Maybe you don’t know, but I grew up in a socialist country where the craft materials were very limited and difficult to find. When the rest of the world was enjoying all their craft creation possibilities, we had to find ways to substitute materials which were missing in the shops in order to have any chance to complete a project. And, of course, there actually were no craft shops.
I am not complaining – please be clear! It was great to find different ways to make things and all the decorations we wanted. Christmas and Easter were the best time to experiment and I have great memories of these crafting days. Later this “training” helped me to overcome every lack of materials whether it was from lack of sources or lack of funds to access those sources.
I think every crafter has to train herself (or himself) to see the possibilities around. People are sending off in their trash some real treasures and then going to the shops to spend more money to replace something they maybe already paid for. Clearly, this is not very smart, but we’ve all done it sometime. But why not save some money by substituting materials we have where we can and use the money to buy things we can’t substitute?
The problem of piling
Stock piling craft materials is another one problem. I have been there and now am very happy that I overcame this addiction. Our craft spaces are full of stuff we are keeping for “maybe I will need it soon”. And all this clutter distracts and inhibits our imagination.
For example, in my tutorials I often offer my readers the suggestion that they substitute their paint palettes with simple baking paper or a white porcelain plate. Look at the pluses here: they already exist in our homes and have different uses. This means, they don’t pile up in our craft space, but stay in the kitchen, where they already have their place. When we need them, we just use them, and then send them back to the kitchen. Great! Look at baking paper! We can use it not only for baking cookies and colouring and drying paper petals, but also for substituting missing elements like Styrofoam eggs or balls, for example.
How to use what we have already used
It is easy to substitute flower making materials. The materials you can find in almost every kitchen are aluminium cooking foil and baking paper sheets.
When I decide a piece of baking paper is not useful with different paint while drying elements anymore, I can make a small ball and then wrap it with a piece of torn aluminium foil. Neither can be used for their traditional uses anymore. The foil has holes in it and the paper has big spots of gesso and PVA glue.
But together they create a great base for a ball for, as an example, a chrysanthemum flower! I just need to add a piece of wire and the main construction is ready!
How to substitute a Styrofoam egg
To replace a Styrofoam egg is also easy. You can do it the way we already made the ball – with paper (not necessary baking paper) and cooking foil. But also, there are other great materials. Coffee filters, for example.
Coffee filter paper is soft and easily mouldable, so, creating different shapes with it is very easy.
Smash one filter into a ball and put it inside another filter pocket and then smash them again. Putting them inside the filter pocket will keep the ball closed.
Repeat this about 5-6 times. To create a traditional egg size paper egg, you will need not more than 7 filters.
Then wrap the whole construction with crepe paper strips and PVA glue. Stretch the crepe paper well while wrapping to keep the shape tight. If you don’t have crepe paper, you can PVA glue inside the pocket as you make it to keep the construction closed. Also, the PVA glue will soften the filter paper and will help modelling the egg-shape.
Attaching the stem
Because this paper “egg” will be a lot more difficult to put a needle hole though, even if you use an awl, you will have to connect to a “stem” by wrapping it with the wire.
Wrap from the top and then twist it up next to the bottom, tightening the wire onto the egg shape.
To make the construction strong and to prevent the wire from slipping off the “egg”, wrap it again as shown with a crepe paper strip (or a coffee filter paper strip) and PVA glue. Wrap it tight to make the construction strong. Don’t skimp on glue! Then mould the shape with your fingers.
And your flower base is ready. Having this main construction, you can create great Protea flowers or Chrysanthemums. In my Etsy shop you can find the petal and leaf templates for these. Just click on the banners below, print the templates and follow the instructions.
Happy crafting time!
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