The Art of Pressed Flowers and Leaves

By Jennie Ashmore Published by Batsford £16.99 Artworks by Jennie Ashmore, photographs by Euan Adamson.

This is the most unusual and beautiful pressed flower book I have ever seen. It is full of amazing compositions that are reminiscent of traditional American Quilts.

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Early leafwork (1998) using sycamore leaves and fennel seed heads. 15 x 15cm (6 x 6in)

As the publisher describes it, this is a contemporary twist on a traditional craft. It is a must-have guide to pressing flowers and leaves packed with exciting ideas and practical information for creating beautiful botanical works of art.



Kirklea Garden (2017). Rich summer colours using iris and poppy petals with small leaves and flowers. 30 x 30cm (12 x 12in)
 

         Jennie Ashmore, flower artist, breathes new life into traditional flower-pressing techniques with a unique and spectacular kaleidoscope of floral and plant designs, using everything from flower petals and leaves to seaweed and lichen.

 Jennie studied painting and printmaking at Exeter College of Art and for many years taught in art schools and worked in environmental education, conservation and gardening. Her work has always concerned the natural world and she has a strong interest in surface texture, pattern and geometry, which are key to her designs. She teaches workshops and sells her work.


Threave Garden Quilt (2016). This intricate design features plants collected in Threave Garden, a National Trust property in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. 40 x 40cm (16 x 16in)

         The leaf works, guide and inspire through every stage of the process, from working seasonally and selecting the right plants for a vibrant colour, to experimenting with interesting texture and pattern. There are also tips for incorporating watercolour, gouache and other exciting materials into beautiful botanical creations.


Simple landscape using variegated balsam poplar leaves (1998).
13 x 18cm (5 x 7in)
 
 

The art of pressed flowers and leaves will inspire readers to celebrate the beauty of their local landscape, a favourite walk or garden, or even capture special memories through eternalizing wedding bouquets or plants collected on a holiday.

Quick and easy chair transformation.

The made over chair in Annie Sloan Antibes green
The before shot looks quite nice, but believe me, the chair was not in a good state.

Recently a friend was throwing out a very old wooden child’s chair. It had been left in a shed for the last fifteen years and the seat was lifting up from the frame and the paint was peeling.

To restore the situation and to make a suitable chair for my grandson, first of all we tacked the seat back onto the frame. 

Always wear a mask when sanding

Then my grandson and I sanded the chair.

Next we painted it with Annie Sloan pure chalk white , and once it was dry we painted it with Annie Sloan Antibes green paint. To finish off and give it a smooth finish, we gave it a coat of Annie Sloan chalk paint wax clear.

A happy boy sitting on his new chair

Want a fun sewing book with a difference? CHLOE TELLS YOU HOW TO SEW

I have been reviewing practical books for over 25 years and used to review for the magazine Inspirations back in the day. I think it is a pity that books are now sold in the same way as other items, such as clothes and groceries, with a short shelf life. With the Great British Sewing Bee being very much on our minds I think this book deserves a second look, it is fun, practical and original.

Textile artist Chloe Owens http://chloeowens.com/is inspired by all things vintage, and much of her work is made from 1960’s fabrics. She is also a lover of annuals, that she read as a child. Their brightly coloured illustrations, and instructions mixed in with activities, puzzles and games has been a major influence in the design of this book.

Make a headdress – great for a summer festival

Instead of a run of the mill craft book, Chloe has ingeniously made an annual complete with games: follow the thread, strings and needles, lotto.

Cat basket with a difference

 Included are translations of rhyming slang, for example: Bangers- “bangers and mash” (sausages and mashed potato)=cash. As with the best of annuals it has many illustrators, so that each project is almost like a mini book in its own right. Each project starts with a witty heading or a pun, so a reclaimed chair is called ‘The best seat in the house’.

‘She’s a pin board wizard’ pin board is taken from the song of the same name from The Who’s ‘Tommy’ album. Many of the projects are written as if a friend or animal has made them and so they take the comic book form in both layout and story line. The result of all this is a very busy looking, book of fun.

How to re-upholster a sewing box to make a cat bed

I like the way Chloe writes, her instructions are clear and she encourages you to have a go! This is a hip book, full of diverse projects, and lovely photographs by the late Claire Richardson. Projects range from felt biscuits to soft toy animals, a very cute baby dress and some furniture projects and home accessories. Amongst my favourite projects is “A must have for the modern man”, the deluxe felt beard, now with optional moustache. I am not sure if I will be sporting it just yet but when the chilly autumn winds blow you never know.

Make your own winter warmer -a beard

by Chloe Owens  http://chloeowens.com/Published by Cico Books http://www.rylandpeters.com/ourshop/craft at £14.99

Wreaths by Katie Smyth and Terri Chandler from Worm London

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My last blog post was on making a floral headband wreath for Midsummer day celebrated in Sweden. This post is for those who wish to go larger and make a wreath for their home.

Wreath  Fresh, Foraged & Dried Floral Arrangements

It was the architect, flower loving,  boyfriend of my daughter Alice, who first introduced me to Worm London, the young hip flower designers and stylists.  They  design flowers for weddings, supper clubs and parties. They also work as stylists for magazines, books and TV Shoots. Katie Smyth and Terri  Chandler are inspired by seasonal wild, foraged materials and the meaning for flowers.

This is Katie and Terri’s introduction to making your own seasonal decorations. With natural materials and foraging having a renaissance at the moment, this book shows you how to use your finds in a most creative way. As they say in their introduction

“Nurturing that connection with the world around us and its changing seasons is important to us, and we want to encourage you to experience this too.”

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The authors use the experience of their global travels where they have  studied garlic garlands on the first day of May across the Greek islands, midsummer  wildflower wreaths in Scandanavia and flamboyant adornments to celebrate Thanksgiving in the US, wreaths can be a warn welcome, an original gift or simply a beautiful addition to your home.

Most of the projects in the book are relatively straightforward to make. The materials and methods of making are accessible and it looks very different from traditional formal floristry.

The book is divided into  four main sections, Fresh, foraged, dried  and  festive wreaths. Their is an introduction and basics on tools materials and making basic shapes. The book finishes with a  glossary, suppliers list and index. The midsummer wreath is glorious and I particularly like  the mobile made from honesty the enormous Christmas wreath and the kitchen herb bundles. I really enjoyed this book, particularly the lovely photos by Kristin Perers and very much look forward to making some wreaths.170724_Worm8645

Worm London

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Studio – Creative Spaces for Creative People

 

by Sally Coulthard

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If you are a designer, or just love creative people and enjoy seeing how and where they work, then this is must have book.

It is full of inspiration. The author, Sally Coulthard, lives on a farm where she rents out barns to artists. As she says ‘it’s a scruffy space, but the people who work there have transformed the building into something truly special. Not only have the artists organized their studios into useful spaces, they’ve also created rooms that express who they are and inform the work they produce. Each space reflects the personality of the person who works there –studios are like fingerprints, totally unique.’

The first part of the book has inspirational pictures and descriptions of different kinds of studio’s. Included are brights, mono, natural, industrial and collected.AlunCallenderPhoto_SarahCampbell_31_0125.jpg

The second part of the book is divided into different kinds of artists and designers and includes crafters, fashion and textile designers. Fine art, graphics and illustrators studios are featured as are the work shops of bloggers writers and photographers and last but not least are workshops and up-cyclers. nathalie leté 20(1)

Different kinds of buildings are as unique as the artists and designers themselves. One artist works in a shepherds hut another in a barn others in industrial warehouses and lofts. Some work together others by themselves.AlunCallenderPhoto_SarahCampbell_02_0045.jpg

The final section of the book deals with practicalities of how to plan your studio, getting organized, desks, lighting and storage are all explored. As are work tops and drying spaces. If you want to set up your own studio you need look no further than here. The book is truly international showcasing designers and artists from many different countries.CathDerksema_FINAL_HIRES-7.jpg

A joy to read and a very useful handbook.

Published by Jacqui Small at £25

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Create your own African print pouffe

POUFFE

 

I loved the idea of making a pouffe from African batik style fabric. So wacky and at the same time the perfect item to lift the look of a staid room. Batik is very popular in the South West London in areas such as Tooting and Brixton but you can also buy it in markets in the East of London and Paris.

You will need:

African batik fabrics available in London market stalls 2m

Orange fabric for the base 80cm

Calico 2m

Hook and loop tape 1packet

Water-soluble pen

Beanbag filling I large bag

Pins, needles and thread

Scissors

Paper for pattern

Note:

The instructions for the outer and the calico inner bag are the same. I made the outer part first and then the inner. I used 1cm seam allowance throughout.

 

Make your pattern.

  1. The top piece should be a circle with a 25 1/4 ins (64cm) diameter. This includes a 1cm seam allowance. Draw the circle onto paper and use this to cut the top of the lining and the top of the calico liner.
  2. Cut the paper circle in half and add 4cm strip of paper along each straight edge. Use this pattern to cut two bottom pieces for the outer and the calico liner.
  3. The sides of the pouffee are made up from sections that are 13ins (33cm) from top to bottom including seam allowance . The width of each section will depend on the pieces of fabric you have. The finished piece will be about 80in plus seam allowance. The amount of seam allowance will be dependent on the number of panels used.

 

Instructions

1.Use the patterns to cut out all the pieces from the calico and the African Batik fabrics. I used the large motif that was perfect for the top of the pouffe. I decided to piece together lots of different designs to make the side. As the base is not seen, I used some plain orange fabric.

2.First make base with the hook and loop tape opening for the top fabric. On both base pieces turn the straight edge under by 1cm then turn again by 3cm. Sew down, then pin and sew strips of hook and loop tape along both sides.

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3.Press the hook and loop tape edges together then machine sew the ends of the seams closed.

3 sew hook and loop on top of one side and wrong side of other

4.With right sides facing, using a 1cm seam allowance pin sew together the sidepieces.

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5 Press the seams open so you have a continuous smooth side panel.

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6.With right sides facing, pin and sew the sides to first the top and then the base making a drum shape. Turn through the gap so it is right side facing out.

6 pin the sides to the top6 with a running stitch sew the top to the sides.

7.To make the liner, repeat the process with the calico. Put the calico liner inside the fabric cover, then fill with polystyrene beads.

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Tip

Fold and mark the fabric for the top, base and sides into eighths. When you come to pin on the sides, match up the pen marks on the top and base.

 

Stockists

Hook and loop tape, Water Soluble Pen

http://www.korbond.co.uk/ korbond.co.uk/

 

Beanbag Filling

http://www.homecrafts.co.uk/

 

DETAIL

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A Russian Garden created from recycled bottles.

Photo 30-06-2017, 08 07 31 Valentina Karelina and Yury Karelin are the parents of a very creative  friend of mine. She happened to mention that her parents had created a garden out of plastic bottles.  As a lover of all things recycled, I asked if she would send me some images, and  let me interview her.

Where do your parents live ?

They live in a small rural Russian town about 250 km  from Moscow. The population is approximately 30,000 but is dwindling as young people are moving away to cities where there are more job opportunities. The summers are hot between 20-30C whilst  the winters are cold minus 15-30C.

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What gave them the idea to create this magical garden?

The overwhelming amount of plastic that was being thrown away  and the desire to do something  creative and fun during long winter evenings. They mostly make everything out of plastic in winter and then put their art out into their 4 acre garden, in the  spring.

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Does Russia have a big waste problem like we do in the UK? 

Russia, has a big waste problem and because there are vast swathes of forest going on for thousand of miles,  the plastic rubbish is often just dumped  in the middle of them.

Photo 30-06-2017, 08 11 53

Where did they find all the items to create the garden and how much has it cost to put the whole thing together?

They collect bottles from their friends and relatives.  All the plastic is basically  empty discarded bottles, caps, buckets etc. It’s labour intensive but not expensive. When one has the desire to create you  don’t notice how much time you spend on it, as you  enjoy it so much!

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Have they painted the bottles? If so what with?

They spray paint the  inside of the bottles so the paint doesn’t wash out during the rainy season.

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Do they use  a mixture of painted and non-painted?

Yes, if the bottle is lets say green then they leave it as it is. For instance  they are currently doing a flower bouquet from bottles hence green is very relevant. If the bottle is clear plastic then they paint it.

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How long did it take to put together? Is it still ongoing? They started 3 years ago and they make new pieces all the time!

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Thank you 

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