Tangles, Twists and Treasures

Romantic Jewelry and Fine Things

A Window Into My World, Build A Line Challenge, Blog Hop #1


A Window Into My World

I’m Gina-Marie Hammer, and I’m honored to be one of 36 participants in the 2016 Build a Line Challenge, hosted by B’Sue Boutiques. I work in paper, paint, thread, yarn and wire, and make everything from toys to small decorative items. Over the years I’ve spent time working as an accountant, a game designer, an advocate for folks with Fibromyalgia and a teacher. I opened my advocacy site Netjera.com (“Art. Games. Life.”) in 2008. (https://www.facebook.com/Netjera-188871454532434/)


Nonno and Nonna at Mom’s Wedding in 1967

This is my Nonna. Nonna started me with yarn and a needle at age 7. She used to sit me on her lap, where I would watch, fascinated, as she twisted thread around needle, and made something out of nothing. She recognized a hyperactive child with an extensive imagination and a broad sense of curiosity. In her mind, crochet would teach me to sit still and focus – and it worked! I’ve been a crafter ever since, and an artist since age 16.

When I was twelve, I went to a middle school that had a full jewelry workshop. I remember sitting at the lapidary station, trying to facet a raw amethyst. I moved before finishing, but I still HAVE that amethyst – the experience so stuck in my mind! It’s funny how life can come full circle. I’m back to jewelry again!

<I wanted to show you guys a picture of the amethyst, which I just found recently – but now I can’t figure out where I put it!>

I’m lucky enough to have great family; so I live in a shared house where I have a separate room for my studio. It’s cramped, small and alarmingly multi-purpose, but I fill it with things that I love! I’ve always had a love of miniatures and because my Dad is allergic to pets of all kinds, they’ve become something of an audience for me. I put them around my studio and imagine they’re cheering for me. Sometimes, I take them down and use them for inspiration in my work. Of course – not to be denied! – I must often bear the burden of playing with them, as well.


Various toys and PEZ dispensers.



Movie miniatures and figures, PEZ dispensers, Skinny the Cat and wood carvings from my Grandmother’s collection.

Seeing these photos, it should therefore, come as a huge surprise (to no one!) that I fell in love with these teeny tiny children that B’Sue offers. Aren’t they precious? I’m incredibly fascinated by small details, and every bit is perfect. Tiny fingers, perfect shoes, little pompoms – it’s all there.

pink dollblue doll

When I saw Brenda Sue Landsdowne of B’Sue Boutiques do a video where she placed a tiny doll into a maple leaf as part of a necklace, all I could see were fairy wings. The leaf looked like wings behind the doll, and wouldn’t it be SO sweet if I could make a selection of fairies using the dolls and various leaves, wings and other pieces? When I found out that B’Sue Boutiques was hosting a master-level class, called the Build-a-Line Challenge, I knew exactly what I was going to do! I’ve purchased TEN of those little dolls, and every bit and piece I could find that looked like a wing. It’s going to be an adventure pulling it all together! At the end of the class, I’m hoping to have at least five pieces completed.

In 2013 I decided that I wanted to open my own crafting business. I started in crochet, where it all began. In the process of researching an unrelated project, I found photo jewelry and got hooked through a backdoor. Some of my early pieces use photo jewelry construction to create simple, yet pretty pendants.

Chiyogami75CollageI really enjoy making these, and I return to them often. From them, I’ve evolved a line of hand-painted cabochons, made in a similar way. I went from that to trying to include those cabochons in other pieces, using more than pre-made bezels. It was a year of slow, cautious progress, until I found Brenda Sue and her video tutorials. Since then, my work has taken a serious leap forward!

8cde3-6a00d8348f44da53ef01b7c7e61b54970b-800wi IMG_5617

Collage_WinterSnowflakeBracelet_NoFUFI have a love of dangles, shiny metals, graceful vines leaves and flowers, painted, iridescent surfaces, and delicate wire work. My love of crochet fits in perfectly! As a matter of fact, everything I’ve learned in other fields is useful in jewelry making!

I’m hoping my line, which is unnamed at present but which may be called “Tiny Fairies”, will be a marriage of whimsical, fantasy themes with romantic, Art Nouveau styling. I’m currently at the drawing board, pulling things together in Photoshop, and working with several designs.

DollTest pinkDollTest1

Stay tuned for more development, and in-progress work reports and pictures! We’ll have another blog hop on Friday, the 26th of February, and our last on Friday, April 1st. Do me a favor and give a little love to my friends below? They’re working hard to make pretty stuff as well, and our sponsor B’Sue Boutiques deserves some major kudos for putting this all together – Brenda Sue has great stuff on her site! Give her a look!

Brenda Sue Lansdowne Jewelry Making Outside the Box


Diana Buynak Butterfly Emporium Ceramic Studio



Irene Hoffman, Heart’s Dezire by Irene



Clare Wells Nemeth, Creative Magick



Mary Reckmeyer, Afrayed Not



Marcia Tuzzolino, Aurora Designs



Elizabeth Wilks, Wearable Art by Lizzie



Jeanette Rose Belmont, One Canvas At A Time



Lyn Joy Reeve, A Journey From Jewels To Jubilation



Belinda Reed-Ingle, Vogue Rocks



Beth Trubman, The Journey of Jewelry



Carole Carlson, Bead Sophisticate



Jann Tague, Clever Designs by Jann



Shari Gardner, SLG Jewelry Designs



Susan Bolton, Fern’s Place



Chris Kemp, Noodle Pie Bracelets



Barbara Kelley, Angels’ Keep



Susan Bowerman, Woodside Wireworks



Pamela Anger, Novegatti Designs



Joan Donovan, Hailey’s Cottage



Alison Huie, Ally’s Baubles



Sharon Palac, Sharon’s Jewelry Garden



Erica Olmos, Beeb’s Closet



Erin Whitacre, Shattered Time Jewelry



Fran Sitton, Sitton Up Front



Ginger Hammond, Lynn Leigh Designs



Paula Gaskill, Lovely LaylaBug Jewels



Mary Deis, The Rose Sword



Renee Webb Allen, Small Stuff Design



Valerie Tilghman, ArtJewelsandGifts



Chris Cravens, Vintage Cravens



Leslie Carver, Adorn Divine Designs



Donna Parry, JewelryDonna



Kelly Wymer, Winged Wisdom Enchantments




Build-a-Line Challenge

There’s been a lot going on, and I’ve been meaning to post a New Year’s post FOR WEEKS. I still intend to, late though it will be.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to keep up with the very fast-paced Build-a-Line Master Challenge hosted through B’Sue Boutiques. I’m learning a LOT, but the class is moving fast, fast FAST. Our first blog hop is on January 29, 2016, and will feature blog posts from all of the current class participants. Look for my post here, and follow along with all the other attendees!

Below is a test list of all the blog hop participants – I can’t wait for this to start!

Brenda Sue Lansdowne Jewelry Making Outside the Box


Diana Buynak – Butterfly Emporium Ceramic Studio


Irene Hoffman – Heartsdezirebyirene


Clare Wells Nemeth – Creative Magick


Mary Reckmeyer – Afrayedknot


Marcia Tuzzolino – Aurora Designs


Elizabeth Wilks – Wearable Art by Lizzie


Jeanette Rose Belmont – One Canvas at a time


Lyn Joy Reeve – A Journey from Jewels to Jubilation


Belinda Reed-Ingle – Vogue Rocks


Beth Trubman – The Journey of Jewelry


Carole Carlson – Beadsophisticate


Jann Tague – Clever Designs by Jann


Shari Gardner – SLG Jewelry Designs


Susan Bolton – Fern’s Place


Chris Kemp – NoodlePie Bracelets


Barbara Kelley – Angels’ Keep


Susan Bowerman – Woodside WireWorks


Pamela Anger – Novegatti Designs


Joan Donovan – Hailey’s Cottage


23. Alison Huie – Ally’s Baubles


Sharon Palac – Sharon’s Jewelry Garden


Erica Olmos – Beeb’s Closet


Erin Whitacre – Shattered Time Jewelry


Fran Sitton – Sitton Up Front


Ginger Hammond – Lynn Leigh Designs


Paula Gaskill – Lovely LaylaBug Jewels


Mary Katherine – The Rose Sword


Renee Webb Allen – Small Stuff Design


Valerie Tilghman- ArtJewelsandGifts


Chris Cravens Vintage Cravens


Leslie Carver


Donna Parry, JewelryDonna


Gina-Marie Hammer – Tangles, Twists and Treasures


37. Kelly Wymer Winged Wisdom Enchantments


Inventory Management and Show Post-Mortems

IMG_0632Prompted by a post by Cindy Peterson over at Howling Wolf Jewelry, I have a couple of blog posts in the works about Inventory Management – why it’s necessary, why you want to do it early, what does it mean, how does it help you, and what’s the easiest way to manage it.  I’ll be splitting the information into two posts – the whys and wherefores, and the system I’m currently using – in an attempt to help you on your “makering” journey.

However, I want both posts to be *really* concise, and I’d like to take a bit of time on them, so in the meantime, I’m going to do a quick postmortem of my last two events, since those have been waiting for attention.

Garden Club at Palm Coast, District VI Meeting

This was a small, invitation-only event specifically for Garden Club members in the District VI area.  They hosted a luncheon and meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn, and asked a few vendors to sell items.  Tangles, Twists and Treasures was one of three or four vendors present.  Table fee was a percentage of sales, which went towards the scholarship fund for the Garden Club at Palm Coast.

The day was rainy, but the venue was nice.  There was coffee and danish for the morning, but the vendors were left to their own devices for lunch.  As the meeting was over by two, an easy option was to skip lunch.  Conversely, we could pay the $20+/person to attend the meeting, and get to enjoy the panels and the hotel-provided lunch, but we opted not to do that.  Our third option was Panera, which was within walking distance.  Next time, I’ll bring a lunch.  Panera was almost as expensive as the meeting lunch!

Another small downside to the event was the cramped table setups.  Part of this was my fault, not having had the experience to know how to manage such a small amount of space.  The tables were set up on either side of a corridor which had to remain clear for hotel traffic.  We were allocated a table with two chairs, but the table was pushed against the wall, and the chairs had to be placed on either side, rather than behind it.  This made for a different kind of setup, and as we never actually got our second chair, my assistant and I had to take turns sitting, or borrowing an open chair from another booth across the way.  It was rather aggravating.  Often, I had to remind her not to pull a chair up to the table, as that prevented buyers from seeing everything.

On the other hand, it gave me a taste of what it would be like to have an open booth setup, where people walk into the booth, and I’m sitting in the middle of the goods, rather than behind the table.  There are definitely problems, as chair placement is a serious issue, otherwise people are walking behind you.  I also found managing supplies and the cash box to be a challenge.  I’m still trying to determine the merits of each approach, and that might turn into another blog post at a later time.

This was my third time selling through the Garden Club at Palm Coast, and I’ve never regretted my affiliation there.  They’re a wonderful group of people, and spend a great deal of time and effort to make the world around them a more-beautiful place.  They’re active in education, assist the community by monitoring green spaces, and planting trees to honor deceased members of the community, and regularly lobby for funds to help clean waterways, rebuild reefs and repopulate pine trees and other native plants lost for various reasons.  Furthermore, they’re very supportive of each other, which makes the Club a terrific place to make friends.

Because of this event, I got asked to attend another Garden Club event in Ormond Beach in February.  The Tilandsia Garden Club is hosting a game-night event, and is looking for a few vendors.  I’m both honored and excited that the coordinator said, “I want your booth there!”

St. Brendan’s Catholic Church Annual Craft Fair

This event has been going on for several years – four alone, I believe, under it’s current coordinator, Cara O’Keefe.  This was, to date, the biggest craft fair I’ve attended.  Over 50 vendors set up in a social hall over a weekend.  Outdoor spaces were available, but very few were purchased.  Almost everyone was inside for this event, which was one of the smoothest events I’ve ever known.

I saw three or four times the traffic I’ve had at other events, but unfortunately, made half the sales.  I doubled table-fee, which was good, leaving me some wiggle room for materials after-the-fact, but based on reviews, I expected to do far better.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.  Quite a few of the vendors expressed surprise as this was usually one of their best shows.  Several didn’t make table all weekend, making me extremely proud that I had.  There was a lot of speculation as to reasons, and the general consensus was “not enough traffic”.  To me, there seemed to be more than adequate traffic compared to my other events!  Apparently, when you have 50 vendors in such a small space, you need to have a lot more traffic than I thought!

I found out later that we were fighting for traffic with several other craft fairs in the area, as well as the Seafood Festival, the Greek Festival and the Volusia County Fair.  Others said they’d attended the County Fair after leaving Saturday evening, and they saw people eating, but nobody was buying.  Speculation continued that there were too many events fighting for attention, while some folks wondered if the economy were taking a downturn.  Vendors who attended the Ponce Inlet event in September (the one I missed because I couldn’t procure an event tent quickly enough), said that was their best show; followed by the Prince of Peace event (the one that was overbooked for me), then another slight decline at an event right before St. Brendan’s, with St. Brendan’s being their worst.  They wondered if this steady decline was a trend which would continue through Christmas?

While the sales did not meet my expectations, nor match the sales I’ve done at other events, I would certainly attend this event again.  This event had many repeat vendors who said that this is often their best show of the year, and this year’s poor sales were an anomaly.  It was one of the best-run events I’ve ever witnessed.  It was smooth from end-to-end, and the coordinator was visible and available all weekend.  There were multiple amenities for vendors.  Saturday there was an on-site breakfast of bagels and donuts, for a small fee.  On-site, homemade lunch included a choice of three different soups, fully-loaded hot-dogs with homemade chili, various types of home made breads, and brownies for dessert.  ($3 purchased 12oz of soup, 2 rolls and a brownie.)  Pizza was ordered Saturday evening, and available for $1/slice.  Sodas were available for a small charge, but coffee was free all day.  Sunday saw the same breakfast and lunch choices, except that a brilliant individual also made gigantic homemade cinnamon rolls and sold them for $0.50 apiece. Vendors didn’t have to travel off-site at any time during the weekend, and got a better, less-expensive meal than could be procured at any nearby takeout place.

Volunteers were also available to sit at your table if you needed to run to the restroom, take a lunch break or you just wanted to stretch your legs.  The entire hall was spotless, including the restrooms.

Every vendor I met was friendly and helpful.  Many offered advice and spoke of their experiences, which was a huge help to someone starting out.  I enjoyed the entire weekend, because the company was just great, and the event was so smooth.

At the end of the weekend, the coordinator passed out a survey asking the vendors for feedback, and whether they’d be willing to attend again next year.  Returning vendors are put on a priority list.  There was also a drawing for a free vendor space at next year’s show.

All-in-all, this event is a “must-do” in my book, and I plan to attend for at least the next few years.  I want to get a good long view of how sales pan out over time, and it’s certainly worth the risk, in my opinion.

Who Am I, and Why Do I Blog?

TestAs a person, asking me why I blog is sort of like asking me why I have skin. Blogging is a huge part of me because journaling is such a huge part of me because writing is such a tremendous part of me. Do we see a pattern here? I both do and do not keep a personal blog. When I write about personal feelings and bad days and upcoming events, and I record historical happenings, I tend to do all that in a hardbound journal where I can doodle, and while away the hours without paying much attention. When I blog, it’s usually with a purpose, so even my personal blog – which is all about living with Fibromyalgia – has a purpose.

If you’re asking me why I’m *here* – why *this* blog – why *now*? I’m not sure I have an answer to that yet. This is a business blog.  I started my business accidentally. It evolved out of all different kinds of things that I’ve explored, which have taken root in my heart. I know that I need a blog, but as a jeweler and artist, I’m not really sure what to *do* with it. Right now, it has no focus.

If I were a materials supplier, my blog could be full of featured products and tutorials, but as an artist, I don’t necessarily want to focus in that direction.  I’d really like to use this blog to distinguish my company and products.  I’m just not entirely sure how to do that.

Blogging 101 & Writing 101

TestSo I probably failed to mention – considering how busy I’ve become in the last month – that I’m working on improving the look and performance of my blog, and I’ve begun an online class through Blogging University to brush up on my writing basics (Writing 101) as well as improve my blogging skills (Blogging 101).  I may find that I don’t strictly *need* these classes, but I’d rather review the information and be sure, than think I’ve got it covered, and fail miserably.

Of course, I’m about 10 days behind the syllabus at the moment, because of having two events back-to-back in the first two weeks of the class, so expect multiple blog posts to power through the material.

Fall Goddess Necklace Featured in B’Sue Boutiques Newsletter

B’Sue Boutique’s newsletter came out today, and guess what?  The Tangles, Twists and Treasures Fall Goddess necklace was featured!  I even got a personal shout-out and I was SO proud!  What a terrific experience!

The Colors of Fall Jewelry Challenge, B’Sue Boutiques Creative Group

Fall Goddess Necklace

A Tangles, Twists and Treasures exclusive signature piece. Crocheted wire and bead necklace with a hand-cast/hand-painted resin cameo focal.  Materials: Wood, glass, brass, resin, alcohol ink, acrylic paint, glaze and non-toxic glue.  $175.
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Why Community Involvement is Good for Business

IMG_4827I recommend that no matter how busy you are, you make time to get involved in your local community. Most people consider big charities as a worthy recipient for their time and money, but community involvement is equally important. This is where *you* live, after all. Helping to make it a safer, more beautiful, brighter and caring place benefits you directly.

Did you realize, however, that being involved in your local community can also be an invaluable source of networking and free marketing for your business? When I began volunteering at the Garden Club at Palm Coast, I did not. As an individual, the opportunity to volunteer fills an empty spot inside of you. Knowing that you are doing something to benefit where you live, or a specific cause, can be a great source of pride. I firmly believe that no matter how bad off we think we are, we always have something to give, and that giving it benefits ourselves as well as others.

Which Charity Should You Pick?

The charity you select can be anything. You might sponsor the Boy Scouts so that their after-school programs are funded and young men continue to have a place to go. Or you might volunteer at an animal shelter, helping after-hours to find homes for many of the animals held there. Libraries are always looking for volunteers, and are involved heavily with other community groups.  If you enjoy books, the library might be a good beginning.  You could patrol streets and pick up trash on weekends, help clean up the beaches in your area, or volunteer at a newspaper covering community news. You might even decide to join a group that isn’t a charity – like a local social club.  All of these things help to enrich your life, and the lives of so many others.

Why Get Involved?

As a business, volunteering can be priceless. The opportunities for networking are extensive. When you volunteer, people get to know you. They see how hard you work, they see the passion inside of you, and they appreciate what you can give – whatever it is. Over time, they become familiar with you as a person, and as a business. Volunteers come from all walks of life, and when another volunteer needs help with something, they’re more likely to think of someone they know through the community. Further, when your group has fund-raising events and needs vendors, or other types of paid support, who do you think they will go to?

Shortly after becoming a member of the Garden Club at Palm Coast, I was offered the opportunity to vend at their Spring Expo. I was thrilled at the opportunity, and was told that they were looking to make a permanent list of reliable vendors. Not only would they do the Spring Expo, but also smaller events. Since then, I’ve sold my pieces at a monthly meeting, participated in the District VI meeting as a vendor, and I have a third event lined up for a sister club in February. That’s four sales opportunities from one club. Through my involvement with a social club – Palm Coast Game Night – I’ve also shown my work at parties hosted by individual members. I can credit most of my sales to these two clubs. If a member didn’t buy a piece, they were directly responsible for putting me in a position where someone else would see me, and either purchase a piece or ask me to work another event.

There are also secondary benefits to volunteering which should never be overlooked. Since becoming a member I’ve met hairdressers, printers, lawyers, mathematicians, engineers – you name it. If I have a legal question, I’m far more likely to go to the lawyer in our group, than a stranger I don’t know. If I need a haircut, or I’m looking to branch into hair accessories, I’ll go to the hairdresser who’s a member of our group. In this way, it’s a benefit for everyone. I get services from people I trust, and they get business as well.

All of this proves that community involvement should be an important part of your strategy for living. The spiritual benefits are innumerable, and should never be ignored. Trust me: I’m not discounting the pride or happiness you’ll get from helping out. I feel it! However, most people overlook the business benefits of community involvement.  Now, you’re armed with all the knowledge you need to make a wise decision.

The Garden Club at Palm Coast handles memorials and plantings around Palm Coast, FL, teaches community members about native plantings and ecology in the area, and sponsors a scholarship fund to help the local area high school. Once a year, they have a Spring Expo, which features sales of many garden-related items, booths from outside vendors and food, as well as recognizing a young artist for the year through their poster contest. The second Monday of each month, they host a general meeting and luncheon at the Extension Office in Bunnell. These meetings cover a range of topics such as low-maintenance plants, herb gardening, environmental concerns such as water conservation, or purely aesthetic topics such as flower arranging. They are entirely funded through member contributions, donations and time.

Palm Coast Game Night is a social group based out of Palm Coast, FL.  Individuals host a variety of game-related events at member houses or various public locations around town. Sometimes events are themed to a particular holiday, but all revolve around food, fellowship and fun.  Games of all kinds abound.

My Experience with the Prince of Peace 34th Annual Craft Fair

TestI was really excited when I head about the Prince of Peace Craft Fair in Ormond Beach.  It has a long  history of success – this will be its 34th year! – and is fairly large, with over 50 vendors.  I felt that it would be a good fit for my growing business, and I had reason to believe I would do well there.  Unfortunately, from start-to-finish, this event was a complete fiasco.  It was poorly advertised, difficult to book and completely mismanaged.

It began in September.  A friend found the advertisement in the Penny Saver, and brought it to my attention.  I immediately emailed the included contact, trying to book a table.  After a week of waiting for an email response, I emailed again.  Another week passed.  This time, my only response was a few words, “Having trouble with email.  Call me.”  No number.  I was lucky I keep everything and still had the ad clipping.

I called the next day, and was informed that the event was booked, but that there was a waiting list.  There had been a cancellation, and the person ahead of me had already been given a table, so the organizer felt confident that I would be able to get a table.  She was also going to talk to them about adding more tables, so the chances would be better than 75%.  She would call me if something opened up.

I tentatively began to prepare for the event by laying in extra supplies, and creating more products.  I had another event the same week – The District VI Meeting for the Garden Club at Palm Coast.  (Review to follow.)  I knew it would be tight planning two events close together, but the Garden Club event was small and intimate – very different from the big event at Prince of Peace – so I felt fairly confident I could make pieces which overlapped both events, and I wouldn’t be too tired to manage them both.

I received the phone call the second week of October.  I was in!  I mailed in my check with just a week to go before the event, and started doubling up products, in preparation for what would be the biggest event I’d done.  I pulled many sleepless nights last week, and went to the Garden Club event on 2.5 hours of sleep, in order to have enough products for both.

Yesterday, I was informed – in a rather unprofessional manner – that the organizer had “overbooked the event” and didn’t “have a table for” me.  I invested so much time and money into products that I was flabbergasted.  Could she do this to me?  Keep me dangling on the hook and then cancel me last minute?  Whether it’s legal, or possible, she did.  I’m now waiting for my booth check to be returned, and I’m hoping I’ll receive it in a timely fashion – but considering the slipshod manner in which this event was handled, I’m really worried.

Now, I’m very torn.  I really thought this event, because of its size and longevity would be a winner.  Should I attempt to get into this event again next year, hoping that if I try early enough I can manage a table?  Or should I snub this event because of how I was treated?  I’m extremely disappointed in the organizer of this event, and the event in general, so I’m not sure what to do.

Things I’ve Learned About Drying Rose Petals


Over 600 fresh rose petals!

  1. It takes a lot of standing. I don’t like having to stand that long.
  2. It’s quick – for small amounts of petals. Each group takes between 2 and 3 minutes to dry.
  3. It’s not so great for large amounts of petals. Say, over 600, like what I had from the florist’s shop. See #1.
  4. There’s a point between the first minute of microwaving and the second minute of microwaving, where the petals aren’t quite dry, and they become soft, like rubber. This is the perfect time to stretch them a bit so that they lay flat.
  5. Microwaving large numbers of petals makes for a very hot plate. Is it possible to stress fracture ceramics by heating and cooling them repeatedly in succession? I don’t know. Also, I have no idea if it’s possible to burn out your microwave by repeatedly using it for hours. Finally – can you irradiate yourself doing this? These are all questions I have.
  6. They shrink. A LOT. Think “Shrinky-Dink” a lot. They pretty-much halve their original size.
  7. Drying rose petals this way cooks them – which has two effects. First, it darkens them. Red rose petals become burgundy, coral-colored rose petals turn red. Darker pinks darken, lighter pinks miraculously stay the same, as do yellows. Multicolored “blush” roses (yellow with hints of green and red), become yellow with hints of green and burgundy. It’s odd that dark colors darken, but lighter colors seem to stay the same. Second – when you cook anything, it smells. Cooked rose petals have a cloyingly sweet smell to them. After two days of cooking petals for several hours each day, I was thoroughly sick of the smell.

Accidental Good Fortune

Back-side of a rose petal glass paperweight.

I’ve been using dried rose petals in my jewelry lately. The first few were accidental. I found several that I’d saved from a dried up bouquet hidden in an old medicine bottle for safe-keeping. They were brown, but not brittle. I discovered that when I put them under glass, the glue did wonderful things to them. The browned petals looked like leather.

Dyed rose petal pendant.

I accidentally spilled a little alcohol ink on one of the browned petals. The ink was absorbed immediately, but the colors became dark and vibrant. I put those under glass, as well. I learned that colored rose petals, at least the dry ones, look like butterfly wings. It was magical.

I decided to call a neighborhood florist, and see if I could get any discarded plant or floral material. I wanted to experiment. I got very lucky. They do weddings and other events on the weekend, and always have an abundance of rose petals that are thrown away on Monday or Tuesday. By the time I went in, they had a days’ worth of floral material, and a shopping bag FULL of rose petals.


Selecting the Process

Being part of the Resin Art Fun Open Forum on Facebook, I’ve encountered several people who like to put flowers into resin, or fill bulbs with resin and drop flowers and other dried material into them. I’ve heard a number of things about how to go about drying flowers. Some people use the oven, others the microwave. Dehydrators are popular, but in my opinion don’t offer enough control over the process. They’re good for bulk drying, of whole flowers, though. Dump them in the trays, set the thing to dry, and walk away. It’s tempting because you don’t have to babysit it. See #1.

Some people swear by kitty litter, and others use silica. I wanted to stay away from the latter because of its toxicity, and the former due to space considerations. In my tiny studio, there’s not much space for large bins full of kitty litter or silica, with flowers embedded in them.

Because of finances and space, the microwave would’ve been selected at this point, regardless. But essentially, it was time constraints which forced the issue. I expected to procure a few petals. 600 petals took up two plastic bins, and they weren’t going to last much more than a day before becoming unusable! The microwave was what I had on-hand. The microwave was what I used.

The Drying Process

It’s a tedious process, and turns out to be rather time consuming if you’re drying a large quantity of petals, as I was, but it gives you greater control over how the petals come out, and it doesn’t require any funny chemicals.

Originally, I only did 15 at a time (See #3). I soon found that for the first heating, I could fill the dish. Although they would sometimes wrinkle, the shrinkage was so great that they soon ceased to touch. 20 seemed to be the magic number for a standard dinner plate. In my opinion, this is still a small amount. 636 petals divided by 20 became 32 batches of petals. While each batch only takes 2 – 3 minutes to cook, there’s time spent sorting petals, laying them on the plate, letting the utensils cool, checking them for “doneness” and putting them away. (You’re on your feet the whole time.) I found that most batches took me closer to 15 minutes. That’s the equivalent of roughly 477 minutes for drying rose petals – almost 8 hours – which is exactly what I spent – four hours the first day, and four hours the second day.

Rubbery multi-colored petals after 1 minute of heating.

Numbers aside, the process is simple. Put a paper towel on a dish, lay the petals, cover with another paper towel and microwave for one minute. Turn the petals, smoothing them flat – they’re a bit stretchy at this point – sort of like rubber (See #4). Re-cover. Microwave another minute. When you remove the petals, they should be dry and stiff. Handle them gently. They *will* crumble.

636 dried rose petals only fills half a bin!

Typically, 2 minutes was all I needed. It was easy to tell when the petals weren’t done – areas would still feel soft or rubbery. When the whole petal doesn’t feel that way, it’s dry. Sometimes another 30 seconds to one minute was needed to get problem areas.  After I was done, I put them in one of the plastic bins. They don’t look like much, do they?


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