Monday, February 11, 2008

So many uses for Resin; How about a Family Tree!

I don't know about anyone else, but I just love to use RESIN! I can think of so many different art forms to use this stuff in, from jewelry applications to collage, as a thick sealer over anything, and even as a super duper glue. The first time I ever used resin was with bottle caps. This was an art project done with a whole group of children who all belonged to the same Sunday school. They wanted to make a Family Tree of sorts for the whole school. Everyone got to put in some family pictures as well as individual leaves with sayings written on them. The project turned out just wonderful!

I think this would be a wonderful way to create a personal Family Tree, if done on a smaller scale. I started with a piece of clear Plexiglas cut out in the shape of a tree. I used a Sharpie to draw the tree on the plastic and then used a Roto Zip tool to cut out all the shapes. It was very messy, with all the plastic flying all around. Don't do this in your kitchen like I did; take it to the garage and wear safety glasses and a mask. Silly me... of course on a smaller scale, it wouldn't be as hard either! After the tree was cut out, I used sandpaper to smooth out all the edges. Since my piece of Plexiglas was so large, I did have to buy it from a local specialty business that does glass replacement, but you could buy yours from a hardware store.

The students were given acrylic paints in many different shades of greens, yellows, browns, and orange; they randomly painted one sheet of typing paper in each color scheme, trying to create some areas of texture in each piece. These papers were then left to dry and later, all of the paper was torn into small pieces according to the colors. We put each color into a bucket so everyone's papers were all combined. They turned the tree to the backside and everyone collaged the paper to the tree. The greens, yellows, and oranges went towards the top of the tree and the browns went on the trunk and limbs of the tree. The backside was sealed with a thick coat of Mod Podge, because it was less expensive and still did a great job of sealing the collaged side.

I printed out a whole bunch of leaves, all the same shape and size. I cut them all out so the size would be all the same. I cut up a whole bunch of inexpensive craft wire, all the same length. Using wide, clear packing tape, we adhered the wire to one side of the leaves right down the middle, like a vein would be on a real leaf. The children used colored pencils to write or draw anything they wanted on the other side of the leaves, then another piece of tape was put on the top and bottom (so the bottoms actually had two layers of tape), sticky sides together... it was like laminating the leaves with the wire in place. I trimmed away the excess tape, but left the wire sticking out as if it were a stem.

Every family was allowed to submit three photos to me. I took them all home and scanned them into my computer. I photo cropped them into circles, (Make sure that you have everything you want inside the circle and that it is centered.) then sized them to fit inside a bottle cap. (During the sizing process it shrinks the whole circle, making everything smaller and smaller until it is just the right size.) I had to print out a few in different sizes to get just what I needed, but after I had the correct size for one, the rest were easy. I just eyeballed them to the same size as the one I kept on the workspace as my guide. The steps were: scan and save each picture into a folder; insert each picture into the flyer; crop each picture; size each picture; and move each picture into a line, creating rows of little circle pictures. That way I could print a lot of them on one sheet of photo paper.

The bottle caps were then filled with RESIN!
You mix the resin and the hardener in equal parts, then gently stir so you don't get too many air bubbles. It is very important that you use exactly the same amount of each or it will not dry. Then you pour the mixed resin into the bottle cap and set them aside to dry overnight on a level surface. Work in a well ventilated area.

I drilled small holes into the tree to insert the leaves. Then mixed up another big batch of resin and poured it all over the front side; in doing so, I attached all the leaves and filled any gaps left from the drilled holes. The bottle caps were already attached in place with E600 glue, but this last coat of resin also strengthened everything. Be sure to cover the area below so drips won't damage your work surface, and raise your tree up on shoe boxes or a similar item so it won't sit flat while curing. If anyone has any questions just write to me and I will help you with them. Good Luck and Have fun! - Edie.

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