March 15, 2009The gardening season will be starting soon - to be able to finally say so makes me so very happy! It's the time of year when I'll be down on my hands and knees playing in the dirt, planting all of my seeds and awaiting the hundreds of spring bulbs I planted over the past couple of falls. I've been working on perfecting my process of pressing tulips and I am proud to say I am very close to achieving my goal. The problem is that I've created a monster of a method, I'm up to 10 unique steps. I can personally attest to the fact that the time I spend pressing each tulip matches the love I have for gazing at the finished product. Of the few pieces I have kept for myself, one of the loveliest is a picture with cranberry hued tulips all in a row in a burgundy stained wood frame. I have had this picture hanging by my front door for years now. I always glance at it when I leave the house and many times it stops me in my tracks for a closer inspection. I can see all of the veins in the silky textured petals - and the color - looks maroon from a distance, but they are really composed of many colors from deep to light maroons, with traces of pinks and purples, amazing. As my Mom often comments to me in our workroom as we both stand back to admire a newly finished piece of pressed flower art "My, we do love our own work, don't we!" - and my standard response "Yes we do!"
At Petal Annie, we don't use any chemicals on our lawn or plants, making the garden prone to a whole heck of a lot of weeds. All too often, you can find me out in my garden, sitting on the little chair my husband Bob used when he was a child, carefully hand weeding to ensure that only the "bad" stuff comes out. Weeding is a chore to some gardeners but for me - well, now to be honest, I will never have time to do it all, but when I do - I love to weed. I have vivid memories helping my Granny McCarthy weed when I was in my teens - I could see her cringe when I'd yank out a handful of phlox for which I'd mistaken for weed. Her gentle way of letting me know - now makes me realize some 30 years later - how grateful she was that I was helping her. Granny's nemesis in the garden, and now mine, was grass. Having grass grow amongst a beautiful bed of flowers was like having grass grow inside her house - reason being, the garden was her home and grass had no business being there! Over the years, and with a whole lot of practice, I have gotten so familiar with identifying weeds that I don't even need to see the weed only reach in and feel it with my bare hands to know if it's a keeper or not. Well developed weeds have a different feel to their leaves and stems - a weaker feel, as if not a lot of structural support - flimsy. That's how I can tell, it's a good rule of thumb.
I have added pressed flower cards alongside my framed and unframed pressed flower art and paperweights. Sometimes when we are in our workroom creating larger pieces, we will come across a flower, as my Mom puts it, with a "personality' all its own. Some have a very boastful look, while others look bashful or outright sassy. Some look as if they are on their way somewhere - as if they are going to walk right off of the paper. A flower head cocked, as if listening, a long, lovely curved stems, or leaves spread out on either side of its stem as if ready to give out a big hug. Some look as if they are dancing while others look like loving mothers - a large blooming flower head hovering over several small buds on its stem. I've tried to work them into my designs, but their uniqueness gets lost in the crowd. I've decided that these are the flowers I will use in my pressed flower card collection - I just love them - hope you do too. We only use the best - fine ivory pressed watercolor card stock with deckled edges and matching deckled envelope. Each flower is coated with an invisible UV protective coating. Our cards come in 5x7 and 3x5. Both are suitable for framing and are sold individually in a clear, resealable, protective sleeve or in a boxed set of 5 cards, a perfect gift.
My Mom and I, will be busy in the coming weeks creating beautiful pieces of flower art for our 2009 shows and to ramp up our Etsy shops. It will be days spent creating, laughing and sharing delicious meals together. I can hardly wait. Mom has an Etsy Shop too called "pressedflowers". The link to her shop is which can also be found on our home page. We will post our tentative show list by March 21th this year because we will begin selling the last weekend in March. Please check back often for new updates.
Getting ready for a great year at Petal Annie Pressed Flower Art - hope to see you soon!
March 3, 2008It's been a cold and very snowy winter here in the Midwest. Turning the corner on February, finally. March may bring the same, but there is hope, that for a few days, the temperature will rise high enough to melt the snow-covered gardens and allow us to explore the comings of spring.
I keep my seeds in an old black tin sewing basket, imprinted with blue old-fashioned flowers, with long, arched handles. That tin basket has been opened and closed countless times over the years, even more so over the past few weeks, keeping a close eye on the spring lineup. They hold the promise of a beautiful garden, full of new possibilities. They are my trip to "bountiful".
Spring, as every season, is a time of rituals - scouring the seed catalogues, pilgrimage to favorite garden centers, and clearing out the garden beds. Over the years, gardening has been downright hard on my hands, and so I will do as I have done each spring in the past, and with good intentions, buy a beautiful, new pair of gardening gloves, that are destined to be thrown to the side a few minutes after I begin working the earth. There is something soothing and zen about having the rich, black dirt touch my hands.
And, no matter how many years I have pressed my flowers, I never seem to grow tired of the anticipation of the process - developing new and better ways to press and shape each variety, new designs to delight.
An avid gardener and acquaintance of mine from Lombard, Beverly Davis, passed away this week. I only had the chance to speak with her a few times, but gardening was our connection. Real gardeners, those that work the earth, hand weed, and revel in the beauty of the smallest flower - are a good lot, kind and nurturing. They are the sort of people that you can only meet a few times and feel like you have known them your whole life.
We started selling on www.Etsy.com in December. Wow, there are a lot of sellers out there - Annie will need to put her thinking cap on to get folks pointed her way. But in the meantime, it will be a great spot to showplace the pieces that will be featured at our upcoming shows. A special thanks to Jean in Chicago and Pat in Shelbyville, both from Illinois - for being Annie's first customers on Etsy. It was thrilling to make those sales, to say the least.
We added a counter to the Petal Annie web site in February. I'm totally amazed at how many hits our site receives from overseas, over 50%, and the number of countries is approaching 30 - amazing. Pressed flower art has been practiced world-wide for centuries - to think that our pressed flower art may influence a pressed flower artist half way around the world - what a wonderful connection to be a part of.
One more thing - keep an eye out, Annie will post her shows by the beginning of April.
Happy Spring! Annie
November 19, 2007Annie has some exciting news to share with you. We have been telling our customers we will start selling our framed pressed flower art and paperweights online - the venue we have decided on is www.etsy.com. You can access the link from every page on our Petal Annie web site. We have picked a starting date of December 9th. Etsy is very much like Ebay, but geared more toward the DIY ('do it yourself') group of artists and crafters - it seems to be the perfect venue to start selling our work. The pieces we will initially offer will be smaller in nature, 8x10, 5x7, 4x6 etc. and of course, we will be including our very popular, and beautiful glass paperweights. - check back daily for new items that we plan to add. We'll move on to the bigger pieces once we get our feet wet. We hope you are adventurous enough to give it a go. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us.
We've been toying with the idea of selling our pressed flower artwork online for some time now. I've been told that to really appreciate a pressed flower art picture, you need to see it up close, see the beautiful natural colors and the detail and texture with your own eyes - to "feel the beauty". The reaction from our customers at the shows we attended this year was amazing (and humbling), so we know we must doing something right! You have to trust me on this - when you view our pressed flower art online, you can be assured, and be sure to know, Annie doesn't make any pressed flower art that doesn't make her own heart skip a beat or two or bring a warm smile to her face.
Also, sometime this winter, our webmaster, Jack, will be developing a new look for the Petal Annie web site. As with anything else one does in life, you know you are on a good path when what you do you love, and what you love, slowly evolves over time into something good, then into something better - always in search of something better.
With another new growing season just 4 months away, Annie's been scouting some new venues to display and sell her pressed flower art. We'll be posting our schedule sometime the beginning of April 2008 with our first show tentatively scheduled at the Wheaton French Market the last Saturday in April. We will continue to design new pieces and post them on Etsy - we hope to hear from you! Have a wonderful holiday - and "Think Spring"!
August 15, 2007"Stop The Presses! Petal Annie featured in the Home and Garden Section of the June 24th Sunday Chicago Tribune!"
When I think back to our first show years ago……., we were at the Frankfort Park District Craft Fair- I had made up some of the most beautiful and diversified pressed flower art pieces that I've ever made. When you first start selling something you make with loving hands, it's so very personal. So much of us went into those pieces. It goes without saying, there wasn't a doubt in my mind, I thought we would do very well.
As it turned out that day, I only sold one piece to someone I didn't have a blood tie with - and that sale almost didn't happen! I was a little worried, the woman must have looked at my work a good 45 minutes before she made her selection, and when she did, I was grateful. The day was so long, and I was so discouraged, but then, friends, sisters, cousins, and my good Aunt Barbara Ferguson slowly trickled in and snatched up my beauties. If it wasn't for them, I'm not sure that we would be selling today. We've come a long way from that day, and I've learned so many things on the way. Most of all, I appreciate every single sale - the fact your eyes and my eyes see the same beauty when we look at our pressed flowers; and that you have our pieces in your homes or you find them worthy enough to give as a gift - well that just makes me sigh.
I want to thank a few customers that stopped by. There was the man who bought a picture at the Wheaton French Market for his wife for their 25th anniversary. He was so excited (and I was so honored). And then, there was the mother and daughter who came down from Michigan to our Griffith, Indiana show in July just because of the article - thank you for buying all of those pieces. And to the woman who stopped by the show and told me that she cut the article out of the paper and saved it because she enjoyed it so much. (I wanted to give her a hug) And finally, there was the elderly gentleman who was temporarily separated from his wife at the Griffith fair while out on a mission to find her some ice cream. He came and sat with us for a good forty-five minutes - we offered him a cold cup of ice tea and a chair and he repaid us with wonderful stories of his growing up. He told me that he would always treasure the paperweight he bought, I told him we would always treasure the time we spent together listening to his fascinating stories. (Turns out his wife was sitting only a few feet away, out of sight, on a bench - waiting for him! Needless to say, he was in a bit of trouble when we finally put the two of them together!)
The garden report: The summer garden was bountiful this year. Cornflowers, grandmother pincushions, corn cockle, larkspur and queen anne's lace (with pink edges) are currently the headliners, along with about 20 other varieties. I'll be pressing through mid September, so I can catch the dahlia, anemone, and those ever blooming zinnia's, which for some reason, are 5 feet tall this year! Then onto the stacks upon stacks of flowers waiting to be sorted, labeled and put into storage, getting ready for the long awaited winter solace.
But in the meantime, we are gearing up for our fall shows, creating beautiful pieces to tempt you - hope to see you there!
June 8, 2007Hello and Happy Summer!
Just thought I'd come in from the garden for a few minutes to update you on what Annie's been up to these past few months. We had a wonderful spring this year - the perfect combination of rain and some very nice, cool evening weather to get the seedlings started. To a pressed flower artist, rain is a real blessing (no dragging the hose out to water and a day off from pressing!)
Annie's garden was filled with a bounty of spring tulips, daffodils and assorted bulbs in bold yellows, oranges, grapes and pinks. Flowers from bulbs are very challenging to press because of the high content of moisture in both the petals and the stem. But they are well worth the effort, doing most of the work in creating beautiful pieces to add to our collection - whether it be a single, show-stopper tulip in an 8"x10" frame, or a whole garden of tulips with assorted companion flowers in our longer frames.
At Petal Annie, we've planted 25 new types of annuals this year and can hardly wait to reap the rewards of our effort come July and August. Annie put up fencing around her annual garden bed this spring to keep those very cute bunnies out of the garden. What Annie didn't know is that she fenced in two rabbit nests in the process in which four baby rabbits called home for several months. When they are little, they do little harm, but they got the boot when they ate two of Annie's vine plants. Happy to report they are busy munching on the other two garden beds in the yard and are getting quite plump.
A big thanks to everyone that stopped by our shows this spring - we really appreciate the time you took to give our work a close look - and we are overwhelmed, and really, very grateful, for all of the sincere compliments. Each year we try a slightly different approach to when we sell. This year, we concentrated on shows in May and June (our spring shows) and then September and October (our fall shows). We do have two exceptions this year, a wonderful art fair in Griffith, Indiana in July and the Carl Sandburg High School in November, our only holiday show this year.) The other months are spent tending garden, pressing flowers and designing and framing our art.
In our free time, we continue to write our book on pressed flower art - more on that in a later blog.
Well it's back to the garden for more weeding and watering, picking and pressing - hope to see you soon!
Annie (next blog update 9/21)
March 21, 2007Hello, and happy Spring! My name is Eileen (I'm the Annie in 'Petal Annie'). I live in Wheaton, Illinois - where I grow and press all of the flowers you see in my artwork. My workshop is located in Dyer, Indiana. My Mother, Mary, watches over my design process and handles all of the professional framing you see on the back of our work. My Dad, Bill, helps with the framing too, but you'll see him more at the shows. He is one persuasive salesman.
We plan on attending a handful of art shows in and french markets this year. I have posted our show schedule (those shows we have applied to), but keep a watchful eye on the "Upcoming Events" page on the web site for additional shows or changes. My website was designed by Jack Sturm at www.constellationweb.com. Jack also took the pictures that make our artwork look so true to life.
Like many of you, I have loved flower gardens my whole life, even as a child. My grandmother's whole front yard was a beautiful, chaotic wildflower garden and I try to emulate that feeling in my garden scenes. I have been pressing flowers for quite sometime now, growing hundreds of types of annuals, perennials and wildflowers. My first brush with pressed flowers was at Lee Wards, a craft store in our old neighborhood, where, at the bottom of a bin I found a small piece of cardboard with one pressed viola on it. I remember opening that package, lovingly looking at it now and then, thinking it was so amazing and beautiful. I was probably 9 years old at the time.
You have to really look closely at a pressed flower to appreciate the level of detail and clarity in each piece. It's like a fine piece of fabric, but tissue thin. Each pressing year, one flower catches my heart and holds on tight into the winter months. Last summer it was poppies. You'll see a lot of pieces with poppies at our shows this year, I hope they touch you as they have us. In the language of flowers poppies represent 'Kindness'.
To maintain the beauty of your pressed flower art, it needs to be kept out of direct sunlight and humidity. That means as the sun moves around your room, it should not cross paths with a piece of pressed flower artwork, not even for a short time. They look great (and stay beautiful) in a powder room, a hallway, in a room on the same wall as the window or above that window or any nook or cranny away from the sunlight. Oh, and I would not hang pressed flower art in a bathroom where it's going to get all steamed up. If you think you cannot find the right spot for a pressed flower picture, talk to me at the show or email me. I can always recommend a spot or two (or more!)
I would be proud to hang each piece of art we create in my own home (and I have to admit, there are three or four pieces of pressed flower art that never made it to market). Your pressed flower artwork will be the first thing you or your guests will look at when you enter a room - it has to do with the natural colors that catch your eye versus the artificial, man-made colors surrounding us in our daily lives. I've been told by many customers that looking at our art makes them relax and content. I am hoping you love them as much as we do. In a world where the goal of every entrepreneur is to mass produce and sell from a big box, consumers (and this includes myself, sometimes) have all but forgotten what it means to own something truly unique, understanding what real beauty is, and not settling for less, not settling for something everyone else has, or could have, setting up little big box showrooms in our own homes - in this arena we set ourselves apart from the rest. We have two main goals at Petal Annie - to make beautiful, unique pressed flower art to share with others and have a good time doing it. We are fortunate enough to have accomplished both.
Please send all of your friends, family and co-workers our way, we love new customers (and sales keep our creative juices flowing.) A word of warning, pressed flower art is addictive!
Annie (next blog update scheduled 6/21/07)