Electroforming is the process of covering a non-metallic object with metal to preserve it as art. Parents often electroform baby shoes when a child grows out of them. You can also electroform flowers. This may be the perfect way to preserve a prom corsage, a few blooms from your wedding bouquet or the first flower received from your partner. Unlike dried flowers, electroformed blossoms retain their fresh shape. The end product, however, will be the same colour as the metal used to cover the flowers.
Preserve your flowers while they're still firm and brightly coloured. If you wait until they wilt, the electroforming process may deform them. Flowers with solid blossoms, like roses or carnations, work best.
Spray each flower with a coat of lacquer. Pay special attention to the inside of the blossom and any leaves you want to remain on the flower. Clothespin the flowers upside-down to a clothesline and let them dry overnight.
Spray each flower with conductive paint. Available at hardware and craft stores, this paint contains metal flakes that will pull in the electroforming solution. Again, pay special attention to the blossom and leaves. Cover the ends and points of the flower thoroughly. Allow the paint to dry overnight.
Scrub a piece of copper flashing vigorously with fine-grade sandpaper. This removes dirt and grime that prevent the copper from conducting electricity properly. Wear gloves to keep the copper clean.
Bend the copper strip in half and place it over the edge of a large, glass pan. Fill the pan with electroforming solution so the solution covers the last inch or so of the copper strip.
Clip a red alligator clip wire to one side of the copper strip outside the glass pan. Clip a black alligator clip to the opposite edge of the strip.
Clip the red wire to the positive anode on your digital rectifier and the black wire to the negative anode.
Place the flowers into the electroforming solution, using tongs. The solution should cover the flowers completely.
Turn the amplifier and voltage settings on the rectifier to 1. Allow the flowers to soak in the solution for about six hours. Over this time, a thick, durable coating of metal will form over the flowers.
Fill a plastic tube with warm water and add about 2 cups of baking soda. Remove the flowers from the electroforming solution with tongs and dip them immediately into this solution. Swish the flowers around and hang them up to dry overnight.
Things you need
- Spray lacquer
- Conductive spray paint
- 6-inch by 2-inch copper flashing rectangle
- Fine sandpaper
- Rubber gloves
- Large glass pans
- Electroforming solution -- copper, gold, bronze or silver
- Alligator clip wires
- Digital rectifier
- Plastic tub
- Warm water
- Baking soda