Halloween Cards: Crafting from my Garden

This year I’m crafting Halloween cards from my garden. It’s been a lot of trial and error, but I’m having fun.

My approach to crafting Halloween cards is often catch-as-catch can. I’ll spot a few things here and there in a store, or I’ll pull together items from my stash. No two cards are alike, and I’m fine with that. For me, that’s part of the fun.

Halloween cards

Halloween cards from prior years

This year, using my Big Shot die-cutting gadget, I’ve made several chlorophyll prints from the abundant pumpkin leaves trailing across my garden. The leaves transferred beautifully, revealing wonderful detail.

pumpkin leaf chlorophyll print

Pumpkin leaf impression

With success on my side, I decided to try making prints using the bright yellow pumpkin flowers. I had to be judicious, because although the pumpkin’s leaves last for weeks, the flowers close and drop within a day or two. I made flower impressions in phases, also enjoying the process.

Pumpkin flower impression

A: Pumpkin blossom, B: Pressed pumpkin blossom, C: Partially removed, and D: pumpkin flower imprint

Though the flowers transferred well, the color didn’t last. Within a few days the brightness faded to a soft peach. I used the imprints anyway, for a subtle suggestion of color and because they work well with my Halloween theme.

Since I was on a roll, I braved the crazy heat, and gathered a few more items: the drying flowers of the Nepeta (cat mint) and some of the dropped pine needles from a neighboring tree. The dried flowers left a mottled brown impression, perfect for the pumpkin stems, also known as a peduncle.

nepeta going to seed

Nepeta going to seed

Drying Nepeta flowers and leaves on paper before pressing

Drying Nepeta flowers and leaves on paper before pressing

nepeta impressinos

Nepeta impressions for peduncles and background

The pine needles made a wonderful textured paper. I wanted to suggest the ribbing you would see on a real pumpkin. It’s subtle, but I like the way they turned out.

I rubbed yellow ink on the textured paper, then stamped two more layers of the stamp set with orange and russet ink. After stamping two different pumpkin shapes, I cut the small pumpkin images using my Big Shot. I made the stems using the Nepeta paper print.

Here’s the design:

I used a clever die to create the black card-stock base of the card. I used the pumpkin leaf imprint on one side and the flower imprint on the other. In the center I cut two small pumpkins from the pine needle paper using a clever die and stamp set that allows layering for a more realistic effect. I cut the stems, known as a peduncle, from the mottled Nepeta print for a natural look.

This particular style is labor-intensive, so I only managed to make eight cards. That said, I did a lot of experimenting along with using new tools. Next year I’ll be able to apply what I learned.  I punched squared out of all the different materials I used and mounted them on a piece of card stock. This will help me remember the different techniques for next year.

I used the remaining chlorophyll prints to make traditional fold-over cards. They were equally fun. I’ll blog about them later this week.

Are you trying something new and interesting?

Note:

To my friends out of the area, please know that we are safe. There is an active series of fires, 100 miles north of San Jose. Though we are sheltering from the heavy smoke as best we can, we are not in danger. My friends in Santa Rosa are safe. You can read more at the link below.

http://m.sfgate.com/news/article/2-big-wildfires-prompt-evacuations-in-Napa-County-12262945.php

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Experimenting with Chlorophyll Prints

Transferring the image of a leaf to paper has been around for years. It’s only recently though, that I learned of a technique using a Big Shot, one of those crafting tools I’ve put off buying for years.

Sizzix Big Shot

Sizzix Big Shot

Dawn, who blogs at Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes created these beautiful cards using the technique. Dawn’s post and her stunning cards were the impetus I needed. I bought a Big Shot so I could give the technique a try. I’m sharing the Big Shot tool with my sister, Sharon, who makes all of her own cards. We bought some fun dies for her to use for her holiday cards this year.

As Dawn says, this is a wonderful opportunity to combine two loves: gardening and paper crafts.

According to Wiki:

Chlorophyll (also chlorophyl) is any of several closely related green pigments found in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of algae and plants.[1] Its name is derived from the Greek words chloros (“green”) and  phyllon, (“leaf”).[2] Chlorophyll is essential in photosynthesis, allowing plants to absorb energy from light. – Wikipedia

The technique is simple. You sandwich a leaf or petal between a folded piece of paper, run it through the Big Shot, and the green pigment created by the chlorophyll transfers to the paper.  As Pauline King would say, I’m at the messy stage of this process. I’ve yet to make a single card, but not from lack of trying.

I gathered several scraps of paper from my stash to get started, including an old file folder, card stock, old-fashioned typewriter paper and vellum.

File folder leaf print

Paper: File Folder * Verdict: so-so

chlorophyll prints watercolor paper

Paper: Watercolor * Verdict: Nice most of the time but not for all plant material

velum paper chorophyll print

Paper: Velum * Verdict: It looks like a Rorschach Test

I quickly learned that all paper is not created equal. In the end it was a scrap of watercolor paper that worked the best. It absorbed some of the natural moisture and showed off the texture of the plant material to good effect.

My collection of leaves were a mixed bag as well. Some were so wet and juicy, that they produced images that were half leaf imprint, half splat. My prints are definitely not ready for prime time, but I am having fun.

I’m still trying to get a good imprint from my coleus leaves. They’re a beautiful mix of red and green and sometimes purple. They’re also heart-shaped. If I can manage to get the impressions just right without the extra moisture they’ll look terrific on a card.

My favorite imprints so far are the fern and the Nepeta.

This imprint is from my lacy fern, a plant I’ve carted around with me for nearly thirty years. It went from a small, seventy-nine cent plant on my nightstand, to owning a corner of our garden. I love it.

Chlorophyll transfer fern and sweet pea

Chlorophyll transfer of fern and sweet pea petal to watercolor paper

The Nepeta or cat nip also transferred well, and comically, retained some of its potency. Mouse the Cat hopped up on the desk and enjoyed the scent.

Nepeta catmint transfer print

Mouse Approved

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

I’ll keep experimenting and hope to eventually have some bona fide cards to share. I tossed the small samples, but gathered the rest of them into a sample booklet, held together with baker’s twine and a few strips of Washi tape.

Chlorophyll Samples

Chlorophyll Sample Booklet

Have you been working away at a technique for a while with mixed results? Let us know in the comments below.

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