Experience the artistry of a craft that goes back many centuries as you make this bracelet of pretty flower designs, brushed with gold luster and finished with satin smooth coats of lacquer.
Like most lacquer work of centuries ago, the artistry of this bracelet begins on a core of white pine wood. With a fineness of grain free from knots and resin, the pine wood is ideally suited for lightweight ornaments lacquered and decorated. One of the earliest known methods to embellish lacquer work was the sprinkling of gold powder over the lacquer surface.
Acrylic gold luster is the predominant color of this lacquer bracelet, making a subtle lustrous background for your flower design. Choose from real pressed flowers, cut-out flowers or try your skill at freehand painting. Remember the flowers are not realistic; they're simply your own expression in creativity.
Lacquer is easy to use if you apply it with a brush about the same width as the bracelet. Allow an hour drying time between coats. If your craft store does not have lacquer, use varnish or similar coating. Use lacquer thinner or paint remover to clean your brush when you finish.
For each bracelet, you will need one 2 ounce tube number 234 gold acrylic paint and desired colors; one each numbers 2, 4 and 8 flat, synthetic paint brushes; a number 2 liner brush; lacquer; a raw white pine wood bracelet; and flowers (either dried, paper or painted of your own design).
Sand the entire bracelet, inside and out. Move sandpaper in direction of grain of wood to assure a clean, smooth surface. Clean off dust from sanding and the bracelet is ready for staining.
Using burnt umber or similar color wood stain, dab into stain (diluted) with a small soft cloth. Apply lightly to all wood surfaces.
Blossoms from the back yard, roadside, woods or your own potted flowering plants all make ideal designs for your bracelets. Carefully cut the blossoms; do not tear or crumple any of the petals or leaves. Press floral pieces as soon after cutting as possible.
Cut blossoms from stem close to back of flower to allow flower to dry in a flatter position. Use same method for leaves. Stems can be painted after blossoms and leaves are adapted to fit.
Glue petals in place by lightly touching back of floral pieces with glue.
Use flower designs from greeting cards or wrapping paper. Cut carefully with art knife or tiny cuticle scissors. Under three coats of lacquer, the flowers smooth and blend to a fine hand-painted look.
For hand-painted flowers, mix red with dab of white to get a shade of light reddish pink. With number 2 liner, try experimental flower petal shapes on paper; then paint the shape you like where desired. Using number 4 brush dip into darker pink and dab at base of each flower petal. Add a few tiny swishes of white or paler tones for blends. Acrylic dies quickly so you can make changes. This basic procedure can be used with blue, orange and green colors.
Darken green acrylic with a dab of black for darker leaves, and use a dash of yellow to get a lighter green for others. Dip small brush into green and practice a few leaf strokes on paper. Enjoy your own individual expression of creativity. Dab flower center where petals meet, using white or gold. When dry, make 3 or 4 tiny black dots with tip of liner, holding it perpendicular.
After flower pieces are painted and dry, begin to decorate with gold acrylic. Practice a few strokes on paper to get the feel of gold paint. Use liner to make tiny lines on veins of leaf, outline around petals and highlight the design.
Add water to gold, so it flows easily. Work gold in and out and around your flower and leaf designs. Using your number 4 or number 6 brush, brush background strokes toward outer edges of bracelet.
The darker stained undersurface gives a soft dark golden glow. Coat edges well. Let all surfaces dry.
Brush inside with gold after outside is completely dry.
With brush approximately the width of bracelet rim, apply lacquer lightly over all flower pieces and outer parts of bracelet. Hold bracelet in light to check carefully that all areas have been coated. Make sure all flower pieces, especially paper cut-outs and dry flowers, are coated well.
Slip bracelet over top of bottle (shape of soda bottle). This will allow bracelet to dry resting on one rim. Check to see if lacquer is running. If it is, gently lift bracelet off and reverse position on bottle. Let dry 30 to 40 minutes before applying next coat of lacquer. Apply at least two more coats of lacquer for satiny durable finish. Before putting on final coat, sand with light paper any lump spots of lacquer that appear as coats of lacquer dry.
A tisket, a tasket, A green and yellow basket . . . and red, blue and every other, not to mention fiber, imaginable.
Basketry is no longer a traditional craft done only by the Indians -- although they still do some of the finest work around. Basket making has become an art revived and practiced by a growing number of artisans. More and more people are collecting baskets.
Baskets have not fallen prey to mass-production methods as have most products in our culture . . . no one has yet devised a mechanical substitute for the nimble fingers that weave, coil, plaint and twine natural materials into the myriad utilitarian shapes devised for the necessities of living."
A wide variety of baskets in all shapes and dyes -- from imported commercial hampers to sculptural fiber pieces - are available now in many stores and galleries.
In basket making craft, three principles are important:
• Artistic, meaning that good design qualities should be exhibited;
• Decorative, meaning that beauty should be a concern; and
• Practical, meaning that purpose and function must also be considered
There are also three basic basket techniques used all over the world: twining, coiling, and plaiting or weaving.
Most of the present-day basket makers use twining and a variety of plaiting techniques. Animals are often featured as subject matter. Carved wooden shapes serve as molds so the form can be maintained and technicians can weave around these forms, adding carved legs, beaks, or traditional handles. Animal baskets display an uncanny resemblance to the particular animal's character by capturing the natural expression of its movements with a whimsical flair.
Everyone works together to design and to develop an idea. No one individual produces a basket from start to finish in the factories, but rather various individuals work in an assembly-line manner to jointly make a basket.
Women generally do the weaving process, while men do the preparation work of the raw bamboo or grass materials, and other individuals prepare the baskets for finishing and shipping.
In many countries the artist is prized as a unique person who develops new concepts and ideas to display individual style. In China, for instance, the ''artist'' represents the state. The quality of his or her work reflects on the country, not on the individual - and so it is with Chinese basketry.
The Mississippi basket makers use more traditional materials for their baskets such as white oak, river cane and pinestraw . Others use a wider range of materials in their contemporary pieces: split white oak, grapevines, rattan, birch bark, honeysuckle, willow walnut and shuro palm. Still others, uses all natural materials, often collecting various grasses, vines and twigs for her baskets.
Baskets made in Japan are generally made of twisted bamboo with the edge of each reed bleached white. Others are a series of lacquered bamboo baskets with a reed base, tin liner and bent twigs for the handle, especially well-suited for ikebana, Japanese flower arranging.
It is the most insignificant of Indian crafts. It is made from the cheapest of materials - a tiny glass bead - and threaded together to form a beaded mat of bright primary colors against a white background. This is the traditional bead craft of the women of the dry desert area of Sassan, near Junagadh, in Gujarat, who sit together in the shade of hot afternoons, picking up the beads, one by one to form the tight honeycomb patterns that depict their world. It could be a parrot, a peacock, a stylized tree, branch, or lotus flower. Originally these bead mats were used during weddings. They were threaded around a coconut, or used as decorative covers for the food, or strung along the front doorway as welcoming thorans.
The trade in Indian beads came to an abrupt end with the entry of the merchants from Europe. It is interesting to note how they created a virtual monopoly of the bead trade, first by destroying the Indian market by dumping cheaper and better glass beads made in Europe and by creating a new market in North America, by supplying them to the many different tribes of American Indians. It's estimated that in the year 1879-80 we received foreign glass beads to the weight of 1,800,000 lbs. Since 1947, however, there has been a very gradual recovery of bead making units, in different parts of the country.
The trade in Indian beads came to an abrupt end with the entry of the merchants from Europe. It is interesting to note how they created a virtual monopoly of the bead trade, first by destroying the Indian market by dumping cheaper and better glass beads made in Europe and by creating a new market in North America, by supplying them to the many different tribes of American Indians. It's estimated that in the year 1879-80 India received foreign glass beads to the weight of 1,800,000 lbs. Since 1947, however, there has been a very gradual recovery of bead making units, in different parts of the country.
Beads have a timeless appeal and infinite variety. They can be made from clay, glass, bone, wood, crystal and precious metals. Because beads have played such a diverse role throughout time, as religious artifacts or as a medium of exchange and currency, people feel they can hold "a little bit of history" if they have a special bead. And because so many beads were used throughout the ages for trading, there are still enough around to make such artifacts affordable.
Beads with blue dots were traded for palm oil, while yellow beads were often traded for gold. Beads have also had a strong spiritual significance. Beadwork is also a convenient hobby, as the beads are small and easy to carry. Getting started is simple. All you need are beads, the "findings" (wire clasps, hooks and the like used to hold jewelry together) and something to string the beads on. Patterns for more elaborate beadwork can be found in bead and craft magazines, as well as many beadwork books.
To the untrained eye, the tiny trees in a bonsai arrangement look fairly simple. Take a nice, full branch off a tree, stick it into a shallow pot, snip a little here, snip a little there, and presto Bonsai
But actually creating a bonsai tree isn't that easy.
It can take months and even years to prune and shape a tree that normally would be 85 feet tall to be just 15 inches tall.
A key element of good bonsai is the shape of the trunk and limbs. A good bonsai plant has trunks and limbs that are thick at the base and thinner toward the ends, just as a tree in nature does.
The bonsai trainer can force this appearance by leaving a large clump of greenery at the end of the branch. The base of the branch will grow thicker as nutrients and water course through it on their way to nourish the foliage at the end. Once the trunk has the desired shape, the foliage can be trimmed away. A heavy root system showing above the dirt - another prized look in bonsai - can be achieved by the same method.
A look of age can be achieved by "jinning" - the careful peeling and splintering of a branch stub to make it look as though lightning has struck it.
Some hobbyists like to work with old plants; others like to start with saplings. In both cases, the plant is trimmed to have an odd number of main branches - usually three or five, but many more if one is creating a "forest".
Then most leaves and smaller branches are removed "to let the birds through" and to encourage the growth of tiny, new leaves that will look like miniature foliage.
In Japan, some of the trees are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those trees are cherished family heirlooms passed from generation to generation. Many are five or six centuries old. Often, they're not kept in the home, but placed in the hands of a bonsai master. The owners bring them home for parties and other special occasions, and then put them back into the hands of the master for more training.
The Chinese started bonsai centuries ago. The first trees were artificial, made from sponges with paper flowers. Later, the Chinese trained tiny trees in dishes.
The Japanese picked up on the hobby and created their own styles. The Chinese used the 'clip and grow' method, while the Japanese tend to wire the plants. The wires are wound around the limbs, then bent to make the small tree look windswept, twisted with age, asymmetrical or triangular.
The Chinese method is slower; the Japanese method can create more intricate bonsai designs.
The origins of cross-stitch - like almost every needlecraft form - are lost in antiquity. Have you ever wondered who was the first person to crochet with a hook, knit with two needles or embellish fabric with embroidery stitches, as well as when and where in history these things occurred?
In one of the books on cross-stitch, the author states that it originated in England in the 16th century, but ancient examples of it have been found in almost every country and culture. It is believed that silkworm farming was developed by the Chinese as early as 2000 B.C., and silk embroideries, including cross-stitch, could have appeared soon after.
Cross-stitch does appear in work of the Sung Dynasty (960 A.D. to 1127 A.D.). Later in the provinces of Shensi, Szechwan and Yunnan, we see a wide heritage of cross-stitch embroidery in blue cotton on a locally woven background.
Throughout all regions of the world, cross-stitch predominates in folk embroidery, particularly for altar cloths, clothing items, bed linens and wall hangings. From almost every country on every continent, there are wonderful examples of this type of work. The stitches are the same but the designs are unique to the different cultures.
Today, more than ever, countless Americans are busily and happily cross-stitching on a wide variety of items. To get started with a counted cross-stitch project, you'll need fabric, floss, embroidery hoop, embroidery needle, scissors and a design chart.
While some embroiderers work without a hoop, most of us should definitely use one to keep the fabric taut. This promotes steady tension and smooth, even stitches. Finally, to avoid puckering, be sure not to pull the stitches too tight.
It's also important to keep small; sharp scissors handy at all times to clip off all thread ends after they are secured.
If you leave thread ends hanging, they are almost certain to get tangled up on the back side of your piece as you continue stitching. It's not just that this makes the wrong side of your work look messy - which is not a cardinal sin - but after your piece is finished and framed, those tangles will give a lumpy appearance on the right side.
Before you take the first stitch, prepare your fabric by turning under and basting a 1/4-inch hem on all edges to prevent raveling of the fabric threads. Then cut your floss into 18-inch lengths. Many inexperienced stitchers use longer strands in their needles, thinking this will save the time it takes to rethread the needle, but it also can cause tangling. The strand of floss is likely to become twisted as you stitch. Avoid this by holding up your piece after every seven or eight stitches, letting the needle dangle to take out any twisting.
Many cross-stitch specialty shops carry floss holders that aid you in sorting and storing your floss.
If there is not a shop like this nearby, you can make your own. Simply cut slits on a piece of cardboard for each floss color, label each slit with the color name or number and slip the floss strands into the appropriate slit to keep them separate and make it easier to select the proper color as you work.
A wall doesn't have to be ordinary. It can look like a marble masterpiece or feature something whimsical like a couple of lizards clinging to its surface. When it comes to off-the-wall ideas, look to decorative painting - a broad category that includes everything from stenciling and sponging to hand-painting realistic, three-dimensional images.
From the brick facades of office buildings in Mumbai to painted armoires in homes, decorative painting is becoming the fashion. Since the time of cavemen, people have decorated their environments with wall paintings. Decorative painting, however, is not limited to walls; any surface can be painted. Various techniques and paints can be used on valences, floor cloths, furniture, ceilings and even kitchen cabinets.
Decorative painting has a long history in Europe, where it initially entailed painting marble and wood-grain patterns on furniture and other interior furnishings. The field expanded to include ideas such as the painting of cracks and imperfections in the finish, to give the object a genuinely timeworn look.
A decorative painter need only learn several basic strokes and can then combine them to draw pictures on small articles, such as picture frames and jewelry boxes, as well as on furniture and walls.
Amateurs and professionals alike are sponging, glazing, color washing and stenciling to add drama and individuality to homes. Decorative painting is a great alternative to using paint the traditional way or trying to coordinate wallpaper with your decor.
Instead of wasting time shopping for wallpaper, create your own. Embellish your walls with stamps, stencils, hand-painted details or trompe l'oeil (French for "fool the eye") in the colors of your choice. Trompe l'oeil is a realistic rendering of objects so that they appear to be three-dimensional.
Many old-world techniques can be used to recreate these looks in 20th century homes. By using large-scale stencils you can achieve a Baroque or English parlor look. As a matter of fact, you can use paint to create any atmosphere you desire -- from traditional to fantasy.
Do-it-yourselfers can use paint to give unfinished furniture a marble finish or a new-classical look. And flowers would really spruce up an old bureau.
If you need help, turn to one of the many books that explain the techniques of decorative painting. Don't be afraid to try simple methods such as sponging or ragging in one or two colors. When you feel more confident, you can go on to bigger and more complex projects.
Many craft stores have stencils and block prints with easy-to-follow directions. They produce excellent effects and can be used over a textured wall or on their own.
Stringing popped corn, linking paper rings together for garland and making toys, dolls and teddies are still popular today.
For instance, one of the old-time crafts is the clove apple, better-known today as a pomander ball. When finished, these clove apples gave off a pleasant perfume, and it was common practice to place them in closets or in a dresser drawer to scent scarves and hankies. They still make nice gifts today for teachers and friends, or relatives who live in nursing homes.
It's very easy to make these, and all of the materials needed can be purchased in grocery stores. And even more popular today is the use of an orange in place of the apple.
To try your hand at this craft, purchase one apple with a stem and about three small packages of whole cloves. Thrust each clove into the apple like a little peg as deep as it will go. Using a darning or knitting needle makes it easier to first make the holes.
Start at the stem and circle round and round, pegging the cloves close together. When finished, tie a ribbon with a loop on top to hang in closet.
To cover an orange, first soak it in olive oil. Then take whole cloves and stick them into the orange as tightly as possible. When you have finished inserting the cloves, rub the orange with two teaspoons of orris root (or arrowroot) and two teaspoons of cinnamon mixed together. Tie it with a ribbon. It will have a lovely spicy odor that will last indefinitely.
In the toy department, everything old does seem to be new again.
For instance, Crayola crayons were born in 1903, and have been bringing out the artist in children ever since. Today they are as popular as ever, and are found on Christmas morning in many children's stockings in small boxes and large packs under the tree. Often they are accompanied by coloring books, construction and writing paper.
The crayons can be found in just about any store from grocery to drug to arts and crafts. The old colors are still available, but new bright hot fluorescents are also on the scene. And they still come in the original breakable version. What manufacturers have yet to invent are unbreakable crayons (which truly would be a modern miracle).
Another favorite toy for over 80 years is the Erector Set. The original sets were metal, but in the mid-1960s these were replaced with plastic substitutes. However, a French company called Meccano has revived these construction sets with metal parts (including some plastic) and engineering designs similar to the original. So once again a whole new generation of youngsters can enjoy hours of construction fun.
A great gift for children ages 6 and up is cotton jersey loopers, an old-fashioned fun and easy craft that makes pot holders, rugs, etc., on a small loom. A one-pound package of loops will make about 16 pot holders. These come in assorted colors and sell for about $ 4.
And what could be more traditional and old-fashioned than plain white cotton or linen handkerchiefs that you have supplied with a crocheted edging? This gift can be slipped into a card to be mailed to friends.
Here's another possibility: To a plain hankie, iron on a transfer pattern and embroider a plain or fancy monogram or design. Embroidery floss and hoops can be purchased at craft stores and craft departments.
Personalized batik designs on T-shirts, sweatshirts or even Christmas stockings are so easy even a child can make them, with a little adult help.
The one-step method for traditional wax-resist dyeing is to use with widely available, cheap tools and materials: Powdered or liquid dye, paraffin, a pencil, a fine paintbrush and a pot and a long-handled spoon for the dye-bath.
The designs can be drawn freehand, or you can project a photo onto fabric taped to a wall and use the pencil to trace the design.
The simplest designs use one color on white or light colored fabrics. Scarlet is a good choice for a Santa sweatshirt or T-shirt or a peppermint-striped stocking.
First, melt the wax - in a food can (remove the label) set in a pan of hot but not boiling water or on a warming tray set at its lowest temperature. Never melt wax over direct heat; it is highly flammable.
While the wax is melting, draw or trace the design.
Then use the paintbrush dipped in melted wax to outline the design and fill in any spaces you want to protect from the dye.
Mix the dye-bath according to package directions.
Place the fabric or article in the warm (not hot) dye-bath and stir continuously for 20-30 minutes, or until the color is slightly darker than you wish. The color will lighten slightly as it dries.
Hang the fabric or article to dry, and then dry-clean it to remove all traces of the wax.
The method works best on cotton or cotton blends. It can be used on fabric that is to be made into such things as pillows, aprons, clothing or wall hangings or on readymade articles.
Another popular form of dyeing is called marbleizing. This is an ancient craft in which dyes are floated on a substance (these days it’s carrageenan, a thickener created from seaweed). Once the dyes have been distributed onto the surface of the carrageenan, they are swirled or stretched or coaxed into patterns by running a stick, a feather, a comb or any other pointed object through the colors. Pressing paper or fabric onto the dyes, or rolling three-dimensional objects with permeable textures across the dyes transfers the colors in one-of-a-kind patterns that look like the random designs found on slabs of marble.
This art was practiced in Japan more than 700 years ago and probably originated in China. Bookbinders and printers used the same techniques to decorate their work in medieval and colonial days. They used a mixture of hot wax, linseed oil and turpentine to float their dyes. Often, early printers marbleized a book’s opening pages and even the outside of the pages so they would look as beautiful when they were closed as when they were open.
The art died out sometime in the late 19th century, but in the 1960s interest in marbleizing reappeared. Marbleizing is as inexpensive as it is non-intimidating. This is a craft anyone can do and enjoy
Far from being a recent phenomenon, the idea of egg decorating predates Christianity. The earliest known instance occurred in China in 722 B.C. A chieftain gave gifts of edible decorated eggs to commemorate a three day spring festival during which fires were prohibited. In ancient Persia (now Iran), Egypt and Greece, eggs were colored for spring festivals. Eggs were considered symbols of creation, fertility, rebirth and the regenerative abilities of nature, thus tying in strongly with spring.
So how did egg decorating become linked with Easter and Christianity?
The Venerable Bede, an eighth-century historian and theologian, believed that the name Easter was derived from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring, whose festival was celebrated on the first day of spring. Eggs, along with the hare, were emblems of this goddess. Thus, there is a possibility the Christian community adopted egg-decorating from pagan worship of this goddess.
Another explanation centers around the fact that, formerly, eggs were forbidden during Lent (the period of preparation immediately preceding Easter) and were allowed again on Easter day. So decorating eggs may have become popular as a symbol of celebration.
Regardless of the origin of the tradition, many ethnic groups developed their own ways to decorate eggs. Many Eastern Europeans, notably the Ukrainians, decorated and exchanged very intricate, colorful eggs, incorporating pagan and Christian symbols. The Pennsylvania Dutch were pioneers in bringing egg decorating to the New World. Their "scratch eggs" needed only natural dyes and common straight pins. They also can be credited with the Easter tree tradition (hanging decorated eggs from a dormant tree branch). Around the turn of the century, Peter Carl Faberge, master jeweler to the Russian Imperial Court, made a name for himself by creating very elaborate, gem-studded eggs which opened to reveal surprises. Faberge has perhaps made the most dramatic impact on the craft and will continue to influence eggers for years to come.
Here, you can learn the art of decorating eggs – through beading, clothing and using tissue papers:
• Pencil in a line around the middle of the egg. A rubber band is an easy guideline.
• Thread a narrow or beading needle . Glue end of thread to egg using "tacky glue."
• String "seed beads" (found in craft, fabric and jewelry supply stores) and glue to egg inch by inch along pencil line. Try to use all the same size beads. If bead sizes are indicated, use size 11.
• At the end of the row, draw the thread through the first three beads.
• Bring the thread up and bead the next row. Continue to the top of the egg. Fill the end hole with glue or cover with glued paper before beading. When finished, bring the needle through a few adjacent beads to secure the thread, then snip the thread.
• Bead the other half in an identical manner. Expect to spend eight to 12 hours on one egg!
• Cut cloth panels using the guides shown here. Use medium-weight, tightly-woven fabric.
• Mark the egg's top and bottom points with straight pins.
• Pin all the panels to a 2 3/8-inch-high plastic-foam egg. Respace panels or trim them as necessary. Remove panels one at a time and glue onto egg using "tacky" glue (found at craft stores).
• Glue ribbon over the panels' edges. You'll need 1 1/2 yards of ribbon up to one-quarter inch wide. On a 10-panel egg, wind the trim in full circles around the egg. On the five-panel, taper the ends of each length to points.
• Tie a bow and attach with glue.
Tissue paper-appliqued eggs
• Use a manicure scissor to cut small shapes from tissue paper. Multiple shapes can be cut simultaneously by stapling them in a stack with a stiffer piece of paper on top.
• Brush small spot on egg with clear lacquer or acrylic varnish. If using only black tissue, water-based adhesives such as thinned white glue can be used.
• Use brush to pick up tissue and apply to egg.
• Brush over tissue with more of the same adhesive.
• Brush entire egg with varnish or lacquer, or dip egg using a pipe cleaner as a handle. You can also coat the egg with acrylic spray varnish. Do not use lacquer over acrylic. Let dry.
One or two tall roses with leaves in a bud vase is about as pretty and simple as a flower arrangement can be. But a centerpiece for a dinner party requires a little more time and attention to detail.
Flower arranging is fun, but it can be frustrating if you can’t find just the right vase or if your flowers wilt before party time.
People who arrange flowers regularly keep on hand an assortment of bowls and vases in different sizes as well as supplies such as crumpled chicken wire (to stuff into a tall container) or pinholders (to anchor stems in place).
Through practice, they learn that any sort of container can be used for flower arrangements. They also learn how to condition plant materials for longer life.
There is no limit to the variety of flowers and foliage and ways to arrange them.
You can buy cut flowers or use cut flowers from a bed of annuals that you have grown. Remember that it's usually best to cut flowers early in the morning when they are fresh or late in the evening, not in midday sun.
Flowering shrubs and trees also can be sources of flowers for arranging. Prune whenever you need a bouquet. The pruning also will help to make the shrub or tree more compact. A few experiments will tell you which of your cuttings last longest.
Designing arrangements requires more than just sticking a few flowers in a vase. The right container for an arrangement is important. So are basic rules of proportion, which make designs more pleasing to the eye.
An arrangement must be in scale for the space it occupies. The same rules apply to full-size arrangements and miniatures, which usually do not exceed five inches in height.
Further, containers should not be more than one-third the size of the arrangement, she said, except when foliage or flowers come down over the lip of a vase that might otherwise appear too tall.
Every flower has its own little quirk and you learn as you go, by sad experience sometimes.
Here are some guidelines from flower show participants that you can use in arranging flowers in your home:
• If you are arranging flowers in a low bowl, measure the length and depth of the container and make your arrangement at least one and a half times that tall. The same measurements and proportion apply also to the height of taller vases.
• If foliage or flowers are fine-textured, you can make the arrangement taller than the guideline advises. If using bold foliage or flowers, don't make the arrangement taller than one and a half times the size of container.
• With a large, heavy container, you can make the arrangement three times the container's height. But don't make it too tall or it might look as though it will tip over.
• Place flowers at different levels and not all facing forward to give depth, to lend interest to the design and to better show the beauty of the flowers.
• An arrangement that uses three flowers of one type with taller foliage tends to be pleasing to the eye. This is the principal followed in Ikebana, classical Japanese flower arranging.
• One or two leaves of bolder, heavy foliage can be used at the base of an arrangement, with the leaves coming over the edge of the container to give the arrangement a finished look.
• Condition live materials immediately after cutting the stems to prevent wilting so that flowers and foliage will stay fresh longer.
• Most woody plants stay fresh longer if the lower stems are split and crushed so that they absorb water better. Keep them in deep, slightly warm water.
• Roses like conditioning in deep water or in water that contains a little 7-Up or ginger ale. The bubbles from the soda will force water up into the stems.
• Tulips and daffodils (which can be purchased from florist shops) prefer shallow water.
• Some flowers, such as dahlias, poppies and poinsettias, survive in arrangements only if the stems are seared with flame from a candle or match immediately after cutting to seal juices.
Without a murmur from the supposed guardians of Britain's heritage, some of the finest craft glass ever produced there -- in the late 19th century, when, for a while, the British led the world -- have within the past 25 years been sold and exported to America. How underserving, but how lucky, were the British in one gift that came the other way: from Sam Herman, the American who in 1967 set up at the Royal College of Art Britain's first courses in studio glass.
He had studied under Dominick Labino and Harvey Littleton, the pioneers who had developed the equipment and techniques with which the glass maker could work on his own. Any potter can do that. Hot glass is far more demanding. Traditionally, it had been handled by teams of craftsmen; the artist -- if he figured at all -- gave them directions. The 1990-ish masterpieces (rightly) credited to the legendary Emile Galle were physically made by his employees.
Labino and Littleton changed all this, and did it with a skill and artistry that make their names, in the world of glass, like those of Giotto, Masaccio and Titian rolled into one. Mr Herman has never achieved that status. But from his teaching sprang -- almost from nothing -- the lively school of British glass on show until March 7th in a sizeable and well-chosen retrospective at the Crafts Council gallery in London.
Not the whole school. The Glasshouse, set up by some of his pupils near Covent Garden in 1969, is still blowing glass; and its key figure then, Pauline Solven, now on her own, is still a leading glass maker. But techniques and ambitions have widened. Glass is not only blown. It can be cast, slumped (half-melted) in a kiln, cut, carved, engraved, polished, sand-blasted, etched, engraved, polished and more. It can be combined with other materials. It can be made into toothmugs, or panels, or sculpture.
This exhibition displays these tendencies, not least the way British glass craftsmen more and more aspire to the work and status of artists. The simplest scent bottles by David Taylor -- an early name from the Glasshouse, and still there -- could be used merely as such; the best are in museums. You could put apples in a bowl by Brian Blanthorn; much better to feast your eyes on it. A fine cut-and-polished piece by Stephen Proctor, displaying his debt to Czech artists, is pure abstract sculpture.
Cast or slumped glass, lending itself to scuptural forms, is now widely used. Colin Reid has for years brilliantly exploited the transparency and colour of glass as well as its form. One or two would-be artists, especially of the mixed-media tendency, achieve pretentious silliness -- and its predictable acclaim. Mercifully, this show of smallish pieces has not much room for them.
Handspinning wool, the process of turning wool into clothing is an extension of self-sufficiency. It is one of people’s happening hobbies and its also the ultimate art. You create, quite literally, from the beginning - right down to dabbling in genetics, if you breed the sheep.
If you want the sheep, having a few fenced acres of pasture comes in handy. If you just want the sweaters, there's plenty of wool around from people who love the sheep or whose taste in wool you like, and you’re set.
First let's start with the wool. Whether shopping for sheep or wool, there are a few things you need to know. Do you like baby-soft, fine sweaters, or are fisherman's knits more your type?
Time when you just want to sit and relax, maybe watch a movie. Yes, you can watch a movie while spinning. It doesn't require concentration. Tension seems to flow right out your fingertips. The only thing you physically cannot do while spinning is eat or smoke, and it keeps your hands busy, so it's great for curing those vices.
So what do you need to start? First, a drop spindle or spinning wheel. A drop spindle is slow, but very inexpensive. You can make a great one with a pencil and half a potato, or buy a nice one for about $ 10. A spinning wheel, modern version, made in America, you can get for $ 200.
To start, you can pick your wool apart before spinning. Later, if you decide you like this stuff, you can get a flicker, carding combs, a drum carder (does large quantities), or wool combs. (These range from $ 10 for a flicker to $ 250 for a drum carder.) Keep in mind that you don’t need all these things - just one. A flicker is a single "wire brush" - sort of like a wirebristled dog brush. Carding combs are larger versions of the same thing, and they come in pairs.
Speaking of buying wool, for those who do not have your own sheep, this is what you can expect: "Grease wool" is unwashed -- sells for $ 3-$ 1O per pound (for spinning quality wool). You can expect to lose some weight, up to 30 percent, depending on the amount of vegetable matter, when you wash it. Washed wool will be about double that price. Carded wool, usually sold as roving (pencil thickness, ready to spin) will be around $ 20-$ 30 per pound. It all depends on whether you have more time or money! Also, discounts are often given if you purchase a whole fleece (the amount of wool from one shearing -- five to 20 pounds, depending on the breed). Most long sleeve sweaters will require no more than three pounds of wool. Two is probably average. Go ahead -- put your favorite sweater on the scale.
So you've got the wool and you’re ready to go? Most people prefer to wash the wool before spinning, though some prefer to spin "in the grease." Let's wash it. Prepare the fleece first. Remove any manure "tags," hay, grain, and burrs (all dirty words in a spinner's vocabulary - have been known to cause cussing). If you got the fleece from a bona-fide spinner, it should already be "skirted" - have the tags and belly and neck wool removed.
For a whole fleece, fill up the bathtub or the washing machine with the hottest water you've got (just too hot to touch-about 140 degrees?). Add about 1-1/2 cups of liquid laundry soap as you fill it up. If you use a solid/powdered soap, make sure it dissolved before you add the wool.
Now stick it in, the whole fleece, and submerge it till it sinks. Close the washer and leave it alone for a few hours. Do not agitate. Now feel the temperature of the water, then let it out. If you really did use your washer, now put it on "spin." Then fill the washer with water the same temperature as that you just let down the drain. Poke at it just a bit so the water circulates; let it go about ten minutes. Drain water again; spin again. Remove wool to a nice sunny day (out of dog's reach) or to newspapers next to the wood stove. It'll take a couple days to dry. Keep turning to get air circulated. That's it!
Now take your dry wool and sit on the floor with a newspaper in front of you. Take a small amount of wool and pick it apart - let the dirt fall on the paper and your "picked" wool is ready to spin.
Also, spinning is one of those "personal" things - ask ten spinners how to do. This is just an overview for few more prospective spinners out there. Try it--it's a truly productive and gratifying hobby.