The Art of Pressed Flowers

A while ago when my mother was having a clear-out, she gave me an old flower press and some pressed flowers that she had pressed many years ago, some of which still lay between the pages of old telephone books. She knew that I could find a use for them in my craft projects. They are great for making cards and bookmarks, for embellishing scrapbook pages, and for using in mixed media art.

flower press

I decided to paint the top of the flower press to add a bit of colour.

decorated flower press

I have been experimenting with flowers from my garden, learning which ones press well and which ones keep their colour. I’ve found that oranges and yellows seem to hold their colour well, as do mauves and violets, but pinks will often fade to nothing, and reds will sometimes change to a brown colour. When I go for walks, I collect interesting ferns, grasses and leaves that I think will press well. Below is a variety of flowers and foliage picked from my garden.

flowers and leaves for pressing

I placed the flowers and leaves between sheets of blotting paper, building up layers. It’s a good idea to label them as you go, as it is easy to forget what they are when you go back to them several weeks later. They should be left for at least two weeks, although thicker plants may take up to six weeks. Of course, you don’t have to use a flower press. Placing the flowers between sheets of blotting paper, then putting them between the pages of a book with something heavy on top, such as a pile of books, will work just as well.

herbs for pressing

leaves & flowers for pressing

lobelia & sage leaves

The calendula and lobelia held their colour well as you can see from this bookmark. The cute little feverfew flowers added some nice texture.

Pressed flower bookmark

My grandmother always loved flowers and gardening, and all the homes she lived in had beautiful gardens. She did the flowers for her church for many years, providing flowers from her own garden, and also ran the flower stall at the church fairs. The pressed flowers that I used on this scrapbook page are ones that my mother pressed more than twenty years ago. Amazingly they have held their colour for all those years, and made a wonderful embellishment for my grandmother’s page.

Grandma-001

Pinwheels & Whirligigs

Pinwheels and whirligigs provide a fun combination of colour and motion. They make a great accent for scrapbook pages, a design element for quilts, and add whimsy to the garden.

I wanted to do a bright, colourful page for the beginning of spring, and remembered a tip I had seen in a scrapbooking magazine a while ago on how to make pinwheels. They are easy to make. All you need to do to make one pinwheel is cut out two each of three different size circles. Then cut each circle in half. Layer them together with the spinners all facing the same way. Then add a colourful button or brad to the centre. You can make small pinwheels from leftover paper scraps.

Products used: K & Company green vine embossed vellum, cardstock, Bella Felt Frame, Tim Coffey Die-cut stickers, buttons, paper scraps

A couple of years ago, I made a quilt with a whirligig design, in my favourite colours of purple and green. The design is called End of the Day and came from the book, More Quilts from The Quiltmaker’s Gift.

Whirligigs make a fun addition to the garden, adding a splash of colour on a still day, or spinning cheerfully in the breeze. Whirligigs likely originated from weather vanes, used by farmers and sailors to indicate wind speed and direction. They soon became popular as wind toys, and early whirligigs often depicted figures that moved as the propeller twirled. I love walking through graveyards and seeing colourful whirligigs brightening the graves.

In Scrappy Cupcake Angels, a row of whirligigs twirl in the breeze from the narrow strip of garden along the front of Mr. Thomas’s cottage.

Chasing A Dream

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of making a living as a novelist, of working from home and creating stories that people might want to read. As I dreamed, I worked as a supermarket deli assistant, a fiber tester, a data entry operator, an apple picker, a cider bottler, a home help, and a despatch worker. Eventually I sold a novella to a magazine in Scotland. Then I sold a few more. But I realised that this would never provide me with the means to give up my day job and write full-time. So I started writing novels. But several novels and a pile of rejection letters later, I decided that if I was ever going to achieve my dream, I would have to take control of my career and be proactive.

Last year I set myself some goals. I would write a novel, publish it, and promote it myself. Then any success or failure would be down to me. So I wrote a novel about a subject I love—a scrapbook novel, I bought a self-publishing package, I set up a website and blog, and I chased my dream.

I chose Abbott Press to publish my book. As a division of Writer’s Digest, whom I have found to be a valuable source of information and resources over the years, I knew that they were all about helping authors realise their dreams. Abbott Press have been wonderful, helping me to produce a book I can be proud of. With their guidance, I felt in complete control every step of the way. I learned a lot about my writing and about the whole publishing process, from formatting to editing and design.

These are exciting times for writers, with so many opportunities to take control of your own career, and not have to wait around forever to be noticed by an agent or publisher. With self-publishing and e-publishing, and the great opportunities available for self-promotion through social media and blogging etc., it has become easier than ever for a writer to turn their dream into reality. With a little imagination and a lot of hard work, the possibilities are limitless.

Last week was an exciting time for me when I got to hold my book for the very first time. Although it was incredibly exciting to have my first story published in My Weekly all those years ago, there is nothing quite as special as seeing your name on an actual book.

What the future holds, nobody knows. Although I am not yet making a living from writing, at least for now I have been given the chance to live my dream, to stay at home and write stories—and hope that they bring people enjoyment. I have many more stories to tell about Wattle Lane Keepsakes and the people who gather there to explore their creativity and embellish life’s magic moments. I look forward to sharing more of their stories with you, my readers.

Scrappy Cupcake Angels

Nothing can quell Angeline Dunwich’s excitement as she stands before Wattle Lane Keepsakes. As she opens the door to her scrapbooking shop for the first time, Angeline hopes to encourage the residents of her small New Zealand town to explore their creativity and capture memories. Little does she know that Wattle Lane Keepsakes will very soon become the weekly destination for four women drawn to scrapbooking for widely different reasons.

Every Thursday Angeline teaches the Scrappy Cupcake Angels how to find joy through scrapbooking, and each of the four learns to confront her fears and to understand what is important in life. As Grace works on a scrapbook for her mother who has dementia, she wonders if it will help her mother cling to her last memories. Tegan scraps her travel photos with an insatiable wanderlust while contemplating where her heart really belongs. As Jodi creates beautiful layouts of her daughter, she questions whether any of her efforts will help mend her broken family. Kayla finds it easiest to express herself through her art, but secretly speculates whether she will ever gain the confidence to realise her dreams.

As Angeline opens her home and her heart to her new friends, only time will tell if the Scrappy Cupcake Angels can help her overcome her own greatest fear and fulfil a lifelong dream.

Scrappy Cupcake Angels is available as a paperback, hardback and eBook from:

Abbott Press

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon UK

Fishpond (New Zealand)

Art Deco Weekend 2012

On the 3rd February 1931, my home town of Napier was destroyed by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent fires. It was rebuilt in the Art Deco style of the times and is often referred to now as the “Art Deco Capital of the World.” Every February, Napier hosts an Art Deco weekend to celebrate its heritage, with lots of entertainment and events. Visitors come from all over the world for a weekend of fun and to experience a slice of the Art Deco era, with many people dressing up in Art Deco clothing.

The weather this year was perfect for the celebrations with lots of things going on including a vintage car parade, aerial displays by vintage aircraft, street entertainers, steam train rides, Art Deco walks, concerts, and events such as the Gatsby Picnic, Depression Dinner and costume competitions.

I made this Art Deco page at Jo’s scrapbooking class, perfect for a photo of one of the vintage cars.

Some more photos of the weekend.

Vintage cars.

Street entertainers—I loved these living statues!

 

Vintage aircraft performed aerial displays over Napier throughout the weekend.

And, of course, the wonderful Art Deco buildings.

Welcome to my Creative Journey!

Although I have been writing and scrapbooking for several years, since I began writing a scrapbooking novel the two have become very much entwined and I can’t think about one without thinking of the other. Soon I am about to embark on the exciting journey of self-publishing my first novel, which is in the final stages of editing before I submit it to Abbott Press. It has taken a little longer to get there than planned, however, due to unforeseen circumstances.

Last year I broke my wrist after slipping from a wooden ledge around the edge of our raised vegetable garden. My arm was in a cast for three months and I had to learn how to do everything with one hand while having to rely on others for help. Luckily I was still able to write stories—one-handed typing on the computer—but all crafts were put on hold for a while, which was very frustrating. My fingers were so swollen that it took another three months of physio after the cast came off to get my fingers and wrist working again.

By Christmas time I was ready to get creative again. During a visit to my local scrapbooking store, Scrapbook Corner, for some supplies to make Christmas cards, I saw one of Jo’s wonderful layouts on display and was inspired to sign up for one of her classes. It was a fun afternoon and I learned several new techniques including how to make dimensional flowers, which gave an elegant look to the page. The heritage look of the layout Jo had designed made it perfect for the photo I wanted to use of my great aunt Marili, who passed away last year, aged 96.

Materials used: Bo-Bunny papers • chipboard die-cut • ribbon flowers • handmade paper flowers

Music was a big part of Marili’s life—she was a pianist and a music teacher—and I wanted to convey this in a layout, so I made another page using a similar colour scheme with music-themed papers and embellishments. I repeated some of the same elements used in the first layout, such as the layered papers and the black ribbon across the page, and it gave me a chance to practice making paper flowers, which is a lot of fun and becoming easier the more I do.

Materials used: 7 gypsies paper • Fancy Pants Designs paper • Karen Foster Design paper • Legacy paper • Royal & Langnickel music rub-ons • The Paper Parlour alphabet die-cut stickers • handmade flower embellishments • ribbon • musical notes chipboard diecut

Two things I learned in the last few months—how to make dimensional flowers, and to step carefully in the garden.