Tag Archives: paper flowers

One Big Danged Kentucky Derby Hat…

One Big Danged Kentucky Derby Hat…

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…big-curl-kentucky-derby-hatWhoa!  Exactly what statement is this making? big-flower-derby-hat

“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…

Derby ticketsAnd not for nothing, but that year’s artwork for the Derby was done by an awesome Richmond, Virginia artist...Robert Joyner. handmade wedding designNever 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.DSCN3802But 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.studio light before (2)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.DSCN8521Coffee 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.  coffee filters 2With 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!colored coffee filters (2)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.DSCN8692Being 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!Dried coffee filters (2)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

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…

DSCN8686So 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. DSCN8690Okay, 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.DSCN8691 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.DSCN8719And 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!

round-n-round-derby-hatGoing 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.223_jalapeno-spiked-bourbon-julep_sq-3676cc4bde8e78ed6040f0fb20a877b48c260709-s40-c85Speaking 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.edited 1“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!



Back to the Future…

Back to the Future…

Looking back I could see it coming. Burn out….I was going to need a break.  How about a four month hiatus from blogging?  Last year was much like juggling flaming knives while studying for finals during a hurricane while riding a roller coaster… in a kilt.


(Photo credit  here…)

I hit a wall. I needed a LONG hot bath and a nap!  Real life had left little time for Art. Or teaching. Or cleaning.  Or thinking.

Honesty, I did not plan to take the break.  It was forced upon me. One week led to two weeks to a month and well, you know….

I did have every intention of continuing my 365 project on Instagram as a means of staying in the loop. That lasted about a month or so until my 2 year old smartphone – 187 in cell phone years – stopped wanting to upload, download, or otherwise communicate with the internet.  It was in my face….take a break!


Did I do a ton of art in the meantime?  Not as much as I could have.

Is my house super clean and ready for a magazine photo shoot?  Not so much.

Have I been teaching classes in art/history/math/science.  Well, yes. Yes, I have. I am a homeschooling mom.  But even that hasn’t felt as complete as I would have desired.

Maybe it was that long cold winter we had here in the mid-Atlantic…DSCN8452Too much snow time?DSCN8619Feeling a bit confined….So exactly what have I been doing with all this “extra” time?DSCN8857Reading!  I read a stack of books. More than what’s here. Art books, business books, fun books, life books.  Some on a device, but lots of real, hold it-in-your-hand, turn-the-page kind of books. live with art lampRepurposing some tattered IKEA lamps headed out to Goodwill….StevensonL_EdwardsCreating a little mixed media statement art for a friend….DSCN8850Handcarving stamps…Hines bath (2)Adjusting to our newest family member, my Christmas present….Big Daddy Hines….sweet, but maybe a tiny bit overenthusiastic…Experiencing dog parks for the first time – ever…wow!  Add dog training books to the list above.Hines mirror (2)He’s a good-looking lad. A tad narcissistic? Maybe just confused…big head (2)He is a kind of big-headed….those itty-bitty little feet, though!…perspective is everything!GOLD window seats (2)Helping my girl figure out how to make these window seat box cushions for her Girl Scout Gold Award project!!! Thanks to the most generous donation of cabinetry for the entire room from Closet Factory, our church’s youth space is handsomely outfitted for the many uses it must handle. These cushions were just one part of the many pieces of this project that was completed in March.  Yay!  Girl Scout Gold Award…Check!  DSCN8512 (2)Celebrating her 17th birthday with some FUN fool-the-eye cupcakes made with rice cereal/marshmallow-type toppings with all kinds of flattened, cut up, dipped and sugared candies pretending to be Chinese take-out…Cupcake fortuneThe broccoli is really lime Tootsie Rolls split and dipped in green icing then dipped in green sugar.  Flattened and folded caramel squares made up the fortune cookies with special custom birthday fortunes….DSCN8831Teaching…did I mention that I am teaching Driver’s Ed to this one? (add dyeing my hair to the list!) This mode of transportation was a tiny bit less stressful of a ride along….a blast actually!DSCN8786Spending time with these girlies doing RVA!  This is their last year together as Girl Scouters.  Some have been with us since Brownies….sniff.DSCN8794Checking out the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council of Virginia Century of Leadership display at VCU Branch Cabell Library…DSCN8816Posing at the Jefferson Hotel…DSCN8825and lunching at Tobacco Company in Shockoe Slip…


Restarting a yoga practice abandoned long ago after a neck injury, which led to a weekend trek to Yogaville with a group of wonderfully adventurous women.   We laughed, meditated, hiked, did a little yoga, slept in dorm rooms and made new friends.Gorilla

The latest project has been working with my girl on gorilla costumes for an upcoming production of Tarzan. Not the greatest cell phone picture but I can’t blame it on my shiny new device….DSCN8849She’s a beaut!  We have four of them in our family now (and one S4 for the black sheep)…Pretty stunning the advancements in just two years…  Crazy good stuff!sam bday cakeBaking and decorating what I am sure is the first ever backwards birthday manatee cake in our house…colored coffee filters (2)Dying coffee filters to feed my apparent obsession with paper flowers.coffee filter flowers 1 (2)….more about that project in my next post….

Looking to start up some more workshops and classes to get an Art in Real Life Revolution started.  Been spending a lot of time looking around the area for the kind of art experience I want to have.  Looking and looking.  There are things going on in RVA, for sure.  But nothing that felt like the right kind of space for the FUN ART experience I have been searching for.

It’s possible, though, that the space has found me.

….more about that in a future post, as well…. promise it won’t be four months!I

Hope you have spent the first months of 2014 doing something good for your soul….


A Handmade Wedding: Paper Flowers

A Handmade Wedding: Paper Flowers

I know, I know….what has taken so long?!  It’s way too much to explain and it’s not all my story so I will have to leave it at “life happens”. But here, finally, are the beginnings of the details from our April handmade wedding.  There are a SO many photos and projects….I will do my best to keep it flowing over several different posts in the next few weeks.  The last 3 months of 2013 have been all about confusion, transition, adaptation and acceptance.

Paper Flowers and Cloud Documents – that was what the first three months of this year were all about.  What started with a Pinterest idea, a roll of butcher paper, some cardboard, a glue gun and an Excel spreadsheet ended with what we feel like was a handmade tribute to a wonderful couple who deserved a truly special event to start off their married life.

The groom is now on a one year deployment in Afghanistan.  They both deserve our prayers and our thanks.  DSCN2977 (2)DSCN2320The venue was perfect, our hosts were easy to work with and the food was great. Our number one issue was the huge space we had to fill in this banquet room, how to make it more intimate and give it some wow factor.The enormous span of drop ceiling, along with the generic furnishings, made the space seem more like office space than wedding venue.

ceremony space b4

The windows were nice as they let in a lot of light but there were two gigantic industrial A/C units mounted on the roof of the lower level that just killed the view in a major way. The string lights didn’t quite cut it either. Our budget was tight and our timeline short (3 months) but our creativity was high so we got on Pinterest and started the hunt.


The original flower “pin” was for something not nearly as big as the ones we ended up making – 60 inches in diameter (almost as big as the tables they hung over – all 16 of them!)  And at first, we were thinking maybe a swath of them on the wall might be fun.  But the more we thought, the more we figured they were the perfect distraction for all of that ceiling.


The prototype flower was made with a cereal box base but when we realized how big and how many we were going to make we opted for a large cardboard shipping box found out in the garage.


Our idea was to hang one over each table so we had to devise a way to a) hang them and b) make them hang straight.  We tried a few different configurations that were pretty iffy but in the end came up with 6 eyelets placed around the circle in pairs and using one continuous piece of fishing line looped through them attached to a ceiling hook.  We did all of the prep and measuring beforehand so the day we loaded in, all we had to do was hang them from the hook and make a few tilting adjustments.


Next it was paper ripping for hours…we were counting how many of each sized petals to make one flower – approximately 40 – and then multiply that by 16 and start ripping and stacking different sizes for each flower and putting them with a circle base.  This took a few days with lots of breaks for phone calls, emails, and spreadsheet updating.


After tearing all of the lengths, the ends were then hand torn to for the rounded edges of the petals.  We could do probably 4 petals at a time.  Each petal was “scrunched” at the not rounded end to form the folds in the petal. Then it was “Let the gluing commence!”  I was the official gluer and T was the official paper ripper/tallier.  I  believe we used somewhere close to 65 extra long glue sticks for these flowers!


The simplicity of the projects was remarkable.  It just was time consuming….


Glue! Glue!


and more glue!


Big globs of glue, scrunched up end of paper petal, paint stirrer stick to press it down, next petal.  After making it around once, the next row of slightly smaller petals were glued until the center was reached.


Then a long (3 – 4 feet) of 4 inch wide butcher paper was torn, crumpled and then smoothed out and rolled up loosely like a cinnamon roll.  There is a certain amount of twisting, folding and fluffing of the paper as it is turned and it is stapled every so often along the way to hold it together.  The photo above is the only shot of the strip form of the center but it is after the centers had been painted.


The bride wore a traditional long white dress, the bridesmaids wore short black dresses and the color all came in with the flowers and decorations in hot pink, bright yellow and orange.  The paper ceiling flower centers were coordinated to match – 1/3 orange, 1/3 yellow and 1/3 hot pink.


We had them all rolled and took them outside to spray with liquified (watered-down) spray paints and fabric dyes – whatever we had on hand.

day 70

The colors came out quite saturated and intense – exactly what we were hoping for!  Storing and transporting them was a whole different challenge.


It’s a flower with feet!  We had several helpers and a covered pick-up truck bed to get them all there (many trips)…


Placed them all on their respective table scattered according to our color plan….


Then hung each one.  Thanks to our pre-strung grommet plan, the whole hanging of the flowers only took about an hour….

DSCN3847 In retrospect, it would have been nice to make them even bigger but then we would have needed a few more months.  The room was SO huge, and it would have been nice to have the flowers make even more of a statement but all in all we were pretty happy with the idea and execution.  We coordinated the centerpieces on the tables with the flower floating above.


Using an oversized (14 inches tall by 10 inches in diameter) martini glass filled with water, we floated a Gerbera daisy the color of the flower center above.  A waterproof tea light submerged under a collection of clear glass and white marbles and glass fish cast a subtle glow.


Pine boughs sprayed metallic silver, tea lights with tissue paper sleeves in glass votive cups, black and white photos of the bride and groom tied with orange, yellow and pink ribbons embellished with charms all set on a hot pink fabric square completed the tablescape.  Total cost under $25 per table and the photos were available for the guests to take home.


Can you tell this was taken during the festivities?  It was hard to be the aunt, the mistress of ceremonies, the decorator and the photographer of all things crafty and have FUN!

Day 96

Of course, a couple of aspects we hadn’t considered in all of our planning was to add ice to the martini glasses for beer chilling!!! Or the thirsty guest who couldn’t get to the bar quick enough…


Who knew?! It was all good, sort of a sign of how much fun everyone seemed to have.


It wasn’t just giant paper flowers, by the way, there were also lots of little flowers….everywhere. It was our theme, sort of.


Lots and LOTS of little flowers…small, medium, large and even really teeny tiny little flowers!  That’s our pack of Precision Placement Tools (aka wooden skewers) critical in the placement of small scrunched petals into hot glue….



Yes, discovered that low temp is best.

DSCN3645 (2)


Mixed with book text for the photo booth banner…


Floor vases for the ceremony space….

cigar box

The ring “barrier’s” (as he called himself!) box….


Family row designators…and more that will have to wait for the next post.  Thanks for stopping by and your patience while all things post-wedding got sorted out.

Life is good!