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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Watercolors Made From The Garden

Some people paint pictures of flowers. I paint with watercolors made from flowers. Not everyday, but it's a fun thing to try once in a while. 

Making watercolor paints with flower petals is a pretty easy process as long as you pick the right flowers. I've found that the more saturated the petal color, the better the results. Dark purple pansies, dark pink impatiens and yellow/orange marigolds worked very well. Catmint (the blue flowers mixed with some green leaves) made such a subtle yellow/green color that it barely showed up on white paper. Chive flowers didn't color the water at all. Later this season I'll try some summer blooming flowers to see if I can find more variety.
To make floral watercolors, collect a few flowers. Petals that have recently dropped off a plant are perfect. Put about 5 flower's petals in a saucepan with about 5 tablespoons of water. Simmer for around 2 minutes or until you see the water change color. Don't let the water boil to rapidly or it will all evaporate. 

Let the water cool a bit and strain liquid into a clean container. If you'd like to get a deeper color water, let the petals sit in the water for a few minutes before straining. 

Since I didn't have such a wide range of colors as I would normally paint with, I just had fun painting patterns, shapes and washes. 
What's interesting is that the color of the dye doesn't always come out the way you'd expect. See if you can guess which color below is the catmint, purple pansy, marigold and pink impatiens. 
The blueish color at the bottom left was made from the dark purple pansies, the purple color was made from dark pink impatiens, the yellow is from the marigolds and the pale green was made with catmint. Surprising, right?

The kids were happy to help make the watercolors and test them out. 
If you come up with a cute painting you can frame it to remind you of your garden year round. Or cut out postcards, notecards and gift tags like I did. A little set of painted mini cards and envelopes would make such a cute summer gift. 

Important note. Make sure the flowers you're using are not toxic. And always make sure that the tools you use for making floral dyes do not come in contact with food. I use a designated craft pan for making floral dyes.
 
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