Pheathers – Russets

Autumn walks are glorious. I enjoy looking up and finding sunlit leaves to photograph.

Yesterday, I noticed an especially tall tree with brilliant color in the distance. In a patch of barren branches glowed one shining leaf. When I zoomed in with my camera lens, I found my single leaf was a robin basking in the sun, his feathers perfectly matching the russet of the leaves. Robins, like geese, don’t seem to fly south anymore, but winter over in many northern areas.

Journey North has an excellent article on why robins winter-over in the north. One reason I might see so many in my area is the abundance of natural food source trees and bushes in our area.

Here’s a few of the Autumn trees in my area of New Jersey this week. I can’t wait until the leaves lay ankle-deep on the sidewalks like a gigantic potpourri of color. What fun it is to kick through the piles, enjoying the inimitable fragrance and crunch of the dry leaves beneath my feet. This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Pressed Flowers & Foliage – Autumn Leaves

Blog Leaves

It’s time to be on the lookout for Autumn leaves. I press them between the pages of books and use them for crafts and Thanksgiving table scatter. They look lovely hung from mantels or chandeliers. They make great place cards. Write the names of your guests on them with metallic felt-tipped markers. Encase within pieces of glass, seal edges with copper tape or decorative duct tape and use as trivets for your holiday table. Have fun!

Project – Autumn Tablecloth

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If you are having a large crowd for a meal during the Autumn, consider making a one-of-a-kind tablecloth. Years ago, several members of my family helped me turn real leaves into stamps to create beautiful coverings for our tables. You will need: acrylic paints, an off-white tablecloth or flat bed sheets, surface protection, and some sort of paint applicator. (paint brushes or foam brushes)

Prepare the tablecloth or sheet: launder them if they are new to remove fabric sizing. If you need a smaller size, cut to size and hem the edges by hand or with a sewing machine.

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Now you’re ready for the fun…gather leaves that are still soft and pliable. Brown, brittle leaves will crack when you apply paint and pressure to them. Make sure to have protection for your working surface under the sheet, the paint will definitely seep through to the back side. Spread acrylic paint, in Autumn colors, in splotches over the leaves, press down firmly, remove. You have just created a beautiful impression of the leaf that will last for decades. After twenty-four hours your tablecloths can be safely laundered in cool water. They should retain their color for many years. Mine are probably over fifteen years old.

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Pressed Flowers – Autumn Leaves

I’ve combined a few posts from past years on how I use pressed Autumn leaves.

Blog Leaves

It’s not too late to press a few Autumn leaves for crafts and Thanksgiving table scatter. They look lovely hung from mantels or chandeliers. They make great place cards. Write the names of your guests on them with metallic felt-tipped markers. Encase within pieces of glass, seal edges with copper tape or decorative duct tape and use as trivets for your holiday table.

I use quite a few Autumn leaves in my pressed flower compositions. They are great for cutting into different shapes. I create many things with the pressed leaves: birdhouses, wagons, baskets, flowerpots and even small houses.

One problem that arises when cutting the leaves is their brittle nature when dried and pressed. To cut without treating them in some way usually results in shattered pieces or raggedy edges. I’ve found a few fixes for combating this problem by stabilizing the leaves with an added layer.

Fix #1 – Mod Podge the back side of the leaves

Brush the Mod Podge on the back of the leaves with a soft brush. Let it dry completely. While it dries create a pattern out of cardboard for the shape you want to use. In my case it was a tiny house greeting card I call “Home Sweet Home.”

When the Mod-Podge is completely dry, I use a Sharpie marker to trace the house pattern onto the mod-podged side of the leaves. Use a marker that is as close to the color of the leaf as possible or it might show through to the front side. Make sure you remember that when you cut out the traced pattern it will reverse itself. For instance, in the finished card, if I use side one of my pattern to trace, on the finished house the door will be on the left of the house, not on the right.

To finish this card I choose small pieces of foliage and very tiny flower bunches to create the trees. I set these aside at the ready.

For everyone who wondered why I press seaweed….here is the answer: Pressed seaweed is perfect to make small trees. When dried and pressed the thick fronds of this type of seaweed shrink to delicate branches.

Small ferns, leaves and pieces of Queen Anne’s lace foliage, all look like small trees.

Small florets of flowers look like Crape Myrtle trees in bloom.

Here are a few of the finished cards. Four seasons of pressed flower houses.

SPRING

For those who wondered why in the world I would press pieces of an abandoned hornet’s nest, the answer is above: hornet’s nest paper, pressed and mod-podged, is easy to cut into shapes for unique additions to my pressed flower creations.

SUMMER

AUTUMN

WINTER

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Another way to cut Autumn leaves is to use Wonder Under. Wonder Under is a fusible web made by Pellon. Wonder Under can be purchased in any fabric store. Craft and hobby outlets also carry fusible web, but you usually have to buy a full package, a waste of money if you need only a quarter yard or less.

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Create a pattern. I am working with a bird house shape.

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Trace pattern onto Wonder Under and fuse with an iron onto the back of the leaf or bark. Remember, whatever pattern you choose will reverse itself in direction when fused to the back.

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Another technique is to fuse the Wonder Under directly to the back of the leaf, and then after tracing the pattern, cut out the shape you desire from the leaf.

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I am sometimes tempted to remove the Wonder Under backing and fuse the cut leaves to the card stock with an iron. This is not a good idea for two reasons, the removal of the backing often destroys the leaf, and the heat of the iron will usually warp the card stock to some degree. It’s a better idea to leave the Wonder Under in place permanently and glue the leaf to the card with the fusible web intact.

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It’s fun to create different shapes for your pressed flower work using the beauty of Autumn leaves and the thin bark of a birch tree. Have fun.

Pressed Flowers – Fairy Dress

dress of leaves

In January I walked the woods and searched my yard for anything leafy or green to press. I found an assortment of items, you can read the post about my search and what I found here: January Pressings

This week I used my pressings to create a sweet fairy dress. The whimsical side of my nature was quite pleased with the result. The picture measures 5 x 7, and is bordered with words cut from a children’s paperback. I used an old book that was yellowed  with age. This enabled the words to blend into the mulberry paper and create an aged look.

material

The materials I used to create my fairy dress were a piece of 5 x 7 beige mulberry paper and an instant grab glue.

floral pin tool

Two additional tools I use for pressed flower work are a paintbrush, good for lifting fragile flowers, and a pearl floral pin, perfect for running a small amount of glue beneath an errant edge.

I began my designing by cutting a bodice top and waist into an ash leaf. Remembering that most fairy dresses have the look of the ethereal about them, I cut a slit up the front of the skirt in order to take away the impression of heaviness and formality.

bodice

I added a decorative edge of trimmed lamium leaves, a sprig of moss, and the lace-like petals of a spent sage flower.

belt and peplum

To give the dress an airy look I created a peplum ruffle out of moss sprigs and a belt out of a cut ivy leaf.

hat

I crafted a hat out of the top of the ash leaf, adding a jaunty sprig of moss and flower petals.

shoes

I adore the shoes. They are cobbled out of one ivy leaf and sport some lacy sage flower petals.

purse

The handbag is composed of an ivy leaf and sage petals. A moss sprig handle adds a touch of greenery. I used the backside of the ivy for the top of the bag, and the front of the same leaf, pointed edge cut away, for the bottom.

So much fun…yesterday I went out to collect for February’s fairy dress, alas, there is very little out there. The snow and frigid temperatures of winter haven’t left much for pressing. I plan to go out again soon and make a more thorough search…updates will follow.

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Pressed Flowers – January Pressings/Part One

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Last week I had a few spare hours and the perfect winter day to take a long walk. The sun warmed me, but the wind behaved like a naughty boy, throwing the tasseled ends of my scarf into my face, tangling strands of my hair around the frames of my sunglasses. No matter though, a sense of the glorious filled my spirit. God’s blue sky, the outdoors, paths to walk, a “pressing” mission to fulfill; even in the midst of January’s desolation I knew I would find something to put between the pages of my pressed flower books

I jumped a ditch of standing water, only to realize as I leapt over, the breadth was wider than my stride. My right foot mired in the muck, covering my favorite mesh slip-ons with mud. I shrugged away aggravation as the cold water squished into my sock with each step.

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Slung on my shoulder lay an old crocheted bag for my finds. Inside I had added several plastic bags for items small enough to fall through the mesh. A pair of scissors, always a good idea in brambly woods, was another good addition.

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A coppery notched leaf was the first good find.

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Nearby I spotted a patch of wild onions. They gleamed bright green and lush against the backdrop of muted browns and beiges.

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I picked out a few bits of sheet moss growing amid the grass.

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Jackpot! Several fallen branches adorned with delicate green lichen lay in my path. Usually the lichen is impossible to remove without damaging the ruffles, but the recently melted snow kept the lichen moist enough to easily peel away from the bark. The gathering of these frilly, ribbon-like lichens filled me with immense satisfaction.

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My walk led me back home where I picked a few pieces of ivy from the trunk of a tree. Winter painted the immature leaves bronze with chartreuse veining. I hope this gorgeous color combination holds true as the leaves dry in the book-press.

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Laid out before me, the gleanings from the wintry forest and meadows filled me with pleasure. As always, I was surprised by how much I had in my bag. I realized I had gathered at least five pages of flower pressing material.

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The winter has been a damp one. I made sure every piece of foliage was placed on the paper with plenty of space around it. When I finished arranging the pieces I covered the pressings with another piece of computer paper and placed all the layers between the pages of a large, heavy book.

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Pressing Tip: Moss roots should be cut away before pressing. Separate each strand to press. Most thick mosses will not press well. Those with sprigs are the only type that will work.

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Pressing Tip: When you press thin stems, such as onions or grass, always try to keep a natural curve along their length. There are not many straight lines in nature, curves and twists will add interest to your pressed flower compositions.

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Projects – Pressed Leaves

Blog Leaves

It’s not too late to press a few Autumn leaves for crafts and Thanksgiving table scatter. They look lovely hung from mantels or chandeliers. They make great place cards. Write the names of your guests on them with metallic felt-tipped markers. Encase within pieces of glass, seal edges with copper tape or decorative duct tape and use as trivets for your holiday table. Have fun!

Pressed Flowers – Cutting Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves are one of the easiest pieces of foliage to press. Collect them when dry, put each between the pages of a book, and usually in less than a week they are ready to use. The colors dull and fade a bit, but they still retain their resiliency and good looks. I use quite a few Autumn leaves in my pressed flower compositions. They are great for cutting into different shapes. I create many things with the pressed leaves: birdhouses, wagons, baskets, flowerpots and even small houses.

One problem that arises when cutting the leaves is their brittle nature when dried and pressed. To cut without treating them in some way usually results in shattered pieces or raggedy edges. I’ve found a few fixes for combating this problem by stabilizing the leaves with an added layer. Today I’ll share Fix #1.

Fix #1 – Mod Podge the back side of the leaves

Brush the Mod Podge on the back of the leaves with a soft brush. Let it dry completely. While it dries create a pattern out of cardboard for the shape you want to use. In my case it was a tiny house greeting card I call “Home Sweet Home.”

When the Mod-Podge is completely dry, I use a Sharpie marker to trace the house pattern onto the mod-podged side of the leaves. Use a marker that is as close to the color of the leaf as possible or it might show through to the front side. Make sure you remember that when you cut out the traced pattern it will reverse itself. For instance, in the finished card, if I use side one of my pattern to trace, on the finished house the door will be on the left of the house, not on the right.

To finish this card I choose small pieces of foliage and very tiny flower bunches to create the trees. I set these aside at the ready.

For everyone who wondered why I press seaweed….here is the answer: Pressed seaweed is perfect to make small trees. When dried and pressed the thick fronds of this type of seaweed shrink to delicate branches.

Small ferns, leaves and pieces of Queen Anne’s lace foliage, all look like small trees.

Small florets of flowers look like Crape Myrtle trees in bloom.

Here are a few of the finished cards. Four seasons of pressed flower houses.

SPRING

For those who wondered why in the world I would press pieces of an abandoned hornet’s nest, the answer is above: hornet’s nest paper, pressed and mod-podged, is easy to cut into shapes for unique additions to my pressed flower creations.

SUMMER

AUTUMN

WINTER