Craft Studio: Flower pomander ball

2 03 2016

While I was in Wilmington, NC this past weekend, my friend Dawn and I crafted this flower pomander ball. We watched a youtube video to learn how to burn the fabric. The flowers are crafted from various size fabric circles that are layered and hot glued together with embellishments. It was a bit frustrating at first to determine just how close the fabric had to be to the tea light flame to make it curl and pucker. Dawn became the master fabric burning guru while I assembled 22 flowers and glued them to the styrofoam ball. When I started to apply the first flower, I plopped on a big blob of hot glue. The ball began to roll so I grabbed it with my right palm…palm met hot glue and turned me into a swearing machine. It was SO painful! No pain, no gain—even in the crafting world. We are pretty proud of our first attempt at making handmade fabric flowers. One thing we learned—gold lamé fabric will ignite and disappear in a flash (good thing my baby sister Kelley never stood near an open flame while wearing her twirling costume in high school!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Pomander Thingie Collage

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Leaf casting workshop in the works!

21 08 2013

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE BELOW?

My friend, Rob Bergsohn, and I are planning a fee-based workshop on making these leaf castings in September.

Rob runs the Northern Virginia Portrait Photographers group on http://www.meetup.com. He hosts portrait photography workshops outdoors and in the studio as well as 2-4 hour Lightroom and Photoshop classes from his home studio in Falls Church, Virginia. Rob saw my botanical photography exhibit at Green Spring Gardens in spring 2012 and asked if I would host some workshops with him.

We’re planning the workshop for sometime in September and the dates will be slated for weekend days to allow more participants to join. There will be two dates involved—one date to make the leaves (I’m guessing that session will be about 2-3 hours long) and another date for participants to return (after their leaves have cured) to paint and finish their creations.

If you’re in the D.C./Virginia/Maryland area and think you might be interested in signing up, please e-mail me at dyerdesign@aol.com to get on our email list. When we finalize the dates cost and details, we’ll send out a notice to you. We’ll include a link so you can pay via PayPal on Rob’s Meetup group site.

FYI—if you’re interested in learning Lightroom, check out Rob’s workshops. I took his basic Lightroom class a few weeks ago and learned a lot—for just $25 for a couple of hours of instruction. It’s an excellent value! He offers other studio classes on lighting and composition, so check out his meetup group page here: http://www.meetup.com/NOVAPhotography/  It’s a great bunch of photography-minded people and Rob is always adding new classes on a variety of topics relating to photography. You’ll need to sign up for a FREE meetup.com account before enrolling.

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Updated 8.04.2011. Originally posted July 2008. This is one of my top-visited posts of all time with nearly 20,000 clicks on this blog and 41,872 clicks on my gardening-only blog!

My friend Debbi and I have been making these concrete leaf castings for several years now, and my Garden Club members have also tried their hand at it. We have used Portland cement type 1 for our earlier creations, but then started making them with Quikrete instead. Several artists recommend using vinyl patch instead because it’s stronger, lighter in weight and picks up more detail from the leaf texture and veining. It’s also more resistant to flaking and cracking associated with traditional cement mixtures. The next batch I make will be with the vinyl patch product!

This site here has step-by-step instructions (plus a youtube video). The steps are the same no matter which product you’re using.

Click here for Craig Cramer’s blog posting, “The Secret to Great Leaf Casts.” He recommends using Quikrete. Click here for another site with an extensive gallery for inspiration. David, the artist, recommends waiting 30 days before painting your creations. (I’ve never waited that long—don’t know if I would have the patience!) He mixes Quikrete with his concrete mixture, but I’m not sure what the ratio is. At the very least, his photo gallery will endlessly inspire you!

Since most of the leaves we create are smaller, we don’t often do the chicken wire reinforcement. Larger elephant ears do require a bit of reinforcement, though, and we have made some of those (the larger the leaf is, the more likely you’ll need two people to move it when it’s dry!). Most of the ones we have done are made with leaves from hostas, pokeweed, grape leaves, caladium leaves, and smaller elephant ears. Leaves that have nice, deep veins work best. If you want to hang your leaf on a fence or wall, insert a curved piece of clothes hanger or thick wire (formed into a loop) into the back before the leaf is cured.

Artists Little and Lewis  suggest using powdered pigments to color your concrete before creating the leaves. Read more about their approach with hosta leaves here. They have created some really beautiful (and large!) ones using Gunnera leaves, which grow well in the Pacific Northwest.

We haven’t tried the “color-in-the-concrete” approach yet. We do ours in the natural color and then paint after curing is done. Our favorite style is to paint the front and back with black acrylic paint, then rub on powdered metallic powdered pigments (the type often used in Sculpey jewelry projects). We used the Pearl Ex powdered pigment series, and we find silver, gold, bronze, blues, greens, and purples work much better than the pastel colors. We only apply the additional coloring and metallic powder to the front. The back remains black only. Check out Pearl Ex pigments on the Jacquard Products website.

I buy my Pearl Ex pigments from Michael’s or A.C. Moore. They sell them in sets of 12 different colors, or you can buy a larger bottle of one color. It doesn’t take much to cover the leaf. We use a soft cloth (and end up using our fingers) to rub in the pigments, which are very concentrated and go a long way. We find it best to paint the leaf with black acrylic craft paint in order for the metallic pigments to be intense in color when they are applied. Use your 40% off coupon at either store and save a bunch!

The metallic pigments are stunning and you can get a variegated look using various colors! If you try this style, you’ll need to seal the front of your leaf with an outdoor spray sealant to keep the pigment from rubbing off. I seal the front of the leaves with Krylon’s Make It Last!® Sealer, which has a satin finish and dries (for handling) within two hours.

Don’t expect the colors to hold up 100% in direct sunlight over a few years, though. The paint will chip a little but you can always paint over it and do it again to freshen it up. They still look good chipped and faded, though…sort of a shabby chic, relic-look! And you can try a new color scheme the next time around. Remember to seal after every repainting. Even if you hang or display yours indoors, you’ll still need to seal the pieces so they can be handled. And they certainly won’t fade as soon if they’re used as indoor art.

If you want a solid colored metallic leaf, you can use inexpensive acrylic craft paint instead of the powdered pigments. First, paint the front and back of the leaf solid black (the leaf is porous so it will soak in the black) and then paint the entire front with your colored metallic acrylic paint. After everything is thoroughly dry, seal the front of the leaf with the Krylon Sealer.

The good news: supplies for this project are CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP and the results are incredible! The downside? Those bags of Quickrete, etc. are HEAVY!

Whichever method you decide to try (Portland cement type 1, Quikrete, Quikrete + vinyl patch, vinyl patch only), I’d love to see your results and will share them on this blog!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





What’s on my nightstand now…

9 07 2009

OnMyNightStand1Some people like light reading to lull them to sleep. I sometimes opt for the techie photography books! Currently residing on my nightstand are two very informative books on the subject of closeup/macro photography—Macro Photography for Gardeners and Nature Lovers, by Alan L. Detrick (published by Timber Press, Inc.) and Cyrill Harnischmacher’s Closeup Shooting: A Guide to Closeup, Tabletop, and Macro Photography (published by Rocky Nook, Inc.). The latter link allows you to download sample pages in pdf format.

Another of Harnischmacher’s books, Low Budget Shooting: Do It Yourself Solutions to Professional Photo Gear, is also on my nightstand at the moment. The author shows you how to create ingenious DIY projects with inexpensive supplies. What a great idea for a book! I read the reviews on Amazon and many readers wish the author had expanded on the how-to portion of the book with more details. Even so, if you want to replicate expensive studio accessories on a budget, the book is still worth purchasing. You can download sample pages in pdf format on the link provided.

As you might well assume, I own a plethora of photography books (who am I kidding—I own books on just about any subject you can toss at me—unless it involves math, that is). Alan Detrick’s Macro Photography for Gardeners and Nature Lovers is one of my top favorites on that subject and I highly recommend it. Click on this link here to view 17 pages from this book.