This is a simple way to create your own botanical prints with a contemporary twist. This weekend I picked up two very nice simple black chunky frames on offer for 2 for £10 at Homebase, with mounts inside already cut to fit A4 prints. I then made the prints myself at home, using downloaded botanical and paper images, normal photocopier paper and a printer. I have seen examples like this on sale for a lot of money in smart home decor shops, galleries and on Etsy, but you can make them yourself which is far more satisfying and far cheaper.
HOW TO MAKE THEM:
Start off by finding large sized botanical prints on-line. There are lots of places to find them for free: The Graphics Fairy and Botanicus are great paces to browse, especially the latter for thousands of botanical themes. Download the picture you want to use, in Botanicus it comes as a large pdf of a botanical collection of the book’s plates, whereas at The Graphics Fairy is it just one image as a pdf or jpeg. You do not need to print them out, but the below are examples of ones to look for, they need strong colours and lines to show up in the finished piece.
Enclosed here is a ready to print dictionary piece of paper, (but you could use old sheet music cut to A4 size, or other old text paper you may have available). Print this out in colour onto a piece of A4 paper, and make it fit the whole page as much as possible on your printer by using the ‘scale to fit’ option..
When it is dry, reload this printed paper into the printer, and then print out the botanical flower of your choice straight onto it. You may need 2-3 runs to get your grade right for your own tastes, (and not to do it upside down which I am guilty of a lot!). You can tweak your grade in your photo browser directly if it is a jpeg, or if it is a pdf you will need to convert it to a large sized jpeg first.
Then frame up your print, and hey presto… done in a jiffy….
Have a go, it is really not that hard to do and the possibilities are endless for printing images. Just make sure they are dense in colour and line. You can even do a 3rd print run with text on to personalise it for someone.
Over the past two weekends I have been teaching some classes for The Workshop Cabin in Bath in the wonders of plaster, (cue large amounts of hand cream as it is pretty brutal on the poor mitts). The Workshop Cabin put on really cool workshops, ranging from painting to photography to bookbinding and many more. Definitely check out their site for inspirational activities… I have my eye on the Pyrography workshop already.
Anyhow, over two Saturdays we built, planned, mixed, dipped, wrapped, made a mess, painted and mounted various works. The results are pretty great and I think that the participants were pleased with their results – the sculptures were especially amazing. An added bonus was that it was just before Valentine’s day, so the plaster flowers were put to good use as gifts for some lucky recipients.
All Photos courtesy of Heidi @ The Workshop Cabin
Everyone beavering away with their plaster
Plaster flowers drying
Happy Valentine pressies
Sculptures in progress
The final sculptures…
Final sculptures with bronze paint effects, and some very happy punters…eat your heart out Alberto Giacometti….!
Today I had to get some wreaths made up that had been ordered as gifts. One with blue central pieces and one natural. Since I had all the kit out, I tried to make a new version out of something other than old book pages that I usually use. I wanted a fun and bright version with lots of bright colours.
The wreaths I make are usually very fragile and cannot go outside unless in a protected porch, so I made one out of something far more weatherproof, very thin neoprene foam. It is a bit trickier to roll and staple, but I did get there. Plus a hot glue gun works well on it and does not melt the neoprene, but my hands are really burnt after three wreaths in a go, those glue guns can be murder!
Yesterday, my friend Claire and I spent a few hours dabbling in plaster with fabric flowers. The process is really simple and they look like the most delicate bisque porcelain pieces when finished. Claire has taken them off for framing in 3D Box frames, and the picture of the framed end result is at the bottom of the page. They can also be made into tealight holders if you dry them flat and push out a space in the center for the tealight whilst they are still wet, or framed, or just left au naturel. As the Plaster of Paris dries quite fast you only have a small window of time to make the flowers, so work in small batches and make new plaster as and when you need it. In the meantime here is the process: Ingredients: Plaster of Paris Water Fabric Flowers (tighter full blooms like roses and peonies are best) Wire cutters Scissors Plastic container for the plaster of paris which is wide enough for dunking flower heads Greaseproof paper Mixing stick. How to:
Prepare the flowers: Cut off any internal plastic stamens. Pull off leaves from stem, leaving the flower head and stem only.
Prepare the plaster of paris by mixing it in the plastic container and adding water gradually whilst mixing until it reaches the consistency of thick cream.
Take a flower, turn it upside down and submerge in the mixture. Twizzle it about, and pull out to inspect. It might not be totally covered in plaster, but you do another dip in more plaster later when it is dry if this is the case.
When it is fully covered (including the insides of the petals) let drips fall off by gentle shaking it in the container. If you want just the flowerhead cut off the stem, but you can leave a length of stem and also dip that in plaster. Cut off the stem to the length you want with wire cutters and place it face up to dry on the greaseproof paper, or in an empty foil pie dish is also good. You can also peg the flowers out to dry upside down on a line, (we tried this way too for the really full blooms and it keeps their shape tight). We dried some of ours flat on newspaper and it stuck and had to to be peeled off when dry, so greaseproof paper is the way to go if lie them down to dry.
Leave to dry thoroughly. If bits look patchy, make up another mix of plaster and do a second dip.
Here is the framed finished version of the flatter dipped flowers:
I have more recently used the flowers on plaques as pictures show below, here is a link to the post about them:
I owned a scruffy victorian cupboard, and had used it for general dumping for a while. It looked a bit sad, so I decided to have a go at making it into something more exciting. I wanted to turn into into something that looked like a faded old french shop fitting. I found some excellent template signs at The Graphics Fairy. These are a variety of french worded signs that you can print out in reverse and use as transfers for the below method. You need to print the transfers on inkjet printers as that ink can transfer onto your chosen item.
First of all I painted the cupboard in a mixture of ‘Mizzle’ by Farrow & Ball used on the tops and door panels and ‘Duck Egg Blue’ by Annie Sloan on the sides and door frames. It looked very pristine and bright, but I was going to add coloured wax after so knew it would darken down when applied.
I then used Modge Podge, (this is a US glue product available from Hobbycraft in the UK, but you can use PVA as a substitute diluted about 2 parts water to 1 PVA). I coated the front of the transfers with it so they were saturated. This then was stuck onto the panels, smoothed on very well on the areas of font and left to dry hard overnight.
In the morning, I soaked the paper with water so it was sopping wet, and very slowly peeled it off. It leaves an imprint of the print showing the right way around. After it thoroughly dried I sanded it back to make it look faded and old, I then waxed these areas very gently with clear beeswax. I then waxed all the other areas of the piece with clear beeswax, and then rubbbed in much darker bison wax into all the cracks and crevices. This gives a patina of age and use.
The finished cupboard looks so much better and it was an interesting process to try out.