Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It's Always Springtime on My Workbench

By: Julie L. Cleveland

Spring brings us all those wonderfully, colorful flowers that we see in backyards, meadows and at the local grocery store. Whether they are baskets of blooms for the front porch or a bouquet of flowers for the kitchen table, the colorful buds brighten up even the darkest, rain-filled afternoon. My polymer art consists of a multitudes of flowers that I create and use within my bead making or my finished fashion jewelry.


This is an example of my flower canes on my handmade beads.

The use of flowers and buds in art is as old as time itself, and every culture has included flowers as part of their decor and decorations. When giving thanks to the Mother Earth, original man paid tribute to her with flowers and thanked her for the healing properties found in the wild flowers and plants. The Victorian era was filled with flowers that were displayed everywhere. Much of the Art Deco movement was depicted with floral expressions. As long as there are flowers, they will be used by people to decorate something. While we no longer paint on cave walls, at least not in my neighborhood, we can always add flowers to something to cheer up a room.











This vintage Victorian image has been recreated into a cross stitch pattern.

Here are some modern ways we can use flowers as part of our art and decoration:

1. Make homemade paper with crushed flower petals. There are craft kits at any craft store that can help you with creating homemade paper, and there are YouTube videos that give you instructions on how to make paper with scrap paper. You can add petals to the paper as you create it. This gives you a set of stationery that is both natural and a conversation starter. You may even discover a new hobby along the way in addition to recycling.


Here is some handmade paper from Tiny Kiwi

2. Polymer artists, like myself, use flowers in a lot of our creations, but it is not just the millefiori canes that are resplendent with flowers, it is also those sculptural pieces with polymer petals. The first polymer book I ever read was Barbara Quast's Making Miniature Flowers with Polymer Clay. I was so intrigued by the delicate petals she created, that I had to try out the medium. Here it is, over 10 years later, and I am still working with the medium that has captured my fancy. I also still have this book.

3. Another way celebrate springtime all year round is to learn flower arranging using silk or dried flowers. There is a lot to be said for keeping flowers around that you cannot kill. Additionally, flower arrangement is a skill and an art form that requires patience and the ability to envision the finished arrangement before you have even started.

This is an example of an arrangement you can create from this great how-to article on DIY: Flower arranging from SaveonCrafts.

4. Paint your flowers. Whether you dabble in watercolors, colored pencils, chalk, pastels, oils or acrylics, you can add a touch of spring to your home with your own art. There is something satisfying about creating something from nothing that no one else has done. Sure, there are a million paintings of flowers and meadows, but how many of them have you done? The one that you do is the only one that counts.

Springtime is fleeting. It comes in with a fight and a fuss, and it suddenly disappears as summer heats everything up. Springtime is magical with all the new blooms and the excitement in the air. You can capture that excitement by keeping spring fresh in your home all year long.


Julie and Blu



  1. Great post, Julie, and so timely. I've just planted and dared to set out my containers of flower plants. I have to wait until June here at 9500'. They are still small, but soon enough I'll have hummingbirds at the hanging pots and cheerful color to see out my studio window.

  2. Perfect timing for this since my cosmos have just started to bloom up a storm, adding much color to the ganzanias. And I'm breathlessly waiting for two hollyhocks to bloom. I go out several times a day and talk to them. Give me lots and lots of flowers!!!

  3. Perfect blog to read today! I am in the midst of creating a group of flower canes. I have 3 or 4 done and put away for a few days while I have to devote time to another task. I like to daydream and draw and plan colors for flower canes. I have not used floral canes for my shop listings yet, but by Fall, I will have some listed.

    You will always be the Mistress of millefiori, Julie!!

  4. When I read your note about painting flowers, the first thing that popped into my head was actually painting flowers. The garden I used to work for would forage for material around this time of year, dry it and then spray paint it (often with metallic gold) so it would be available for decorations in the winter. Another trick I picked up at one point would be to lightly spray paint the grass seed heads outside with a bright color in the fall, so it would look like a brilliantly blooming flower well into the dead of winter.

    I'm going to have to try the flower petal paper with my son. It looks like it would be a great activity to teach him about natural resources and recycling.