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Making Flowers- a Grand Isle adventure

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Thanks for joining me for this virtual book launch event. I love shopping at the Greenlight Bookstore whenever I am in Brooklyn. If you want a copy of Grand Isle, please support them.

My art explores the relationships of the natural world, and of the flowers I find the most interesting is the bromeliad, because it is often home to frogs. Leaves grow in a rosette shape out from the center and form little wells where water and moisture collect. The water attracts insects, and the insects attract frogs. Many frogs leg their eggs in this well protected watering hole.

Bromeliad (Aechmea discolor) illustrated by Charles ...

My favorite part of illustrating Grand Isle was inventing the plants and flowers. Inspiration for this story came from many sources, including my trip to Brazil. I ended up staying in a national park for four months and working as a translator for a hiking guide. It was there that I learned of the complex ecosystem of a single tree.

There were many motives for seeking out new species of living things. For some, the exploration was a spiritual quest to understand creation and the natural world, for others it was an opportunity to find new resources to exploit. Sometimes it was a combination of the two.

Today we will create a flower from our memory and observations of flowers. Maybe after this demonstration you will try to recreate actual flowers. If so, you will want to count the number of petals and note their shape. Look at the leaves on the stem and notice if they attach in a symmetrical or alternating manner.

For this project, you'll need any kind of paper (construction, office, wrapping, newspaper, magazines), scissors, and glue or glue stick. If you have wax paper or a plastic bag, that will be handy to keep your papers from gluing to the surface. Once your flowers are made, you may want to make stems out of material that's stiffer than paper- like an old cereal or cracker box. And you can cover a toilet paper tube with decorative paper to look like a vase.

Here are the steps:

Cut a small circle (about the size of a nickel) to use for the center of your flowers. Then fold a piece of paper like an accordion so that you can cut several petals at the same time.

Cut your petals


Glue them to the little circle

Fold some paper (it doesn't have to be green, since we are inventing our own flowers today) and cut your leaves

Cut your leaves and glue on top of your petals. We are going to flip the flower over when the glue is dry, so it's okay to cover the flower petals right now. You can use any number of leaves.

I am using some on the flower and some on the stem.

Flip your flower over once the glue is dry

If you want to, you can add more petals. They can be any color and shape.

Once everything is dry, you can crease your petals so that it looks more life-like.

This could go on all day! You can keep cutting new petals and adding them until you run out of paper, glue, or energy. I decided to add some stamen to the center and then stop so I could eat some toast. I cut some slender little pieces, like this

and then I put two creases in each so that I could glue the centers down

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