Thursday, September 27, 2007

Art Classes!

The Antioch Fine Arts foundation has just released its Fall and Winter Class schedule for students of all ages. If you live in the Antioch, Illinois area, you will want to check these classes out. I will be teaching my Basics in Paper Making workshop at the Gallery once again.
If you don't live in northern IL or southern WI, I have some great art classes for you as well - and they're free!
As soon as my flower pressing chores slow down after the first hard freeze, I intend to take a good color theory class or two.

Remember, you can register for the seed drawing giveaway until Sunday. Have a good weekend!


Monday, September 24, 2007

Unusual Seed Give Away!

This is a close up of my “Trifetti” ornamental pepper plant.

I originally received the Trifetti seeds years ago when pregnant with my first child. Kenosha County was conducting a research project and they were offering free seeds for gardeners who agreed to grow them according to their directions, and then fill out a series of questionnaires regarding the progress of the plants, how easy they were to grow, etc. Well, soon after I planted the seeds I had my daughter, and in the midst of adjusting to life with a newborn I never did fill out any of the surveys, and I still feel guilty about it to this day!

This is one of my all time favorite plants, even though there is nothing worth pressing on this plant! The leaves are a confetti mixture of green, purple, and a bit of cream, and the peppers are even more amazing. They start out as beautiful deep purple blossoms, which turn into small purple peppers…but not for long. They soon turn cherry red, and finally a fiery deep orange. I never fail to get compliments on this unusual plant, which does equally well in containers as it does tucked into my herb or vegetable gardens. I sometimes even put a plant or two in my flower gardens for a burst of unexpected color.

In a vain attempt to rectify my lack of filling out those surveys years ago, I am offering a packet of free Tri-fetti Ornamental Seeds to one of my four beloved readers. No strings attached. Just leave a comment, and I’ll draw a name next week. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday Mornings at Bodi’s

One of the things I’m finally realizing that I need to do in order for my pressed flower “mini business” to be successful, is to PLAN. I have always prided myself on being spontaneous, but I’m finding that trying to get by on a wing and a prayer is not effective.

The woman talked about in Proverbs 31 is a woman to admire. She had several “mini businesses” on the side and “she saw that her trading was profitable”. In fact, her ventures were so profitable that she was able to buy a vineyard out of her earnings. I would love that! A nice vineyard in the Sonoma Valley

Back to reality. Being highly productive and effective takes planning. Long and short term goals that have are the result of much thought, thorough review of relevant facts, and prayer.

So now that the kids are back in school, I spend an hour of my Monday morning drinking Chai Tea at Bodi’s Bakery in Twin Lakes, with my Franklin Planner spread out on the table before me, and a prayer in my heart as I plan my months, weeks, and days.

This post reminds me that last year I came across a helpful series on a blog that talks about highly effective habits for women, and planning was one of them. You might want to check it out when you have the time.


Friday, September 14, 2007

leaf mates

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time working with pressed autumn leaves, trying to make a leaf collage picture that I would be able to donate to the art gallery I belong to for our annual silent auction coming up in a few weeks. Autumn leaf collages have always been popular with my customers, but I find them so hard to make! I select, and reselect many different kinds leaves that I've pressed, and then I arrange, and rearrange over and over until finally, just when I'm about to give up, I am blessed with an "aha" moment. A masterpiece! Well, not quite, but it is such a joy when something finally comes together.

Yesterday I was aiming for a large, bold composition that would encompass a wide variety of different leaves, with varied colors and shapes. It didn't happen. Something simple occurred instead. Why? I'm not sure. I believe that creativity is a gift from our Creator, but who knows why a certain picture happens one day, and a different one the next. I would love to gain more insight on that. One thing I do know: my art is a celebration of His work, and my hope is that it glorifies Him.

I really like this picture. I may just hang onto it awhile and make something else for the silent auction. I wonder what kind of picture I'll make next...

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This is how I feel...

We are getting a new roof today. It's so NOISY! I'm having trouble concentrating on my art, so I might as well make this a cleaning day. But, this afternoon I'm going to take a quick break to do this paper box making workshop at Etsy at 3:00 EST. I wish I could have shared this with you earlier, but a friend just called it my attention. If you miss the workshop, there is a picture tutorial here.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Today is another resource day – I want to share with you some more of my favorite free internet resources that I’ve found helpful for my pressed flower business.

Number one on my list today is Google – what would I do with out it? As a search engine, it is phenomenal. With it, you can find anything on the web! I find the best deals on cardstock, envelopes, framing materials, printer ink, and shipping materials. I can check out my competition, and find information on any topic I want to know about. I have never taken a class in papermaking or pressing flowers. I have learned 95% of what I know from reading whatever I can about them on the internet. For free! I love it.

I also make use of the free webmaster tools that Google offers, which have helped my web sites perform better in the search engines, which is key for good internet sales. And, recently I’ve been making use of Google Alerts, to learn more about certain topics I’m interested in. Simply go to the Google News page, and sign up for an alert on any topic. Then, you’ll receive an email alert whenever anything is published on the web or in a blog about that topic. I have Google Alerts on my domain names to alert me to new incoming links, and on pressed flowers, cooking with herbs and using handmade paper.

A word of caution: as amazing and helpful as Google is, it may occasionally lead you down a seamy path. Be ready to hit the back button in case you end up some place you shouldn’t be.

Another wonderful web resource is
What a fascinating site – one could get lost on there for days. I have found a lot of helpful information on website design, setting up and maintaining a small business, how to do any craft imaginable, blogging, computer maintenance, desktop publishing, cooking techniques, and on and on. Amazing. And it’s free!

One last resource that I’d like to recommend to you is
It’s kind of a wacky site, but I have found it very helpful for getting my house in order. The “Fly Lady” is touted as being “your personal online coach to help you gain control of your house.” Through barrages of email, she takes you on a journey of tackling your house “zone by zone” and helps you set up a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning and organization plan that really works. Like I said, the site and her approach are a bit wacky, but I like the results I’ve achieved. I needed direction in this area, and her ideas have given me the structure I needed. My dear husband is very much a “neatie”, and when we decided that I would embark on my home business, I agreed to keep our home neat and orderly. Well, I’m not normally neat and organized, and I’ve failed more often than not in the past. But since I’ve realized that I need to pray about this area of my life, and since I made a commitment to keep on track with the Fly Lady, I am doing so much better.

We certainly blessed to have so many resources at our fingertips.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In the beginning...

Years ago, with 3 little ones under the age of 4, I saw two T.V. programs that nudged me onto a new path.

While drowning in a sea of tippy cups and toddler toys, I saw Lynette Jennings on the Discovery Channel make paper. Amazing! It looked so easy. And cheap! All I needed was a kitchen blender, and some type of frame with a screen. I was on it.

Then, I saw Rebecca, from a show called “Rebecca’s Garden” press flowers with some type of microwave flower press. The flowers were stunning. Maybe I could put them on handmade paper…

So, I began with an improvised paper making kit, and a Microfleur Flower Press and those are still the primary tools I use. And here I am today, blessed with a small but hopefully growing pressed flower/botanical art business that started with a little inspiration lots of Divine Intervention, and a few other blessings along the way.

One of the first blessings was Anne Post of Preserved Gardens. Soon after I began making pressed flower cards, I came across her amazing pressed flower site and discovered that she had a free Pressed Flower Store, where she graciously allowed pressed flower artists show and offer their work directly to the customer right on her website. After I sold a number of cards via her site, I gingerly ventured into web retailing on my own. I created my own site with Yahoo’s Sitebuilder, and eventually purchased my own domain,

By the way, if you ever need to know ANYTHING about pressed flowers, check out Preserved Gardens. That has been my primary pressed flower information resource through the years, and I still refer to it every now and then. Anne also has comprehensive reviews on pressed flower books on her site you may want to check out. Another good resource is the World Wide Pressed Flower Guild. I am not currently a member, but I was at one time, and learned a lot. There is also a pressed flower group on Yahoo that has some fairly good information on pressing flowers in their archives.

This post is getting a bit long, and I have to get a few orders ready to ship. I’ll be back…

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

This is fun!

This is an image I just made – via a monochrome photographic printing process.
What does that really mean? I’ll explain: I started with a specially treated fabric square, from the leaf petals botanical print fabric kit. I placed a fern on top of it, and put it outside in the bright sun for ten minutes. Then, I took it inside, and rinsed it thoroughly, and was left with this stunning blue print image of a fern. Isn’t that incredible?
I love these kinds of things!

This image is called a cyanotype, which was an early photographic process. It was used by Anna Atkins; one of the first woman photographers, in the late 1800’s to create some stunning books on ferns and other plants.

The weather forecast for today is bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Guess what I’ll be doing this afternoon?

Labels: ,