Resin Experiments Part 2: Encasing Leaves in Resin

IMG_2836The trouble with dried leaves is how fragile they are.

I really like leaves, though. Dark fall ones, light-green spring ones. Oaks, maples, different shapes. They’re pretty, darn it!

It’s a challenge, trying to figure out how to incorporate them into sturdier designs like jewelry or clothing embellishments.

I had these lovely oak branches already in my house. They came from a local florist, though I looked around and found that you can order them from here (Bonus: inexpensive!)

Home decor or jewelry components?

Home decor or jewelry components?

I went and played around with that: Oak leaves, skeleton leaves, and resin fun!

When I started researching craft resin, I found many designers encasing dried flowers and other plants, which is a great way to showcase them while protecting them from damage.

Encasing Preserved Oak Leaves:

I figured that rather than completely encasing, I could spread a thin coat, keeping the leaf pliable and as natural as possible, while making it sturdy and giving it that shiny look that resin is so good at.

LittleWindowsButterfly

Inspiration from little-windows.com

I think I was inspired by Little Windows butterfly tutorial with the thin resin coat on top of the butterfly (I swear, they are not paying me!). Later I found other designers who already did a similar thing. Hey, nothing is ever new- the uniqueness is all in the application, no?

This example is from the very inspiring Resin Crafts blog:

resincrafts.blogspot

So I spent a few afternoons playing with it.

Literally a page from my book

Literally a page from my book

Before committing to a large project, I experimented with different treatments. I taped one dried leaf to my notebook and tried sealing sections of it with Mod Podge, Golden Acrylic medium, or not sealing at all. Then I covered it with a thin resin layer using a brush.

Turns out you don’t really need to seal them! All three treatments turned out the same.

Now that I knew it works, I took individual leaves from the dried bunch, re-wetted them, and dried between pages of a book. Once they were very flat and completely dry (this took a couple of days), I used a brush to apply a thin resin layer, waited 24 hours for it to cure, turned the leaf around, and applied a layer on the other side.

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Spread as thinly as possible- you don’t need a thick, gloopy coat. Make sure to guide it all the way up to the edges.

Once both sides were cured, the leaf was very pliable and sturdy, yet still somewhat flexible. Just what I wanted!

Now, to attach bails:

To make a decorative yet simple bail, I started with a small section of 22 gauge copper wire, and made a spiral on one end. This is the decorative element.

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Then I pressed the wire to the leaf, making sure the spiral lies flat against it, and made a loop just above the stem. Then using the free end of the wire, I looped it around itself and the leaf stem, and kept looping until it touched the spiral, at which point I cut it off with my wire snips.

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Finished bails!

Finished bails!

Experimenting With Skeleton Leaves:

Skeleton leaves are even more fragile than pressed dried leaves, so usually people just embed them in things- I’ve seen soaps, candles, and of course resin castings.

I like the airy feeling of a skeleton leaf on its own though, so I wanted to see if I can give them just enough sturdiness to be able to withstand being handled, while preserving their light, transparent quality.

So of course after coming up with this idea, I again realized that many people have tried that as well. Here are some example from Etsy- you guys should check out these vendors, they have good items (not friends of mine- just random people I found making interesting things).

etsy sheastreasurebox
Etsy shop: SheasTreasureBox

etsy juliacreastyle 2  etsy juliacreastyle
Etsy shop: JuliaCreaStyle

etsy neraidas
Etsy shop: Neraidas

I got a selection of loose skeleton leaves from Zougeebean, same shop where I got my bracelet mold.

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To minimize handling I found that it works to fix them with binder clips.

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The binder clips look like they’re about to fly away!

I applied resin with a brush, holding it by the binder clip, and then hung up to dry. Definitely avoid touching at this point!

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Whenever you hang up resin pieces, there will be a drop collecting at the tip (gravity, it does things!). Make sure you put something on the floor underneath so as not to drip on the floor, and periodically check up on it and remove the drop with a toothpick.

Next time I will try drying on a pin-cushion tray to try and avoid the drop problem altogether.

I was very pleased with how they turned out. Still flexible and light, but just sturdy enough to be handled and worked. I can see these as part of a mixed media necklace or earrings.

Attaching bails:

Unfortunately when I got the leaves in the mail, I realized that they don’t have stems, so my idea of wrapping the stems as I did with the oak leaves wasn’t going to work here.

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So. Different tack

Starting with a 2-inch length of 22-gage soft copper wire, I made spirals on both ends, until they came pretty close together (but leaving some space).

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I then used round-nosed pliers to hold the wire between the two spirals, make a loop, and bend the two spirals close together.

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I used the flat-nosed pliers to flatten it, making sure the two spirals are flush.

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The bail is done! Now just slip the leaf between the spirals.

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I like this bail because I think it complements the leaf’s light quality

To affix it, I used a little bit of resin on a toothpick and dabbed a bit around where the wire meets the leaf.

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Then hung it up to dry. It sits very tightly, so hanging it by the bail did not dislodge it:

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Final results:

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Playing around with potential designs:

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