Thursday, January 5, 2017

Best of Days

We walk outside into a deep freeze today, and at lunchtime, fat snowflakes float in the air, in no particular hurry to settle on the ground. Birds mass at the feeders. So why am I thinking about wildflowers?

When I first moved to the Ozarks, I was impressed with its beauty, but I didn't feel like I belonged. On the west coast, where I grew up, I was used to watching anemones in the tide pools and searching the beach for sand dollars and Japanese floats. I listened to the cry of seagulls, breathed in the salt air, and found sand not just between my toes, but in my hair and clothes and even, occasionally, in my food. The greeting card I wrote came straight from my heart:

Seagulls on the ocean breeze,
Sandpipers and shimmering seas..
The best of days are made of these.


It takes a little while to make a new place home. After that first winter, when the wildflowers appeared, I started taking notice. I picked flowers by the armload and sandwiched them between 2 layers of tissue paper. The tissue paper went between layers of a wool army surplus blanket cut to size, and when I had a few layers stacked up, lasagna style, I pressed them all under a stack of heavy books. Before long, I'd purchased a microwave press to speed up the process and was using the flowers to design greeting cards.

purple coneflower

In doing this, I learned the flowers' names. After a few years, I knew the rocky hillside where I'd see the first toothwort, and when to start looking for the purple coneflower and bird's foot violet. It became somewhat of an obsession. While I was focusing on the beauty around me, something else was happening. This place was becoming home.

Bluebells bobbing in the breeze,
Buttercups and bumblebees...
The best of days are made of these.

Zazzle Floral Fiesta

I've moved on from my pressed flower phase, and on more than one occasion, have come close to discarding the 2 large binders full of now yellowing pressed flowers. I'm glad I didn't. Recently I was thinking it would be fun to create a gift wrap with bright flowers, and then I remembered those binders. I pulled them off the shelf and chose some some flowers and leaves to scan. In Illustrator, I turned them into vector images, and arranged them into a seamless pattern in Photoshop. This could get addictive.

Zazzle Smilesink Shoes

There are a lot of things you can do with a pattern besides gift wrap. I chose to put them in my Zazzle store on a variety of products, including a tote bag, fabric, a phone case, a pillow, and my favorite, tennis shoes. You can check it out here, if you like.

It's still cold outside, but the pressed flowers from my binders has made a bright spot where I work. Now I'm counting the days till the toothwort blooms.

Lidija Paradinovic Nagulov has written a clear and illustrated tutorial 
on making seamless patterns that I found very helpful. To see it, click here.


GretchenJoanna said...

I planted some of those Purple Coneflower seeds in my California garden. So far nothing has come up - but they might be waiting for more freezing-thawing cycles to scarify the seeds... I just learned that word scarify again when reading the planting instructions.

Margaret Adamson said...

The flower shots are exquistie and I love the shoes pattern. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Lady Fi said...

Just gorgeous!!

Brian King said...

These flowers are gorgeous!

Karen said...

I enjoyed reading about your move to Missouri and your hobbies. I lived in KC for years, but never visited the Ozarks. Next to Lily of the Valley, Irises are my favorite flowers.

Anita Johnson said...

These photos and your words about finding these gifts in a new place were a blessing. I miss flowers so much during winter!

Karen @ Pieces of Contentment said...

What a beautiful post Connie! I think you have really made an astute observation about the connection between observing beauty and feeling at home. Your Floral Fiesta print is gorgeous - especially on the tennis shoes!

June Caedmon said...

What a wonderful idea, Connie, how clever you are! My Nana taught me how to press flowers and I still have her press. I may try scanning some of her flowers. Your pattern is so fun and your images are perfect for this January eve!

Jeanne said...

Always love visiting with you Connie. Will check out your ZAZZLE store and see your products. I have a cabin near the Ozarks and my parents lived in the Ozarks for years. It is a very special place to me!