The prompt for my International Zine Month 2020: Zine A Day project for Day 10 was Botanical. For me, that meant figuring out all of the different ways I could capture botanical elements to use in my illustrations…
My first step was to collect my botanicals. You can gather your materials from a variety of different resources…
- The easiest way to do this is to grow your own, either in your garden, or in pots in your home, and then harvest.
- Another perfect method is wandering around local parks, woodlands, and natural areas. Ensure you only take what you need, and try not to take too much of any one species. If you are on private property, always ask permission before picking any flowers.
- I like to scout out the bargain bin at the supermarket every time I go, because you can save some wilted flowers from a trip to the bin! Also, by buying the cut-price flowers you are choosing to shop ethically, not only by saving waste, but also by helping to protect the environment by not funding cut flowers.
- Get in contact with your local florists, and ask them if they have any off-cuts or disused flowers that you can have. Offer to pay for them, and most likely you will get a good price for florals that they cannot use, and you might even get them for free! Remember to go in with a good attitude, and always be polite!
- Garden centres are a perfect place for collecting botanicals! Please, do not steal flower heads and leaves from the healthy plants for sale!! instead look down at the ground, as you will often see bits of plants that have been jostled around and fallen to the floor. You get to save these broken florals, and give them new life!
With all of these collecting tips, please be respectful, leave any natural spaces as you found them, do not take more than you need, and use caution, wear protection where you need to, and always wash your hands when you are finished!
In this zine, I collected all of my botanicals from my parent’s garden… thanks Mum!! and after sorting through my druid’s hoard, I began my zine with an illustration.
As an artist, my first instinct was to capture my botanicals in an artful method first. I chose to illustrate a pansy with inks and watercolour paints, and while it was only a quick study, I am really pleased with how it turned out. This was initially just intended to be a pretty front cover, but it also serves as another example of a capturing method!
The next method I used, was pressing. Pressing is a classic method of preserving botanical resources to use for art purposes. The easiest way to do this is to take a bunch of large, heavy books, then layer your collected flowers and leaves sandwiched between sheets of paper (waxed paper works best) and leave them for a couple of weeks to flatten and dry out. You can also use a custom built flower press to enact this same idea.
Or you can speed up the whole process by using a microwave! for fantastically good results. Simply fold a sheet of ordinary printer paper in half, arrange your natural elements on one half of the folded page, then fold it up with a piece of kitchen roll in between. Find a microwave-safe dish that will cover your paper, with a flat bottom, place your paper in the microwave, with the dish on top to flatten, and then set the microwave for 50-80 seconds. Be careful when you take everything out, as the dish may be hot! Peel your paper away from your plants, and ta-dah! They have been flattened and dried in the microwave in less than a minute!!
Next up is sealing. Here you will use your freshly collected plants straight away, and preserve them under a sealant of your choice. I used Mod Podge for mine, but you can also use resin, PVA glue, clear wax, varnish, maybe even hot glue! This works best with already flat botanicals, and you simply layer up your sealant on top of your chosen plant, and leave to dry. This creates a super interesting textured effect, and preserves flat petals or leaves really well.
While my Mod Podge was drying, I used the rubbing method to create my next capture. I used graphite pencils with tracing paper to create my echo of these leaves. Thin papers like tracing paper, tissue paper, or light-weight art paper work best for this method, as the thinner paper allows for more detail to be achieved. You can rub over your plant with a variety of materials including pencils, pastels, crayons, charcoals, and more. Ridged, heavily textured plants work best for this, as they show up better in the relief.
I have never tried the hammering method before, but I have jewellers tools, and this was a Pinterest project that I had been wanting to try for a while! The process is simple: you place your chosen botanical on top of your paper, under a sheet of kitchen roll and beat it! I had mixed results. The more succulent, and wetter your plant is, the better, but even then it takes a bit of testing to figure out which plants are going to work best! Happy experimenting with this one!!
Last but not least, we have printing! This one was really fun as I love using bright colours in my work, and making a mess with paint! I accidentally ended up using the pansexual pride flag colours… clearly just embodying my sexuality in all aspects of my life! I used acrylic paints for my plants, and used a thin to medium coating to achieve a detailed, vibrant print of my leaves. This method works best with botanicals that have a lot of texture in them. Simply paint on your chosen colours to your plant, place on your paper, and press down hard, then remove the leaf, and you have your print!
This zine is a glimpse into my sketchbook process. It was an experimental journey for me to create, which translates into a fun how to guide for you to learn all about how to add more botanical elements into your own art projects.