Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guest Blogger: Helen

I'm Helen, Sadie's person. Sadie just got back from the kitty hospital becasue of kidney failure. She was treated with fluid therapy, and did very well. Last week, I became very concerned about her, because she wasn't eating, didn't seem to be grooming, and spent a lot of time crouched next to her water bowl. People on the Facebooks strongly suggested that I take her to the vet. She had just been there less than 2 weeks earlier, but I took her, and I'm glad I did. It was pretty expensive, but she's eating really really well, now.

So, while Sadie is resting, I thought I'd write an article about finishing your kanzashi, which I've been thinking about lately. Let's say you've made all your flower petals and have glued or sewn them together. Now you most likely have the task of covering up a bunch of raw edges in the center of the flower. What can you use? The easiest thing to do is glue something in there, if you are so lucky as to have just the right thing. I was lucky to have a glass "pebble" to glue in the center of this silk brocade flower...

...I also sew lots of beads into the centers of my flowers, such as the onyx in the middle of these silk snap clip flowers...
I don't use stamens, but many kanzashi makers do. One of my favorites for this practice is Polished Kanzashi on Etsy . I admire the naturalistic beauty of her handmade clay stamens...
Another perennial favorite of mine is Emily from Cuttlefishlove on Etsy . Emily's unique assemblages of fabric and I-don't-know-what-else in her flower centers give the flowers a distinctive look...
I've seen many buttons in the centers of kanzashi. These can look relatively casual, as in this creation of mine from a couple years ago...
...or they can look dressy, as in this collar ornament for well-dressed dogs from Arcadius Elegantly Dog on Etsy ...
Many people combine beads or little rhinestones with inside-out bead covers, which they glue on (I think?), as in this example from Magpie Creations on Etsy
Or, you can use yet more kanzashi petals, as I did for this sunflower for sale here 
OK, now what can you do when none of that stuff works? I had a situation like that myself, just recently. I tried all sorts of things. None of my beads looked good. I wanted the design to look inevitable, rather than...I don't know, desperate? I decided to make something like cover buttons, but didn't want to mess with actual cover buttons. What could I use instead?
All hail styrofoam.
When I was a child, I used to visit with my father down at his basement workbench. To keep me occupied, he gave me blocks of styrofoam, into which I hammered nails. We called this "happy wood", for some reason. Anyway, I still save stuff like styrofoam, and I never knew why, but maybe now I do!
Here's what you can do: take some styrofoam packing can use the blocky kind, or you could probably even try the peanuts kind. Use a kitchen knife to carve out a piece the size you want. It should probably be relatively flat, with a slightly concave underside. It doesn't have to be perfectly round. If the underside is slightly concave, that's good. Now, cut a piece of fabric to glue over it. Here's mine....the piece of fabric could have been smaller, perhaps...
Gosh, I have dry skin. OK, use a hot glue gun to cover your styrofoam with fabric. Glue it into the center of your flower, and voila.....
This flower is part of a snap clip pair...
So, long live styrofoam and other packing materials. If you use them this way, you will be keeping them out of landfills, if nothing else! What other non-traditional materials do you use for your flower centers? Let me know; legions of kanzashi makers are waiting to find out!


  1. Hi Helen, I like the covered button center treatment a lot - it looks totally "right" to me. I'm also very much enjoying reading your blog. Sadie writes beautifully and with wit, and so do you;-)


    1. Thanks, Joana! Sadie and I are actually enjoying blogging much more than we imagined we would, which is a pleasant surprise.

  2. Ooh, get well soon Sadie!

    I especially love the fabric in the very first flower, and your foam button covering tip is pure genius! Thank you for featuring me again! :D

  3. My friend Janine gave me that fabric...she had used it to make a necktie, and found it really difficult to work with. It's perfect for this kind of kanzashi! Works well as butterfly wings, too.