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Common for leathercraft
This project holds a special place in my heart because making this kind of postcards is how I got into arts and crafts. I’m not gonna start an auto-biography here, but to give you a little back backstory:
In another life, I used to be a programmer. At that time (a still to this day) I had a lot of admiration for the people that demonstrated any kind of artistic ability. The creative process seemed so magical to me and so foreign to my very analytical mind.
Then my journey around the world started. Every few weeks I would send postcards to my friends or family to let them know that I was still alive and that the bears didn’t get me yet. I started by gluing dried flowers as a little personalized detail on the back of the cards. This tradition evolved little by little. First a few petals on the back of regular postcards that I had bought. Then I made my own cards by filling up one side with random patterns of glued petals. In Iran, my two wonderful friends started playing around with the petals I had and introduced me to the idea of combining flowers and drawings. Thus I moved away from my abstract motives and started to make collages. Still since I always shy away from drawing my own designs I have always used vector drawings I found online for all the postcards I made.
Until now. So without further ado, I’m very happy to share my very first original postcard design as well as all the steps required to make it yourself (and make it your own).
- X-acto knife or scissors
- An old brush to apply the glue evenly (optional)
Bill of Materials
- Flower petals of different colors
- Postcard size watercolor paper (10x15cm)
- White glue
You may want to draw your own mountain landscape. But if don’t, I prepared a template.
The free PDF can be downloaded here.
Drying out the flower petals
This is my favorite part, since it involves going on little hikes to explore your surroundings and paying special attention to the flowers surrounding you.
I like to dry the flowers in a thick book for a week or two. I separate the petals and lay a few between two pages, then repeat the process leaving a good amount of pages in between to control the humidity build-up during the drying process. If the petals don’t dry quickly enough they will lose their color or worse, develop mold and rot.
My personal favorites species of flowers to make postcards are bougainvillea, hibiscus and hollyhock. They dry well, offer a variety of colors and their wide petals are easy to work with..
Even though we will only be using flower petals for this project, I sometimes like this mix things up and use colorful fabric or dried leaves for the collage. I’ve even seen Senegalese artists using a similar technique with butterflies’wings.
Drafting the design of the card
If you’re going the template way, this is when you’d want to print it (download the PDF if you haven’t done so yet).
For those who chose to draw their own landscape, the process is quite straightforward.
In a 10x15cm rectangle, draw a horizon about 2/3 of the way down.
Draw a few squiggly lines coming from the sides roughly converging down to the middle of the horizon. Add a mountain peak in the middle and the reflection of the foremost mountain range in the ocean.
Use a round object like a bottle cap to draw the sun setting behind the peaks.
Finally use tracing paper to trace over the the different shapes of your design. Now get your tracing paper face with the pencil lines against a piece of regular paper and imprint the lines from the tracing paper on the opposite paper piece.
You need to do this in order to get a mirrored version of your shapes so that the flowers can be glued on the relevant side later on.
Now for the template and hand-drawn crowd alike, separate the different shapes of your design to roughly cutting around their outline.
Painting the background
Very lightly draw your horizon line with a pencil.
Prepare the two blues that will compose the background of the postcard – one for the sky and one for the ocean.
Paint the background by fading the two colors together, starting with the most contrast at the top and bottom edges and gradually fading in towards the horizon line.
Gluing and cutting out the petals
Using slightly diluted white glue, glue the petals on the shapes of the design.
You want to glue the petals on the side opposite to the outline of the shapes.
Wait for them to dry and cutout the shapes following their outline. You can use scissors or an X-acto for this.
A little tip for those of you who – like me – are not really keen on waiting for stuff to dry: put your pieces on a plate and in the microwave. Microwave them 10/15 seconds at a time. Works like a charm.
Gluing the cutouts on the card
Follow the sequence indicated in the template. Start with the reflection of the mountain range (unlike shown in the first picture). I will give you an edge to help you position the other ranges.
Then glue the other mountain ranges by order of distance in the perspective: first the center peak, then the mountain range further back on the left, etc.
Trimming the edges
I use masking tape when I paint with watercolors to keep the paper from bending, but also because it creates a very clean white border all around.
If you used some too, you’ll have to very careful trim the overflow from the collage. Use a ruler and an X-acto knife to cut across the layers in line with the masking tape.
Be careful not to cut all the way to the watercolor paper.
After peeling of the masking tape, I added a little signature stamp in the corner.
Other than that, that’s it!
The following online content provided some assistance and/or inspiration during the making of this project: