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If you have hayfever look away now

delicate petals,
designed to attract, draped in
multi-coloured hues

This week's resolution was flower based. Now I know it is a strange one, perhaps not a resolution at all to most people, but I have never ever had a bouquet of flowers. I am not the type of girl who gets bought them, and I have never bought them for myself, thinking it was too frivolous an expense for a plain person like me. So this week caution was thrown to the wind, and I went flower shopping.

Flowers are obviously far more than the tarts of nature. If it wasn't for flowers, we wouldn't have bees, and if it wasn't for bees, we wouldn't exist. They are the bane of many people's lives come summer, when hayfever causes tears to flood our itchy eyes, liquid to stream from our irritated and sneezing noses, and for me personally, the roof of my mouth to itch unbearably. We used to string daisy chains together in the field at the far end of school during summer. I remember once having an irritated eye for weeks on end, without knowing why. Eventually I tracked down the culprit; a daisy petal, sitting on my eye.

Flowers are important in literature too; used in metaphors, and particularly in poetry. Not for naught did I choose the title of my debut novel from Wordsworth's famous poem, Daffodils. I'm currently reading a book on a concentration camp and it brought home to me just how important flowers are when I read about an inmate, Grazyna, who wrote poems to keep up the spirits of herself and her fellow prisoners. They risked their lives simply writing and hiding said poems, to keep a shred of humanity in their inhuman surroundings. Her last poem was about the sunflowers they could see just beyond the wire. If that doesn't show the importance of flowers to us, nothing will.

I did want to buy sunflowers after reading that, but couldn't find any. Roses have always had a romantic connotation to me, so I didn't want those. As I have cats, there were a few types that I couldn't get for fear of poisoning them. In the end I chose chrysanthemums.

Chrysanthemums are from the family Asteracae, and their name comes from the Ancient Greek for gold flower. Aside from decoration, they can also be used to make tea, or even for greens, though their use in food is mainly restricted to China. The flower has different meanings, dependant on what part of the world you are from. For example, in the majority of Europe they are associated with death, as they are in New Orleans. In Italy this association with death is particularly pronounced, so much so that a gift of a bouquet of them is tantamount to a death wish. I can't really imagine mobsters in Italian films threatening their enemies with a floral arrangement of chrysanthemums in the shape of a horse's head! Speaking of death, Tutankamen was buried with them, so there is an association in Egypt as well.
In America they are cheerful. John Steinbeck's short story The Chrysanthemum's, which my brother assures me is completely boring, though he may be biased as he had to study it for English GCSE, and we are of the same mind that studying a piece of literature in this way seems to sap the beauty out of it, used yellow chrysanthemums as a metaphor for optimism and lost love.

In Eastern culture, China and Japan, the chrysanthemum is associated with adversity, lamentation and honesty. It is the first of the four gentleman of Chinese art, and a symbol of the Japanese Emperor and Imperial family. It was also favoured by Tao Qian, an influential Chinese poet, who used it as a symbol of nobility. There is also a sexual connotation to it; chrysanthemum gate is slang for anus.

As it was flowers this week, I decided to make a flower themed tag for the crafts.

For the background I tried to copy one of Tim Holtz techniques, but it didn't quite work out. The theory is you spray the background tag in bright colours, then I used clear embossing powder through a stencil. Once that was embossed I used black soot ink, so that the bright colours would only be seen where the embossing powder was. After the background was done, I die cut some spring greenery and a curvy banner, adding a remnant rub to it, then stamped a couple of daisies and coloured them in, before assembling the tag. I finished with a ribbon.

The current stitch I'm on is coming along nicely. Here is the update.

Some lovely flowers on there too!




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