My grandmother used to press flowers when I was little. It's a fond summer memory of mine, picking Queen Anne's Lace at the edge of her garden shed. I've always had a soft spot for this flower.
I have a bit of a resin obsession. Resin, when completely hardened, is a transparent, lightweight plastic and it begins as two separate liquids. It is found in craft stores, and many times is used to make jewelry. The advantage of using resin is its ability to preserve just about everything. It creates a very air tight seal. This pressed flower phone case is the second project I attempted with resin (the first being the Fruit Necklaces).
This one is a little messy, but you end up with a totally unique result! Plus, everyone asks to see your phone case and you get to tell them that you made it.
This would be an adorable bridesmaid gift ;)
Step 1: Supplies
The necessary tools to make these phone cases may take some time to gather.
I actually order mine from Ali Express. Ordering anything from overseas is a risk when considering the quality of the product, but because the phone cases are so inexpensive you don't lose much of your investment if something goes wrong. I haven't paid over $2 for a phone case for this project. Another issue is that you have to wait a few weeks to get the phone cases.
The link leads to a case that I have ordered in the past and had a good experience with. Again, be careful! I don't advocate ordering from this site for many things besides craft supplies.
I love Queen Anne's Lace because it is all over the place. It's literally a weed. Just keep an eye out while you are driving around one July afternoon and you'll spot them.
3. Resin & Hardener Kit
4. 1 or 2 Disposable Paint Brushes
Once this project is over, these paint brushes will be trash and there is no way to avoid it. I got my stash at a thrift store. Smaller paint brushes are probably better.
5. Wax Paper
6. Popsicle Sticks (For Mixing Resin)
7. Dictionary or heavy hardcover books
8. Clear or Colored Spray Paint
9. Tweezers or a pair of chopsticks
Step 2: Step One: Pressing & Drying Plant Life
True Life: I Have Picked Flowers on the Side of a Highway
To be honest, pressing flowers is kind of a pain in the butt. It's time consuming, and delicate. I am clumsy and lazy. This is not a good combination.
So this part of the tutorial is maybe not the best flower pressing technique out there, but it is what I have been successfully doing. The best part is that it can be done without purchasing any additional materials.
My favorite flowers to press by far are the Queen Anne's Lace. They are technically weeds, and spring up all over the sides of the highways on the East Cast of the US starting in the beginning of July. (I'm not sure about anywhere else) They are easy to find, and picking them isn't going to bother anyone! I admittedly have picked a flower or two from my neighbor's garden (Sorry Meryl) and I always feel like I am stealing something.
What defines a flower that is "ideal" for pressing? In my opinion, the flowers that contain the least amount of water in their petals, and those which lay flat even before you press them. The more water in the petals of a flower, the longer you have to way for it to dry. I know there are methods of pressing flowers that speed up the drying process, but I'm a traditionalist (pretty much ONLY when it comes to how I dry my flowers).
It is important that the pressed flowers are completely dry because the resin will react with the liquid if they are not. The yellow flower began as a light purple pansey. Yes, purple. In a span of fifteen minutes it went from purple to green to bright yellow. One of the reasons this happened was because it wasn't dried properly. Science is weird.
Prepare the Plants
Cut the stems of your flowers or leaves as close as you can to the blossom (again, less water = faster drying). If you are pressing petals, pluck them.
I always use my hardcover textbooks to press flowers (I knew they would come in handy some day). A dictionary works too!
Take a piece of printer paper and lay the flowers far enough apart that they won't be touching when they are completely flattened. Take a second piece of paper and make a paper-flower-paper sandwich. Wedge this into the middle of your book, and close it. I usually put some type of bookmark to make sure I don't lose the page the flowers are in.
I let my Queen Anne's Lace press/dry for about a week. They do not hold a lot of water in their petals, so they don't take too long to press. For Pansies, I recommend waiting two or three weeks to be safe. That purple to yellow pansy color change scarred me for life.
Leaves are much easier to deal with. Although they DO hold water, they are much much sturdier than petals. They are also in abundance, because... nature. The leaves I used in the pictured phone cases are Japanese Maple leaves. I pressed them for three days, and had wonderful success. They do not start out that mint green color, but we will get to that in the next few steps.
I guess it's not that hard to press flowers. I just get impatient.
Step 3: Step Two: Sealing Pressed Plant Life
Just as I explained in the Fruit Jewelry Tutorial, anything that is porous should be sealed with a clear spray paint before you use it in a project involving resin.
Take your dried flowers or leaves, and lay them on wax paper. In a ventilated area, do a thorough coat of spray paint on the first side of the pressed plant life. After letting the spray paint dry, flip the plants and do the same to the other side. Repeat. Really, repeat as many times as you have patience for. The spray paint seals the pores, and the more the better.
I got a bit creative with the Japanese maple leaves that I pressed. The leaves are a mixture of red and green, and looks a little Christmas-y, while I wanted something summery.
I bought a can of mint green spray paint, and used that instead of the clear spray paint from this step. Any spray paint in any color will accomplish the same result of sealing the pressed plants (although I have not tried this on flowers before). It turned out SO COOL. I was pleasantly surprised. It looks really, really modern against the black phone cases. There are endless possibilities.
Because the leaves were sturdy enough, I propped them up with clips and pins, making sure that the painted leaves did not get smudged.
Step 4: Step Three: Plan Layouts
When working with resin, you have to remember that you need to work quickly. If you have never worked with resin before, you will understand after reading the next step.
To avoid panicking, I lay out all of my pressed/sealed flowers and leaves on the phone cases before I create the resin mixture. I also take a picture of my final "draft".
Remove the plants from the phone cases before you work with the resin in the next step.
Step 5: Step Four: Resin
Resin mixing is a chemical reaction!
You have to take it a little more seriously than Modge Podge.
You do not want to get this stuff on any of your clothes, hands, or really anything else important to you. It's pretty much permanent on anything that isn't your skin and wax paper. (Thank god or half of my fingers would be casted in resin at this point)
PREPARING THE RESIN:
I use a plastic tray and wax paper as my surface. Follow the instructions on your resin kit to the T. The resin to hardener ratio really completely depends on the brand of resin you are using, but the stirring time is usually 60 seconds for all of them. Use the popsicle sticks or tongue depressors to mix, scraping the sides and the bottom a couple of times during the process. It's important that all of the resin is able to react with the hardener, and if not the project will never completely solidify. Disposable liquid medicine cups are perfect for measuring the parts before mixing. I also always pour the mixture into a new cup after the 60 seconds as a fail-safe. The only other advice I have is to work quickly after it's been mixed.
PAINTING ON THE RESIN:
Take a paint brush, and dip it into the resin mixture. Coat the entire back of a phone case with resin using the paint brush. Once the resin dries it makes the phone case loo shiny regardless of the initial finish, and if the case had a matte finish it will be very obvious in the spots where there isn't any resin. It takes quite a bit of the mixture to do this.
PLACING THE FLOWERS:
Take the pair of disposable chopsticks and carefully lay the pressed flowers/leaves in the desired place on the back of the phone case. I actually use a pair of crappy tweezers that I got on vacation because you can get a firm, secure grip on whatever you are holding. If you use your hands you inevitably end up smudging the finish or getting your glove stuck in the gooey resin.
Initially you can still slide around the plants even after they are placed. I wouldn't recommend trying to lift the plants off of the case once they are in the resin.
SECOND RESIN COAT:
After all of your flowers or leaves are placed in the wet resin, take your paint brush and dip it in the resin again. I usually get enough on the brush so that the resin drips off of the end of it. Dab the brush over the flowers/leaves, covering any exposed surface of the plants with a layer of resin.
Depending on the type of resin you use, or if you have mixed your resin thoroughly enough with the right ratio, these phone cases might take a while to cure. Resin doesn't really "dry". It is a chemical reaction between the hardener and the resin. Place the "drying" phone cases on a flat surface layered with wax paper. If the surface isn't perfectly flat, the flowers or leaves will shift, and the resin will spill off of the phone cases (although very slowwwwwly).
Thats it! Messy but super fun for a unique summer craft. I'm going to press all of the queen anne's lace flowers I can find to stock up for the winter....