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Encasing Natural Objects in Acrylics: Petals and Leaves

12 thoughts on “Encasing Natural Objects in Acrylics: Petals and Leaves”

  1. What a fascinating article! I am a member of the Nature Printing Society, and I’ve had failure and success experimenting with leaves and flowers–preserving, printing, and storing. It’s great to learn from someone else’s experiments. (By the way, the demo that NPS received from Barbara DePirrot on printing with Golden Open Acrylics was so helpful.) Thank you!

    • Thank you! We are glad you found the article to be of interest. We really enjoyed creating the examples, and look forward to seeing how they age as the years go by. Thank you also for letting us know how helpful Barbara De Pirro’s demo was — we will pass that on to the people leading our Working Artist program!
      Wishing you happy creating,

  2. Plants in acrylic gel article was great! I have been doing this for years with my handmade paper “site maps” series, and always use Golden fluid acrylics as paint (watering it down so it is more like watercolor0 and soft gel matte as glue. I often collect petals, leaves, grass and other natural materials in each place and use them fresh with Golden Acrylic Soft Gel Matte as the glue also over the top of the adhered leaf, petal, etc. Some discolor and some do not over time. The soft gel keeps it flexible over time and does not yellow. Actually, I embrace change over time in my work and have made many artworks meant to dissolve into compost and have seeds in the pulp to come back as living plants when installed outdoors on soil. I have many of these ‘site maps” that are still in good condition after 20 or more years. These are works on handmade paper that I also make from materials collected in each place. You can see some on my old website at http://www.janeingramallen.com and more recent work on my Blog at https://janeingramallen.wordpress.com

    • Hello Jane,
      Thank you so much for sharing, we are pleased you found our article to be of interest. Your work is fascinating and lovely! The idea of making site-specific art that features handmade paper which itself incorporates natural materials from that location, harvested in a non-damaging way, is wonderful. The “In Deep Water” installation appears especially lovely. Thank you again for commenting and sharing your links.
      Warm Regards, Cathy

  3. That was more than useful for me. I recently put a dried flower into an accordion book with matt fluid medium and so far the result is perfect. Since there will be no light on the flower, I fully expect it to be perfect years from now. I press flowers, leaves and grasses between the pages of a heavy catalogue with paper towels between pieces. That seems to work just fine

    • Hello June,
      Thank you for letting us know the article content is useful. That is what we desire! Thank you for sharing your approach to drying plants, too. When doing our testing, we thought how helpful those old paper phone books would be as flower presses. Be aware that acrylics are thermoplastic, and under pressure or in environments which are warm and humid, acrylics might become temporarily sticky… and occasionally can glue to surfaces against which they are pressed. Matte acrylics are less likely to do this than glossy acrylics. A thin coat of a microcrystalline wax polish over the acrylic, or the use of an interleaving material between the acrylic and the facing sketchbook page will stop this from happening. Silicone release paper or clear polyethylene plastic like that used for painting drop cloth are two interleaving options that can both be peeled from acrylic if they stick. Thank you again for your comment, and we wish you the best with your creations.

    • Thank you! With each test, we thought: but what about … and the testing continued. If we had not had a deadline for the article, we would probably still be testing!

  4. What is a good way to seal masking and painters tape that is applied to canvas so it doesn’t air age and start to peal from the face of a painting?

    • Hello Denis,
      Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, tape can continue to age even when it is coated with acrylics. In addition, putting a product on top will not increase adhesion beneath unless that product penetrates both the tape and the tape’s adhesive to make contact with and adhere to the surface to which the tape is applied. Acrylic over top of tape might hold the tape to the surface even the tape adhesion fails, but the freed tape might bow up a bit under the acrylic layer. An acid free tape might brown less with time, but this is not something we have studied. If the tape is fading or changing due to light, then providing a final coating that protects against UV damage might be helpful, but even this is only likely to slow down changes and not stop them. We wish we had a happier response, but most tape is meant to be ephemeral and so will continue to age and change with time. We hope this is helpful, and we are here when you have more questions.

  5. I am wondering if there is some other kind of sealant that you can spray on natural things first, before embedding in acrylic? Or could you paint or dip them in a resin first?

    • Hello, Kris.
      Thank you for your questions.
      Light coats of acrylic medium, such as High Flow Medium, or dilute GAC 100, can be used to secure the organic material. Spray Fixatives may also work to an extent. Very thin resins are also a possiblity. For example, KBS Coatings Diamond Clear is nearly water thin and craftsmen who make custom fishing lures (painted wood) will dip the lure into the product and then allow it to drip dry. Testing that we have done with the flowers and leaves is going to be limited but hopefully this article will give some guidance as to how you can test other materials and see which ones you find to work best.
      – Mike


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