the braid won't unravel. Do the same thing at the beginning and then undo the knot in the cords.

Apply adhesive to all the cords just beyond where the thread has been tied.

Move the pair of gold cords and the pair of silver cords to the side and knot the black cords around the remaining gold and white cords. Apply more adhesive to this knot.

Trim away the four cords you just knotted. Do this at both ends of the bracelet.

String a bead cone on the four remaining cords on each end of the bracelet and slide them up to the braid. Gather the cords on each side and tie them into a knot.

How to Create a Sliding Knot

Cross the ends over each other.

Hold the point where the cords cross over between your thumb and finger. Take a twelve inch length of gold cord and place it under your thumb on top of cords, leaving a 7.5cm (3") tail.

Wrap the loose end of the cord four times around all the cords back towards your thumb.

Thread the loose end back through the coils, making sure they do not cross over each other.

Pull both loose ends of the wrapping cord to pull up the knot. Pull it up firmly but not too tightly or you won't be able to operate the sliding knot.

Trim the loose ends close to the coil. For added security, you can apply adhesive to the cut ends where they touch the coils but make sure not to get any on the bracelet cords or the the sliding knot will knot work.

Now you have a very classy looking leather bracelet with an adjustable closure.

To see this knot in action take a look at this short video from Silver Creek Leather.

'Til next time....


If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs


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