Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Organic follow-up

As a chef, when I see something or think of something I do it.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.  Sage flavored blondie brownies worked but a sugar free gooey butter cake did not.  Strange things can work or not depending on the technique used to make them.  Now, the same goes for making jewelry.  I could have all of the pieces to make some wonderful items but if I glue them the wrong way or even make the resin improperly, the whole thing can go into my scrap pile.  This was one of my biggest problems with organic items.  Organic items are just so ... natural.  They defy constriction, preservation and resist resin.  Here are some good examples of what I have learned over the past 2 years when dealing with natural and organic items.


I got this wooden circle at a craft store and thought that it would look awesome with a big, clunky, mechanic piece in the middle.  I thought it would be an awesome pendant.  There were some problems I didn't think of.  First of all, even though the wooden piece was purchased at a craft store and already sanded and stained and sealed, it still would suck in some moisture.  This meant that the moisture in the air in my work area, whether it was in the garage or in my room, would cause the resin to not seal and cure properly.  Also, the wood piece was convex, so the resin would not stay on it long enough to cure and instead slowly flow downwards, creating areas of different thickness.  This way, several coats of resin were needed and thus several more chances for air bubbles and uneven-ness and a general "not working" characteristic.


I thought it would be cool, again, to use a leaf.  I grabbed a leaf from one of the Mint plants in my garden and coated it in resin over 48 hours; 24 hours per side.  It didn't really work.  The Mint leaf has natural oils in it which do not mix well with the water in the resin.  So, you would have the resin not sticking and basically forming air pockets between the leaf and the resin.  This made tiny air bubbles, large air bubbles and even cloudiness.  It may have just not been the right kind of leaf or the right technique, but it just didn't work well.

Butterfly wings:
The above picture is a piece in progress.  It needs at least another coat of resin.  I went and purchased about 100 butterfly wings from an ebay seller from China.  So, I receive a bunch of butterfly wings from Asian butterflies.  They are beautiful and clean and most of them are intact so I don't have holes or broken parts.  I learned from making a Cicada wing brooch, that you need several coats of resin on natural wings, or else they become brittle.  Wings, like these, are not very thick, and cannot even bend.  They are still however, see through, as you hold them up to the light.  I love working with butterfly wings but like the Mint leaf, a butterflies wings have an oil on them and are resistant to water or liquids.  When you try to resin them, the resin rolls off in beads like water off of a duck's back.  So, there is a hidden technique I use to do this.  (Its a secret.)  Still, you cannot guess what resin will do on a natural object while it cures.  I do these resin coats at night and then go to bed and check on them when I get back home, from work, the next day.  So, these pieces are left alone for almost 16 hours.  Regarding the above secret about resin and butterfly wings let me allude you to this much: a single coat of resin takes about 16 hours to completely cure in my home.  I need to do something to prepare each wing, which takes about 20 minutes in total for front and back.  Then a coat of resin on each side, so that is already 32 hours.  After this time, if the wing was placed flat on something it could be ready.  If it will be suspended, like this brooch from the picture above, then you will need at least 5 coats per side.  That comes to 10 coats total and a passage of 160 hours.  So, if I do resin, each night, for a week, by the end of the week, it will be ready.

The above piece will work and will look much better when finished.  Part of it is my camera phone and the other half is the resin which will be fixed.  This is a full set of Blue Crow butterfly wings, on a teardrop shaped lapis lazuli gemstone, with a single watch spring on the back. 

If you have any questions about using natural items and resin or just using organic items, please let me know.

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