The post everyone's been waiting for! Thank you for your patience as I allow time and the sun to do their work for 2 months. I have to warn you, the results aren't as promising as I had hoped for, but I would still say that these sprays help to some extent, and they're a product I'll keep using for all my commissions.
Which UV Protection Sprays did I use?
All my sprays are from the brand Krylon. They have a whole range of UV protection sprays for different projects. I picked 4 that I felt was more relevant for paper flowers, in both matte and glossy.
KRYLON UV ARCHIVAL - GLOSSY
KRYLON Preserve it! For digital photos - GLOSSY (this seems to be out of circulation as I cannot find it on Krylon's official site)
KRYLON Ultra UV Floral Protectant
KRYLON UV Resistant Clear Coating - MATTE
I purchased my sprays from my local art shop (Art Friend Singapore) for prices ranging between SGD$13-$18 (USD$10-$14). You should be able to find these in your big art stores, or online on Amazon.
Now this is important to read because if you're in a different country, you might get totally different results from me!
I'm based in Singapore - we're near the equator so its sunny all year round.
I placed my crepe paper squares on a table that's right in front of a window, so it gets a full "tan" almost every day (unless it rains).
I chose green since its a universal colour for us crepe paper florists. This is Cartotecnica Rossi's #591 in 180gsm.
I sprayed my green squares with the 4 different sprays on 6th November 2020. The results were taken on 17th January 2021 (a total of 2+ months).
Here's a quick comparison between 6th November 2020, 25th November 2020, and 17th January 2021:
So yes, it seems ALL GREEN SQUARES HAVE FADED, even the ones that had been treated with UV spray.
Let's have a closer look - I've cut out a "fresh" new square from my roll (untreated, in its original colour) for a comparison.
How about comparing just the one treated with UV Spray and the one without?
I do sense that there is a slight difference, the untreated squares all seem to have lost more of its colour (closer to a yellow), while the treated squares, especially the glossy ones, seemed to be darker, they have retained more of the green, even if they're also faded.
Some crucial points to note:
I think it might be easy to feel disappointed that the UV Sprays did not live up to what they're supposed to do. However, please let me remind you of a few important factors that contributed to the perhaps lower effectiveness of these sprays:
Not all crepe paper shades fade at the same rate, and I believe GREEN in general tends to be very prone to fading. I've discovered over my 4+ years of crafting with Italian Crepe that green has always been the quickest to fade. My reds, pinks, and purples have all done pretty well and stood the test of time. Since I can't really do this experiment in every single shade, I chose the "weakest" colour for this experiment. Hence, please have faith that most of the other colours will withstand fading much better.
You won't leave your handmade blooms right next to a window anyways. Proximity to an open window makes a huge difference. I've had flowers in my own bedroom that still retain rich colours from years ago because they're furthest away from the windows (and also 'protected' by my shelves). So perhaps my experiment is a little extreme for putting the squares right under a window.
This experiment doesn't factor in additional colouring. If you like to add colours to your greens (e.g. paint, Pan Pastels, soft pastels, etc.), that might also add another protective layer to your green components.
Fading is natural for any kinds of paper products. Maybe we need to embrace that inevitability. The good news is that, I've never seen Italian crepe fade completely into white, which is pretty common for Chinese crepe or any other lower-quality crepe. In fact, some of my customers request for no UV protection, since they prefer that vintage, antique vibe of faded colours.
With all that said, should you still invest in UV Sprays?
Personally, I would! It's all about giving as much help as I can for my flowers to last as long as possible. This experiment shows how the sprays help SLOW DOWN the fading process.
Plus, these sprays have an added advantage of changing the appearance/ texture of your paper flower components (i.e. glossy vs matte), plus sealing in any colouring you've applied to your crepe.
If you're deciding between which types of sprays to get, I think there isn't much of a perceptible difference between the 4 sprays mentioned above. Ultimately, it all depends on the finish you'll like to have for your flowers. For me, I like to have BOTH a glossy and a matte spray, and I use them on different parts of my flowers.
What I like to do is treat all my leaf stalks with a GLOSSY spray. This helps seal and lock in in the brown shading I've brushed on with soft pastels, plus it gives a glossy coating to the leaves so that it is easily differentiated from my flowerhead (the different texture adds to the realism of your bloom).
After attaching the leaf stalks on my main flower stalk, I then spray a MATTE coating, focusing on the flowerhead, but also the wired stems.
Orchids are an exception - I use a GLOSSY spray on my orchid flowers too as a stylistic choice. I find it helps strengthen/ solidify the flowers, protects the coloured centers, and adds a touch of elegance. Check out these photos below - you'll notice how the whole orchid has been treated with a glossy spray, especially the leaves. The gloss also darkens the crepe paper colour, giving me a richer green upon application.
UV Protection Sprays slow down the fading process, but does not prevent fading completely.
Your crepe paper colours will eventually fade just like any other paper materials, and that's alright! Just remember to give your customer a heads-up, I include a Care Card with all my purchases that explains how these flowers are still prone to fading, and should be placed away from direct sunlight if possible.
If you choose to invest in some UV sprays, you can take advantage of the different finishes to enhance the look of your flowers.
I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you've had similar experiences with UV sprays!