Preserving Flowers With Wax
One of the most extraordinary ways of preserving flowers with wax has been passed down for many centuries. Even though it isn't a popular technique today, preserving flowers with wax was almost the same as the process of embalming that was carried out by Egyptians in preservation of human bodies. However, the process had been customized to cater to the world of flowers, ensuring that special occasions could be graced by these fresh flowers, preserved with wax, for a long time to come.
The Waxing Process
The process of preserving flowers with wax goes something like this:
• The first thing you need to do is get yourself about a pound of wax. Make sure that the quality of the wax is good and that you have a good bleached variety to ensure a clear colour
• Break the wax up into small pieces so that it is easier to melt. Make a bain-marie by placing a (preferably) porcelain bowl over boiling water to melt the wax. This allows you to melt the wax without letting it catch fire. Keep stirring the wax from time-to-time, ensuring that it melts evenly
• Once you have melted the wax, add about three tablespoons of turpentine oil - that's 3-tablespoons for a pound of wax. This will ensure that your wax retains a certain degree of softness that would, otherwise, be missing from pure wax
• The next bit involves picking the flowers you want and cleaning them up before you use them. Pick them right after the morning dew has evaporated, naturally, and then bring them in. Cut off the leaves and if required, leave a little bit of stem. When preserving flowers with wax, you can even keep a longer stem but that will just mean that you will have to pick a deeper bowl with enough wax to dip every inch of the flower in it. Alternately, you can just insert a straight wire through the flower before dipping it in, with the wire becoming the basis of a stem that can be added later
• Take the flowers and gently dip them into the perfectly liquid wax-turpentine solution
• Don't leave the flowers in the solution - just dip them in, take them out and you are ready to go!
• Shake off any excess liquid from the flowers and you are all set to leave them out to dry
• Hold them upright so that any excess wax runs down the flower and through every single part of it, all the way down the stem
• The wax cools quite quickly and within a few seconds, you should have some form of layer on your flowers. When preserving flowers with wax, you can lay the flowers down after the wax has cooled but make sure that it has, otherwise the side on the bottom will flatten out against the surface
Some Things to Remember when Preserving Flowers with Wax
When dealing with the process of preserving flowers with wax, there are certain things that you need to be really careful about, not just to get the right kind of results, but also to ensure that you are safe during the entire process. The first thing to remember is that even though you are using a bain-marie, the wax is hot and it can burn you. Make sure that you are always using a pair of tweezers or callipers or tongs to hold your flowers before dipping them into the wax.
Try not to drop your flowers in because that can damage your flowers as well as cause a splash-back, which you really don't want. Even when shaking off the excess wax from your flowers, you need to be gentle with the process. The wax is still hot and you don't want to get sprayed by it. Also, the wax-coated flowers start weighing a lot more than a regular fresh flower, and as a result, shaking them around too harshly might lead to a damaged flower or even a broken one.
If you want to add some artificial colour or effect onto your flowers, you can try putting some artificial colouring into the wax. This is perfect if you want something unique and if you are working with plain white flowers, you can choose to lend a coloured glazing onto them or even make them seem whiter!
If you are also preserving stems and leaves along with the flowers, then you need to make sure that their natural colour stays as strong as possible, to provide a much needed contrast and freshness to your preserved flowers. For this, you can either dip the stem separately, carefully, into green-coloured wax separately or you can simply use completely clear wax throughout, as in the process mentioned above. Basically, the addition of the wax coating allows you to add colours to the coating that you are going to place over your flowers.
Preserving flowers with wax is also another way of adding a sort of sheen or varnish onto flowers that have been preserved using other means. It gives a beautiful shine to your flowers and makes them even more attractive as part of flower arrangements. Wax can be introduced into the flower preservation process right from the beginning, as the main ingredient, as well as right at the end, as a form of garnish. Either way, you are guaranteed to break new ground in your hobby when you start preserving flowers with wax.