Saturday, 13 May 2017

Drying Flowers with the Microfleur

As promised this is a guide to drying and pressing your flowers using the Microfleur for the Fuscias and Forget-me-Knots Projects in 
Making Jewellery Magazine Issue 106

Hi there, did you get your copy of Making Jewellery issue 106?  For those who did, thank you for the many messages of support I really do appreciate each and every one.  As a thank you and as promised on my facebook page, here are a few tips to pressing and drying your own flowers.  In this example I am using Forget-me-nots as they feature in the design and are in flower at the moment.

Please note that comprehensive instructions come with the Microfleur press, these tips and how to's are from my own experience using the press.

I use the Microfleur flower press.  This comes in two sizes - 5-inch and 9-inch square -  and is available from Amazon at around £25 for the 5-inch and £40 for the 9 inch. So it is an investment but if you love your resin and working with real flowers it is a worthwhile purchase in my opinion. 

Below is the Microfleur 5-inch.  It is a neat and sturdy press.  The clips each side hold the sandwich together as explained below.

Microfleur flower press
Sandwich layers
The press is layered as such: outer base, cotton pad, 100% cotton fabric.  Onto this you place the flowers to be pressed, then repeat the layers in reverse, i.e. cotton fabric, thick pad, then the top cover. 

Tip 1:    Check there are no little bugs on the flowers, apart from the fact I dread to think of them being incinerated, they also raise the temperature of the flower heads and you risk them over heating.

Using a sharp pair of scissors carefully remove the flower heads and place down onto the cotton layer.  I use some individual heads and some on stem.

Tip 2:  Make sure that when you pick your flowers, they are dry and not covered in rain drops or dew.

Tip 3: Try to put the flowers in the same direction, I have found it works best to place them face down.

One you have placed all the flowers in position, complete the sandwich layers as above. Then place a clip on either side of the press.  

Next place in the microwave and heat for 10 seconds, then check progress and repeat until sufficiently dry.  Watch carefully as it is very easy to nuke them!  I did mine for 30 seconds in total in 10:10:5:5 second blasts.

Once done, remove the clips and the top outer layer and let press sit either on a warm windowsill or in the airing cupboard for 24-hours.  [I do this because the very centre of the flower heads are thicker and take a little more drying than the petals.] The flowers must be 100% dry before you can add them to your resin or they will continue to decompose within the resin and your resin may also go cloudy.

This photo shows the flowers after they have been dried.

Tip 4:  I keep my flowers in a sealed plastic box with a little silicone sachet and in a box to keep them out of the light. This helps reduce any fading.

Tip 5: Waxier and larger more dense flowers may take longer, I suggest you place a single flower to test before doing more. 

Tip 6: I also keep a diary so I can refer back to see what settings and time worked best for each flower type I do.

The benefit of using the Microfleur is that the beautiful colour is retained and you they are ready to use within a day or two as opposed to a few weeks or months using the traditional method.  

If it is pressed flowers you are after you cannot, in my opinion, do better than invest in one of these presses.  I use the 5-inch far more than the bigger and costlier 9-inch (although I do have both) as it fits in the microwave more comfortably.

So that's it, have fun and don't forget to share your makes on my Facebook page and look out for more tips and tricks on here and on my Instagram page. 

Bye for now