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Nature Crafts

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with Common Plants

Kate Hubmayer

Contents Introduction 4

Collecting Materials 7 8 8 8 8

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Drying and storing seedpods Pressing leaves and flowers Air drying flowers or leaves Tools required

Street trees 37 Oak 38 Crepe Myrtle 40 Ginkgo 42 Liquidamber 44 Maple 46 Sheoak 48 Jacaranda 50 Golden Rain Tree 52 Conifer 54 Eucalypt 56 Other plants 58

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Nature in our cities 4 Health benefits 5 Experimentation and creativity 5 Sustainability 6

Plants 35

Crafts 9

Seedpod birds 10 Spirals 12 Seed mosaics 14 Wreaths 16 Collections 18 Mandalas 20 Weavings 22 Mobiles 24 Seedpod dolls 26 Christmas 28 Natural dyes 30 Solar dyeing 31 Eco prints 32 Collages 34

Bibliography 60 Index 62



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Nature produces an array of stunning patterns. One of the most beautiful and mysterious is the spiral. Spirals are found in a range of forms, from fern fronds to seedpods and sea shells to spider webs. On a larger scale, they are seen in cloud formations and in spiral galaxies in space. Humans have spirals in our DNA double helix and our fingerprints.

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Spirals exist in nature because of the scientific principal that things are connected or behave in the simplest or most economical way. An example is the efficiency of seeds tightly fitting into a sunflower head. Two spirals run in different directions in a pattern called the Fibonacci sequence, named after the medieval mathematician who popularised it.

Spirals have been found in primitive rock art in every ancient civilization. They were an important sacred symbol, associated with the solar calendar, growth and the rhythm of the season, and the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Spirals are still used today in art, design, landscaping and architecture. Creating a spiral is an easy, meditative and satisfying form of art. It can be as simple and ephemeral as tracing a spiral into sand, or placing petals or leaves on the ground in a spiral pattern. For something more permanent, dried seeds, seedpods, shells or pebbles can be glued onto thick cardboard or timber. There are several famous large-scale spiral sculptures, including Spiral Jetty, constructed in a saltlake in 1970 by American sculptor, Robert Smithson. For more inspiration, look at the work of British land artist Richard Shilling, and the stunning photography of American horticultural artist, Fred Michel.



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(Quercus species) Origin:

Northern Hemisphere

Preferred climate: Varied 20-40m tall

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There are over 600 species of oak, including deciduous, evergreen and semi-evergreen trees. Most oaks are remarkably long lived, have a large, domed canopy and gracious, spreading branches which respond well to pruning. They grow in a diverse range of climates, from the cold regions of northern Europe and Alaska, to the tropical jungles of Asia and Central America.

Some, like the elegant Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) and spectacular Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea), have distinctive lobed leaves, while others have simpler toothed foliage. Deciduous oaks turn a wide range of colours in autumn, from a dazzling golden yellow to a glowing deep red, depending on the species and the weather. Some of the smaller species, including the Bristle-tipped Oak (Quercus acutissima), are used as street trees, as they are particularly attractive and drought and pollution tolerant. There are impressive examples of oak avenues in Washington DC and New York City. Mature oak trees produce small flowers in spring, followed by the gradual development of thousands of oval fruits, called acorns. The smooth, woody acorns and their cute, cuplike caps gradually fall to the ground and have been collected and used for a wide range of crafts for centuries. Acorns are also a fabulous source of food for wildlife. Oak galls are odd, round lumpy structures found on the branches of oak trees caused by the trees’ reaction to a wasp larvae living inside it. Galls don’t hurt the tree and, being high in tannic acid, they have been harvested, dried, crushed and mixed with iron sulfate to make a permanent ink since the Middle Ages. Oak is a popular hardwood timber, once commonly used in boatbuilding, and now mainly used for furniture, flooring, cabinetry and wine barrels.


English Oak

Famous oak trees include an ancient English Oak (Quercus robur) known as the ‘Major Oak’ in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England. It is believed to be 800-1000 years old, and, according to folklore, Robin Hood and his Merry Men sheltered under it.

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Oak leaves hold their shape well when pressed and dried, and come in wonderful shapes for print making and collages. Acorns are commonly used for wreaths and other Christmas crafts, and as they are high in tannins are useful for producing a natural dye.

Pin Oak

Burr Oak

Scarlet Oak


Nature Crafts with Common Plants  

Nature Crafts with Common Plants contains imaginative nature crafts using natural materials found around the world. Buy now: http://www.tea...

Nature Crafts with Common Plants  

Nature Crafts with Common Plants contains imaginative nature crafts using natural materials found around the world. Buy now: http://www.tea...