Crafts to Welcome Spring

Now that we are well into April and the spring holidays are coming up, it is a great time to take advantage of the fresh blooms and new growth all around. From little green clover leaves to buds and flowers forming on trees and in fields, there is a lot to collect that can inspire beautiful creations.  We have included few of our favorite things to make that help us celebrate this lovely time.

Spring Wreath

My first word of advice with making wreaths like this: choose your materials wisely.  If you are at all like me, the site of all the different flowers in the shop or out in nature is so exciting and I tend to think anything is possible, but remember: flowers with high water content like tulips, even though they are gorgeous right now will not dry nicely. Hearty greens like eucalyptus work great in these wreaths and I love the drying stages of roses and the ranunculus.

Materials

  • Curly willow branches or grape vines

  • 2 bunches of Parvifolia Eucalyptus or Blue Eucalyptus (these varieties really nicely, but if these are not available look for greens that will dry well)

  • Thistle, Heather and other hearty flowers that dry well

  • Roses, Ranunculus and you can experiment with drying other flowers as well

  • Copper wire or floral wire

  • Wire cutters

  • Needle nose pliers

  • Silk Ribbon / Other Ribbon (optional)

Once you have gathered your materials, go home, spread out in a place that you don’t mind making a mess, and start unwrapping everything and storing them in buckets of water. Store-bought flowers can come in so much packaging and it is just so tempting to start making immediately, but trust me, this small step will make your whole process of making the wreath that much better. Having all your materials trimmed, organized and easily accessible will help your wreath-creating process go smoothly.

To begin building the wreath’s structure, take out 2 or 3 willow branches and holding them together gently wiggle and bend the branches. You shouldn’t brake the bark on the branch but since the branch is still alive, it is possible to make the thicker parts more flexible. The thicker ends that started out as stiff should be a bit more rubbery after a minute of gently working and bending the branch.

Now, it is time to get your copper or floral wire. Cut 4 or 5 pieces that are  each 5” in length. Shaping your first branch into a circle, decide how large you want your wreath. If you must add another branch to make your desired size, carefully find a good place to attach the additional branch and wrap the two branches tightly with a piece of copper wire. Use needle nose pliers for better grip and tighter wrapping of the wire for a long-lasting frame. Add the other branches to your frame by twisting and weaving them around the circle and through the other branches. Use your copper wire to ensure the thicker ends of your branches are secure. The curly ends work nicely woven into the frame completely or sticking out and showing off their curls a bit (this is my preferred look).

Once you feel everything is securely attached, you can shape your wreath frame, inspect it and decide which way will be up. Secure a copper wire and create a loop so that you may hang your wreath from a nail when it is finished.

Now comes the fun part! First, start with the greens. Weave in and out of the frame and create different textures with your greens. I like having greens stick out in ways that reflect the movement of the willow branches.

Once you are happy with the greens, add your subtle flowers. I often use heather and thistle because they have lovely hues and dry nicely. I also love mimosa when I can find it. The small yellow rounds create small pops of yellow throughout the wreath evoke sunshine and spring in the best way.

Finally, fasten your rose or ranunculus or other lovely flower you want to experiment with drying! If it doesn’t work, it’s easy to replace. The trick is to try to get your flower to tilt in a way that will dry nicely, so I often like to tip my flower upward so that it will be more open as it dries. You can also gently move the petals as they dry to shape and form the flower as it dries.

Pressed Petals and Naturally Dyed Eggs

Materials

  • Small blooms, petals and leaves

  • Parchment Paper

  • A stack of books

  • White eggs (hard boiled or hollowed out)

  • White Vinegar

Process

Whether you live in a city or suburb, rural town or seaside village, spring brings blooms and leaves that are plentiful.  Collect your favorite little flowers, clovers and other delicate growth. Carefully place them in-between parchment paper inside a thick book and store under a heavy stack of books for about a week.

In the meantime, create some natural dyes for your eggs. You can separate and recycle discarded red onion skins for a blush color, yellow onion skins for a golden color and purple cabbage for a lovely blue.

To make the dye, add two cups of water and your dye source to a pot. Bring water to a boil and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Strain the solids and keep the dye, mixing in 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Submerge a hard-boiled egg (or if you wish to hollow yours out so they can last, that is fine too!) in the dye and store in the refrigerator overnight. After 24 hours, color should be set and you can rinse and dry the eggs.

Once the eggs are dry and the flowers are dry, use some clear-drying glue or Modge Podge to paint a layer of adhesive on the egg’s surface. Then place your dried and flattened flowers in your desired pattern and paint another layer of glue over the flowers to seal them to the surface.

Allow to dry and enjoy!

Orange Honey Butter Mini Cakes

I stumbled upon these delicious cakes when I ran out of sugar and used honey instead. The honey creates a complex sweetness and a dense-but-delicate crumb that is so satisfying. These cakes are the perfect afternoon treat to go with a cup of coffee.

This recipe makes approximate 4 mini Bundt cakes or one bread pan loaf cake.

Ingredients for Cake

  • 1 cup honey

  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs, whisked

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour cake flour

  • 1/8teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

Ingredients for Orange Glaze

  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom extract

Process

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 4 small Bundt pans or 1 bread pan. Mix all ingredients together and pour into your pan(s).

If you are baking the mini cakes, bake for about 25 minutes. The bottom of the cake is the last to bake, so you will see the honey sitting on top, when the honey is just a slim sheen on surface, the cake should ready. To be sure, stick a toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, it is baked. If you have a bread pan, bake for 40 minutes and check with a toothpick.

While the cake is cooling, mix together the sugar, orange juice and orange blossom extract to make the glaze. Drizzle over the cooled cake and serve.

Make Yourself
at Home

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