I seriously did not know that the Kentucky Derby was this Saturday when I planned this post several weeks ago, but the timing is perfect. In honor of that iconic event and the hats that are such an integral part of that tradition…Whoa! Exactly what statement is this making?
“Hi! I’m a drunk poppy!” Even though these hats may seem extreme…. I am here to tell you as someone who has had the incredible good fortune to experience the Kentucky Derby in 2012, you ain’t seen nuthin’! Really…
for photo credit and MORE extreme Derby hats go here. But then come back…
And not for nothing, but that year’s artwork for the Derby was done by an awesome Richmond, Virginia artist...Robert Joyner. Never have I thought of myself as a frilly flower kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong. I love flowers. Arranging them. Smelling them. Looking at them. Learning about them. Growing them. Just not wearing or using florals that much in decorating, aside from a vase of fresh flowers whenever possible. Definitely no “fake” flowers.But now, I apparently have an obsession with paper flowers! It must be the incredibly dramatic and fun results, the art in real life of it all, from something so pedestrian as a piece of paper that gets to me. These were just so stinking easy, inexpensive and versatile, I fell in love with them. Butcher paper, hot glue and cardboard. Paper flower, you have served me well. If you aren’t familiar with how this all started and you want to read about it, go here.What has all of this got to do with the Kentuky Derby? Well, it all started because I have had a large boring light fixture hanging in my dining room for YEARS! The chandelier of my dreams has not been in my budget and I didn’t HATE this one. Sure it was plain and boring but it was also neutral,notoffensive, large and somewhat dramatic (the room has a 12 ft. ceiling), and FREE! A simple DIY project – two identical lampshades, inverted and attached at the center edges with simple metal split key rings, hung from a light kit with a muslin cord cover.
So…it stayed that way forever until I turned my dining room into my studio late last year. Then I could look upon it no more and in the back of my mind, I had this paper flower idea that had to be realized. I figured if I hated it covered in flowers, not that much lost.Coffee filters are the paper of choice in this project. Not even sure what inspired it exactly…something I saw on Anthropologie or Pinterest, no doubt. Even though I feel like I have some experience with the subject, I spent a good bit of time reading up on making paper flowers on the internet, Then, taking a little bit from each article, I devised my method. Some bowls, acrylic paint and water, a tray of some sort – could be a flat box -, a clothesline (outside preferably), scissors, masking tape, and hot glue were the basic supplies. With flowers, as with anything in nature, perfection is in the variation. I did want to stay within three basic colors…pink, orange, yellow with a little green sprinkled in. In order to achieve a varied look, I mixed up small batches of color at a time – a couple of tablespoons of acrylic paint in about 3/4 cup of water – making the mix more intense or more watery depending on the look I wanted. Then it was just dip the filters in the bowl, let them soak for a few seconds, squeeze out the excess water and lay the filters flat out on a tray (or cookie sheet) to be taken to the clothesline outside. Piece of cake!They were pretty drippy, even though I had squeezed them out, so I had to be mindful about where I let them hang. Since I knew I would be powerwashing and repainting my deck in a few weeks, I didn’t worry about it too much. I hung 4 – 5 together with a wooden clothespin and they dried in about an hour. The colors were really quite beautiful on this very early Spring-like day.Being that it was not quite Spring yet, however, some days I couldn’t hang them outside. So, I lined them up flat in layers on cookie sheets in 185 degree oven, checking and flipping them every 20 minutes or so.
Yes, I said “some days” because let me tell you, I had to do this several times during the course of the two weeks or so I worked on this project. There were many, many, MANY more filters involved than I could have guessed in the beginning. I believe the estimate at the end of it all was close to 750 or so. Yeah….that’s exactly what I said!The type paper used to make coffee filters is amazingly durable. You can soak it and wring it out, flatten it, dry it and manipulate it into what you want without too much fear of ripping them to shreds. They take on a stiff crinkly texture once dry that makes them hold their shape as flower petals. Not to mention the beautiful way they take color!
Not knowing what I might like better, I dyed some of each – unbleached brown filters as well as the bleached white ones. Even though I love the brightness of the color using the white it felt like it was going to be just too much for the size of the shades I was covering. I really liked the vintagey ecru color of the unbleached. Actually, I ended up dipping the unbleached filters in a mixture of white paint and water to wash out the brown a bit. I liked the way the whitewash softened the look. Going for as much variation as possible, I even added white to a couple of batches of color to wash them out a bit as well.
photo credit: thenovogratz.com
Although, now I kind of want to do something in all white. Love the feathery look of those “flowers” on the drum shades over the table.
Once the filters were dyed, dried and sorted by color, it was time to make some flowers! I used a couple of different cuts and edges as I went to
fight the boredom get the look of the different types of flowers but it was basically the same technique. (To be honest, it wasn’t that bad. I did them in the evenings while watching some TV and although it did take a few days, it wasn’t too bad.)
I could go through and write out all of the steps with pictures of how to cut and tape the flowers but it could take about as long as it did to make them! Aunt Peaches does it best right here on her blog. She’s pretty fabulous anyway, so enjoy. But then come back!
Step Nine: Repeat about 400 more times…
So tons and tons of flowers! Small ones, bigger ones, roses, zinnias, peonies, carnations, buds, full flowers….that’s what I was telling myself they looked like anyway. Okay, so if there was anything that was more surprising than how many coffee filters I was going to use, it was how many hot glue sticks it would take! Probably about 20?! That fixture is a beast! And the flowers, although lightweight, started to weigh down the lamp on one side as I added more along with the weight of the glue. It got a little tricky. I loved the subdued colors a lot but every now and then I had to put in a pop of the tourquoise and hot pink just to spark it up.And there it is…once it was done, I said to myself,”That looks like one Big Danged Kentucky Derby hat!” I love it! It makes me HAPPY!! That’s a heck of a lot more than I can say for its former self. At least it’s not boring! Just like the Derby!
Going to the Kentucky Derby had always been on my bucket list and I was definitely not disappointed. The experience lived up to every bit of the hype. We were treated like royalty, ate incredible food, sipped mellow old bourbon with friends that are like family and our seats were absolutely phenomenal. And I do love a Mint Julep…done right.Speaking of done right, to get you in the mood this year, try this version by Louisville celebrity chef Ed Lee, from his cookbook, Smoke and Pickles.“California Chrome” is the favorite for the 140th Run for the Roses this Saturday, but my money is on “Hoppertunity”. If only I could wear this! (Just saw a plain white ball pendant made from coffee filters on Houzz for $189!!! Winning!!)
Have some FUN and Enjoy!