Monday, August 24, 2009

Garden Crafts -Inside and Out

(crossposted at BlogHer)

It's a funny time of the year. Gardens are coming into full-force summer production yet many gardeners are looking forward to shorter days and the end of the growing season. My attention is being pulled both outside and inside with the desire to stretch the good feelings from gardening and to stretch out the year.

What to do? One simple thing is to look for crafty ways to bring my garden inside so that I can enjoy it in the future. Or I can bring crafty fun outside to enjoy in the garden now.


Flower Pounding: I'm ready to get some fun rewards from my garden to make this year not feel like a total waste (after all gophers have eaten everything in my veggie beds. EVERYTHING). One fun things that I've seen and read about but haven't done is flower pounding. Did you know you can use a textured fiber (like watercolor paper or fabric), choose the right kinds of flowers or leaves, and pound the color from the flowers into the fiber?

At Dave's Garden, Kathleen Tenpas asked: "Flower Pounding, gardener’s stress relief or dyeing with your garden’s bounty? Ah, perhaps a bit of both." After giving great directions for treating fabric, Kathleen goes on to explain the flowers to choose:
Not all flowers are suitable for pounding. Flowers with particularly thick petals such as tulips don’t work well as they tend to smear. Flowers with many petals such as roses need to be take apart so that you can pound the petals individually. Daisy like blooms need to have their centers removed and all flowers need to have stems, calyxes, pistils and stamens removed. White flowers don’t work as they have no pigment to impart to the fabric.

Flowers that work particularly well for this include phlox florets, single roses or rose petals, single impatiens, pansies with as much of the back removed as possible without destroying the flower (this takes some practice), hardy geraniums, St. Johns Wort, Forget-me-nots, any flower that can be flattened without losing the integrity of the bloom. The best time to pick the flowers is after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the day. New blooms have more color than older. You can also use leaves, and newer leaves pound much better than older, although as they age, you get the veins and edges and that can be interesting. Autumn leaves will pound out interestingly, the colors being old, but newly released form the covering of chlorophyll.
Wendy from Build/Make/Craft/Bake demonstrated how to make beautiful botical prints in Hammered Flowers and Leaf Prints. These prints on watercolor paper would make wonderful cards or gift tags.
Start by going on a walk or visiting your garden to find leaves and flowers to work with. You're looking for things with bright colors that aren't too juicy or too dry. It'll take a little trial and error to find good plants, so start with a variety and play around.

Then set up your work surface. You want a smooth, hard surface that you can hammer on and not worry about denting or getting messy. I used a plastic cutting board covered with a paper bag.
Leaf Prints: If you're not up to pounding the pigment from leaves, you might appreciate CraftStylish's directions for printing napkins with your leaves.

Lavender Sachets: One of the simplest ways to bring the garden in and preserve it is to dry some lavender blooms and turn them into a scented sachets. The Fab Miss B created a number of hand embroidery sachets last spring to give as gifts. The embroidery made each one distinctly charming:
I'm not gonna lie. This project will take a bit of planning and time, but I was really pleased with the results. I'm so looking forward to giving these handmade sachets as gifts. They are simple but personal. I think when times are hard, a small thoughtful gesture that involves time and effort means much more than an extravagant something ordered online in five minutes.

And besides, embroidery is quite theraputic. At about sachet number three, I found the rhythm of the needle piercing the fabric and drawing through reminded me of breathing. It became quite meditative.
If you are not sure how to dry your own lavender, Peggy Murray explains it well. You can pick and start drying your lavender now, sewing some sachets while it drying and be well on your way to some charming hostess gifts or small holiday presents this winter.

Inside Out

Using slightly damaged items to bring some whimsy and charm to your garden is apparently called "garden junk" instead of "garden art." I don't know-I always thought of it as recycling. Melissa, the Empress of Dirt, caught "the junk-making fever" last month and shared a number of resources she'd found wondering if it was "garden junk art whimsy stuff".
I started making garden art/junk when I had a newly planted, barren-looking garden and wanted to fill in some spaces while waiting 2-3 seasons for the plants to grow. I love the idea of taking items that would otherwise be tossed in the landfill and turn them into something beautiful and/or interesting and/or functional in the garden (hopefully scoring at least two out of three on these points!).
Recycle Broken Ceramics as Garden Decor. Cooie Grey-Lavin made a great video highlighting how we could take chipped dishes, cracked pots, and damaged lids, partially bury them in the soil and use them to decorate a garden space.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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