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  Off the wall question from a newbie. preserving the
From: brian lee <lbmkjm at yahoo.com> on 2009.01.14 at 09:08:29(18911)
Dear Chris,

Aloha.

I have not done this myself, but wonderful preservations have been done in casting resin. Nasty stuff, and difficult to do right, but if you get good at it and can do an Amorphophallus titanum, you'll probably be famous.

The other thing...and even more difficult is to make a reproduction in flame worked glass. The Blaschka glass flowers at Harvard are the best of these. Google them. Again, if you can do this form of art, you'll be famous.

Perhaps 5 minute epoxy is a new technique that will yield wonderful results...this is totally new grounds for experimentation.

Aloha,

Leland

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From: "Tom Croat" <Thomas.Croat at mobot.org> on 2009.01.14 at 09:33:12(18912)
Chris: Are you referring to preserved inalcohol or preserve as dried?

Tom

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From: Don Martinson <LLmen at wi.rr.com> on 2009.01.14 at 16:44:45(18913)
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From: chris palmer <palmerchrispuppy at yahoo.com> on 2009.01.15 at 05:04:07(18914)
Aloha to you too.

The epoxy is basically a casting resin.

I have a couple of days before I will run the trial.

I was hoping to have a specimen fully coated with the resin so it would stand alone, like a silk flower.

I am just unsure how to get the resin to cure fast enough and get it to adhere to the moist surfaces.

I will probably dilute the resin down enough so I can use a spray gun the coat the bloom.

I thought about the fumed silica technique but thought it would not work on the stalk and would require a lot of material. It still might be worth a try sometime, maybe on one of the summer blooming arums.

If my Titan's ever bloom, first job will be to get viable seeds, then work on preserving the bloom.

Heck 6-8 years for them to bloom, by then maybe I'll have a viable preservation process ;-))))

Thanks to everyone for the responses. I'll post a note on how the trials went.

Best Regards,

Chris

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From: "Elizabeth Campbell" <desinadora at mail2designer.com> on 2009.01.16 at 04:32:42(18916)
You're talking about preserving a fresh inflorescence by coating it in 5-minute epoxy? Or a dried one? Honestly, since I do this kind of thing with orchids, the easiest thing to do is to prepare a dip-bath of epoxy, and thoroughly coat the inflorescence by submersion. Normally, I fix a long pin into the flower, then gently lower it in, swirl it around a bit to get the air bubbles out, then quickly remove it, drain the excess epoxy off, and stick it, using the pin as a support, into a block of polystyrene to set. You can do multiple layers of epoxy that way. Practise a bit, and you'll be able to do 2-3 blooms before the bath sets and becomes useless.

You can also preserve them in polyester resin; other people here have pointed out that this is a somewhat dangerous process, but so long as you have a respirator mask with NIOSH-approved organics filters (and these are available at WalMart, as well as more specialized painting stores), you'll be quite safe. Polyester has the benefit of having a longer open-time once catalyzed than 5-min epoxy; the basic process of preservation is the same, or conversely you can pour the inflorescence into a clear block of resin. Look in your phonebook under "plastics" to find companies that sell the resin; when I lived in Canada, a gallon of clear with its catalyst (Methyl Ethyl Ketone Peroxide, or MEKP) was about $30. Here in Ecuador, I buy it at the paint store for much less. If you decide to preserve the blooms in blocks, glass makes the best mould, followed by silicone and finally teflon-coated metal. Use mould-release, which will be available at the store where you buy the resin. I f you're really interested in learning the process in detail, send me a private email and I can certainly lay it out for you. It's not as difficult as most people might think, it just takes patience and a bit of practise...

For a really big inflorescence, like that of the A. titanum, the best way to go about preserving it would be to pour clear polyester resin down it in several successive coats, or to spray it on with a big airbrush. To preserve it in block form would take several hundred gallons, and a mould would have to be purpose-made for the process, probably out of aluminum.

Hope this helps!

Beth

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From: "Walter Turner" <wvturner at gmail.com> on 2009.01.16 at 12:48:22(18918)

Beth, since you obviously have experience in doing this with epoxy resin, I have to admit it can work. Something bothers me, though.

The inflorescences are still fresh and full of water/plasma. Once sealed, they can't dry out. Or can they? Don't the enzymes keep on working, the bacteria keep on eating? Or are the bacteria killed by the epoxy? How long can the inflorescence keep its appearance?

Do you have any photos of things you've done?

I hope Chris will give us a running account of how his attempts are progressing.

Walter Turner

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From: hermine <hermine at endangeredspecies.com> on 2009.01.16 at 16:25:29(18919)
At 05:04 AM 1/15/2009, you wrote:

Aloha to you too.

ever think of making a full size one out of glass like those flowers inthe Harvard Museum?

WHY LIMIT YOURSELF!

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From: chris palmer <palmerchrispuppy at yahoo.com> on 2009.01.16 at 16:49:18(18920)
thanks Beth.

For a really big inflorescence, like that of the A. titanum, the best way to go about preserving it would be to pour clear polyester resin down it in several successive coats, or to spray it on with a big airbrush. To preserve it in block form would take several hundred gallons, and a mould would have to be purpose-made for the process, probably out of aluminum.

The spray is what I have planned. I am just not asure if it will adhere to the bloom uniformly, maybe this is why multiple coast work best. I will dilute out the epoxy with acetone ans retard its cure with a little sopropyl alcohocl. If it is not sturdy enough use a camel brush w./epoxy to thick the layer.

I'll let my end result. Probably do the work sunday after the bloom is fully open.

Thanks,

Chris

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From: hermine <hermine at endangeredspecies.com> on 2009.01.16 at 17:58:59(18921)
At 12:48 PM 1/16/2009, you wrote:

Beth, since you obviously haveexperience in doing this with epoxy resin, I have to admit it can work.Something bothers me, though.

The inflorescences are stillfresh and full of water/plasma. Once sealed, they can't dry out. Or canthey? Don't the enzymes keep on working, the bacteria keep on eating? Orare the bacteria killed by the epoxy? How long can the inflorescence keepits appearance?

I was thinking that this is like preserving a peach or similar in epoxyor equal. won't the process of decay, some of then aerobic, continue eventho the thing is utterly airtight (there being no such thing evenif something is encased in a glass bubble.....

So i would imagine that sooner or later this is going to turn some trulyglrubrnghfnfyhghy shade of brown. i would photo-document the object against the time when it gets NASTY.

hermine

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From: "Elizabeth Campbell" <desinadora at mail2designer.com> on 2009.01.17 at 07:38:42(18922)
Walter - the heat generated by the curing of the epoxy or other resin
normally kills off whatever enzymes would be working to break down the
bloom inside its casting. Also, if you do this correctly you end up with
an anaerobic environment inside the casting, and no oxygen = no
deterioration. However, if you mess up and there is one tiny hole, you
will eventually be left with a casting full of spores and whatnot. Which
is why I say things like "practise makes perfect." I normally use the
process to preserve orchids, and have never tried to preserve an Aroid
inflorescence in this manner, but the process and science of it is
sound. I'll be interested to hear how Chris does with it, and will also
experiment on my own now that the idea has been raised. It seems a
better way to deal with the preservation of inflorescences and other
plant matter vis a vis herbarium specimens, since the process preserves
the natural colour and shape of the plant. For orchids, I have ones
preserved in this manner that my grandmother made in the 1960s that
still look fresh today.

I tend to sell these as soon as they cure, and I don't have any photos
at the moment; I lost the lot in a large computer crash, much to my
chagrin. The next time I do a set I will definitely post photos to the
group; certainly if I can successfully preserve an inflorescence I will
publish the method here.

Beth

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From: bonaventure at optonline.net on 2009.01.19 at 11:37:52(18933)
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From: Steve Marak <samarak at gizmoworks.com> on 2009.01.19 at 22:17:37(18935)
Although it's not a technique that's available to most of us - certainly
not to me - some years back I read an article about using vacuum
dessication for preserving all sorts of specimens, plant and otherwise,
with remarkable results.

I think I recall that they combined this with cold, so that the water just
sublimed out of the specimen.

Steve

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From: hermine <hermine at endangeredspecies.com> on 2009.01.20 at 11:02:43(18942)
At 10:17 PM 1/19/2009, you wrote:

Although it's not a techniquethat's available to most of us - certainly
not to me - some years back I read an article about using vacuum
dessication for preserving all sorts of specimens, plant and otherwise,
with remarkable results.

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From: Don Martinson <LLmen at wi.rr.com> on 2009.01.23 at 06:30:02(18951)
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