Tag Archives: flowers

Making Mardi Gras Masks Last Minute (with tiny rosette tutorial)

At dinner the Girl mentioned how excited she was for the Red and White Dance. It’s a daddy-daughter dance held at her school every year. I will reserve my thoughts on the concept of daddy-daughter dances and state only that this kid LOVES this event. I don’t think she’s ever missed it. This year, they decided to make it a masquerade, and the RSVP envelopes came with 2 paper masks, which Daddy and daughter were meant to decorate in advance.


Someone is very happy.

There was zero possibility that The Man would be wearing this paper mask, because his head is simply enormous. I don’t mean that he’s full of himself. I mean he wears a 7 3/4 size hat and even if the string were long enough, he wouldn’t be able to see out of both eye holes at the same time. Fortunately, I made him a rather elaborate Mardi Gras style mask a few New Year’s Eves back for a masquerade party, so he could wear that. The Girl was excited to decorate her mask.

Except she was sick and missed a week of school and we didn’t see her and we all lost track of time and when The Man asked, “When’s this dance again?” the answer was, “Tomorrow.” It was already 6:30, and she had to go to her mom’s at 7:30. We found the blank mask and sorted through some craft supplies and talked about concepts. She has a very specific sense of style. I thought she’d want to make it herself, but I guess she didn’t, because I made it. She designed it, more or less, but I tried to steer some of her choices. Otherwise, it would have had about 50 more design elements to it.


It’s not bad for a scant 3/4 hour’s work. Could have finished some of the edges more, but I bet it’s still one of the best masks at the party.

The main fabric piece is very soft, left over from a year I made Christmas stockings. The braid on the bottom I braided myself; it’s just a coincidence that I had 3 different shades of green ribbon. The big thing was that she wanted it to be mostly red, and she wanted flowers. But I only had silver, blue, and orange flowers. I ended up making these little rosette bouquets out of a scrap of shiny red cloth, and since I didn’t start working on this blog until after 11 tonight, I decided to make one more bouquet and take process pictures, which I never do (and no wonder–do you know how hard it is to point and shoot a DSLR with a macro lens at your own hand?) and make a little rosette tutorial.

So, if you would like to make tiny rosettes, here’s how.

You will need:

  • red fabric or ribbon
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • green fabric or ribbon

Cut a piece of fabric about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Draw a bead of hot glue lengthwise down the middle.


Before the glue dries, fold the fabric in half lengthwise, with the glue in between the 2 halves.


The folded edge is the top of your flower. Now, fold over a few centimeters of the skinny end. Add a drop of glue.



Start rolling the fabric over onto the glue. Pinch the bottom part of the fabric as you go, to create a flower shape, with a flare at the top.


Roll, glue, roll.


If you keep pinching the bottom, the center petals should get squished up, contributing to the flower shape. You can force it into shape with more glue if it doesn’t comply. When you come to the end, glue it down. Now make another rosette. Glue the unfinished sides to each other so you can’t see the glue ends.


Make a 3rd rosette and hide the glued end by sticking it to the other 2.

Now, take your green ribbon or fabric. Here, I used 2 shades. Twist them up to make them skinny and round.


Then, twist them together.


Now, make a loop, just the right size to form a nest for the flowers. You may want to make an X and pull it through (like you’re starting to tie your shoes) first. Or you can tie it after.


You’re almost there. Insert the rosettes into the loop, tie the loop, and glue the knot.


Turn the whole thing upside down and glue around the bottom of the circle where the green meets the red. You can add some glue to the bottom of the flowers, too.


Now, trim the edges of the ribbon, gently remove all the excess glue (it’s easier to remove when it’s warm; you may need scissors or a razor once it’s cooled).

Viola: rosette bouquet from scraps.


Glue it on things and delight little people who like tiny flowers

I wanted to link to my photo of the original masks, but I couldn’t find it, which apparently means that I never posted these masks here. That seems weird. But, for continuity’s sake, here are the first Mardi Gras masks I ever made.



Tiny Flowers of the American Southwest


Lime bud

Springtime starts early in southern Arizona. We’re halfway to summer already, and there are tiny flowers everywhere. This first image is from a lime tree in my backyard. It took years to make up its mind as to whether it was going to live or die, but it finally decided to live and be 8 feet tall and make limes. Last year it made 3 limes. This year should be better; there are tons of flowers.

I took another picture where the tinier bud is more in focus. I might play with combining the 2 images, but this one is not retouched. None of these images are retouched.


Tomato buds

My husband’s ex is a professional grower of exceedingly large hydroponic tomatoes, so we often end up with her extra. Sometimes it’s tomatoes (her major customer is the food service at the local university, so she always has extra when school’s out) and sometimes it’s plants (since she only has room for a fixed number of starts). These plants seem pretty happy in the back yard. We’re keeping them in pots, because tomatoes are so sensitive to the heat. I have trouble keeping them alive in beds.


Santa Catalina prairie clover

Now we move out of my backyard and into the desert. I had a little trouble identifying this one at first, but I believe it is probably a Santa Catalina prairie clover. I was confused at first because there’s another type of prairie clover that doesn’t look at all like this one, but when I dug a little deeper, this seemed like a good match. The fact that I took the photograph in the Santa Catalina Mountains lends credence to this hypothesis.


Baja Fairy Duster

I could photograph these things all day. And every picture would be different. Different bits of the flower could come into focus. In different light, the colors would change. I like this image because you can see the tips of each petal-like structure. I assume there’s a name for the parts of this kind of flower, but I’m not finding it.


Common fiddleneck

I’m not 100% on my ID of this one, because you can’t see enough of the stalk to be certain, but I looked at a couple 100 pictures of yellow desert flowers and common fiddleneck seemed like the best match. This was the only tiny trumpet-shaped non-tree flower of the lot. And these things are tiny. They’re the tiniest flowers in this post, even tinier than the lime bud.


Making Mistakes: A New Year’s Bulletin Board


It’s not perfect, but I learn as I go.

For the first bulletin board of 2016, I knew there would be flowers. The quote came afterward. Monday, I went in just to get the background up, and it took all of Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon to finish the project.

Originally I planned to make an assortment of very different 3-dimensional flowers, but I started with the big one, and it ended up taking me almost 3 hours and it didn’t even look exactly how I wanted it (it would be better with twice as many petals) so I ended up experimenting with another method of getting a (smaller) flower with many petals and some dimensionality, and then, at the very end, I threw on a bunch of simpler (but still complicated) really small ones in the same color scheme.


You can really see the dimensionality.

For the quote I was thinking of Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” But then it seemed like Nin could possibly be a little racy for an elementary school if some impressionable young person decided to look her up. Or if some grownup decided she was inappropriate. It’s really an outside possibility but people can be pretty touchy about literature, and she’s strongly associated with erotica, so I decided to err on the side of caution and go with Gaiman. We have 2 of his books in the library: Coraline and The Graveyard Book. I edited the quote just a bit for length. It’s still so long that there was no  time to cut out the letters.


You can tell where my hand got tired at the end. 

Look but Don’t Touch Mandala

Nature isn't interested in your idea of perfection and neither am I.

Nature isn’t interested in your idea of perfection and neither am I.

I get the sense that if you saw this plant in nature, your first instinct would be to reach out for it, upon which it would probably secrete some kind of digestive fluid on your skin and try to eat you. At the very least, it must be covered with a rash-producing oil. It’s fancy in order to lure you in.

It probably also eats bugs, and small frogs, from which it acquires the necessary chemical to produce its poison.

Obviously, it’s very late or I wouldn’t be sitting here making up stories about drawings of things that don’t exist. I think I had an article about comic book scholarship on Panels yesterday, but I don’t have the link as I’m writing this. Also, I received an ARC of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s new book, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, which I’ve been asked to review for the Fondulac Library’s website, which is sort of strange considering I’ve never even been to Fondulac and don’t live anywhere near East Peoria. I do know a lot of people, many of whom are librarians and/or authors, though.

If you haven’t read Bonnie Jo Campbell, you should consider it. This book isn’t being released until October, I think, but her other work is most likely available in your public library.

Cool New Products from My RedBubble Store

Instant hipster cred for your legs!

Instant hipster cred for your legs!

Here is the part where I try to sell things even though I’ve never been interested in selling things and throughout my career have put the most lackluster effort into any aspect of selling things required by any job I ever held. Only creating things interests me. For example, I drew this picture of a truck that The Man admires greatly, and then I used the Internet to make available to you this item: The ’52 Ford Bus Leggings. Designing for leggings is complicated, due to the fact that the image or pattern has to wrap around a person’s legs and so on. Personally, I think these pants are hilariously weird. However, I’m sure that someone, somewhere in this world, wants these leggings. There is at least one human being who would be amused to go around wearing a pair of orange leggings festooned with the image of an old rusty bus. It is the power of the Internet that makes it possible for me to offer such obscure bottoms, as well as the power to allow that mythical person to access the ’52 Ford Bus Leggings, so, even though I’ve probably not done a successful job of selling them here, I can leave it up to the universe to connect these fabulous pants with their rightful owners.

Keep an eye on your caffeine consumption

Keep an eye on your caffeine consumption

Here’s another relatively new product at RedBubble, for people who need to drink coffee everywhere and also either admire the abstract concept of beauty for the sake of beauty or else appreciate reminders regarding their own concept of themselves: The Vanity Has a Thousand Eyes Travel Mug is basically a painting of a peacock, emblazoned on a travel mug. What you see is what you get. It’s also available on a ceramic coffee mug, a canvas clutch, and a variety of other products, but it looks especially good on this mug, and if you like it, it will probably look especially good in your hand, in the cup holder of your automobile, and on the corner of your desk at work. See, that’s what advertising sounds like to me. It’s a coffee cup with a picture on it. Either you like it or you don’t. The point is to convince enough people to look at it so that there’s a statistically good chance that it appeals to one of them.

Sleep softly, sleep in beauty

Sleep softly, sleep in beauty

This Golden Barrel Cactus Flower Duvet Cover is available in three sizes–twin, queen, and king– and is a lovely accent to the natural environment of your bedroom. What else can be said about it? I assume it’s soft and comfortable and I’m pretty sure it’s machine washable and color fast. What I do know for absolute certain is that it’s the first digital painting I ever did where I was 100% happy with the result. These flowers look really, really good. I know I’m proud of what I painted and that this design is a good one. I know that if you like it here, you’ll love it on your bed.

Perfect in any weather

Perfect in any weather

This is one of the newest products: big scarves, great for wrapping around your neck or head. You could probably use it as a beach cover up or fold it in half and wear it as a skirt. Cheer up with the Rainbird Scarf.

Zip your stuff up in beauty

Zip your stuff up in beauty

Finally, the last new product is this canvas clutch. It’s just right for holding pencils, pens, and other art or school supplies, and with this Blue Morpho Butterfly Studio Pouch, you can contain all your small details in a pretty package. /endpitch

Funny comic tomorrow!

Dragon Comics 93

Some things are just private. Sheesh.

Some things are just private. Sheesh.

Bees are fascinating. I can watch them for a long time. Some people freak out about bees, but generally speaking, unless you’re doing something to aggravate them, they’re not going to bother with you. You can just go stand right next to the hive and watch them zooming in and out, hovering as they maneuver through the traffic, zipping off and landing again like little helicopters.

I mean, don’t lose your cool if there’s one on your head. It probably just likes the smell of your shampoo. Just having a bee on you usually doesn’t result in a bee sting, unless you freak out and do something threatening, like slapping at it. Most creatures don’t like to be slapped. Try gently brushing it away. If you’re in nature, try to walk through some leaves.

In the summertime, they like to visit my swimming pool, which I don’t understand, because it’s saltwater, but that doesn’t seem to deter any creature. The bees misjudge and break the surface tension a lot, though. I’m always pulling them out of the water. I just use my bare hands. They never sting. I like to hold them in my palm and watch them dry their fuzzy selves before they lift off again. I guess they’re too heavy to fly when they’re waterlogged. They’re certainly completely unthreatening in these situations. The only place I’ve ever been stung by a bee is the bottom of my foot: in other words, I actually had to step on one before it tried to hurt me.

Bees are super important, obviously, in terms of the health of the environment that sustains us, but also super cool.

To me, there really is something very passionate about the bee at work. I’ve had moments watching one penetrate the depths of a flower with regular thrusts, then suddenly turn around and look at me in a way that seemed sheepish. It definitely felt like I was interrupting something.

Bees don’t have a work ethic, but they do seem to work ceaselessly. When they’re too old to gather pollen, they do tasks at home. Bees don’t give up; they keep at their job as long as they’re able, and they never require creative inspiration. They just know what to do, and then they do it, and they keep doing it until they die.

I’m no busy bee, but in a way I envy their steadfast intention and finality of purpose. If only I could go about my task, day in and day out, with such unyielding determination.

ETA: A kindly redditor has informed me that I have the work-life cycle of the bee backward, and that it is the youngest bees who stay at home and care for the hive and the oldest bees who fly out to gather pollen. Reddit has a thousand and one household uses.

Natural Geometry Mandala

Classically beautiful...

Classically beautiful…

I’m in love with this elegant purple mandala. It’s really regular in symmetry and even thought it’s limited and color and shape, that simplicity opens up a greater complexity in the overall design.

Flowers are their own kind of mandala

Flowers are their own kind of mandala

Today was a nice day as far as being an artist goes. I read fairy tales to kindergarteners, repaired books for the school library, and took a rambling walk in the park, mostly for the purpose of take photos of roses. I also spent a lot of time swinging on the swings, for the purpose of giving little dragon some air. How many hours a week did I spend swinging when I was a kid? Jumping rope? Skipping? I mean, seriously, I probably jumped rope a couple hours a week, every week.

Here’s when I stopped swinging a lot: I was probably about 12 or so. I had a Walkman (children…it’s like an MP3 player, but it only holds one album at a time) and I was swinging with my eyes clothes and my headphones on and a toddler ran in front of me and I kicked that little sucker right in the head. I don’t remember the kid’s reaction, but I do remember the mom freaking out. She wanted to be mad at me for swinging with my eyes closed and my headphones on, but she knew it was her own fault for letting her baby run in front of the swings.

So today I didn’t close my eyes. A little girl came over and swung next to me. I could tell she wanted to strike up a conversation–I am a colorful person, after all–but she was too shy. Instead, she tried to swing as high as me. I decided that I was going to outswing this kid, that I would keep going longer and higher than she could. Trying to keep up with kids is better than a FitBit. So I ended up pumping for way longer than I would have otherwise. Eventually, the kid had what sounded like an asthma attack and stopped swinging. Which means I won!!!

Then The Man and I went out with the Missesses Kitty and ate a really unreasonable amount of West African cuisine, which I have been obsessed with all month. Fufu! Peanut sauce! Goat! Good stuff.