Making Seedflowers

Making Seedflowers

Part of Ep. 504 Harvest Creations

Learn how to make decorative seed flowers at Old World Wisconsin. It is one of the gentile arts popular during the Victorian era.

Premiere date: Jul 31, 1997

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Visiting Old World Wisconsin is like stepping into the pages of history. Here, you can actually see people living and working just as they did over 100 years ago. I'm with Sandy Fisher, one of Old World Wisconsin's interpretive guides. Sandy is going to show us how to make a very old-fashioned gift from the garden. Sandy, what is it we're talking about?

Fisher:
Today we're going to be making seed flowers. This is one of the gentile arts of the Victorian era. Ladies used their hair for decorative art, they used watch fobs and flowers, they used lace and tatting and knitting. Their world was virtually what was inside the house. Beyond the doors was not part of a Victorian Lady's life.

Shelley:
So, they didn't dig in the garden, they made seed flowers.

Fisher:
Right. They basically planned the meals and planned the garden, but didn't work in it.

Shelley:
All right. What do we do to make something like that?

Fisher:
To begin with, for seed flowers, you want to have a nice piece of card stock. We've re-used card stock, just as they would have in the Victorian time. Cut it into a floral pattern, either a daisy or any simple kind of flower. You want to start by putting two holes in the middle.

Shelley:
All right. And then, you've got a wire through it.

Fisher:
I've got wire through it. We will pull that tight and wrap it with the floral tape. That way, you make a nice stem that you can hold while you work with it, and it looks a little bit better.

Shelley:
More like a flower stem. Here, you've got one that you've started. You've got two seeds in the middle.

Fisher:
Right. I like to begin this way, because you not only cover up the wire, which you don't want anyone to see, but you make a more symmetrical flower, you work out--

Shelley:
So, then, we'd work out this way. Now, what do I use to attach these seeds?

Fisher:
The Victorians used mucilage, which is an old-fashioned type of glue. You can use any of the new, modern glues. These set up quickly, but they give you enough tolerance that you can move the seeds around a little bit.

Shelley:
Here, you've got another finished product. This one's got wheat in it. You've let some of the wheat seed heads on the back. It's really pretty. It looks like there's gold paint in there, too.

Fisher:
I've used some gold paint. The Victorians like to gild things.

Shelley:
It's very pretty.

Fisher:
You'll notice that it's a little shiny. We've shellacked the flowers, also.

Shelley:
Oh, so we can basically use any number of seeds to make our flowers.

Fisher:
Right, any leftovers.

Shelley:
We've got bean seeds, here, and it looks like some melon, and there's the wheat, again, and even peas.

Fisher:
I've chosen yellow peas because they give me a little more color in the flowers. And if you have antique or heritage variety of beans, it gives you kind of a prettier bean to work with.

Shelley:
Sure, some of them are real pretty. So, after I've made these seed flowers, what do I do with the flowers?

Fisher:
Out here, we have them in a vase.

Shelley:
Oh, a bouquet of seed flowers! That's really pretty. It looks like you've added corn to this one. You can use almost anything. What's this?

Fisher:
It's a little pom pon in the center. Remember that things fade. And the Victorians liked color, just like we do. So, they put a little bit of yarn in there and had color.

Shelley:
And rice, too, it looks like.

Fisher:
And if I was going to give you a gift. I could give you a gift with, instead of a large bow, I could give you a seed flower in the center.

Shelley:
That's a great idea. Kids could get involved, then, too, and help decorate packages.

Fisher:
It's just kind of a fun thing.

Shelley:
And with the big size seeds, hands of any size could play with this. And you said there was one other, more formal type of gift that they'd create with these seeds.

Fisher:
This is one of my favorite things. I like the shadow boxes. Victorian ladies often did their hair arrangements in a shadow box, or they did their tatting or cross stitch. But this one uses seed flowers. We have a larger one like this out here at Old World. It's an artifact. So, this is indeed a form of Victorian art.

Shelley:
Very pretty. Thanks, Sandy.

Fisher:
Thank you.

Shelley:
This would make a really nice memento from last summer's harvest.

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