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Loner: Craftiness - look at all the cheeriness and fun you can get out of this £5 bunch of flowers! (Flower Pressing and arranging. In a young hip way)

For my friend Katy's recent birthday we went to Wilton's Music Hall. That is definitely worth a post in itself (it is the oldest surviving music hall in London, originally built in 1743) but I was on too much of a prosecco and "it's my friends b'day and I am out on a Thursday night" high to take photos of anything but the fairy lights. Although frankly a whole post committed to these babies would be no bad thing:

I first met Katy when she was dressed as jellyfish and I a crab at "the BOP" where all the cool Manchester uni kids hung out on a Friday night, but it was only years later we realised she was the girl I complimented on her tentacles and I was the crab in the toilets who she spoke to. Our first meaningful meeting was when she was dressed as a flamingo and me a snake, and since then we have had some wonderful times dressing as cows, donkey kongs, hooter girls and hedgehogs to name just a few*.

Here we are as cows, donkey kongs and members of the rock band Kiss. Some context for the donkey kong picture: we have just woken up after a raucous night out hence why my make up is so smudged and we are without our inflatable donkey kong bats...heaven knows how Katy's face looks perfect down to her coppery metallic eyeshadow. I have just slapped katy around the face with a piece of ham, which is why she looks both pained and bemused. I cropped that out cos I didn't want to come across weird.

Nowadays we spend much more time hanging out together in normal outfits, which don't co-ordinate with each other and would not prevent us from holding down any type of full time employment.

Katy is mega lols and super nice as all of my friends are, but on top of this some things I particularly admire about Katy are:

1. her ability to eat considerable amounts of cheese
2. that she can rap the whole of Nelly's Hot in Herre
3. that she is a worthy dance off opponent when we get down to Chris Brown's Forever (he is a troubled man, but Forever is probably the best song in the world which isn't by Beyonce, Dolly Parton or Frank Sinatra. Or Michael Jackson. Or Joni Mitchell)
4. the size of her wardrobe (she's a talented fashion buyer for a living, and, judging by the envious collection of clothes she has, also in her spare time)
5. her fabulous card making skills. Behold:

This card is not just fabulous on the outside, but on the inside too; it reads:

You are an Independent Woman who pays her Bills, Bills, Bills not letting the Bug a Boos (who are Crazy in Love) Put a Ring on it. You are a Survivor and If I were a Boy I would be Jumpin' Jumpin' all over you.

As I love Beyonce, you can imagine how sweet these words were to me. For the good of everyone, I have linked each of these songs to the youtube video, in case you want a little Bey in your day.

Side note: I realise Beyonce is becoming a recurring theme in this blog to the point it is starting to evolve from a London lifestyle blog, to a slightly creepy Beyonce fan site...To correct this, I will try and not mention Beyonce for the next 3 posts. Try.

Anyhoo, you get the context. For Katy's birthday, I had to go all out on the card front, rather than just writing a message on a post it note, or using a marker pen on the wrapping paper, as is my standard.

The flat I share with Will is only about a 4 minute walk from Columbia Flower Market, another little slice of east end history, where it seems like thousands of people flock to every Sunday to snap up some bargain bouquets. Ever since we've moved in I've been wandering down the road and buying as many bunches as my fiver can get me.

I spent £5 exactly and out of this lovely lot I managed to fill 2 big vases and 5 little jars, and made 2 cards. So I rewarded this thriftyness by spending £24 on 3 different faux flower garlands on ebay afterwards, even though it is now November and not really flowers in the hair season. Hey ho.

Here is how I did it:

Flower pressed cards

As well as flowers you'll also need pritt stick, card and some sort of nice pens to decorate them with. I splurged on some "uni posca pens" from  Cowling and Wilcox as I envisaged I might use them on weekends to draw pictures of Broadway market and the canals and stuff. Haven't used them since of course, but they were jolly good for this, as they are like a pen with a paintbrush lid. A bit like a really good and really thick nail art pen. (But don't put them on your nails, it doesn't work out).

1. Choose your flowers wisely, as there is less room for error on little ones if you are an amateur like me. I went with some pink gypsophila (gyp) and some lovely lilac delphiniums.

2. Snip away at your flowers. You'll only need a couple of strands of each for each card, and they'll only need to be the length of the card, so you don't need to use the biggest stems. Use the parts of the flower which would be too short for the vase anyhoo

3. Pop the flower cuttings in a folded piece of white paper, and shut this in a big heavy book. Then pile all your other heavy books on top. Don't overstuff the white paper, you ideally want to make sure each of the flowers has a little bit of space around them too, for when they flatten and widen when pressed.

If your dad doesn't buy you massive hardback books every Christmas, then you can use the yellow pages or even a massive pile of magazines to press the flowers instead.

And 1 week later....

Once you're flowers have pressed for the week, you can make them into cards or indeed anything else using any materials you like, but this is how I turned mine into greetings cards with no artistic talent whatsoever:

4. Get your piece of card, and fold it in half, to make a card.

5. Draw a rectangle border around the outside of the card, and then another one inside of this. Don't worry if the line isn't straight, unless you are more of a perfectionist than me. I think it all adds to the homemadeness of it.

6. Fill in the borders with a little shape. In Katy's card, I alternated little stars and hearts. In Lauren's card (I made Lauren a card too, my friend who had just got married) I drew mini horseshoes and hearts.

7. Position up the flowers. Gingerly cover them in prittstick, and lather some on the card for good measure, then press them on to the card. As long as the paint or pen from the border has dried, you can then place a plain piece of paper over the flower card, and then a heavy book on top of this to gently make sure your flowers really are stuck to your card.

8. Probs need some advice from you guys for this step. This is the point where you can write your message (I wouldn't do it first as then it might be a bit stressful trying to fit your flowers around it) but I think I messed up a bit here. If I was doing it again, I think I would try a pen not quite as thick and bold as my paint pens, but you know, obvs a bit classier than a biro.

And you're done:

Yep you're right, that isn't Katy's birthday card, but my friend Lauren's "Congratulations on your wedding" card I also made. Showed a slightly different finished product to be slightly unpredictable and charming (/might have forgotten to take a finished picture of Katy's before I gave it to her and yes, I also didn't take a full picture of this one either, hence why the Congratulations bit at the top is cut off...)

With all your loads of leftover flowers, you've got enough to fill plenty of vases.

I did a long tall display, using mainly the delphinium and just adding a few sprigs of gyp, and only cutting a tiny amount off the bottom.

I then did a cut them short (often doubling up the gyp by cutting it in the middle and putting both ends of the strand in a vase) and adding the delphinium I had left.

I then used the few stray bits of gyp to put in the little glass bottles and jars I had nicked from the table display at my cousin's wedding. (My auntie said I could! She got them from charity and second hand shops).

Fancy getting crafty with some cards and flowers? It will cost you:

Do you like making stuff, but aren't that good at it? Even if you are, check out my first craft post: Loner - craftiness: make a little twist on Victoria butterfly collections you can hang in your home

* by the way, in case people were unsure we weren't in some sort of weird fancy dress group, dressing up is just basically my euphemism for getting outrageously pissed.

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