Nancy Lee’s framed flowers come in a variety of sizes. She also makes custom creations on request. Photo by Debra Moore
To the passerby it may seem that the lady with the long blond hair is simply out walking her dog — but she’s really on a quest.
Nancy Lee is always searching for pretty and unique materials to transform into art.
“Instead of just walking, I’m really looking at my surroundings,” the Plumas Eureka resident said. From flowers in her own yard to weeds on the side of the road, Lee carefully places the blossoms and stems into a plastic bag that she keeps handy.
With some careful handling, the flora will be transformed into framed art, bookmarks and cards.
“It all started with me giving some Mother’s Day presents a couple of years ago,” Lee said.
Her new passion is self-taught. “I just started experimenting,” she said, adding that only recently has she discovered that there are books and helpful websites on the subject.
After two weeks of pressure to remove their moisture, the flowers are dry and ready to be arranged. Photo by Debra Moore
But through trial and error, Lee found a system that works for her. After she finds the materials that she wants to press, she carefully arranges them between the pages of a phone book.
“I have found that phone book paper is perfect for absorbing the moisture,” she said.
She does several layers at a time and then puts the book into a large press made by her husband, Jeff.
Lee turns the clamps as tightly as she can and then leaves the press alone for two weeks.
She has found that to be the perfect amount of time for drying flowers, weeds and leaves. She has even pressed tiny mushrooms that she found in her yard.
When the flowers are dry, she arranges them between two pieces of glass and places them in a picture frame, secured with a bead of transparent glue. A velvet backing completes the work, which is displayed on an easel.
When asked where she works, she said, “Mostly the kitchen table, but right now there are flowers everywhere in the house.”
That’s because Lee is the featured artist at the Mohawk Valley Artists’ Guild’s annual “Bursting into Spring” art and craft show. The event will be held this Sunday, May 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Graeagle Fire Hall.
Lee is creating as many pieces as she can for display. This past winter her work was available at EcoCentric in Graeagle.
In addition to searching for greenery, Lee forages at garage sales and discount stores to find picture frames.
An 8-by-10 is the largest work that she has attempted so far. Larger frames allow her to include more detail in the arrangement.
In addition to her own inspiration, Lee takes special requests. “I can press wedding flowers, special occasion flowers or something from someone’s garden,” Lee said.
Recently she has begun using her pressed flowers to make bookmarks. She places the flowers on tissue paper and then laminates them, adding a tassel for detail.
She is also beginning to make cards and is experimenting with different papers.
What started out as Mother’s Day presents has now grown into a small business, which she calls Naturalee Flowers, a play on her name.
As for being a featured artist, Lee said she is surprised. “It’s nice that the Mohawk Valley Artists’ Guild wants to feature me, but I feel that I’m still in the learning process.”
Lee’s work and that of many other artists will be on display this Sunday. The event is free to the public.
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