Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Preparing Flowers for Resin - FAQs

Fresh cut flowers might be shortlived but we can't help enjoy them for their fragrance, beauty, shape and colour. It's no wonder that we want to preserve them forever in resin.

But how do you preserve them?

And can you put them straight into resin?

These are questions I'm often asked about putting botanicals into resin. Hopefully, this FAQ page will answer the questions you've been wondering about.

I know you're itching to get your flowers into resin before they begin to fade, but before you dive in with those beautiful flowers from your bridal bouquet, or the memorial flowers from a loved one's passing, read through these FAQ's so that you know how to treat your flowers for best results.
Wedding bouquet of white chrysanthemums, deep red rose buds and blushing bride proteas on a wooden deck

Keep Your Flowers Fresher for Longer

First things first, keep the flowers in a cool place until you're ready to work with them. Have you noticed how florists keep their arrangements in the fridge? There's a very good reason why. It helps slow down the flowers' development so that they are fresher when they're delivered. You can keep your precious blooms in the fridge for several hours.

Things that will make them wilt faster are heat, draughts and direct sunlight. So if you can't put your flowers in the fridge, place them in an esky (aka cooler/chilly bin) or even in a bucket of fresh, cool water to help keep them hydrated, in the coolest place in your house and away from draughts.
Wedding bouquet of pale apricot open roses, blue sea holly flowers, gypsophila and greenery in a bucket of water.
Keep flowers in a bucket of fresh water in the coolest place in your house

Preparing Flowers for Resin - FAQs

Now, read on to find out the answer to some common FAQs.

Q. Can you put fresh flowers in resin? 
A. No. Flowers and other organic materials should be completely dried before embedding in resin. If any moisture remains in the material, the flowers will become brown, sludgy or mouldy in a short time.

Q. How do you dry flowers for resin? 
 A. For whole flowers, place them on a layer of silica sand (like Flower Drying Art) or cooking salt and then carefully spoon more desiccant around and over them until they are covered. Leave them to dry for a week and then check them. They should feel papery. If not, repeat the process until they are dried. You can learn more about drying flowers with desiccants here.
Stem of yellow chrysanthemums lying on a bench alongside a plastic lid of dried yellow chrysanthemums.
Fresh flowers on the left and flowers dried in silica sand in the microwave on the right
Q. How do you preserve the colour of flowers when you dry them?
A. Most flowers will change colour when you dry them. But the best way to preserve the colours is to dry them using a quick method like the microwave drying method.
Pressed rainbow rose petals strewn on a black bench alongside a Microfleur flower press with 4 rainbow rose petals
For quick results, dry flowers in the microwave using a Microfleur flower press
Q. Can I dry flowers in the microwave? 
 A. Yes. This is the quickest way to dry them. You can use a Microfleur flower press if you want to press the flowers. To keep the flowers whole and 3D, place them in a microwave-safe container and cover them with fine silica gel. The silica gel needs to get down inside the layers of petals too.

Q. What’s the fastest way to dry flowers?
A. Use the microwave. Not only does it give the fastest results, but the flowers retain their colour really well. The power level and length of time required will depend on your microwave. You can press them or dry them whole in the microwave. Find more information on using the microwave to dry flowers here.

Q. Can you put dried flowers straight into resin?
 A. Some dried flowers become translucent when they're put in resin whilst others don't. To be on the safe side, seal the flowers before embedding them to help prevent the resin from penetrating the petals.
Pressed red and yellow rose petals coated in a layer of wet Mod Podge on a sheet of silicone baking paper. Painting a layer of Mod Podge onto a rose leaf.
Sealing dried petals and leaves with Mod Podge
Q. How do you seal flowers before putting them in resin?
A. There are many methods that work well. Dried flowers can be coated with white craft glue (Mod Podge), hairspray, resin spray, quick-drying gloss spray, or sandwiched inside clear packing tape or a laminating pouch. This video shows several methods for sealing petals. Just choose the one that works best for you. 
PIN FOR LATER!
Preparing flowers for resin inspiration sheet

'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



Thursday, January 30, 2020

Turn Leftover Resin into a Smart, Striped Ring

Most times when I measure out resin, I usually mix up a little more than my mould needs just in case I have a spill. But because I hate to waste resin, I usually pour whatever's leftover into something else, like a smaller mould or a small cup. After a few resin sessions, I end up with little pots of striped resin, like these.


Three 1oz cups filled with multicoloured stripes of resin
Pretty cool, huh? They're all sorts of colours I'd probably never put together but that's part of their charm!

So now that they've cured, what can you do with them?

Lately, I've been turning them into rings. 
Resin ring featuring stripes of different coloured resin


Depending on which way you slice the cups, you can have the stripes running in any direction you like - something that pouring into a ring mould doesn't allow you to do!

It's quite a lengthy process but the end results are totally worth it! But before getting underway, I need to stress that this is not a Beginner's project!

Two multicoloured striped resin rings shaped to a point


Safety First

Before getting into the project, I'd like to talk about safety. Just as when you're working with resin, there are things you need to do to ensure your safety whilst you work at transforming that cup into a ring. This project uses power tools, so you need to wear protective eyewear whenever you're cutting, grinding or sanding. And a particulate dust mask whenever you're producing fine dust. It's even better if you can extract the dust away or use a shop vac with a HEPA filter to catch the fine dust the sanding creates. If none of these options is available to you, skip the power tools and do all the cutting and sanding by hand and sand with water to catch the dust.  

With your safety now taken care of, let's get into the process of how to turn a resin-filled cup into a smart, stripey ring.

Tools

There's only one essential power tool required for this project: a drill and a spade bit to cut the ring hole. All the other power tools just make the job faster. If you don't have these tools, you can do all the cutting, shaping with hand tools and the sanding by hand.

Here's what I used to complete this project but see notes throughout the instructions for what you can manage without:
Bench Vise
Saw (I used a Japanese saw and a coping saw - they both work equally well)
Quick-release clamps
Drill with spade bit (I used 16mm but choose one that is slightly smaller than your ring size)
Ruler
Permanent marker
Belt sander
JoolTool
JoolTool ninja microfinishing disks: Coarse, Medium, Fine and Very Fine (60, 30, 15 and 9 micron). You'll also need back pads fitted with cushion backings

If you're hand sanding, you'll also need 180g and 400g wet/dry sandpaper

Personal Safety Equipment:
Goggles or wrap-around safety glasses
Particulate mask 
I also use a shop vac with HEPA filter to catch all the dust that's created whilst cutting and sanding

How to Cut a Slice from the Resin Block 

If you have a bench vise:
Position the resin block in the vise securely and use a saw to cut away the round walls on one side of the cup. This is the Japanese saw in action. It rips through the resin very quickly but it leaves a deep saw pattern.

If you don't have a bench vise:
Position a block of wood on your work space, place the resin block on the wood - bottom up to make it more stable - and clamp it down with a quick release clamp. You'll need to position the clamp off to the side so that you can saw the wall of the cup away.

Cutting away one side of the resin with a saw

Make a second cut through the middle of the cup. I switched to the coping saw for this cut, just to compare the two cuts.
Using a Japanese saw to cut the resin cup into thin slices

I found that the coping saw cut through the resin quite easily too and the teeth marks were not quite as deep as they were with the Japanese saw but I forgot to photograph the other side to show you.
The outside and the first thin slice have been cut away from the resin cup.

Now it's over to the Jool Tool to remove the cut marks left by the saw and to sand it smooth. Doing the sanding at this point isn't essential but its easier to do some of it now before cutting the ring's hole.

If you don't have a Jool Tool, skip down to Cutting the Hole

Start with the coarse disk. Dip your finger into water and then wet the surface of the resin. When mechanically sanding resin, you need to use low speed so turn the Jool Tool on and adjust the speed to the lowest speed it will go. If you use a high speed, the resin will overheat. Place the resin slice up against the wheel with light pressure and sand away all the cut marks. It will splatter a bit as you sand and dry off really quickly so add a bit more water.
Smoothing out the teeth marks from the saw with a coarse pad on the Jool Tool

After sanding with the coarse disk, the vertical saw marks will be replaced by the scratch pattern of the coarse disk.
The resin slice is sitting on a coarse sanding disk

Move on to the medium disk and sand with water until all the coarse scratches have been removed.
The resin slice is sitting on a medium sanding disk

Progress to the Fine disk and.....
The resin slice is sitting on a fine sanding disk

....finally, to the Very Fine disk. There is still a lot more sanding required but that will come later.
The resin slice is sitting on a very fine sanding disk


Cutting the Hole

Clamp a block of wood to the bench. Clamp the resin slice onto the wood and make sure it is secure. You don't want it spinning when you start drilling the hole.
The slice is clamped to a block of wood with a quick grip clamp

Fit the spade bit into the drill and slowly drill a hole in the centre of the resin slice.
Using a spade bit to drill a hole in the resin slice to turn it into a ring

The resin slice with a ring hole cut into it.


Shaping the Ring

Draw the shape of the ring onto the resin with the permanent marker.
Using a ruler to mark the cutting lines to shape the ring

Place the ring into the bench vise or clamp it down on a block of wood and cut the ring to your desired shape.
The resin slice with one side cut straight

Alternatively, you can shape the ring on a belt sander. I've turned the belt sander off here rather than take an action shot as it just isn't safe to try to juggle a camera whilst using this machine. The belt sander is fast and efficient but you really need to have your wits about you.
Shaping the sides of the ring on a belt sander

Once you've shaped the ring, it's back to the sanding. If you did the initial sanding to remove the saw marks, then you can move on to final sanding and polishing. But if not, use 180 grit sandpaper and water to remove the saw and spade bit marks and then move on to 400 grit. As you sand the hole, keep checking it for fit so you don't over enlarge it.


Final Sanding and Polishing

If you have a JoolTool start with the coarse disk and sand the ring on all sides until no scratch marks from the 400 grit paper remain.
Remember to use the slowest speed that you can dial the JoolTool down to.

Progress through the medium, fine and very fine disks. If you can still see deep scratch marks after any grade, then you need to backtrack a step (or two!) to remove them before continuing.

Switch to the buffing wheel at HIGH SPEED and buff the ring to a high shine.

Two multicoloured striped resin rings viewed from the side to highlight the shimmering mica powder layers


Apply a small amount of Micro-gloss liquid to the flannelette cloth and polish the resin all over. Buff to a high gloss with a clean part of the cloth and you're finished!

If you don't have access to a Jool Tool for this project, you can achieve the same finish by hand sanding using a Micromesh Sanding kit. You'll need to start at 1500 and work your way through all the grades. Give the ring a highly polished finish by using the Micro-gloss liquid as above.

Pin this Project!
Inspiration sheet with striped resin cup at the top and finished resin ring at the bottom.

'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, December 20, 2019

How to Make a Resin Bangle Without Using a Bangle Mould

If you're new to resin and don't really know where to start, then these easy textured bracelets are a great project for a beginner to tackle. This simple project is a teaser for what you'll learn in Resin Made Simple online resin classes.
Stack of 3 textured bangles in shades of pink-orange and purple-blue.

The beauty of these bracelets is that you don't need a bangle mould to make them. They're cast in a silicone cake decorating mould which you can find on Amazon or at big box craft stores. 

These pretty bracelets are made with FastCast, a quick-curing white polyurethane resin that will give you speedy results so you won't have to wait around for 24 hours to demould your piece. You can measure, mix, pour and demould in under half an hour. So the trick to working with FastCast is to have everything ready at hand and to work quickly.

Here's what you'll need:
Pearl Ex powders: Pink Gold; Pumpkin Orange
Bracelet form (use one of your own bangles or cuffs)
Soft paintbrush
Wooden stir sticks
Permanent Marker
Elastic bands
Nitrile gloves

Prepare the mould

Keep in mind that once you pour resin into your food moulds, they should not be used for food again.

Break off several small pieces of gold leaf and gently push them into the mould randomly, using the brush to press it against the surface. Try not to fiddle with it too much or it will lift off the surface and then float in the resin.
Using a soft paint brush to place gold leaf fragments into a long wavy silicone mould.

Gently dust the two Pearl Ex powders randomly in the mould. Take care not to dislodge the flakes of metal leaf. (I use pink and orange to dust the mould but I forgot to photograph this step so here it is in a different mould)
Using a soft paint brush to dust Blue-Green Pearl Ex powder around the gold leaf in the mould.

Mix and Colour the Resin

Place a mark at 15ml (1/2oz) and another at 30ml (1oz) on the measuring cup using the permanent marker. This will be enough to fill several other smaller pieces on the mould as well.
Using a permanent marker to place marks at the measurements required for the resin

Measure out Part A of the resin to the first line.
Pouring FastCast Part A into the measuring cup.

Scoop out a generous amount of Pink Gold Pearl Ex using a stir stick.
Placing a rounded scoop of Pink Gold Pearl Ex powder into Part A of the resin.

Mix it thoroughly through Part A until there are no lumps. At this point, you can take your time mixing the colour into Part A. It won't begin to cure until you add Part B.
Stirring the Pearl Ex powder through the resin

Measure out Part B of the resin into the same cup. Now the clock is ticking and you need to work quickly so that the resin doesn't cure before you finish filling the moulds.
Measuring Part B of the resin into the measuring cup

Mix the two parts together THOROUGHLY for 30 seconds, scraping the bottom and sides of the cup. Pour the resin into a second cup and mix for another 30 seconds. You'll notice that the cup begins to warm up and this is an indication that the resin is already beginning to cure, so don't delay in pouring.
Mixing the resin with a wooden stir stick

Pour the Resin into the Mould

If you're able to, pinch the lip of the cup. This will make pouring into the narrow mould easier. If you can't, then keep a square of toilet tissue handy to wipe up the resin if it dribbles down the outside of the cup. Pour the resin into the wavy strip first. Then pour the rest into the remaining cavities.
Pouring resin into the long wavy shape of the silicone mould.

You'll notice that the pearly look of the resin changes to a solid opaque finish as the resin cures.
The resin is changing from translucent to opaque as it cures

Demoulding and Finishing the Bracelet

After about 15 minutes, you'll be able to demould the pieces. You need to do this whilst the resin is still flexible. You'll know if it's ready because it will easily peel away from the silicone. If it doesn't, leave it for a few more minutes and test again.
Demoulding the long wavy strip from the mould whilst it is still flexible.

There is no trimming or sanding required when you make a bangle using this method (unless you've had a spill whilst pouring).

To turn the strip of resin into a bangle, place it around the bracelet form and secure it with an elastic band. Leave it for several hours to harden (I like to leave it overnight).
Shaping the resin around a bracelet form and securing it with an elastic band.

Once the resin has hardened, you can remove the elastic band and the bracelet will stay in this shape. And now, your bangle is ready to wear!
Pink and orange wavy resin bracelet with gold leaf flecks throughout.

Learn how to make resin jewellery like a PRO. Come on over to Resin Made Simple and see all the classes you can take online to increase your skills and gain confidence in working with resin. Get expert tips from a resin master who's been working with resin for more than 12 years.

Pin this Resin Project!
Pouring resin into a flat silicone mould and the finished demoulded bangle inspiration sheet



'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



Monday, November 4, 2019

DIY Trend Alert! Geometric Leather Earrings That You'll Want to Wear

This post is sponsored by Realeather®
Brown and black geometric earrings blog post header

It's hard to miss the surge in popularity of the leather leaf earrings that Joanna Gaines sported in Fixer Upper. It’s made leather earrings HOT, HOT, HOT and they’re now a staple in any savvy fashionista’s jewellery collection.

Then there’s the geometric trend - the trend that never really goes away. It's simple, classic and timeless. And right now, geometric earrings are popping up everywhere and in such a diverse range of materials like polymer clay, wood and resin. So it stands to reason that if you were to marry leather with geometric shapes that they would be a match made in heaven!

Read on and I'll show you how to take these two on-trend elements and turn them into a pair of bold but classy statement earrings that will glam up any outfit instantly and that you'll LOVE wearing again and again. As you can see below, my daughter loves them so much she has already snagged them!
The most essential ingredient of these earrings is without doubt, the Realeather® Round Shapes.
Realeather Round Jewelry Shapes in packaging
These new leather jewellery shapes come in a range of different colour combinations and finishes. But for this project, I've chosen the Black and Medium Brown combination pack, C4809-28.

Here's a shopping list to help you gather all the materials you need: 
(You can find all these supplies at Hobby Lobby.)

  • Realeather Circle Shapes C4809-28
  • 1-1/2” black tassels
  • 4mm (outer diameter) gold eyelets
  • 6mm gold jump rings
  • Fine necklace chain
  • 20gauge non-tarnish wire
  • Gold earring wires
You'll also need some tools to help you make this project: 
  • Combination eyelet setting pliers and hole punch
  • Flat nose pliers
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Round nose pliers
  • Flush cutters
  • Nylon jaw pliers

So let's get started!

Prepare the Leather Circles

These circles already come with a hole punched in them but this project calls for two holes, so fold the brown suede circle in half with the hole centred.
Brown suede circle folded in half

Line up the punch with the hole. The top edge of the punch should be positioned at the top of the existing hole. This will give you the perfect distance from the edge to attach the 6mm jump ring that will connect the next piece in the design. Punch through both layers.
Punching a hole through both sides of the folded brown suede circle
Brown suede circle with holes punched on opposite sides

With the circle folded, align the holes and insert an eyelet through both layers. Position the circle on the eyelet setting platform and squeeze the handles to set it. You may need to give it another squeeze to make sure that the eyelet has gone through both layers but try not to over squeeze it or it will distort the eyelet.
Setting the eyelet through both layers of the brown circle
Brown suedehalf circle folded with eyelet set in position

Repunch the hole on the black circle so that it fits an eyelet shaft and then punch a hole on the opposite side of the circle.
Black suede circle being punched in hole punch

Place an eyelet in one of the holes and position it on the setting platform. Squeeze the handles to set it. Set an eyelet in the hole on the other side too.
Leather circle with holes punched on opposite sides

Put the leather pieces aside for the time being whilst you work on the triangle charm.

Make the Spiral Triangle

Cut an 8” piece of wire from the spool and then run it through the nylon jaw pliers a few times to straighten out the curves.

Place the end of the wire in the middle of the tip of the flat nose pliers and bend the wire at a 60° angle.
End of the wire positioned in the flat nose pliers

Switch to chain nose pliers to make the rest of the bends. Make another bend in the wire so that the first two sides are about the same length.
Forming the third side of the triangle

Bend the wire again to make the third side of the triangle.
Beginning to form the second triangle layer.

Once you’ve made the base triangle, continue making bends in the wire so that each successive triangle is larger than the one inside it.
Using chain nose pliers to bend the wire at a 60° angle.

Keep going until the triangle measures about 7/8” wide.

Grip the wire above the last point of the triangle and bend it sideways.
Using flat nose pliers to bend the wire sideways

Trim the end to about 3/8” (10mm) with flush cutters.
Using flush cutters to trim the wire to 10mm

Switch to round nose pliers and turn a simple loop.
Using round nose pliers to turn a loop

Make a second triangle using the first one as a guide for shape and size. Keep checking it as you go along.
Lining up the two triangles as they are being made to check for size and shape.

It's OK if the triangles are a little different - it won't be noticeable when they're on opposite sides of your face!
Two wire spiral triangles, approximately the same shape and size.

Assemble the Earrings

Open a jump ring and hook on the black circle and the tassel and then close the jump ring again.
Closing the jump ring connecting the black tassel and the leather circle ith pliers

Open another jump ring and hook on the top hole of the circle, the wire triangle and the folded brown circle.
Hooking the wire spiral triangle onto the two leather circle pieces

Then close the jump ring to secure all the pieces together.
Closing the jump ring with two pairs of chain nose pliers

Drop the chain through the folded circle and pull it through the other side.
Feeding the necklace chain through the folded circle

Then hook a jump ring through the end link. Pull the chain up to remove the slack and then hook it through one of the links of the chain. It should form a very shallow triangle.
Using pliers to closing the jump ring with the chain connected

Add the earring wire and close the jump ring.
Closing the jump ring

Carefully cut away the excess chain with wire cutters. Then, make up the second earring.
Using flush cutters to trim away the excess chain

Whether you need to dress up a plain "T", add a touch of drama to your business wear or sophistication to a dinner date outfit, your geometric leather earrings are the perfect accent for your outfit. So wear them.... and show them off!

And then make yourself some more fabulous leather earrings using the other new shapes in the Realeather Jewelry Shape range. See the Realeather website for more tutorials.

Pin this Project!
DIY Geometric Leather Earrings Inspiration Sheet

'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