How do I Seal Oily material? Nuts such as macadamia, pine or almonds tend to be really oily and will need to be sealed before you paint them. I use either West System slow hardener #206 with #105 resin or Krazy glue with a brush applicator to seal before I paint.
How do I best paint “Gems”? To create lovely “gems” remember to prime before you paint with nail polish so that it goes on smooth and uniformly. I use Rust-Oleum flat gray spray primer. Nail polish gives a nice gem color or glitter/pearl. Allow several days for nail polish to dry then coat with West systems epoxy clear hardener #207 with #105 resin for a nice, durable glossy finish.
How to I get a Diamond finish? Remember to paint your material gray or silver before you apply glitter nail polish. Glitter nail polish (I use Orly “Tiara”) is just clear polish with glitter and the color of your material will show through the polish. I find silver paint then polish works best.
How do I make “Pearls”- To paint round pearls I drill the material (I use soybeans, white pepper or macadamia nuts) and glue them onto a toothpick. Once dry, I spray with gray primer then paint each with nail polish (OPI “Kyoto Pearl”) it is easier to turn the toothpick while painting for a smooth coat. Allow several days for nail polish to dry then coat with West systems epoxy clear hardener #207 with #105 resin).
How do I apply epoxy? I love to seal and coat with epoxy. I do this to make items more durable, smoother and shiny. I paint the epoxy on with an inexpensive small paint brush and let the items dry on a surface that has been covered with packing tape because the epoxy doesn’t stick to packing tape. You don’t need a large amount, thin coats are best.
Where can I find plant material? OUTSIDE!!!!! So this is the fun part. LOOK everywhere. I have found items on shrubs, trees, on the ground in the woods and everywhere I go. Make sure and take a picture of the plant/tree you harvested your materials from so you can later identify it. Also, take care not to harvest something that is irritating to your skin. I once had a friend harvest dry poison ivy thinking it was a vine she could use, big mistake :( . Dried gourds can be cut for into shapes you need. Asian markets are also a great place to find interesting nuts and seeds for a fabulous price.
Does the clasp have to work? No, the clasp does not have to be a working clasp, just resemble one.
Do I need prongs or a bezel? As of 2019, GCA show schedules must state whether you need them or not. To be on the safe side, always ask your class consultant.
Do pins need a fastener? If you are glueing or attaching a pin to a velvet form you do not need a fastener. Some shows require one if you are displaying on a flat surface. Again, to be on the safe side, always ask your class consultant.
Does the material have to be dry? In most cases, Botanical Arts are made from all dried plant material. Sometimes the class description will allow for fresh materials as well, just read the schedule carefully. You are allowed to glue material that is fresh and paint it because the item will be dried before the show. In other words, I once dried fresh boxwood to the heel of a shoe because it is much easier to use while pliable. In the weeks that followed before the show, the boxwood most certainly dried out.
How do you paint the detail in your pieces? There are two ways I paint to bring out detail. In the first one, I spray paint the piece all flat black and let it dry. Then I use a wax paint (such as rub-n-buff gold) and apply a small amount and rub it with a paper towel. This technique was used in the body of a butterfly . The other method is using a glaze. I paint a piece the color I want then I use simply mix a glaze of darker color (such as brown). I mix that color with water and brush it on the piece, quickly dabbing it with paper towel to take away the dark glaze everywhere except the nooks and crannies to bring out the detail. I seal the with epoxy once dry for a glossy look.
How do you paint iridescent effects? I sometimes will mix pearl-ex pigments into a clear gel to give an iridescent effect.
How do you make beveled gems? I will sand some items to create a bevel. Sand with fine sand paper (such as 800 grit) and create shapes you want. Remember to seal afterwards (see question #1).
How do you dry plant material? I either will hang the material in a dry, warm place or use silica gel. I have even used silica gel in a microwave on 50% power to dry items quickly. You can research how to do this on the internet or watch how to use silica gel on the informational videos page.