Monday, January 28, 2008

Interview with Jennie Beecroft - Part 1

Today I'm happy to present you with the first part of my online interview with Jennie Beecroft of Beeline Productions - the manufacturer of my favorite tool, the Microfleur Microwave Flower Press.

Elizabeth: Jennie, thank you so much for agreeing to share a bit about yourself with us. Please tell us a little bit about you and your family, and where you're from.

Jennie: I was born and grew up in Melbourne (Victoria). As a child I was horse mad and when we moved to the acreage I was lucky enough to get a horse for Christmas when I was 12. Mistie and I were inseparable for many years and it was with great regret I sold her when I married. I now live north of Brisbane (Queensland), 20 minutes drive from the beach. I am still married
and have 2 sons, who live in Melbourne with their wives and 1 daughter who lives near us in Queensland. I also have 2 grandchildren (boy and girl) who live in Melbourne, which means I drive to Melbourne several times a year (2000klms home to Melbourne). Because of my husbands work we traveled and lived overseas a lot in the late 1980's and early 1990's, including China, Indonesia, Japan and England. We have been settled here since late 1993.

Elizabeth: When and how did your interest in pressing flowers begin?

Jennie: I always had a flower press with me on our travels and picked many a flower, leaf etc to put in the press. Usually though the result wasn't as great as I would like!
I used to make paper whilst we were overseas and included some of the pressed flowers. We now live on acreage and as I have always been interested in gardening it seemed logical to try and combine gardening and papermaking. I experimented a lot more and complained a lot more, especially about the time taken as I wanted to include the flower now.
Eventually my engineer husband came up with a flower press I could use in the microwave.

Elizabeth: What kind of pressed flower creations have you done? What are you working on now?

Jennie: Most of my pressed flowers are used in cards or in pictures - my mother is more 'creative' than I am and uses lots of barks and feathers in her work. I have also done put the flowers on cups (special occasion one use only), made lampshades, combined with water colour in paintings of gardens, and my latest fun thing is to combine the flowers in resin for use in beading.

Many thanks to Jennie, for sharing with us. On Friday we'll hear more about how the Microfleur actually came to be.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to store pressed flowers

Reader friend Val recently asked:

I'm having a bit of a dilemma. I have pressed and purchased so many flowers/botanicals over the past few years and I am now at my wits end trying to store/display them so I can find what I am looking for at a glance.

You know how it is when you are looking for just the right little piece of grass or leaf that curls in the right direction. Is there some way I can store all my large/small leaves, grasses, large/small pressed flowers, and all the bits and pieces that I need to find quickly and yet keep them all safe...flat...and accessible?

I have used small rectangular plastic tubs with lids and placed sheets of wax paper and thin cardboard to separate the different kinds of flowers etc. But it is becoming increasingly difficult and time consuming to lift out all the sheets until I find just the right piece I am looking for. There has to be a simpler way to organize these items.

I know that you probably have ten times the amount of pressed flowers etc. than I do and your time is precious as well. How do you keep yourself organized? Any help you could give me would be great!!!! Thanks in advance.....Val"

Thanks so much for your question, Val. It is one that I continue to wrestle with, but I have come up with a few innovations for storing my pressed flowers that are working for me, and I also am aware of some storing techniques that other pressed flower artists use.

Read more about storing pressed flowers

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I was saving the scan of this pressed flower "Congratulations!" card to use in honor of the Packer's Super Bowl win, but sadly they lost in the last round of the playoffs Sunday night.
Sigh. Maybe next year.

But on to happier things. The interesting flower used for this card is called "Pigs face!" It's not a very dignified name for such a stunning flower, but I think overcomes its moniker with those wonderfully slender and brilliant petals.

My e-friend Ellice from the land down under recommended this native plant as one of her favorite flowers to press. It's a succulent often found on the beaches of Australia, and luckily I was able to find a number of vendors on Ebay who sold it. My pigs face plant didn't fare too well during our wet summer here in Wisconsin, but the few blooms I had pressed beautifully in the Microfleur. I'm going to try it again next year.

Speaking of the Microfleur, stay tuned next week for an interview with Jennie Beecroft, the designer and manufacturer of the Microfleur. Jennie graciously agreed to answer a number of questions regarding her interest in pressed flowers, and how the Microfleur microwave flower press came to be. I hope you find her answers as interesting as I did.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Have you smelled your rosemary today?

My mom has Alzheimer's.
Her mother had also had some type of dementia, so naturally I'm more than a little concerned that I may end up on that path as well.

Thankfully there has been a lot of attention lately to the many proactive things we can do to minimize our chances of experiencing Alzheimer's, such as exercising our bodies as well as our brains, and eating things such as blueberries, nuts, foods with a high anti-oxidant content, etc.

This morning I found myself on Real Age, reading an article about supplements that may help your brain to remain stronger, when I came across something that made me laugh.

Apparently research suggests "that inhaling the aromas or rosemary, mint, or rose at the time of learning a new task can enhance recall when you’re exposed to the scent at a later time."
How ridiculous.

Or is it?
I've alway been fascinated by the way that certain odors can suddenly and swiftly transport us back to another place in time, as if we were actually there - for a moment. Each and every time I smell fresh basil, I think of summer - it actually is summer for an instant. Whenever I smell percolating coffee (in one of those "old fashioned" coffee pots, not the automated coffee makers that sit on your counter) I am back in my grandma's kitchen in bare feet, and can temporarily recall every detail of it.

Maybe there is something to this. The rosemary I brought in last fall is still clinging to life on my kitchen windowsill... so maybe I'll put it to good use.

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Friday, January 11, 2008


Isn't this a stunning edelweiss?

It was grown from seed, pressed in the microfleur, made into a card, and sold on Etsy. Now, looking back at the scan I took of it, I wish I would have made something more permanent out of it, like a framed picture, or even a journal!

They are a bit tricky to grow from seed, but I have found that the plants I grow from seed tend to last longer (2-3 years) than edelweiss plants I have purchased. The seeds can be hard to find, but I ordered mine from Pinetree Garden Seeds this year, and I've also seen them on ebay.

They like cool conditions, so here in Wisconsin I start them in my chilly basement, and eventually move them to our insulated garage under grow lights. Then, when it's time to move them outside, I place them in a planter filled with cactus potting soil (they need excellent drainage) and I am usually blessed with at least 2-3 dozen beautiful blooms from 4-5 plants. Give it a try!
copyright pressed-flowers dot blogspot dot com.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

The first...

I came across an old computer CD containing this scan of my very first pressed flower art consignment. I made this for the friend who patiently helped me launch my first website - as a wedding gift for a friend of his.

I was terrified to do it - I didn't think I could make anything worthy of being a wedding gift...but the amazing thing about working with pressed flowers is that they are already beautiful, courtesy of the One who made them; I only have to place them in a new setting.

I really like this piece, but I wish I had known then what I have learned since then - in regards to adding pigment to the leaves (anything green - leaves, stems, etc. always fade) and in regards to sealing the flowers appropriately to provide a moisture proof UV resistant barrier. My framing standards have also improved immensely since then - I am really embarrassed to admit that I probably framed and matted it with a frame from Kohl' I only use custom made frames and archival matting.

Looking back, I am encouraged by how far I've come in my knowledge and skills...and really curious about what I'll know years from now! Copyright pressed-flowers dot blogspot dot com.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Framing idea for pressed flowers

I have a row of four of these primitive wooden frames filled with colorful pressed flowers and scripture in my kitchen. I bought a box full of these frames about 5 years ago on ebay, and apparently they are some type of antique contact frames that were used by photographers. On the back of some of the frames there is a dial with numbers 1-12, but no indication of where they were made. The frames were filthy when I received them, but after cleaning them with Murphy's Oil Soap and polishing them with Formby's Tung Oil, they developed a stunning rich, beautiful luster.

The south facing wall these pictures are hanging on is sunny, so when ever I come upon a new flower I would like to use in my pressed flower art, it spends a trial period in one of these frames, and if it hold its color, I begin to use it. Since there is no glass, I protect the flowers from moisture, dust, and UV rays with a thin layer of Perfect Paper Adhesive. The backs of these frames pop off, so its really easy to swap out pictures, and I change them quite often - in the fall I like to put up bold autumn leaf pictures, in the spring I might put up colorful crocuses, and one year I made a row of "Christmas tree" fern pictures.
I wish I could give you a source for these unique frames, but the best I can do is point you to ebay, or encourage you to make friends with a really old photographer!
copyright pressed-flowers dot blogspot dot com.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Getting back to work...

I've taken quite a bit of time off, but now I'm ready to get right back in the swing of things. First of all, sometime between Christmas and New Year's, I had a birthday. To the left is a handmade birthday card I received from my aunt, with tatted leaves and a small white flower! I love it! I wonder if she can tat a fern...

We've been so busy I haven't had time to do my annual reflection/goal setting reflection. I hope to get to it later today, and here are some guidelines I'll be using. First, I'll be heading over to for a brief podcast on "How to plan your art career wins for 2008." That should give me some concrete strategies on how to plan to be more successful as an artist this year. Then, I'll spend quite a bit of time with "Ten Questions for the New Year" to reflect on where I've been, and where I'm going spiritually.

By the way, a number of curious readers have been asking about the "Glory of God" gift I received from my 1st grader. It was a pair of tiny silver cross earrings! Not really my style, but I'll be wearing them frequently never the less!

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