Blustery winds and intermittent rain kept me inside today, but it was a good excuse to cosy up with coffee and crafts. Over the summer months I’ve sporadically collected herbs and flowers and placed them into old books to flatten and dry with the idea of using them on personalised greeting cards.
I used to love collecting flowers to dry and use in crafts back when I was an early teen. Do you remember the fad of hot-gluing dried botanicals onto straw hats and hanging them on the wall? I must have done a half-dozen of them and I’ll bet some are even still hanging on walls back home. But just like those blossoms on hats, pressed flowers on cards can brighten up the day of a loved one and also liven up your own day with fun and creativity.
As with any craft, you can keep it simple or take it as far as you want. Making a card similar to the one above on the right (with pressed lavender, mint leaves and crocosmia) took only about 15 minutes. All that was entailed is drawing out the shape of your card on water-colour paper, arranging the botanicals how you’d like them to appear, glue them down and cut the card out. Easy peasy and your result is not only beautiful and fragrant but a truly special gift. In these days of posting last minute ‘Happy Birthdays’ on Facebook, a hand-crafted card arriving via snail mail is a wonderful surprise.
The larger card I put together took a bit more time but was much more fun to make. I use water-colour paper for card-making since it has an appropriate thickness, and so painting on it with water-colour paints is pretty much a no-brainer. Layered with illustration, flowers and even mixed-media such a printed designs and stickers can make it look even more lovely. And if you’re interested in poetry you can even incorporate a piece of your work, such as I have done with a haiku that I wrote to reflect the changing seasons:
Cry on golden blossoms
Autumn leaves whisper
If you’re planning on trying this craft out for yourself I have a few tips:
1. Look for old cards you might have that have unused envelopes. You can use the shape of the old card for your own new one and the envelope to send your creation on to its recipient.
2. Don’t cut your card out until you have glued everything down, allowed paint and glue to dry and feel that the piece is complete. Instead, lightly pencil in the card’s outline and folding line on your card, leaving wide borders around your artwork. The borders allow space to work and cutting the card out last thing ensures the edges are crisp.
3. If you want to use water-colours on your card, make sure that you tape down the edges of your paper to a board or work surface. Water-colour paper tends to wrinkle up if you get it really wet and you’ll get a flatter final piece if the edges are secured down.
4. Research water-colour techniques for interesting effects. I’ve sprinkled salt on my wet paint and it’s left a wonderful swirling and sprinkled design. You can also paint rubber-cement (known as Copydex in the UK) on areas you wish to leave blank or white. After your piece is finished, you can rub the rubber cement off with your finger or an eraser.
5. Score the folding edge of your card to make sure it is a crisp fold. Without scoring, your paper is likely to buckle or be disfigured when to attempt to fold it. To score, place a ruler down your centre line and use a razor blade to cut about a third of the way through the paper in a straight line.
6. If you’re unsure of your handwriting skills or just want to have a professional look to your card, print out text onto paper. You can print directly onto the card paper but most home printers won’t print onto such thick paper easily. In this case, print onto another type of paper and glue it on. It can add extra texture and dimension and complete a piece.
7. Do experiment with poetry or your own heart-felt words and messages. It’s a great way to make the card even more personal as well as a fun way to spend some of a rainy Sunday afternoon :)