A greeting card that grows flowers? What?
Now you can give a card that doesn't just get stuck in a drawer somewhere, and flowers that don't wilt and die in a vase... at the same time!
These cards take recycled paper scraps, left over from other projects, and make them awesome!
Step 1: Supplies
For the Paper:
Paper Scraps (I had about 4 cups of cut scraps, and made 3 cards - but extra is better than not enough)
An old picture frame
A tub large enough to comfortably fit the picture frame
Flower seeds (smaller seeds are better)
A blender (I used an old blender that I only use for craft type things, please don't ruin a good blender!)
Stockings/pantyhose (tights will not work for this, water needs to be able to run though it easily)
Fleece material, cut into pieces a few inches larger than your frame (the flat, smooth kind - what most small blankets are made of. I actually used an old white blanket)
For natural ink/paint:
Beets, carrots, berries, or other strong pigmented fruits/vegetables + lemon juice
Step 2: Prepping Your Paper
Put your paper scraps in a bowl, and cover them with hot water. The water should be enough to not dry out, let the paper have plenty to absorb, and still have extra.
Let this set for at least 8 hours, but if you can soak it a whole day - that's best.
After it's soaked, blend it with some of it's soaking water until it's completely pulp. If you're making a lot of paper, make sure to work in batches. You can always add more water if you need to.
Pour your pulp into your large tub, and add enough water to make it at least 4 inches deep.
Step 3: Prepping the Frame
Take your frame, and remove anything but the frame itself. Be careful if it has glass!
If there are any staples or nails, make sure to remove those too.
Take your pantyhose and stretch 1 leg over the frame. You may have to play around with it to get it all the way on. Stretch and adjust it until it's tightly and evenly pulled across the frame. Tie a knot to keep it in place, and cut off any extra.
Step 4: Making the Paper: Part 1
Dip your frame into your pulp in a scooping motion.
Hold the frame at the bottom, and shake gently to evenly spread the paper pulp.
Carefully, and slowly bring the frame to the surface, letting the water drain as you go. Once it's fully out of the water, gently tilt it a tiny bit to the side, just to let any extra water drain.
Rest the frame on your tub, and sprinkle your flower seeds of choice over the top.
If you have any holes or thin places, you can carefully take small handfuls of the pulpy water and pour them over to fill anything in.
Step 5: Making the Paper: Part 2
Lay a piece of your fabric next to your tub. Make sure this is on a super flat, nonabsorbent surface.
In one motion, flip the frame to place your paper mixture faced down onto the fabric. This should place your seeds down against the fabric as well.
With a towel, firmly press down on the back of the pantyhose to further remove excess water.
Anytime you press on the paper, always move in up and down motions, never rub across the paper!
Now you should be able to remove your frame from the paper mixture.
Cover the paper with another layer of fabric, and repeat until you have as many total sheets as you want.
(We'll be doubling up on these sheets, to trap in the seeds and to make it thicker, so make sure to leave some pulp!)
When you have what you want, cover them with something flat (I used a glass cutting board) - this item must be large enough to fully cover the paper! Now stack some stuff on it to press out the last bit of the water, and leave it for 15+ minutes. The paper should be mostly dry from pressing it with a towel
Step 6: Making the Paper: Part 3
Carefully separate your material sheets, with the paper still stuck to them.
Working on a clean, and dry surface (again, super flat and nonabsorbent - I just used my kitchen counter) - flip the paper onto counter. Slowly remove the fabric. Now your seeds should be on the top. Don't let these dry yet!
Now we're going to make more paper sheets to trap the seeds. Using your frame, gather more pulp just like before, and put it onto fabric, just like before. Finally, finishing up with pressing a towel down on it to get the water out.
But now, instead of making a stack and pressing it, flip this piece of paper from the fabric onto one of your existing pieces of paper, trapping in the seeds. Try to line up your edges the best you can.
Press the fabric firmly, sticking the two sheets of paper together. Peel the fabric back, leaving the paper on the counter.
Repeat for all your sheets of paper.
Now leave these to dry completely! This takes different lengths depending on how hot and humid it is where you live.
Step 7: Once Dry
Once these are dry, peel them off the counter. You may need a knife or other thin object to help get the edges started.
The backs of these will still need a bit of drying time, so you can either flip them over to continue drying, or if you're tired of them taking up your counter space, you can hang them somewhere safe to finish drying.
Step 8: Making It a Card
You can trim these down if you want them even, but I really liked the one I left alone.
Using a ruler to help crease these makes it a lot easier to fold, since they're thick and sometimes have seeds in the way of the crease.
For natural dye/paint (because you don't want to put ink in the ground, right?) I juiced some beets and carrots, and mashed some blackberries up with some lemon juice. Add a little lemon juice to each of your juice/paints to keep the colors bright.
When painting, use a soft brush, and don't use a lot of juice. You spent so much time getting these to dry! Also, try to minimize brush strokes, so no holes are worn in the card.
An easy, cute way to get shapes on the paper is to dip plastic cookie cutters into the juice (only about 1/4" in) and then, watching for drips, press the cookie cutter down onto the paper.
Step 9: Growing Your Card
To grow the card:
Dig a hole large enough for the card to be flat (you don't want seeds too deep or fighting for surface area) - if you need to, you can tear the card into pieces to fit smaller areas.
Water the card thoroughly, cover with soil, and then water again.
If you're using a plant food stick, add it according to the directions on the package.
The paper will compost into the soil, and help hold moisture until the seeds start to grow.
Depending on your flowers, you should start seeing sprouts very soon!