Tahoe Country - NATURE CRAFTS

Late spring through late fall are great times to gather materials for nature crafts to keep you busy throughout the winter months.

Gather your favorite fall flowers and leaves to take some pictures without a camera. The process, called a "pictogram", was discovered by Sir Josiah Wedgewood in the late 1700s. It's easy to do and requires no expensive equipment.

In your makeshift darkroom, you'll need water, a low-watt red lightbulb or a "safelight", and Number 3 photographic processing paper. You'll also need 3 trays: one filled with developing solution, another with a chemical called "stop bath", and the last, with a solution called the "fixer". These are available at a photographic supply store.

After you have selected your subjects and arranged them on paper, suspend the light 3 feet above, and turn it on for 5 to 15 seconds. You'll have to experiment to find the proper exposure time. The portions of the paper that are covered by your subjects receive no light, and remain white. If you wish more than a black and white photo, rearrange them on the paper for other exposures of 2 to 4 seconds each. Above is a Virginia Creeper made from 3 exposures by nature photographer James H. Carmichael, Jr. (Note it has been color altered during the scanning process).

To process, first agitate the paper in the developing solution for about 2 minutes. After the image forms, place the paper briefly in the stop bath and then the fixer. Rinse in running water for at least 5 minutes, then wipe it off.


Small ones can be used for Christmas wreaths or table decorations. Larger ones make great bird feeders. Brush them with peanut butter, roll them in birdseed and hang them from a tree branch.

Cut them in even lengths of different sizes. Using a glue gun, make a log cabin, birdfeeder, or Christmas manger.

Flowers and Leaves
Pick them when their bloom is small and delicate. Use a flower press or make your own from an old phonebook. Lay the flowers between sheets of waxed paper, close the book and set something heavy on it or set it up on a tight bookshelf.
Stationary Glue an arrangement of flowers around the edges of a plain piece of paper. Photocopy it and color the flowers by hand.
Candles Glue flowers on a white candle. Melt parafin wax and brush it evenly over the flowers and entire candle. These make great Christmas gifts. Collage: Glue an arrangement on posterboard, mat and frame it.

Manzanita trimmings
These make great wreaths for all occasions. Mix them with dried flowers and tiny pinecones for an all year wreath. Dress them with tiny white lights. For a Christmas wreath, spray paint the pinecones red and sprinkle with glitter.

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