Funeral flower jewelry is a memorial that you can literally keep close to your heart, whether you use the petals to make beads or encase small dried flowers in resin to make pendants. The secret to the beautiful keepsakes is ensuring that the flowers are thoroughly dry before you begin.
Dry the Flowers
You have several options for drying fresh flowers depending on whether you want to press them flat or to keep their three-dimensional aspects. The easiest is to hang them upside down for several weeks, out of the direct sun, after you’ve bundled the stems with rubber bands. You can also bury them in equal parts of boric acid and white cornmeal. For flattened flowers, tuck them between layers of old newspaper, telephone directories or catalogs before putting them between the pages of heavy books. Stack the books in a warm, dry place for two weeks. Change the paper after the first week for the best results.
Flower and Clay Beads
Once you have dried flowers, you’re ready to turn them into beads. Begin by removing the stems and placing the petals into your food processor. Pulse the petals until you get fine pieces. If you don’t want to use your kitchen equipment, you can also use a mortar and pestle or kitchen shears. Knead polymer clay in a color that complements your flower bits. When it is pliable, roll the clay into a snake with a 1/3-inch diameter and cut into 1/2-inch pieces or into lengths that will roll into the size beads you want to use. Roll the lengths into balls and flatten them slightly before pressing them into the flower pieces. Make a hole through the beads for stringing and bake them according to package instructions, which varies by manufacturer. When they’ve cooled, string them on beading wire alone or with other spacer beads and add a clasp to your necklace or bracelet.
If you don’t want round beads, use jewelry or small cookie cutters to make other shapes, such as a flower or butterfly from the polymer clay that you’ve rolled to about 1/2 inch thick. Press the flower pieces on all sides before baking them. Glue a bail to the back of the pendant and hang it from a ribbon, cord or chain.
Flower Resin Pendants
This option works especially well with small pressed flowers, but 3-D buds and blooms will also work. You can use a mold or place the flowers in a bezel. For molded pendants, wash and thoroughly dry new molds before using them. Spray the mold heavily with release spray and wait 10 minutes before wiping out the excess spray with a paper towel. Place the flower in the mold. Mix the resin according to the manufacturer’s directions and slowly drip it into the mold with a craft stick until the mold is filled. Use a dressmaker’s pin to break any bubbles, or blow across the surface through a straw or with a hair dryer to remove the bubbles. Reposition the flower, if needed, with the craft stick or a toothpick and let the resin cure in a dry, draft-free place overnight. Don’t touch the resin during this time, or your pendant may have permanent fingerprints on it. When the pendant is cured, drill a small hole or glue a bail on the back.
To preserve small flowers whole -- as large flowers may be too gaudy -- you can dip the flower into resin instead of placing it in a bezel. Keep the colors bright by preserving the flowers with glycerin first. Mix 10 parts glycerin to 2 parts water in a container that will hold the flower upright, marking the level of the glycerin mixture on the container. Crush or split the stem and place it in the container. When the petals feel leathery, you are ready to dip them.
Put a wooden skewer into the calyx to hold the bloom easily. Mix the resin according to package directions and pour it into a container that is as deep as the flower’s width plus 1 inch for each flower. Dip the flower straight down into the resin; this helps prevent bubbles. Release the skewer and allow the flower to float back to the top before removing it to cure. After it is thoroughly cured, you can re-dip the blooms if you want a heavier coating of resin.
Make a Resin-Filled Bezel Pendant
Begin by cutting a piece of scrapbook paper the size and shape of the inside of the bezel back. Paint it with equal parts of white glue and water or with decoupage medium. Let it dry on waxed paper and then turn it over and coat the other side. When it is thoroughly dried, spread a little glue on the inside of the bezel and place the paper inside.
Now, mix the resin according to the manufacturer’s directions and add some to the bottom of the bezel, filling it about a quarter to half full. Set your dried flowers on top, using a toothpick or craft stick to move them around as needed. Add more resin to fill the bezel and blow across the top through a straw to eliminate any bubbles. Add the dome to the pendant and allow the resin to cure.