The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cheery little May baskets!

Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
Making Victorian-inspired items can require a lot of skill and time, not to mention money, but if you choose the right project, you can make something that's inexpensive and cute, in practically no time!  Well, if you consider 30 minutes "no time" ... Here's what you need to make a Victorian-ish May basket to hang on your doorknob:

an assortment of silk flowers
one sheet of fancy scrap-booking paper
12 inches or so of baby ribbon or other narrow ribbon
hole punch
wire cutters or sturdy craft scissors
roll of floral tape
Scotch tape/regular clear tape
ruler or compass (remember those from math class?)

Choose your flowers, scrap-booking paper and ribbon according to the color scheme of your choice.  The most natural-looking silk flowers will look the best, and will go well with a paper that has a fancy Victorian-ish design or floral pattern on it.  You can find your flowers, paper, ribbon, craft scissors/wire cutters, and floral tape at your friendly craft store, and the rest should be available at any office-supply store or drugstore.

First, take the craft wire cutters and your flowers, and cut the flowers out of the bunches they come in, leaving the stems at least 8 inches long.  Arrange them in a bouquet, according to what you think looks good. Try to make your bouquet round in shape, and put taller flowers in the center of the arrangement; you can make certain flowers stand taller and other shorter in the bouquet by staggering their stems in your hand as you hold them. When you like your arrangement, hold it together by binding the flower stems together with floral tape; you rip off a few inches from the roll, stretch it a little between your fingers to make it sticky, wrap it around the stems and stick it to itself like Scotch tape.  If you decide you want the bouquet to be bigger, just add some more flowers and wrap more floral tape over them to fasten them to the bouquet.  Trim all the uneven stem ends to the same length and set bouquet aside while you make the basket.

Take your fancy paper and fold it in half, edge to edge.  Measure your paper on the fold you just made, and mark the center.  Use the ruler to measure your bouquet of flowers from the ends of the stems to the bottom of the lowest flower.  Measure the same number of inches on either side of your center point on the fold of the paper, and mark each side.  Also make a mark on the paper perpendicular to your center point, the same number of inches from the edge, and use the ruler or a compass to connect the marks (except for the center point) to make a half-circle on the paper.  Unfold the paper and cut along the fold; then, taking the half of the paper with your half-circle marked on it, cut out the half-circle with regular scissors or those crafty ones that make a fancy edge. (Set aside the other half sheet of paper for some other project.)  Take your half-circle of paper and bend it into a cone shape by holding the paper at the corners where the round edge meets the straight edge, and bring those corners together, matching up the straight edge with itself.  Overlap the edges until the cone is the size you want to hold your bouquet, and use Scotch tape to fasten them in place.  Voila!  A May basket!

With the hole punch, punch two holes in the basket, about an inch from the top edge, for the ribbon handle.  Cut a length of ribbon for your handle and tie one end through each hole in the basket.  Place your bouquet in the basket, and use loops of Scotch tape to hold it in, if necessary. Use as is, or decorate the outside of the basket with ribbon bows, bits of lace glued on, or whatever.  Hang it from a doorknob, a chair, a bedpost, or wherever you need a bit of cheer, and enjoy! 

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)