Drying Big and Small Orchids

February 21, 2015:

IMG_3041I was able to come across some big purple orchids and thought that they would make an interesting addition to my collection as they are larger compared to all my other flowers.

IMG_3040 I first did the usual beginning process of cutting the stem and leaving about an an inch or less of the stem in order to stick a toothpick through it. As mentioned in my other posts doing this process will help in drying the resin as the toothpick could be held up by putting it on a styrofoam bar.

IMG_3042I then filled my container with about an inch of silica gel, so that when I put the flowers on the gel, it would be dried from the bottom and top of the flower.

IMG_3043 IMG_3044 Once I had the bed of silica gel, I placed all three flowers on top of the gel and covered all three of them in silica gel.I placed the flowers faced down as I realized that this was the best way to dry the flowers. I was able to make this conclusion as in my past experiments the flowers would dry crumpled or in a wilted position. Based on that observation I thought that if I dried the flowers face down, the petals would be dried in an open position rather than a crumpled or closed one. I will be leaving the flowers in the gel for about a week or even 10 days, in consideration to the flowers large size.

IMG_3045 IMG_3046 Since I still had some spare silica gel, I decided to dry two more orchids. I used the white and purple orchid found in the pictures above. I then did the process of cutting the stem in order to stick a toothpick through the bottom of the flower.

IMG_3047 IMG_3048  I then poured in about an inch-deep bed of silica gel in the container and placed the flowers faced down as well. I am hoping that by putting all the flowers in the silica faced down will help me get flowers that dry in a open position for a better aesthetic appeal. I covered both flowers in silica gel and plan to leave it sealed in the container for about a week as well. Though I might open the container after 5 days as my past experiments show that the white orchid dries faster than the purple orchid. I have also found in my experiments that the purple Orchid takes about 10 days to dry, so I plan to leave it in the silica gel until about 10 days have passed.

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Continuation of Experiment: Coating the Flowers in Resin

February 17, 2015:

Today I took out the two large pink and white flowers from the silica gel since the rest of flowers still had some water in the petals. I then put the rest of the flowers back in the silica gel and left it for about 3 days to ensure that the flower would be fully dried. Though since the two large flowers were already completely dried, I started preserving them in the ice resin.

IMG_5315 This is how both the flowers looked like after being dried for about a week.

IMG_5316 IMG_5317 IMG_5318I then measured 0.5ml of both the resin and the hardener so that I would be able to create a mixture with equal amounts of both chemicals. I mixed it with a toothpick for about 2 minutes and let it rest for about 5 minutes.

IMG_5320 Once I had the resin mixture I used a paintbrush to coat both flowers. I plan to leave it to dry overnight before applying a second coat.

Drying Flowers in Silica Gel

Since I plan to make at least three of two of each type of jewelry i made in my last post, I started to dry more flowers.

IMG_5257 This is how all the flowers that I will be drying looks like.

IMG_5258 IMG_5286 Before putting the flowers in the silica gel I first cut the stem of the flower, leaving only a bit of the stem left so that I could put a toothpick through it.

IMG_5287 This is how all the flowers looked like after I put the toothpick through the stem,

IMG_5288 IMG_5289 IMG_5291 IMG_5303I then put all the flowers on about an inch deep bed of silica gel to ensure that the bottom of the flower was exposed to the silica gel. After laying them out on the gel I used a spoon to carefully pour silica gel all over the flowers so that they were completely covered. I plan to leave them in the gel for about 6-7 days.

Creating the Jewelry and Artwork

For this project I will be creating 4 types of jewelry pieces: headband, necklace, brooch, and a ring.

IMG_5193 In order to stick the flowers to the jewelry I used epoxy glue.

IMG_5195 IMG_5199IMG_5201 I used the glue to stick the flower to one of the crystals found on the headband in order to create my flower headband piece.

IMG_5196 IMG_5202 IMG_5214 For the brooch I used this metal brooch I had and put the glue in the middle of the brooch and at the bottom of the flower. I then stuck the flower to the brooch in order to create my flower brooch piece.

IMG_5206 IMG_5218 FullSizeRender 7 IMG_5217 For the necklace I just glued on the metal pendant to the bottom of the flower and put a silver chain through the hoop found on the pendant.

IMG_5230 IMG_5223  For the ring I used glued the bottom of the flower to the metal ring.

IMG_5220 IMG_5222 For the artwork I used a black and white picture that I took of the flower and used the epoxy glue to stick the gold flower to the photo. I then used double sided tape to stick the photo to a canvas.

Based on the amount of time and money spent on just making four pieces of jewelry, I decided to not mass produce them, but to go through with my initial plan of auctioning them off in a silent auction. I hope to use the money made from the jewelry to donate funds ti charities that aim to protect nature in the Philippines.

Coating Flowers with Resin and Painting Flowers Gold

After about 7 days I removed the 7 flowers from the silica gel. I then did the process of coating the flowers with Ice Resin.

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I measured about 1 ml of resin and 1 ml of the hardener and mixed them together in a cup using a toothpick. I mixed it for about 2 minutes and let it rest for about 5 minutes to get rid of excess bubbles.

IMG_5180 I then used a paint brush to coat all the flowers with the Ice Resin.

IMG_5181 This is how all the flowers looked like after I coated all of them with resin.

I decided to leave the first coat to dry overnight before putting a second coat on them.

Besides creating jewelry by using flowers coated in resin, I also planned from the start of this journey to create artwork by using black and white photography. I planned from the beginning that I would take pictures of the flowers in black and white and then stick a gold plated flower on the painting. Originally my plan to get the flowers to be coated in coper was through electroplating the flowers. The electroplating process involves using a battery and attaching the flower to the negative terminal of the battery while attaching the metal to the positive terminal of the battery. Then the flower would be placed in a beaker with the solution salt of the metal. Supposedly what would happen is that the metal from the metal object would transfer to the negatively charged object, in this case the flower. Though when I tested it out the metal from the copper only reached the clip of the cable and did not even reach the flower. Based on these results I decided to just spray paint the flowers with gold paint.

IMG_5243 Instead of coating new flowers with resin I decided to just used some of my failed experiments so that they would not go to waste. The picture above is a flower from my experiment in which I painted fresh flowers with resin, hoping that the more layers of resin applied would mean the flower would be preserved and not wilt. Though as you can see the experiment did not work as the flower turned brown. Though, since the shape was retained I had the idea of using these flowers for the artwork since I just needed the shape of the flower and not the color, as I was painting the flower.

IMG_5185 IMG_5186 To paint the flowers I used red and gold spray paint. I first had to spray the flower with red paint as it would act as a base paint and would help the gold be seen. After coating the flower with red paint I waited for about 5 minutes before spraying it with gold paint. I let the gold paint dry on the flower for about an hour.

IMG_5188 IMG_5197 This is how all the flowers looked like after the gold paint dried. As you can see the bottom left flower in the second picture lost its form so I decided to just use the other two flowers. I also decided to use one of the flowers for the artwork and the other for a necklace.

Drying 7 small flowers from Surigao.

January 27, 2014:

After waiting over night for the silica gel to dry I decided to use all the gel I had to dry multiple flowers. I wanted to see if I could dry multiple flowers at once so that I can determine if I will be able to mass produce my jewelry enough to sell to a lot of people. If this does work I will be able to donate the money to a charity that will help preserve forests, which is perfect for my project as nature is helping me during this project and I would like to contribute to nature’s preservation in return.

To begin the experiment I chose 7 flowers from my dad’s province Surigao.

IMG_5119 This is how all the flowers look like. As you can see the flowers have the same shape but different colors as they are different types of this specific flower.

Before putting the flowers in the gel I needed to attach toothpicks to the flowers.

IMG_5130 IMG_5132 First I cut the stem, only leaving a small part left so that I can put the toothpick through the stem.

IMG_5134 This is how all the flowers looked like after I put a toothpick in each one of them. Putting a toothpick through the stem of the flower will make applying the resin and leaving it to dry an easier job. See during the drying process I used to use clothing pins to hold up the flower as it dried, though I have come to find out that it is a challenge to keep the clothespin upright. Since then I started using the method of putting toothpicks through the flower’s stem so that during the drying process, I would just have to simply stick the toothpick in a styrofoam block to keep it upright.

Once I had prepared my flowers I then placed about an inch of silica gel in the container.

IMG_5125 IMG_5129 IMG_5136As you can see in the pictures above I used a spoon to pour about an inch’s worth of silica gel to somewhat form a bed of the gel for the bottom part of the flower. If I didn’t put silica gel in the container before putting in the flower, the bottom part of the flower would not be exposed to the silica gel, causing it to wilt as it would not be fully dried.

IMG_5137After putting the bed of silica gel, I placed all the flowers on top of the gel.

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I then used a spoon to carefully pour the rest of the silica gel on top of the flowers so that they are completely covered with the gel. Sealed the container with the cover and plan to leave it for 5 days. After 5 days I will check if the flowers need to stay one more day or if they are ready

Reactivating Silica Gel

After using the silica for the past few months,the gel has absorbed water from all the flowers I dried. Due to this, I decided to reactivate it by removing the water in the gel through heat.

To reactive the silica gel I put it in two glass jars.

IMG_5112 This is how the silica gel looked like before I put it in the microwave.

To reactivate the silica gel I put the jar in the microwave with tissue over it for about 1-2 minutes.

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After about 2 minutes I took it out of the microwave and let it stand for about 30 minutes.

IMG_5111 IMG_5117This is how the silica gel looked like after being in the microwave. As you can see in the picture the texture is less grainy as it just came out of heat and has some moisture still in the gel. There is also some water seen on the side of the jar, showing how the heat removed the water present in the silica gel.

After the 30 minutes I sealed it with the cover and plan to leave it overnight before I use it to dry the flowers.

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