On the weekend Katy brought me some absolutely beautiful sweet pea flowers to make a bracelet for her. She wanted to be able to wear her garden all year round! I have to say, they were some of the most beautiful sweet peas I've ever seen - and the smell!
I carefully laid the flowers in a large tub of silica crystals to dry them out. This is a really important step in resin making because if the flowers have any sort of moisture in them, they will rot and will even stop the resin from fully curing.
These are the flowers after 5 days in silica. They are dry and fragile but not brittle enough to disintegrate in the resin. They have a papery waxy feel to them. I then took a fine paintbrush and gently brushed away the remaining silica crystals.
The flowers were then packed into a silicone mould and the resin was poured over the top. Katy asked me to 'really pack them in' so I put as many as I could in the mould, along with some other flowers she brought and the sweet pea leaves.
This bracelet is going to be glorious.
Why Dry the flowers?
It's so important to dry your flowers thoroughly before adding any resin to them. I use two different methods to dry my flowers. If I want the flowers to be flat and pressed, I use a Microfleur microwave flower press. You get instant dried flowers very quickly. The drying times vary between flowers / leaves but with a bit of practise, you learn quickly.
The second method I use to dry flowers before resin casting is silica crystals. This method means the flowers will retain their 3 dimensional shape. The sand like crystals of the silica draw moisture out of the flowers (like the little packets you get in new shoes etc). I fill a big ice-cream tub with silica and gently arrange the flowers in the tub. Then I pour over the silica sand gently and evenly, ensuring that the flower is completely supported by the silica and covered. Some flowers need a day or two, others need much longer. You can tell when they are ready when they have a light, papery feel - almost waxy. Another indicator is that the silica changes colour as it absorbs the moisture.
Once finished, I can reuse the silica over and over again by drying it out in a warm oven for a few hours!