Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pressed Flower Collages (and other ideas) (1971)

Who would have thought! The wonderful world of pressed flower collage!

A large portion of a day in the life of a librarian assistant is consumed with book traffic-- from the time a book is requested until the time it reaches the patron, I would say it manages to pass through at least ten different people's hands. When this number came across my desk, I was instantly suckered in by the Eugene Pallette-like owl on the cover, and the pin-neat author pictured on the back of the jacket. Is not her hair perfectly done? Is not her outfit stylish, yet demure? I took a cursory flip through the pages, saw some really weird and wonderful stuff, and decided to place a hold on it so that the next person to read it would be M-E. And O-M-G did I get a kick out of it.

The flower above is like "Hurray! Hurray for my creation! I am a lithe, daisyheaded ball of optimism!" ("A Daisy's Stretch at Dawn", clematis and daisy). To the right, "Cosmos in Collage", mostly comprised of Cosmos flowers and a few other goodies. I love that while the medium reminds me of needlepoint, it must be so much more fresh looking, more vibrant than its threaded counterpart in real life. I was going to say how neat it would be to find this in a thrift store, but after the experience I had with an ancient display of butterfly mountings, I'm just not sure. I can never understand why the employees don't take better care of fragile donations-- the aforementioned butterfly display was priced seven dollars, but due to some shakeup in transit, was comprised of a number of mangled, destroyed specimens, half hanging, half twisted...ugh! Nightmare fuel. As if butterfly mountings weren't morbid enough. Still, maybe one of these beauties could survive the trip from donation bin to shelf intact, and go out to pasture in my panelled room of kitsch paintings and doo-dads...

To the left, "Miss Gaillardia Ash", the second of Miss MacDowall's "collage cartoons". What really drew me to the book in the first place was the idea of these cartoons, little people paintings made of flowers. Like hand painting tea cups, flower pressing always seemed to me such a dainty, serious, lady-like way to occupy one's time, but seeing these showed me it can really be out there and whimsical too, depending on the crafter. See Miss Ash's umbrella and handbag. Love it.

To the right, "Be My Doll, Mop-Top", Miss MacDowall's interpretation of a "hippie" couple (reinforcing the fact of the book's 1971 copyright date) is done in Clematis tangutica. Note what the author refers to as the boyfriend's "'flower power' medallion" (nestled atop his leafy ribcage)... I didn't see it until she pointed it out!

"Three Little Maids From School" (nice G & S nod there), "Rabbits", and "Two Little Fish" make up the grouping to the left, while the right hand image is succinctly titled 'The Gossips". I think the "Maids" composition might be my favorite in the book. Something about the facelessness of girls and the weird, psychedelicness of them having flowers for heads. I just like it. The fish picutre is more conventionally attractive, but if I had to choose, in a thrift store situation, I could go for the "Maids" picture in a big way.

Last but not least, a simple matchbox decoration. This is more the type pressed flower arrangements we're used to seeing, and the author provides several other uses for your newfound pressed flower talent-- making greeting cards, decorative panels (see the very first images at the top of this post). The text of the book is very specific as to how to work with these designs yourself, and if you're the crafty sort, you should buy the 2001 reprint of her book at amazon.com. Just a little harmless endorsement from your tiny handwork impaired blogger. :) I know a lot of the vintage bloggers out there are pretty great with a sewing machine... do any of you guys do pressed flowers? Collect them? Let me know if you see any of these designs floating around the second hand stores when you're out and about-- they're really too great a treasure to miss.


  1. Hi Lisa, how you doing? I sent you an email to let you know you won my giveaway but haven't heard from you. Please email me at sozoblog@gmail.com with your address! Thanks
    Zoe xxx

  2. oh they're lovely! My grandma's house always seemed to be full of books like these so it's lovely that you featured one and reminded me :)

  3. Lisa, I popped over here from your comment on my blog. And I'm loving your blog, too! I'll be adding yours to my blogroll for sure. :) What a yummy feast for the eyes you've got in all your posts! Especially in this one, pressed flower collages aren't really something I'm familiar with in terms of vintage crafts but holy cow! How neat. I just love the ability people had to anthropomorphize anything and everything. I think Two Little Fish is my favorite. I especially love that the fishies look just a weeeee bit crabby. Too much!



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