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Re: Off the wall question from a newbie. preserving the blooms

  • Subject: Re: Off the wall question from a newbie. preserving the blooms
  • From: "Elizabeth Campbell" <desinadora@mail2designer.com>
  • Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 04:32:42 -0800

You're talking about preserving a fresh inflorescence by coating it in 5-minute epoxy? Or a dried one? Honestly, since I do this kind of thing with orchids, the easiest thing to do is to prepare a dip-bath of epoxy, and thoroughly coat the inflorescence by submersion. Normally, I fix a long pin into the flower, then gently lower it in, swirl it around a bit to get the air bubbles out, then quickly remove it, drain the excess epoxy off, and stick it, using the pin as a support, into a block of polystyrene to set. You can do multiple layers of epoxy that way. Practise a bit, and you'll be able to do 2-3 blooms before the bath sets and becomes useless.

You can also preserve them in polyester resin; other people here have pointed out that this is a somewhat dangerous process, but so long as you have a respirator mask with NIOSH-approved organics filters (and these are available at WalMart, as well as more specialized painting stores), you'll be quite safe. Polyester has the benefit of having a longer open-time once catalyzed than 5-min epoxy; the basic process of preservation is the same, or conversely you can pour the inflorescence into a clear block of resin. Look in your phonebook under "plastics" to find companies that sell the resin; when I lived in Canada, a gallon of clear with its catalyst (Methyl Ethyl Ketone Peroxide, or MEKP) was about $30. Here in Ecuador, I buy it at the paint store for much less. If you decide to preserve the blooms in blocks, glass makes the best mould, followed by silicone and finally teflon-coated metal. Use mould-release, which will be available at the store where you buy the resin. I f you're really interested in learning the process in detail, send me a private email and I can certainly lay it out for you. It's not as difficult as most people might think, it just takes patience and a bit of practise...

For a really big inflorescence, like that of the A. titanum, the best way to go about preserving it would be to pour clear polyester resin down it in several successive coats, or to spray it on with a big airbrush. To preserve it in block form would take several hundred gallons, and a mould would have to be purpose-made for the process, probably out of aluminum.

Hope this helps!


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