Fear, trepidation, and working through so many imperfect bits

I’m working on a new series of Ten Keys Ten Ways. This time I’m using plants and flowers. I’ve been thinking about doing something with flowers – particularly the lovely wild bluebells that grow in my back alley – for a few years. Finally I’ve taken the plunge and completed my first set of plant-based keys…

When I was little I remember admiring the intriguing bleeding heart plant that grew by grandma’s front door. Such an exotic and intriguing plant, and so aptly named! Sadly I’ve had little luck growing my own. There are, however, several great bleeding heart plants growing in the alley near my house. I was nervous to go and take some – even if they are growing in the alley and even if there are plenty – just one more of my many techniques to keep me from trying an idea and failing. Weeks passed and then one day I went by and picked some:

I ran into some problems with a few of the keys in this series so I went back and picked some more:








I decided on a pattern for these keys using bleeding hearts and the leaves and stems from the many anemones growing in my yard. My first key was a pressed flower key. I thought it’d be better to flatten it between a sheet of plastic and some paper. This was a mistake. The key ripped to shreds when I tried to take it off the plastic. So I made another one:

Key 1007

For Key 1008 I smashed a key onto some paper; the colours are the “plant juice”. Once this was dry I outlined the various colours with a fine tipped black pen. An artist that I admire once told me that outlining watercolour paintings was a sign of an amateur – I can’t remember all the reasons why she said this was a lame thing to do. I really enjoy outlining colour with an ink pen – like really enjoy it – the piece doesn’t seem finished to me unless I do it. Plus I find the outlining entirely relaxing. As I work through these keys I am gradually, very gradually, letting those comments about being an amateur fade away.

How cool is this? Made from smashed plant pieces…more evidence that no matter how beaten something is there can be beauty.

Key 1008

I coated the remains of the smashed plant bits in resin; also cool:

Key 1009

And you can even pick it up:

I made Key 1010 by dipping plant parts in metallic paint and then “printing” them onto a very nice rag paper (which, of course, I outlined later):

Key 1010

I forgot to clean up the painted bits after I used them. I liked the way they dried so I decided to make them into a key and coated them in resin:

Key 1011



I made Key 1012 by painting over the plant pieces, leaving a “negative” impression:

Key 1012

Key 1013 is made with air dry paper clay. I pressed the plant pieces into the clay, applied some paint, then some water, and wiped the paint away. I like the way the paint settled into the crevices of the impression. Once that was dry I coated the whole thing in resin.

Key 1013






Key 1014 is made with alcohol ink; I coated the plant pieces in the ink and then “printed” them onto the paper:

Key 1014

Key 1015 was made by pressing the plant pieces into clay and then pouring plaster of Paris into the impression. I had read about this but can’t find the article and think  I am missing a step somewhere in my process. I lost some of the detail while trying to wipe the clay off the plaster tile. I added paint to try and save it. I even made another cast. It was worse then this one and is in the trash. Here is a technique that needs more work…

For Key 1016 I bought some fancy “silicone” kitty litter and dried the plant pieces in it. I ran into some trouble with the resin when I tried to take it off the workstation – it lifted away from some of the leaves. But it was mostly OK and 5000 is way more than 1016 so I’m adding this one to the project. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on my technique.

Key 1016



Thanks for stopping by!



9 thoughts on “Fear, trepidation, and working through so many imperfect bits

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