In the News: Project Calm, Mindfulness through Making

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A few months ago I was approached to contribute to a new magazine titled Project Calm, a mindful magazine for creative types. Project Calm is all about “mindfulness through making”. It was an honour to be asked to contribute as mindful creativity is to close to my heart and soul. It’s also serendipitous that the magazine was launched during the Slow Living month focused on nurturing, given the magazine aims to help busy folk slow down and nurture themselves through craft, encouraging us all to channel our energies into creating mindful beauty.

Bringing mindfulness to craft and creativity is so important (which I wrote a little about here, in relation to picking flowers and making flower crowns), both in terms of the personal, spiritual and mental health benefits of mindfulness, but also the environmental benefits of being mindful about how and what we create. I am always inclined to create from natural materials as much as possible, so that our projects have no waste from packaging and is fully compostable (for example, Ro’s halloween Mother Nature costume, made from real leaves, or our holiday Botanical Advent).

For this first issue of Project Calm, I contributed my Real Flower Temporary Tattoos tutorial. It is so exciting to see my work in print!

GIC_08_p8-9_naturenews_72dpiCopies are almost sold out, so if you’d like one order soon. They are available for purchase here.

Here’s a little sample of what you’ll find in the issue among the four sections covering Home, Nature, Travel and Mind & Body:

  • Paper-based crafts to make, colour & create
  • Positive features to inspire and enrich
  • Case studies and profiles of successful creatives
  • Travel, retreats and courses to try
  • Papercutting template on card
  • Paper animal kits
  • Poster with floral illustrations

Or, you can take a look at the preview here…

 

Thank you to my friend Erin, the florist, who collected discarded petals and flowers for my tattoo project. And, thank you to Kate for connecting my work to the folks at Project Calm.

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How to Make All Natural Flower Tattoos for Children

Read dried flowers for temporary tattoos

When flowers are blooming over the spring and summer, the children and I are constantly picking up fallen petals and blossoms for little projects. We press them, dry them, make mandalas and do all sorts of creative things. Something both kids love to do is wear flower petals as an alternative to face paint. I’m fairly particular about what goes into and onto their little bodies so I generally discourage face painting and temporary tattoos because I’m not sure of what’s in them. A fun, easy and beautiful alternative has been using flower petals applied to the skin with a little coconut oil or a salve (I used this one). We just apply a little to the face and then the petal adheres easily. Depending on the rigidity of the petal they stay on for longer or shorter periods of time – but no matter what they have fun with it! We’ve found that more supple, flexible petals work best because they can easily ply to the contours of the face.

When I was on Pinterest a few months ago I came across a photo of an arm covered in flowers. The tattoos looked so realistic I clicked through the link and discovered that a makeup artist, named Verity Cumming, had in fact used real flowers as temporary tattoos. For her process, she had dried flowers and then applied them to the arm using synthetic glues, such as eyelash glue, to keep the flowers in place. I knew a glue would not feel great on the skin, especially for children who tend to be more touch sensitive, but also that glue isn’t the healthiest on the skin, so I decided to develop my own technique to affix the flowers as temporary tattoos.

Real dried flower temporary tattoos soft star shoes

Real Flower Temporary Tattoos Soft Star Shoes Hippie in Disguise

First, there were a few failures. (I thought I’d share them here, so you don’t repeat my mistakes) I tried using some flowers that we had pressed and dried and no matter what we tried they were simply too brittle to hold together on the skin – they crumbled. I realized they were too dry. Next I tried using some fresher flowers and petals, but these were either too heavy (from water content) or not supple enough/too rigid (from water content). They needed to be drier. But, have you ever noticed that if you let flowers air dry they tend to dry from the outside to the middle? I knew that if I let them dry naturally they would still crumble at the edges from being unevenly dried. So I tried to accelerate and even out the drying process. I adapted Verity’s technique of drying the flowers with paper towels in the microwave (using fabric dish towels instead of paper towels, because zero waste is a good thing right?).

Through trial and error I figured out the best way to make all natural temporary flower tattoos. Here’s what worked:

1)      Gathering: Gather fresh flowers and petals of any and all sorts available to you. We don’t generally buy cut flowers or pick them, but we still have an abundance of sources of fresh flowers. Do not pick! Be resourceful! You can find fallen flowers and petals in gardens all the time. In the winter I visit the florist and ask if I can pick up blooms from the floor or use their floral “waste” from bouquets. They are always happy to share and curious about what I plan to do with the flowers. An opportunity to have a conversation about using flowers creatively!

2)      Preparing: Cut as much of the stem off as possible, this is easy with flowers like hydrangeas and pansies. You want to end up with a very flat flower for application. For flowers that have a hard or thick stem I recommend pulling the petals off and drying them individually.

3)      Drying: Lay a fabric dish towel over a large plate. Lay the flowers out on the dish towel. Place another dish towel on top to sandwich the petals between dishcloths. Then place a second plate over the dish towel. This will help to flatten the flowers. (The layering is: plate, towel, flowers, towel, plate). To dry them evenly I heated the plate and flower stack in the microwave for 40 seconds. I found that some flowers needed longer. If you are using many different types of flowers I recommend drying similar flowers together, they are more likely to require the same amount of time, and therefore you have less risk of over- or under-drying some flowers. To know that they are dry enough, just lift up the plate and towel and do a visual check, you will probably see some wet spots (flower sweat!) on the towel. Touch the flowers: if they feel limp and look flatter than before they are good. If they still seem rigid, then heat them a little longer. Once they are flat and limp, lay them out to finish drying in the air. They will still feel somewhat soft and moist, but I found they can’t be completely dried, they need some moisture for them to stay intact when tattooing. It sounds complicated, but once you try it I think you’ll see it’s pretty easy.

  • Warning: Some flowers will transfer their colour to the dish towel, so use a towel that you don’t mind getting a little stained.

4)      Applying: I used a beeswax salve with lavender oil in it (because I know it’s soothing on my children’s skin and they love the smell!), I applied it to the skin where the flower would go, then gently applied the dried flower, gently smoothing the flower onto the skin and letting it adhere to the salve. For most flowers and thin petals this is enough. In some cases you might want to add a little salve to the exposed part of the flower (the part facing out/visible) to help smooth the flower onto the skin more.

The flowers and petals stay on pretty well like this. The smoother the petal is to the skin the longer it will stay in place. These are certainly not as long-lasting as a temporary tattoo that is glued on but it’s still lots of fun for the kids (and yourself!) and provides a fun way to decorate your child that is natural and encourages them to learn about flora. You could try experimenting with using natural glues like honey, agave, or syrup, I’ve heard these work well too. The advantage of salves is that it’s good for the skin.

Flower tattooing is a great opportunity to learn about flowers with your children, for example:

  • You can teach them the names of the flowers as you apply them
  • You can talk about which flowers retain their colour through drying and which change
  • You can feel and talk about the different petal textures

As with all of my “how to” posts and DIYs please feel free to ask questions in the comments or share your feedback, there’s always something I’ve forgotten to include in my explanation!

UPDATE: This tutorial was recently included in the publication Project Calm: A magazine for mindful creatives. You can read more about it here!

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If you are interested in Ro’s shoes they are from Soft Star and are available through this link. Soft Star is an American shoe maker (men, women, children and baby shoes). All Soft Star shoes are handmade, using end-to-end environmentally friendly processes and materials. Ro’s shoes are the Hawthorne model (adults). Sen has the Swift model from the children’s range.

You might also like:

Garbage Free: How to Make your own Delicious Cashew Milk

Ecominimalism: Minimalism and Sustainability Talking with Robin Kay

Top post: Any Occasion, Sustainable Gift Guide for Children

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Released: The Ro Dress

It’s here! The dress Ro and I designed with Mimobee! It’s hard to believe that what started as an idea back in June, arrived in the mail last Friday, and is available for pre-sale today! Surreal, to say the least.

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If you are new around here, Ro and I were invited to collaborate with Mimobee for their collaborative capsule collection this fall (you can read about the process here). A few Instagrammers and Bloggers were invited to design a piece that represented their aesthetic. The final collection includes our boho inspired look, a street-inspired blazer, a minimalist dress, and a conceptual shirt.

Ro and I always have ideas for garments we’d love to bring to life, but never thought a serious brand would come asking. So when Mimobee asked, we didn’t hesitate, even though we were pretty scared that our lack of any technical skills might sink the ship! We figured hard work could take us pretty far. However, we never imagined that our collaboration with Mimobee would be fun, so much fun! Being involved from start to finish we learned so much, and Ro is already starting to put together ideas for her next piece. Should she get asked again…But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

For our dress, we wanted to design a garment that was elegant, comfortable and functional. Something that we would want to wear everyday, but was still dressy enough for an occasion. We also wanted to make something that could celebrate all shapes, with the drawstring waist and sleeves, the dress is unfussy so it can grow or shrink as needed. Finally, in the interest of slow fashion, we wanted to ensure our design would be relevant beyond this season, by incorporating some classic design elements.

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We hope you love the dress as much as we do! If you do, you can buy it here.

Important details:

  • The dress is available for pre-sale ONLY for the next two weeks (sales close Sunday, November 15th). The dresses will then be sewn and shipped by early December.
  • All aspects of production take place in California, in the same space where Mimobee owners, Tom and Helen, work and where all the designing happens, the sewers are paid fair wages and work in excellent conditions. It’s a Mimobee family.
  • The dress is sewn from 100% organic cotton and dyed using eco-friendly dyeing methods.
  • The dress is available in size 2 to 16. That’s right mamas, some of you will fit into that size 14 or 16, so get one for yourself!
  • In addition, 10% of sales will go directly to the Jane Goodall Institute, a charity close to Ro’s heart. The Jane Goodall Institute works to preserve great apes and to improve global understanding of conservation issues to safeguard the planet for all living things. (For the last two years, Ro has chosen to raise funds for the Jane Goodall Institute in place of birthday gifts. After getting a little package in the mail with the name, photo and story of the chimp she is helping, she told me she couldn’t imagine ever wanting gifts. Giving a gift on your birthday is way more fun!) You might remember that we raised money for the World Wildlife Fund when we collaborated with Gardner & the Gang.

If you’d like a chance to win a dress, follow my blog by email, WordPress or Bloglovin and leave me a comment letting me know that you did. If you are already following, just let me know in a comment that you’d like to be entered in the draw. I will be giving away two dresses, so you have two chances to win! Visit my Instagram account to find out another way to win a dress.

Thank you to the Mimobee team for being so amazing to work with. Thank you to everyone who shared their ideas and gave feedback on earlier designs. And thank you, in advance, for buying a dress and supporting the Jane Goodall Institute and a young designer’s dream. Find the dress here.

[UPDATE: Congratulations Piper and Poppies, who entered on the other blog post here, your name was drawn for the dress! Please send me an email to claim your prize]

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Ro’s moccasins are from Canadian brand Manitobah and are available in a range of colours, in both children’s and women’s sizing. You can find them here.