April 23, 2012

April 22, 2012 - How I Created My Flowers

I had been making jewelry from stones, but realized that there was too much competition in that market. I tried making jewelry out of scrap fabric, because I liked the idea of recycling, but I really wanted something unique, desirable and that meant something to me personally. I'm not exactly sure what came first the flower (horse) or the fabric (cart). I guess I decided that flower jewelry would be wonderful. I really love flowers. That was one of the reasons I was hired to design Tiffany style lighting.

After I thought about flowers, I thought of material. This all really came together fairly quickly. I had a few pieces of eco felt around for experimentation. I really didn't like the texture of it. It was kind of rough and snaggy. The first flower I wanted to create was the Poppy. It was a flower easily recognized by shape alone. I had some glass rondelle shaped beads that would be perfect Poppy centers. I really didn't plan on going any further than just adding Poppy flowers to my line. 

I wanted the Poppy's to have a little shape to them, and remembered that this felt was made of plastic and that plastic can be heated and shaped. As a girl scout leader, we used to cut up certain colorful plastics and melt them in shaped metal containers to make pins and things. We also used heat to spiral curl the lanyard plastic. You coil it around a nail and dip it in boiling water. The plastic then holds it's new shape forever.

I thought that maybe if I held the felt into shape and flamed it with a lighter, it could work. It took a while to get the process exactly right. The flowers have to be flamed inside and out and shaped a certain way. The heat also made the texture of the fabric more compact and less snaggy. I used to singe them more for shading, but found that too much makes them look dirty. After I successfully made the Poppy flower, I challenged my self to the Shasta Daisy and the Bachelor Button, two more of my personal favorites. 

I worked on creating my favorite flowers like the Peony, which is a bit more complicated with several layers, and the Magnolia. But one of my real favorites would be a bit harder to accomplish. The Helleborus has lovely subtle shading and patterning on the flower. Although many flowers do, they can still be recognized by their shape alone.

I had an idea. What if I could paint the fabric with durable acrylic paint. I thought it would be best to wet the fabric flowers and paint them, so it would be more like watercolor. It took a bit of time to get the right amount of wetness, but they turned out beautifully. When they dried, I shaped them with flame and the heat set the paint perfectly.

I have recently found that my flowers can be machine washed and dried without harm. I think that the daisies with the vintage painted wood centers might not make it through the wash, but most of them would.

Since my first flower Poppies I have experimented with handmade and hand painted centers and adding the flowers to crocheted headbands and skinny scarves. Some styles have stayed and others have hit the curb. One thing I can say, is that creating these flowers, from my own process with recycled or renewable materials, gives me no end of joy.


  1. Really enjoyed this one, its amazing how you combine your design skills with "tricks" from and knowledg from the past, IT clearly shows how much you enjoy the creationn progress

  2. I've always wondered how you came about working with the recycled felt and making the flowers, and now I know. They are simply amazing and so unique!

  3. You are a friggin' genius Crusty. That's all there is to it! :)

  4. Where do you sell your jewelry?