Hammered Flower Postcards

Finding new ways to unleash your frustrations …er… creativity can be difficult! Look no further than these satisfying Hammered Flower Postcards! You can send a summer note to a friend or loved one, with a bit of your backyard included!

Supplies:

• Flowers (ones with delicate petals seem to work best, like pansies)
• Parchment Paper, cut into small sections (big enough to cover a postcard)
• Hammer
• Postcard template – print on card stock. Download here!
• Paper for flower pounding – you can experiment with what works best. We used card stock for this one, but tried regular paper for the ferns, and water color paper worked well too.
• Scissors
• Pens (for writing your postcard!)
• Glue or glue stick (not pictured)
• Cardboard for under project (so you don’t mess up your table or deck!)
• Pens for writing message and decorating your postcard

Select the flower or flowers you’re hammering (try a bunch of different options to see what you like best – but the ones we tried with delicate petals transferred the nicest!), then flip it so the flower is facing the paper. We found the flower colors bled through one sheet of paper, so it’s best to not do this directly on the back of the postcard template. You may use regular printer paper or art paper (like water color paper) that will later be glued to the back of the postcard template. Cut the paper into four even sections (the size of postcards).

Place a small piece of parchment paper over the flower, and hold in place.

Now it’s time to hammer! Watch your fingers. Gently (or not so gently, although the flowers might splatter about a bit if you use a lot of force) pound the flowers through the parchment. Try to make sure you get all parts of the flower hammered – I suggest following a path along the flower around the edges, then to the inside.

Once you’ve peeled back the parchment, your hammered flower will look something like this. Carefully peel the plant debris off the paper and discard (or compost).

Here’s what our pansy looked like pounded! Farther down in this post, you’ll see a pansy done on water color paper.

This is how our small fern leaves turned out! This is on regular printer paper.

Allow the flower to dry before pasting the paper to the postcard back. You could write your message on your postcard template while you wait! If you haven’t printed the template yet, go ahead and do that – we’ll wait! Tip: Make sure to use card stock, and if you can, un-click the setting that says “fit to print area”. Cut the template into four even parts – you’ll have four postcard opportunities! Smear a fair amount of glue on the back of the postcard – you could certainly write your message and address before you do this, or after (just make sure your hammered flowers are dry before you write).

Then place the hammered flower project on the glue. Press down to make sure it sticks.

Pay attention to the corners, and add more glue if needed.

Once you’ve completed this, your project is done! Write your message, address, and stick a stamp on there, and you’ll send a bit of your backyard to someone you’re thinking of this summer! Enjoy!

Spring 2021 Inspire(d)!

Read the Spring 2021 Inspire(d) online!

The Spring 2021 Inspire(d) is all about getting out of ruts and finding ways to move forward. Life is full of ups and downs, and we are here to help you navigate those directions. Inside, you’ll find great inspiration that will help you decide where we go from here, and how you might get there!

Moving Forward: Strategies + Goals, Driftless Goat Company, greenpenny & Winneshiek Energy District, Community Builders – Brandon LaRue & Jeanene Thicke, the Artists Behind the Murals, Hummingbirds • Outdoor Adventures & More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

I’m turning 40 this spring! (May 20, woot!) When I turned 20, I started writing decade lists: 30 Before 30, 40 Before 40…you get the pattern. These lists have helped me accomplish goals – from learning to play chess to perfecting all the moves to the Thriller dance to swimming with manatees. The next list I’ll write is 50 Before 50. Wah?! How can this be?

Time just keeps on slipping (slipping, slipping) into the future… but at the same time, it can feel like we’re stuck in a rut. Especially after the year we’ve had. Where do we go from here? What’s the next step? Sometimes choosing a path or motivating ourselves forward can feel like the most difficult task in the world. And it CAN be really hard. But there’s never a better time than now. That’s the best time for anything, really. When should I shower? Now! When should I prune that tree? When the pruners are in your hand! When should I apply for that job? How about now? If you try to wait for the perfect moment, all the moments pass you by.

Moving forward starts with the next right decision. Get some tips on how to make that choice from our awesome mental health writer (and area counselor) Olivia Lynn Schnur (pg 22), and ideas for getting out of ruts in my infographic on page 20.

Something else that helps? Literally getting out of the house. We put together some fun, safe options. Outdoor adventures? Read Mary Hyland’s story on page 60. Up for a road trip? Check out some of the awesome murals popping up around the Driftless, and before you go, read the backstory behind a few of them in Sara Friedl-Putnam’s story on page 34.

I get huge smiles every time I read Craig Thompson’s pieces – the man just has a way with words, especially words about birds! Learn about the late spring return of hummingbirds – or hummers, as he called them – and enjoy his wife, Mary’s, accompanying artwork on page 56. What a pair!

Spring = tax time as well, and thinking about finances…but have you thought of making your finances green (beyond the color of money, that is)? Learn more about the locally run greenpenny and its relationship with the Winneshiek Energy District on page 28, and mark your calendar (and our checklist) for Earth Day April 22.

One thing I really love about publishing Inspire(d) is getting notes and story suggestions from readers. It always seems to result in the most inspiring tales – which was totally the case when a reader suggested we feature Driftless Goat Company. I so enjoyed hearing about the journey of Peter and Cynthia Ruen and their family as they made their way from New York to Lanesboro in this issue’s Sum of Your Business (pg. 14), and also the paths of our Community Builders Brandon LaRue of La Crescent, Minnesota (pg. 48), and Jeanene Thicke of Bangor, Wisconsin (pg. 52).

We thank you for reading, and hope this issue brings you inspiration – to get outside, to enjoy the earth, or explore the region – encourages you to get creative (learn to weave a paper basket from a grocery sack!), and helps you find a way to move forward.

We’ve got this.

Looking(and moving) forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

 

Grocery Sack Paper Basket

By Aryn Henning Nichols • Originally published in the Spring 2021 Inspire(d)

Got a bunch of paper grocery sacks sitting around at home? Here’s a fun way to reuse them – weave a basket! Perfect for May Day, Easter, or, really…anything at all!

Supplies:

Grocery sack
Ruler
Clothes pins or other clips (at least four)
Glue (doesn’t have to be glitter, haha!)
Pencil
Scissors
Tape (sorry, forgot to include in below picture!)

Cut the paper bag carefully along the back seam.

Once you get to the bottom, continue to follow the seams along to the edges, so the paper bag will open and lie flat as a long, large piece of paper.

Like so! You’ll have some excess bits at the bottom, so go ahead and cut those off, trying to keep as much of the main piece of paper in tact as possible.

You should end up with a piece that looks like below.

Fold the whole thing in half and make a strong crease.

Cut along the crease so you have two pieces of paper now.

Turn them so they are just slightly taller than they are wide. We want longer strips so the basket is the right height (the shorter the strips, the shorter your basket).

Mark every three inches along the top and bottom of each piece of paper – we’ll need nine marks because we will be cutting nine strips.

There will be an excess of about five inches or so, like the below strip. Set that aside for later.

Fold the paper bag along the three-inch marks (we marked both sides of the paper so you can have a more even fold). Make a strong crease.

Once you’ve creased, cut along the fold to make your three-inch strips.

As mentioned, you should end up with nine relatively even three-inch strips (don’t worry, they don’t have to be completely perfect, just do your best to keep them somewhat even).

Pick the least-pretty strip to be the handle. Below is the one I picked!

Grab that strip and fold it into thirds (we’ll be folding the rest of the strips in half, not thirds).

Make a strong crease along the folds.

Then glue the folds together and set this strip aside to dry. Tip: use a clip to keep it together while drying!

Next, start in on the rest of the strips. Fold each in half and make a strong crease.

Tip: I like to use the side of my scissors to make the creases even better!

If there is writing on your paper bag, decide whether you want it to be visible once your basket is finished, or not. If you want to hide the writing, fold the strip so the writing is inside the fold.

Once you’re finished, you should have eight strips that look something like this!

Time to start weaving! Get four strips arranged vertically, then work the other four strips in horizontally, carefully weaving them – under one vertical strip, over the next, under the next, over the last. Like so:

With the next strip, do the opposite (over one vertical strip, under the next, over the next, under the last).

Once you’re done, it might look like this! Now it’s time to straighten up the strips and tighten the weave!

Use your ruler to make sure there’s an even amount of paper sticking out on each of the four sides (it should be about 6.5 inches). Make sure the ends are even on each side as well.

Once you’ve gotten the edges and the amounts sticking out even, keep the weave as tight as you can and tape along the middle square to hold it all in place.

Place a dot in the middle of the four strips on each side, like so:

Use your ruler to make a line connecting the dots.

When you’ve done that, it should look like this:

Use your ruler to make folds along these lines. Do all four sides.

After those folds, it’s time to start forming your basket! Get your clips ready, and start with two strips on one corner.

Fold one strip over to the left, and fold the other strip across it, like so:

Grab the next strip to the left, and work it in opposite (weaving). Pull the strips taught – it should automatically start forming your corner. This can seem a little messy as you’re going, but you can tighten the basket up once you get to the top layer.

The weave at that corner is complete once you get to a point where you can’t make another weave with the current strips you’re using. You’ll be folding the excess pieces over eventually, but for now, just clip it in the middle and move on to the next corner.

As mentioned, it can get a bit messy, but don’t worry. It’ll work out! Here’s my basket with one corner to go.

Get your final corner to it’s top weave and pull it as tight as possible. Then, start your folds. Fold the strip that’s on the top of the weave down over the other strip, like so:

Tuck it into the basket and tighten your fold.

After you’ve folded all the strips down on that corner, clip it again and move on to the next corner.

If you can, you can tuck longer strips into the next piece inside the basket. Once you’ve done all your sides, it should look like this inside your basket.

For the strips that didn’t get tucked in, glue the tabs down, then clip again while it’s drying.

 

If you’d like your corners to have more shape, you could crease at the tip of each corner, then continue that crease all along that corner.

Next, grab that excess piece of paper sack you set aside at the beginning. Roll it into the basket to see how much is sticking up – you’ll be cutting that down to size.

Cut the part that stuck up out of the basket off all the way around, and then trim the length so it’ll fit neatly inside the basket. This piece will tidy up the inside of your basket, and help make it sturdier.

Put a liberal amount of glue on your now-sized-up sheet, then roll it into the basket.

The clips can come in handy here again. Push the sheet into the corners to help the basket hold shape.

Almost there! Now it’s time for the handle. Grab the strip you folded into thirds and glued at the very beginning, and shape it a bit so it makes the rounded handle you’re wanting it to be. Like so:

Now, put a dot of glue on the inside and outside of one side of the handle, and tuck it in between your stabilizing sheet and the inside of your basket (so you don’t see the handle end).

Do the same on the other side of the handle, then clip until it dries.

And you’re done! As you can see, you can follow this method for lots of different sized baskets – the tiny one below was with an 8.5 x 11 sheet! The wider one had more strips (you can make larger baskets by using more strips – the only requirement is that you use an even number on the strips you use for horizontal and vertical, for example – 8 & 8 or 6 & 6). Happy weaving!