Friday, 12 August 2011

Hibiscus Factory

I have decided to embellish the shadow box I am making for our nephew’s wedding present with some hibiscus flowers made from Penny Duncan’s cut file – see my blog list for a link to her blog (thanks, Penny!).  I’ve been quite poorly recently and ultra brainfogged which probably explains why this has turned out to be a much lengthier and more protracted exercise than it should have been, but I’m getting there at last! What I should have done was to refer back to my original blog post on the hibiscus flowers that I made back in September of last year, before I had Jiminy Cricut and had to print them and cut them out by hand. Although I didn’t give a lot of detail as to colours etc., at least I did mention that they came out too light, and needed further attention.

This is what I have experienced this time, too. After some considerable messing about with them, I’ve now got them to the rich, dark colour I was after in the first place.

Anyway, back to the beginning. These are the pieces I cut first of all, in two sizes, from 140 lb/300 gsm smooth-surfaced watercolour paper. It is essential to use watercolour paper for this project because the pieces get very wet during the colouring process, and normal cardstock tends to disintegrate. This picture shows them in the process of being accented with archival black ink, both the flower and leaf pieces, and as they were so small, I used a surgical needle holder to hold the smallest ones.

10 Hibiscus Flowers - Highlighting Cut Pieces

Here they are, after I’d coloured them with some DIY glimmer mist I made from Chipped Sapphire and Forest Moss Distress Inks respectively. They weren’t dark enough, so I applied the DIY glimmer mist again once they were dry, but I was still not really satisfied with them, and the small ones are really much too small for what I want anyway (and as it turned out, much too small to manipulate), so I shall keep them for other projects, and not make them up into proper hibiscus flowers but use them as they are.

11 Hibiscus Flowers Coloured

I decided to cut another whole sheet of flower pieces – some of the flowers were about 2 inches across (I didn’t mean to cut them this big!), and the majority 1 inch, and I cut a few more of the 3/4-inch ones (the larger size in the original batch) because they are useable for my current project. In this picture you can see them at the accented stage, with the original batch on the right.

12 Larger Hibiscus Flowers Cut and Highlighted

The next picture shows the leaves being spritzed with the DIY glimmer mist. Immediately after this, I mussed them around in the liquid, spraying on more as necessary, until they were completely coated, and then I set them aside to dry.

13 Spritzing the Leaves

This is what they looked like when they were dry.

14 Leaves After Spritzing

I was not impressed. They are too light and wishy-washy looking, and also I felt the green was too yellow for my project, so I decided to work on them further.

The same applied to the flowers. Here they are after spritzing and drying.

15 Hibiscus Flowers After Spritzing

I decided to make up a couple of batches in other colours while I was at it. The ones on the left are done with DIY glimmer mist using Spun Sugar Distress Ink, and they are barely pink at all! The middle ones were done initially with DIY glimmer mist using Wild Honey, and I accented the centres with a little Barn Door Distress Ink straight from the pad, applied with a cotton bud. The ones on the right are those done with the Chipped Sapphire DIY glimmer mist.

All much too light! Very unhappy Shoshi! Decided to do what I should have done in the first place: smear the ink pad onto my craft sheet, spritz with water, and muss the pieces around in the ink. This way I got a lovely rich deep colour which is what I wanted all along! I am pleased to say that the Perfect Pearls in the DIY glimmer mist is still showing now that they are dry – if it had not, I’d have spritzed them again, just to get a bit of iridescence. Using Spun Sugar, the pink ones were still too light, and I tried with Victorian Velvet, with the same result, so in the end I used a mixture of Victorian Velvet and Aged Mahogany and came up with a gorgeous rich pink colour. The others were done with their original colours, i.e. Chipped Sapphire and Wild Honey. On the yellow ones, the Barn Door that I dabbed on is still visible, and now just shows as a deeper shade of orange, which is the effect I wanted.

Here they are now they are done. Happy Shoshi.

17 Flowers Recoloured

As for the leaves, I didn’t like the colour after the original spritzing with the DIY glimmer mist, so I mussed these in Pine Needles Distress Ink on my craft mat, and I love the effect – lots of colour variation, and the underlying colour shows through quite nicely. They’ve got a lovely subtle shimmer from the Perfect Pearls, which of course doesn’t show up very well in the photos.

16 Leaves Recoloured

So, after a lot of unnecessary messing about, I was now ready to hand-emboss the pieces, using my embossing tool and a piece of funky foam. This gives them the dimension they need. The pieces need to be completely dry before this step, or the paper will disintegrate.

I used a stylus to form the central vein of each leaf, on the right side, then flipped the leaf over and embossed each side of the vein with my hand embossing tool, and then formed the leaf with my fingers.

For the flowers, I hand-embossed the reverse of each petal in turn, using my hand-embossing tool, and then flipped them over and used the embossing tool to depress the centre of the flower.

The following photos show in close-up first some leaves, and then some flowers, embossed on the left, and not yet embossed on the right, and you can see what a huge difference the embossing makes to the realistic appearance of the flowers.

18 Leaves - Effect of Embossing

19 Flowers - Effect of Embossing

Here is the whole of the second batch, embossed and ready for assembly with the hot glue gun.

20 Embossed Flowers and Leaves

To assemble the flowers, each one needed to be pinched at the base so that the petals formed more of a cup. The cut file has a small hole in the centre, and this needed to be poked out a bit first, especially on the small pieces, and then a stamen had to be inserted through the hole.

I bought these little stamens in the cake department of our local kitchen and hardware store. They can be coloured but I prefer to leave them as they are as they make a nice accent.

21 Flower Stamens

Each one is double-ended, and for this project they need to be cut in half. I poked the stamen through the hole in the centre of the flower, and put a dab of hot glue on the base to secure it in place, and also to prevent the petals from collapsing back out again. Once the glue was set, the petals could be manipulated so that they formed the correct shape. This is what they looked like immediately after glueing.

22 Flowers Immediately After Glueing

After trimming off the backs of the stamens, to finish the construction of the flowers, I glued the leaves onto the base of each flower; this placing doesn’t have to be exact, but it gives a pleasing base and background to the flowers. If you wanted to group the flowers, the leaves could be overlapped if necessary.

The largest sized flowers that I made measuring approximately 2 inches across:

23 Large Flowers

The medium size, about 1 inch across:

24 Medium Flowers

and the smallest size, measuring approximately 3/4 inch.

25 Small Flowers

I think Penny has done a lovely job with this particular flower design. It’s a lovely embellishment for lots of different projects, and shouldn’t take too long as long as you don’t mess about getting the colour all wrong like I did!


  1. Well you Got there in the end with the colour you wanted, They are stunning.
    I know you like her roses shoshi but you must try the grunge roses, they are stunning

  2. I'm sorry you haven't been feeling well! I'm glad you feel better! Wow, your flowers are gorgeous! Boy that's a lot of cutting but the results are beautiful!! They look like real flowers!


  3. Wow, they are gorgeous. All that effort sure looks well worth it to me. :) X X

  4. Beautiful work! You have a lot of patience!

  5. So pretty! I think all the work was worth it! Now you've got lots of flowers for several projects!

  6. Love the hibiscus flowers! You did a great job with them!

  7. I popped by for a late snoop on your desk and I'm pleased I did as it was great to see the progression of your fab flowers to perfect completion. Well done for sticking in and getting them perfect. Hope you are feeling much better.
    JoZarty x

  8. Thanks for the great comments, everyone. Feeling a bit better today.

  9. Beautiful flowers!

    Thanks for the comment...please e-mail me at for Butterfly SoftSpun (geotextile). I can send you some...

    ...when I recover from FOQ! :-o


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