Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday - Super Mega Lucky Post!

Hello friends,

Today I am going to cast some four leaf clovers in resin.

I am super lucky to have a few patches of clover in my yard that yield tons of four leaf clovers and sometimes more.  Today I found a 5 leaf clover and I think the most I ever found was 9.

I like to incorporate these little luck nuggets into my jewelry designs and sometimes use I will laminate them to use as book markers.  In today's case, it will be a couple four leaf clovers.  One of which will go into a custom pair of steam punk pixie ear wraps. And some pressed wild strawberry flowers.

1. The first thing you need is something to cast in resin.  I love to resin plants.  Pressed flowers, clovers, leaves, pretty much anything I can find outside that is interesting.  I also love to resin cast, and this may be creepy, but I love to cast insects.  I dry them out and encase their beauty for jewelry.  I also love to find creepy old photos, either online or at antique stores or estate/garage sales or even flea markets.

2. If you are using plant material, the first thing you want to do is harvest it.

 Make sure whatever drying method you want to use is ready and waiting so that it is easier to manipulate the organic material in whatever "pose" you want it in.
 I am a lover of pressing.  You can make a press if you really get into this, maybe I will build one and do a diy press one day.  You can use a dehydrator, or with Silica gel.  What ever you use just have it ready to go!  I use books, there is only two thing besides heavy.  First, you want pages that are not glossy.  They are more likely to mold your organic matter.  You need pages that can absorb some of the moisture.  It you have a very bright flower, like a purple violet, buffer your book with a few sheets of scrap paper, or notebook paper.  That way you will protect your book from the pressed out pigment of the flower.  Second, choose a book with flat stacked folios.  The picture above is a flat stacked folio book. This book is not

See how the pages are more staggered?  When it comes time to find your pressed goodies, the staggered (or uncut) folios make it hard to find every one of your pressed pretties!  Unless you note what pages your flora and fauna are pressed on.

3. I then brush debris off of what I want to press with a cheap dry paint brush that I do not use for anything else.  These are the ones I tend to use the most.

The yellow brush is a 3, the peach is an 8, the blue is an 11.

I brush from the center out on top of each leaf.

Then I brush off the bottom, from the center of each leaf and out to the edge.
Now it is time to press.  Now, if you do what I do, you can pose your subjects well enough to get your desired result 85% of the time (that is only a guess percentage, not even remotely mathematical or tested).  If you don't the results can be more random and you could loose more to awkward pressing than you like.

First I take the clover by the stem.  It looks something like this before I do anything to it.

Then I place my thumb on the very center and arrange the leaves while they are under my thumb.

Then I place it near the center of the page face down.  The stem will now be standing up in the air.  Press it to either the side it naturally wishes it to go, or press it to the side you aesthetically want it to lay.

You can fine tune leaf placement with a paint brush.

Now close your book.  Place a few more on top, then wait a couple to a few days depending on what you are pressing.
4. You will need a casting mold.  Now I love to re purpose things.  One of my favourites is plastic packaging.  This one is My favorite.  It has 3 sizes.  I think it was originally for some ornamental cogs.
 You can make your own molds, out of just about anything.  I have made tons with this product.
It is a two part putty that makes super flexible molds.  I believe I purchased mine at Michael's,  but I am pretty sure you can get it at most craft stores.  It also made more molds than I thought it would.  I love it.

You can also purchase 2 types of molds (that I am aware of) flexible plastic which is like my recycled cheater molds,and silicone like the make your own mold product above.

Basically I think you could use just about anything as long as you can bend the mold, or use it as a one time only mold and cut it off.

5.  Now this is part of my secret for being able to use almost anything as a mold. Castin'craft mold release/conditioner.
Now, I swear by this product.  Before I found this stuff, I ruined so many molds because to get my resin piece out of the mold, I had to ruin the mold.  This solved that issue for me!

Castin'craft mold release/conditioner is a very fine spray.  Here is how I use mine.

Shake the crap out of this stuff.  When it sits for a while, white stuff settles at the bottom.  You want to fully reincorporate all of that stuff into the liquid.  Then I take my clean and dry mold and spray it with one pump only.  I let it completely dry and then I repeat two more times, with a total of 3 layers at the end.

This is what 3 dried layers looks like... the same as no layers right?  Believe me, it is worth your time to do this step.

6. Get your materials ready! 

Things to embed.

Stirring devices.

I use these toothpick like guys  and pop sickle sicks.  Never use colored toothpicks.  The color will leach into your resin.

A container to mix your resin in.  I use old medicine bottles that are thoroughly washed and dried.  I use to use Dixie cup but found they get soggy pretty quickly.  So they can be used, I just do not find them practical.

And your resin! I love Ice resin.  It is super clear jewelry grade 2 part resin.  However, you can use any resin you want.
What also may prove helpful in arranging your materials in the resin are some quilting pins, a tweezers you do not care about and misc pointy things.


Take your container of choice and mix in an estimated amount of resin.  I love the feeder tube for Ice Resin because it does all the measuring ratios for you.  Do Not loose the cap!!!!!
Mix gently for a couple minutes.  Stir slow to keep bubbles at a minimum.

After your initial stir time, set aside for about 3-5 minutes to allow air bubbles to disperse.  Use this time to prep your materials to put into resin.
Now it was hard to get this process on camera since not only do I need both hads in a short amount of time, but my tablets battery decided to be too low to take pictures, sheesh.

Anyway, I put a small amount of resin in each of the molds I chose to use.  I made sure I took care of all the bubbles.  Then I arranged each circle thee way I wanted it.  Then I slowly filled the rest of the mold with the resin taking care of removing any bubbles I could see.
Okay, that is it for today.  Throw out your container and stir sticks.
And now we let them cure for 1-3 days.  I usually do 3 since my molds are some what delicate and it is easier to remove the resin from the mold when it is hardened as much as possible.

I will update in a few days when I take the resins out of the molds.

Until then, be gentle to yourself, and each other.