Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How to Press Flowers Using a Microwave

By on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 10 Comments

I have pressed flowers before the traditional way - between paper and under some heavy books.  It not only took a long time, the floral colors faded somewhat.  I never knew one could speed up the process considerably using the microwave until I read it in fellow Canadian, Shireen Nadir's excellent book "Resin Jewelry".  I also wrote about her gorgeous Nature Inspired Resin Jewelry here.  The flat effect is very different from the 3D style of real flower jewelry I tried before.   I used crystal cat litter to dry the flowers then.


Well, I am game to try my hand at a different way of drying the flowers.  They have to be dried otherwise, they will decay even inside resin.  Since my garden is still asleep, I used indoor flowers (begonia and African violets) to demonstrate how to press flowers using a microwave.



I tried putting a flower between a folded piece of paper or cardstock, added some empty serving dishes on top and microwaved it for a minute or so. Times will vary depending on the type of flower, size, microwave power etc.  But as you can see below, the begonia flower, being on the "fleshy" side, was a disaster. There was so much moisture which made the flower go mushy.

Microwaving  in a cardstock sandwich
So I placed really thick wads of kitchen paper towels on either side of the cardstock and tried again.


The results were better (below). The paper towels wicked away a lot of the moisture but the cardstock was not porous enough for that to happen quickly.  The cardstock was also a bit stiff so trying to get the dried flower off was tricky.


So I cut up an old cotton pillowcase into small squares and used that instead of the cardstock.


I microwaved the African violet flower sandwiched between 2 cotton squares and lots of paper towels. It worked well - the flower dried in just over a minute.  The paper towels felt damp afterwards. I microwaved this way more than once. Sometimes, I had to leave the cloth layers with the flower in between on top of my drier to completely dry.


The cloth being flexible made it easy to detach the flower without tearing it.


Experimentation is key.  You have to be careful not to overdo the microwaving.  The lower African violet flower below shows signs of scorching because I microwaved it too long.


The above technique I used with cloths and paper towels is a good one to try to see if you really want to press flowers using a microwave.  If you do, then you might want to consider purchasing a commercial press. They work in the same way in that they wick away the moisture and press the flowers flat.

The ceramic one I bought came from Lee Valley  - it was recommended by Shireen. You can also purchase other kinds such as this one from Amazon called the  Microfleur 5" (13 cm) Microwave Regular Flower Press.  The ceramic microwave press worked very well - it sure saves on paper towels!


It comes with two thick wool felt pieces and 2 cotton squares. The ceramic parts were both heavy and porous which assisted in efficiently drawing away the moisture.


One word of caution, the ceramic parts get hot if you have an intense microwaving session with many flowers!


This method of pressing flowers for making cards and other crafts is excellent.  It's more challenging for jewelry making.  For a start, you generally need small and dainty flowers and leaves.   I had microwave pressed some small flowers from late last summer. Here is how I made real pressed flower resin jewelry.




Photography
I used natural light my iPhone 6S with the camera+ app and the Modahaus TS320 tabletop studio for the above photos except in my kitchen.  There the mix of light sources of sunlight and microwave oven light really confused my camera.   Check out my How to Photograph Jewelry Webinar .

Before You Go:
______________________________
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Share

10 comments:

  1. I have an idea to embed a mustard seed in resin. Any suggestions about preparing the seed first, Pearl?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suggest using silica gel. You can use inexpensive crystal cat litter as I did - http://www.beadinggem.com/2015/10/how-to-dry-dandelion-clocks-and-flowers.html

      Put the seeds in a small porous bag - like those drawstring gift bags we use for jewelry. Or wrap them up loosely in a paper towel package and put them in the litter in a closed container for a few days.

      This site placed seeds in a makeshift pantyhose bag and buried it in dry rice. The jar is then heated in the oven.

      http://www.realseeds.co.uk/Drying.html

      Have fun!

      Delete
  2. The last time I tried putting a terracotta piece and a paper towel in the microwave it caught on fire, so I am very scared of trying it again. I dont get Silica gel here so I tried using the clay (clumping) cat litter but then there is hardly any color retention in that method. I guess I'll have to do more experiments to figure out the exact method and time required

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear. Was that an unglazed terra cotta? It shouldn't be for very long either.

      Clumping cat litter is not going to work. Silica is the better desiccant. Try checking out a scientific supply company. They will have silica.

      Delete
  3. I love how you did all those experiments Pearl. Am I surprised? Ha!! You LOVE experimenting!!

    And - the pic of your flowers I'm assuming are your own. They are gorgeous looking - so healthy and green and such beautiful blooms on them.....I can see what you mean when you say you have a green thumb!

    I purchased my microwave press from Lee Valley Tools as well. I like that they deliver. I also purchased my silica gel from them at the same time so I could do either or. All thanks to Shireen's advice as well.

    I've dried all kinds of flowers so far but have yet to use them - still waiting for that nice warm weather to make use of my resin.

    I really like that bracelet. Your wire swirls sure add to the bracelet. Coming up with that solution was brilliant. Plain jump rings just don't do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your kind words! Yes, those are my indoor plants - the only ones currently flowering. Now I want more but with small flowers!! Haha! Have fun with your resin making.

      Delete
  4. I have used the Microfleur for years and it does a great job. Where the one above is ceramic the Microfleur is made of a hard plastic material that they make microwave popcorn bowls etc. out of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for sharing how well the Microfleur works!

      Delete
  5. Hi Pearl, does using a desiccant powder work for drying flowers in this resin project? Love your work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you mean silica that is granular like the kind you can buy at say, Lee Valley, for drying flowers? You should not be using fine powder because of the risk in breathing in the dust. I used crystal cat litter which is a coarse granular form.

      Delete

 

TUTORIALS

PEARL'S DESIGNS

DESIGN MAKEOVER

TIPS AND TRICKS

SUPPLIES

TOOLS