It’s amazing how fast February has flown by! I’ve been busy travelling with my day job and haven’t had much chance to play in my studio. Time to get back to it!
My challenge – to put my Valentine’s Day flowers to good use in my paintings. I had received a lovely mixed bouquet of flowers from my husband to celebrate V-day, and it seemed a shame to let them fade away.
I selected some peach-coloured roses to start with, taking off any petals that had begun to spoil. I had purchased a terracotta flower press from Lee Valley Tools in the Fall, but hadn’t had chance yet to use it (not many fresh flowers in late November). The flower press was made like a sandwich – two outer terracotta plates, two thick felt sheets and two thin cotton sheets.
The rose petals peeled off the bud, just like layers in an onion. I spread them out on the first layer of the flower press (terracotta plate, felt and cotton – and then same pattern on top). The great thing about this flower press is that it is designed to be used in the microwave. Instead of sticking flowers between papertowels in old hardcovers books for weeks (often forgetting all about them) to dry, it only took seconds to dry in the microwave. I did my petals in 30 second intervals, checking to make sure I didn’t overcook them.
Once the petals were dry without curling up, I moved them onto a piece of wax paper to cool. I repeated the same procedure with the rest of the roses. It took an average about 1 min 30 sec to 2 min for the petals to dry completely.
I selected the other blooms – daisies, carnations, freesia and some pink straw flowers. The colours would darken from the original colours, but still kept in the same hues as the live flowers. The veins on the petals also became more visible after drying. I stored each type of blossom in its own envelope to be used in my paintings as collage elements.