Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Road trip and flower pounding...

My sister came out for a visit this past week and we went on a very quick road trip to see our step-dad.
Can you guess which state we went to?
The pictures on the Corn Palace (yes, Corn Palace) are mosaics done with various colored corn.

This is a roadside sculpture park and RV park alongside the interstate.
When my sister and I drove up, we quickly turned around.  
It was kinda creepy in a redneck sort of way.

This was another place along the interstate near 1880 Town.  
I think they were trying to go WAY back in history with this display.
We did not go *in* to any of the tourist traps, but did quick stops for photo shots.  My sister is excited to show her co-workers the rural atmosphere and places of interest along the SD interstate.

After our return, we had a Redneck BBQ at our ranch.  There was horseback riding, trap shooting clay pigeons with shotguns, open fire pit S'mores and plenty of beer for the adults.  I told Sis that she really needs to do a movie with all her pictures so she can have a "slide show" at the law office.  They often do this when somebody goes to France or Italy so why not the Boonies?
They'll all be impressed, I'm sure.

Since our company has all gone home, I've been busy cleaning up and putting things away, remembering the fun we had together.  All five of our kids and their families (only 2 have spouses) came home, my brother B. and his wife and son came, and so did the Grandparents and some special family friends.  What a good time it was!  While I was cleaning, I decided to tackle the micro-suede sofa in my living room.  I would never buy  micro-suede furniture ever again.  It doesn't stay looking nice for very long, especially with children and now grandchildren.  But I did discover a way to clean it up.  I used a half gallon of warm water and added a tablespoon or two of Oxy-Clean to it.  I dipped my microfiber cleaning cloth into it and scrubbed the couch like mad with it and then let it air dry.  (How else do you dry a sofa?  Duh.)  Lo and behold, it came mostly clean.  At least it was a whole lot cleaner than it was before.  I'm thrilled!

Tomorrow I am giving a demonstration to a local 4-H group on Flower Pounding.  I've enjoyed this *sport* before, but today I re-visited the project with my daughter-in-love, J. and her co-partner, Hazel Peach.  I thought it would be fun to create  samples to take to the meeting so the kids could get some ideas of what we are trying to accomplish.  In the past I have made wall quilts from flower poundings and I did embroidery  around one flower pounding and it hangs as "art" in our bedroom.  After going through my favorite flower pounding book, The Art and Craft of Pounding Flowers by Laura C. Martin, I am totally inspired to pound the summer away.  The flowers are coming in strong and thick in my gardens so there will be plenty to thin out for pounding projects.  

The best flowers we pounded today were impatiens (pink), lobelia (dark blue), wallflower (orange) and dame's rocket (purple, right in back of impatiens).  Not pictured are violets.
  They are an excellent flower to pound.  We even got the whiskers to show up.  It is said, however, that the color of the violets fades quickly.  Leaves were also a good thing to pound.
This is my sampler which shows the experimental flowers we tried out.  We pounded them into cotton muslin but you could also pound flowers onto note cards or watercolor paper. I have found that watercolor paper or watercolor cards work best to receive the flower dye.

Just in case you would like to try your hand at flower pounding, I'll leave you with the  4-H hand-out  that I am going to give the kids.  It has the recipe for the mordant bath which you must use to treat the natural fabrics so that they will receive the flower dye, and then there is the Flower Pounding in a Nutshell, partly from the book and partly from my experimentation.

Flower Pounding

Preparing the cotton fabric.
Mordant Bath for 1 yard of cotton, linen, or wool or 1 ½ yards silk use:

4 T. alum
3 T. cream of tartar
20 to 24 cups of water

Mix alum with approx. 10 cups of very hot water (or boiled) and pour into a large non-reactive pan (stainless steel, enamel, plastic bucket).  Mix cream of tartar in 10 cups of very hot water and add to the alum solution.  You may add more hot water if needed to completely cover fabric.

Add wet, clean fabric (do not use softener), carefully arranging it so as not to wrinkle.  Allow it to sit in the bath for approximately 30-40 minutes.  When cool, remove from mordant bath and rinse thoroughly.  Dispose of alum bath by pouring it on the ground.

Dry the cloth on the clothesline or in a cool dryer.  Do not use softener or dryer sheets. Iron cloth and store by hanging until needed.  It is now ready for pounding.

In a Nutshell...
*         Be sure your fabric has no wrinkles before you hammer.
*         Use wooden cutting board covered with double layer of paper towel.  Position fabric or paper over it and position plants where you want them.  Pounding one flower/leaf at a time gives best results.
*         Check for bugs and dirt before pounding.
*         Put another paper towel over the flower to cover it and pound, OR (my favorite technique) cover each flower/leaf with scotch tape and then hammer gently but thoroughly.
*         Re-adjust the absorbency level, if needed, by adding or taking away paper towels.
*         When you think you’re done, check the underside of the project fabric or paper to see if you’ve missed any spots.  Re-hammer as necessary.
*         Remove cover material and plant pieces, taking care not to smear the fabric as you brush away the bits of plant.  Using tape helps remove plant pieces.
*         When the dye from the flowers is completely dry, you may lightly brush any dried flower pieces from your cloth or use the sticky side of a piece of take to clean up any loose odds and ends from your project.
*         Set the flower designs by pressing with an iron, using the proper temperature for your fabric.  Keep iron on each part of the image for about 45 to 60 seconds.  Be very careful not to scorch fabric.
*         To duplicate your image onto paper or cards or fabric or to iron-on transfers, you can use a copy machine or scanner.  

For more ideas on flower pounding, you may enjoy the following links.


  1. I love a fellow traveler who likes to turn around on the highway to go back and get a photo!!
    sounds like fun times in the boonies!
    I'll have to try that formula for cleaning a micro fiber couch. We bought one for the condo :0)

  2. Many of my relatives lived in North and South Dakota. Maybe we ARE related, Jody! Smile.
    Flower pounding is funny! Beautiful, too.
    I'm so glad you had fun with your sister (yes, she definitely SHOULD make a slide show!) and all the family for night time love gatherings. I'm glad you are back! I missed you!

  3. The hand/butterfly/goldfish sculptures are weird. But I love the dinosaur on a leash!

  4. So thats how it's done...I have always like the flowers like that..very cool! Thanks for the tip about cleaning the couch, I will pass that onto my daughter, that would most likely work with any fabric couch. Sounds like fun with your sister! Come say hi :D

  5. Oh, my goodness, I have never seen flower pounding before, how very lovely!!! Thank you ever so much for sharing.

    Please drop by my blog, I would so enjoy it if you would enter my give away.

  6. I really loved your pictures in this post, Jody--especially that dinosaur! And I've never heard of flower pounding, but it looks neat. Also: great band name.

    I wanted to tell you I was up at our mountain house last weekend and saw that the canning jars we have up there are most the Atlas brand. They're pretty big, and very cool looking.

    You don't happen to have a recipe for refrigerator pickles, do you? Our cukes are coming in big time!


  7. The sampler is beautiful, Jody! And I really like the idea of pounding on paper and think I will give that a try. Thank you for the inspiration and I hope your talk went well!!!


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