Friday, September 8, 2017

Ecce Diem...Summer

The girls are getting older and so am I. We all worked extremely hard during the past school year. They moved up a few notches academically and I mentored six homeschooled 8th graders in all their subjects. Whew! We needed a break. So when June came along, we put away the school books and set out to enjoy whatever came our way.

Now a-days, our older 14-year-old daughter's enjoyment comes mainly through being with her friends and I understand that. Thankfully, our 11-year-old daughter still loves the outdoors, exploring nature, Monarch butterflies, and being with me. I embrace this daily. These times are fleeting. (I know... I have adult children.)

Our 2017 summer nature project involved monthly showcasing the flowers in our backyard. In the Spring, we planted some wildflower seeds very randomly and have enjoyed discovering new beauties almost daily.

I want to share our pressed flowers with you and tell you how we created these pictures. I like to keep things simple and that is what this is.

Each month, we spent some time picking our favorite blooms right from our own backyard. We tried to identify them and find their scientific names. This is easier said than done and I often snapped a picture of a flower and posted it to the Facebook group Plant Identification for help. In just a few seconds, I had my answer. Amazing. We also looked up the plant names from the wildflower seed bag and matched the flowers with the pictures.

Our pressing technique is pretty straight forward — flowers in between two sheets of paper flattened out in the pages of heavy books with a heavy object on top. This works for us.

Over the next few days ... weeks, Mary prepares her display surfaces. We cut regular, common watercolor paper purchased at Walmart into our desired sizes. To fit our frame, we cut the paper into pieces roughly 5x3. She then takes her time creating the backgrounds for her pressed flowers. We watched several watercolor wash tutorials on YouTube so that she could learn some techniques. She not only practices those but makes up some of her own. I just let her enjoy. (I get my hands into it too.) These need to dry and then they join the flowers to get pressed flat for a day or two.

Now for the really fun part. After a couple of weeks, Mary takes a look at her flowers (now all flat and dry).  Uh-oh, looks like she pressed more than just a flower this time. 😳

She makes some choices and starts gluing them onto the watercolor paper (also flat and dry).

While she's busy gluing, I have fun practicing some illuminated lettering.

By paying attention to the sizes and the colors, she places the flowers in the best spots; on the best color of paper in order to highlight each one. Rubber cement works well because it dries fairly quickly and the excess can be rubbed off. A layer of Mod Podge finishes them off. We're hoping that the Mod Podge will preserve their colors a little bit.

Now it's time to write the names and keep our fingers crossed that we got them all right. We just finished up August and left this step out. She just didn't have it in her. Sometimes it's perfectly okay to do something just for fun and not for its educational value. I often have to remind myself of this.

This whole thing was inspired by a frame given to Mary from my husband's secretary. It's designed to hold eight photos on two strings by mini clothespins inside a white frame. I took the back off so that the outside sunshine could shine through. I love how they all have looked standing on the windowsill of our living room window. I know that similar frames can be bought online and would actually be pretty easy to make with a frame, some string, and a little bit of hot glue. I think I'll try that sometime.

I adore all of these but I think that May is my favorite. Perhaps because it was the first one we did or maybe because Spring flowers make me happy. Which do you like the best?

As we replace the pictures each month, Mary takes the last month's pressings and glues them into her nature notebook. 

It will be fun to look back on these and remember the Summer of 2017. We're still enjoying our summer project from last year!

One of my main objectives during these all too short years I get to spend with these precious souls is to instill the habit of appreciating each day and finding something beautiful in everything and everyone. The world can use a little bit more of this. So... Ecce diem! Behold the day!


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