Pressing Flowers

thumbnail_IMG_6230Pressing Flowers
The garden at home is absolutely full of bright and beautiful flowers right now. Pressing a few of the flowers, I’ve found, is such a lovely and incredibly simple way to preserve the summer.

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Here is how I pressed the flowers.
You will need:
• Wild flowers, stems and leaves
• Pressing kit or heavy book
• 2 pieces of non-glassy white paper/blotting paper
• Zinc edged glass sandwich frame.

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Tip: When picking foliage, pick plants that will look good when pressed flat. Small, naturally flat flowers such as daisies, pansies and open-shaped roses will look better that large, thick booms.

How:
1. Gather a handful of wild flowers and plants from the garden or local woodland
2. Place the flowers between the pages of a book with blotting paper between the pages or put them in a flower press. Five or six layers can be put into a press.
3. If you used a book rather than flower press, put a weight on it
4. Wait six weeks and when the flowers are dried out, put them in a glass sandwich frame
5. To hold them in place, use a clear glue to stick them to the glass, just so they are less likely to slide around.
6. Then hang against a window. It’s that simple!

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Shoppalyglass.com

Microwaving Flowers
If you don’t want to wait a few months you can actually use a microwave to press flowers instead. This method is faster and is much better at preserving colours.
How:
• Put the flowers in between blotting paper or kitchen roll with a tile on top
• You might have to experiment with timings. I suggest putting it on a low power in 10 second bursts until the flowers are dried out.

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I microwaved these flowers and I think they have retained their colour well.

Irving Penn

If you want to look up a famous artist who has worked with flowers, I’d recommend Irving Penn.

More Ideas

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Another idea I tried was to press leaves and paint gold patterns on them.

Collecting Rocks

Mindfulness & Well-being

I don’t know too much about Feng Shui, but my flat is filled with nature and art. It feels incredibly calming and welcoming and I think this must mean it’s good Feng Shui.

For some reason, I love to collect rocks and like include them in little compositions around my flat. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate them into your home.

Stacking Rocks

I found some flat pebbles on the beach and stacked them. They sit next to my TV and look really effective.

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Collecting Fossils

I’m starting to build a collection of fossils. Alas, I haven’t found any of my own yet, but maybe I will one day! The fossil in the picture was found on a Cornish beach.

Painting Rocks

Start by searching for the perfect shaped stone, smooth is best. Draw an outline first with a pencil or fine-point marker pen and then paint with acrylic paint. Simple!

Soap Stone Carving

Ok, I know this is sculpture, rather than a rock, but it’s made if stone, so I wanted to include it. I bought it at an antique fair, apparently it was carved by an Inuit. I think he has real soul.

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Here is my own (rather less accomplished) version! I carved it out of soap stone using a rasp.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

Tools

  • Small wood saw
  • Rasp

Materials

  • Soap stone
  • Wet/dry sandpaper sponge
  • Varnish (Danish Finishing Oil works best but is toxic and not child friendly. A non-toxic but less protective method is beeswax).

How:

  • Cut out all unneeded soapstone using a small wood saw
  • Use a rasp to shape your sculpture into the design you want
  • Rub wet/dry sandpaper over your soapstone carving
  • Rinse and dry the sculpture, then varnish it and hey presto!

Student’s Work

This is such an simple craft, I found the student’s really enjoyed it. It is extremely messy though and every time I introduce this activity they pretend the powder is cocaine. I strongly suggest wearing a face mask and having a hoover available if you do this.

Henry Moore

If you want to research into stone sculpture, I’d recommend looking up Henry Moore.

Hanging Mobiles

Mindfulness

I find great enjoyment is searching for exciting finds in nature. For example, I love to collect shells, beach glass, drift wood, pretty pebbles, feathers, old fishing nets and all sorts. I’ve even found a Mesolithic arrow head! This project is a fun way of displaying your finds and creating an imaginative hanging mobile at the same time.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Materials
• A branch or piece of drift wood
• String
• Organic objects collected from nature
• You can also incorporate things like tumbled glass from a craft shop or beads to jazz it up a bit.

Tools
• Scissors
• Drill (optional)

How
There are so many ways to create a hanging mobile, but I’ve decided to concentrate on natural craft using a wooden stick and string. The first thing to think about is the structure. I’ve kept mine simple and used a stick to hang the objects off. (However, you can be as ambitious as you want! One of my students used an old bicycle wheel to hang things off). I’ve then put the balance point in the middle. If you wish to add more hanging pieces, you’ll need to balance the weight equally.

Steps
1. Pick out the objects you want to use and line them up how you want them to hang.
2. If you’re using sea glass you can drill holes in the glass. I used a drill piece that can go through glass, which I bought from a local craft shop. (If you do this wear goggles when you drill the glass). I found it helped to dab a bit of water on the glass first to act as a lubricant for the drill piece.
3. Some broken shells will already have holes, but others might also need drilling.
4. Cut your string. It helps if you make it almost double the length you’ll need.
5. Thread your objects. The heaviest things work better at the bottom so tie those first.
6. Attach your decorated strings to your branch or piece of driftwood with double knots (I drilled holes in the wood first).
7. Tie a length of cord to top piece of driftwood to hang and voila!

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If you’re looking for a challenge, here is something to aspire to.

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CharestStudios.

If you want to look up more on this Alexander Calder is the perfect artist to research.

Needle Felted Landscapes

 

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I created this using the needle felting technique.

 

Needle-felting is a process which uses barbed needles to interlock wool fibres. The fibres eventually become a denser material called felt.

Wellbeing & Mindfulness

I love to create my own impressionist interpretations of landscapes and find painting and felting landscapes extremely therapeutic. I’m from a village in the countryside and much of what I create is inspired by the landscapes and nature surrounding where I live and spend time. Having said that, I do enjoy creating landscapes from my imagination just as much.

I also find needle-felting a therapeutic technique because if I ever make a mistake I can easily pull it off and start again or just cover it up with more wool. This means there is less pressure.

You will need:
• Merino wool
• Felting needles
• A cushion (for a surface to work on) or a needle felting brush mat
(optional)
• Wet-felting mesh
• Soapy water
• A Bamboo blind

 

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Dunnkint Designs

 

How:
You might find it easiest to work from a photograph. If you’re looking for inspiration, photographing the landscapes and your surround environment first is a great way to start.

1. Layer the wool to create the background of the landscape
(Optional) Wet-felt
2. Wet-felt the background and main features
3. Cover with a layer of mesh and rub (wet out) with soapy water and a sponge. Try not to spread the wool.
4. Gently rub the wool with a flat palm – this is to remove the air and coax the fibres together. Do this for 20 mins.
5. Peel back the mesh carefully.
6. You could roll it in a bamboo blind, but I didn’t do this.
7. Rinse and soak in hot water to remove the soap.
8. Leave to dry.
Needle Felting
9. Place the felt over a cushion to protect your table and needles.
10. Add details to the felt and tack in place by repeatedly stabbing it with a needle. Basically, layer and stab, layer and stab until it’s finished.

I used the wet-felting process for this piece.  IMG_1697[1]

Very important tip: Watch what you’re doing!

 

My favourite needle felt artist is Moy Mackay.

 

 

The Art of Pyrography

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Pyrography is the art of decorating wood with burn marks using a heated pen. This is something my students really enjoy. (Though I have to always be vigilant as they can try to set paper on fire with these pens). Most recently, we used the technique to decorate the school Christmas tree and personalise picture frames.

Mindfulness & Mandalas

The pyro technique is simple and easy, yet it requires patience and focus. I chose a mandala for my design. A mandala is a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, symbolizing the universe. It starts from a centre point and builds out and out in the shape of a circle. Mandalas are extremely therapeutic and are used to aid meditation.

The wood I used was from a tree in the garden. A friend used a lathe and turned it into a bowl. But you could use a chopped-up branch or buy wood from a local craft shop.

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What you’ll need:
• A pyro pen
• A piece of wood
• Sand paper
• Pliers
• A fan to blow the smoke away from your face.

A woodburning pen is a very simple tool. It’s a pen-like device with a metal end through which heat is transferred to a removable tip. You buy the pen as part of a kit, which would include several different pen tips to choose from. The pen also comes with a metal safety stand so it’s never just sitting on a table.

How:

1. Prep the wood (laminated wood and MDF are not good to use as they can have chemicals and toxic fumes).
2. You can either trace your design onto the wood first or free hand your design.
3. Preheat your pen and then, when it’s hot enough, draw on your design. Go slow and steady.
4. The longer you keep the pen in contact with the wood, the darker and more expansive the mark.
5. Voila! It’s that simple.

Very important tip: If you want to change the nib, let it cool down first and use pliers.

If you don’t feel confident to free hand, you can use templates for designs.

Here are some more creative ways of drawing mandalas:

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