I had been making jewelry from natural stones and beach glass, 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. My passion for flowers, was one of the reasons I was hired to design Tiffany style lighting.
After I decided to make flowers, I thought of material. It all really came together fairly quickly. I had a few pieces of eco felt around. I really didn't like the texture of it, because 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 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 former 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 for shading, but found that too much makes them look dirty. After I successfully made the Poppy flower, I challenged myself 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 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 are shaded, 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, the Poppy, I have experimented with handmade and hand painted centers, stone and vintage 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, creating these flowers, from my own process with recycled or renewable materials, gives me no end of joy. - Cinders