Pseudo-Peonies

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While the weather might be warmer than it was before, and while I pulled these lovely daffodils out of my garden last week …

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… my garden still looks like this.  Which means that my peonies haven’t bloomed yet.  If they’re going to bloom at all.  And I like peonies.  They’re one of my favourites.

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So I’m going to make my own here.  It’s not that hard.  I found a quick tutorial at Two Shades of Pink and had at it.

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Start with a bunch of coffee filters.  I don’t know how many.  A bunch.

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And some warm water.  And some food colouring.  Or watercolour paint.

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Dissolve some of your paint/dye in the water. This is some Crayola stuff I broke off and stirred in.

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I tried this craft paint but it wasn’t water soluble, not really.

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Then dip your filters into the coloured water.  You can do a bunch at once. And they don’t need to sit in the water for more than a few seconds.

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Experiment with the outer edges.

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Versus the inside. Or the whole thing.

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Squeeze out the excess dye with your hands.

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I totally dyed my hand pink.

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Spread out the filters to dry completely.

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Mine took a few hours, less when I fully separated the layers and put them in a place with lots of air flow.

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This is the full stack next day.

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Now, in addition to the filters, you will need scissors, a stapler (with staples), and then some tape or wire (I have floral wire here).

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Grab between 6 and 8 of the filters and stack them up.  Flatten them a bit with your hands.

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Fold the filters in half, then half again so you have a little cone.

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Take your scissors and scallop the rounded edge of the cone — don’t worry about perfection, it’s all good.

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Now unfold the thing and ruffle it up a bit.  Pinch that spot at the very centre where you made your folds.

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Flip the filters over and you can see what I mean by that pinch.

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Staple over that pinched spot to hold things in place.

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Now flip it back over and smooth it out a bit.

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Pull up the edges of the topmost (innermost) filter and, working from the bottom, squish the filter in on itself, leaving a nice fluffy gathering on top.

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Keep going with each successive layer.

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Make sure to keep the top nice and fluffy, while still jamming the paper against itself.

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Gather up the bottom layer and push it upwards, squeezing into the little handle you’ve created for yourself.

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The paper will hold its shape for a short time, but you want to fix it more permanently.  You can use tape around the little nub here or floral wire, which is what I used.

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I attached one flower to one end of the wire and another to the bottom.  What am I going to do with it?  I’m getting to that.

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Because of the variation in the way I dyed the filters, you can see different colour gradations in the finished flowers.

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On this one I put the darker filters in the middle.

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This was the resulting bloom.

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I used 8 filters per bloom and ended up with 18 flowers finished, which means I had 144 filters dyed.

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When I was finished I gathered some of the blossoms that were tied together and I used an additional piece of floral wire to wind their stems together.

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And it made two lovely little bouquets of 9 flowers each.

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I don’t even want to talk about that horrible plaster job in the background.  The landlord took our chimney away and now I have no place to display my work.

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So until I figure out how to compensate for my lack of a fireplace, I’ve put my pseudo peonies flanking my television.  Because I’m classy like that.

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Autumn Leaves Bouquet

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When I saw this post on Design*Sponge last fall I absolutely itched to try it out.  I love autumn, and having grown up near Gatineau Park, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of watching a large forest slowly turn from green to a million shades of yellow, orange, and red.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t really happen in St. John’s.  In the autumn here, we have green leaves on the trees, and then we get storms like Leslie, and all the leaves fall to the ground and go dry and crunchy and brown almost immediately.

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So when I knew I was flying back to Ottawa for a weekend in September, I came determined to carry out this simple project.  The problem is that even in Ontario it’s too early for most of the trees to have made the change.  Cait kept me updated with leaf reports leading up to my flight, and her reports all said the same thing: the leaves are all green, dude, it’s not going to work out for you.  As I flew into town, however, I could see a few orange and yellow trees dotting the Greenbelt, so I knew that with a bit of searching, this thing could happen, despite Cait’s protests.

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So one afternoon, after Teedz and Tego had made it to town, Tego and I took a stroll in the nearby park to see what we could come  up with.  Lo and behold, there were two big old maple trees whose leaves had just started to turn and fall to the ground.  They weren’t totally orange or red, but the splashes of green I think added to the character of the thing.

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We started gathering, picking up maple leaves of different sizes and shapes.  You need probably 10-12 maple leaves with stems for each flower, plus a variety of thin, relatively straight sticks to use as stems.  And floral tape, which you can buy at any craft store.

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You start with smaller leaves at the centre and get bigger as you move outwards.  Take a relatively small leaf and fold down the centre and two outside points towards the middle of the leaf.

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This gives you the basic shape for a petal.

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Roll that tightly up to form your “bud”.

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Now take another leaf, fold down the points, and wrap it around your bud.

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Keep repeating that, rotating the flower the whole time so it looks natural, until you get something that is a size you like.

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Tego and I found that if we weren’t careful our buds started to stick out past the reaches of the other petals, so you want to make sure to keep that sucker tamped down inside.

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When you get something you like, pinch the bottom of the leaf where the stems are and start wrapping it up with floral tape.  Take one of your sticks and lay it at the base of the flower and keep wrapping, taping the stems to the stick.

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We learned that floral tape is not actually sticky.  It sort of relies on tension to stay stuck to stuff, so make sure that you pull it tight.  We found that once we got to the end, if we wrapped the tape several times around itself tightly enough it wouldn’t unravel on us.

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We kept on until we had a full dozen, then Tego trimmed the sticks so they were approximately the same length — you don’t want them exactly the same or the bouquet will look weird, but you don’t want them to be radically different either.

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Then we tied it up with ribbon and gave it to our cousin as a hostess gift.  Everyone thought we had bought them at some fancy craft fair, and were super astonished when they found out that we’d made them ourselves during a walk in the park!

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As they are, I think the leaf bouquet will last about a week or two, depending on the freshness of the leaves themselves.  If you want them to last longer (if, as Cait suggests, you have an autumn wedding coming up and you need time to make a large quantity of these suckers), then you can dip each flower individually in gel medium (which you can get at art or craft stores) or even spray the bejeezus out of them with hair spray or another form of lacquer and they should last you several months.

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I’m also interested to try this with non-maple leaves to see if I come up with a different shape.  I will let you know if anything comes of that.

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***EDIT, 30 January 2013***

The florist who supplies the flowers at work did this to dress up a bouquet. Very nice, don’t you think?

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The trouble with daffodils …

… is that they’re toxic to other flowers.  Did you know that?

If you put a daffodil in a vase with any other flower it will poison it and cause it to wilt.

So don’t do that.

Keep your daffodils separate.  They don’t mind.HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEF AND TEEDZ!

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