What to do with the once-glorious wedding garlands and bouquets after the big day? When they sadly begin to wilt, you can plunder those bouquets for the natural colorants to dye your thank- you cards! We used yarrow, marigold, and hollyhock to give these notecards a wash of delicate hues and confetti marks. –Natalie Stopka
• white notecards – look for 100% cotton or watercolor paper • masking fluid
• alum (aluminum sulfate or potassium aluminum sulfate)
• flowers, see below
• tray – enamel tray, lipped baking pan, or plastic bin • rolling pin or empty wine bottle
Many plants and flowers contain the natural dye colorants, notably those with the species name “tinctoria” following their genus name. Here are some of the many options:
Black Hollyhock Daffodil
Garland Chrysanthemum Golden Marguerite Goldenrod
Queen Anne’s Lace Russian Sage
Using a stencil or your best calligraphic hand, write out your message on each card using masking fluid and a paintbrush.
Fill the tray with warm water, measuring as you go. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons alum per quart of water, stirring to dissolve. Submerge the notecards in the water one at a time, making sure there are no air bubble between them. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Fill a pot with the same quantity of water and bring to a boil. Remove the cards from the alum bath, and empty the tray. Scatter a layer of flower petals, whole blossoms, and leaves in the bottom of the tray, gently crushing them between your hands as you go. Cover this with a layer of notecards, and continue layering plants and notecards until the tray is full, ending with plants. Run the rolling pin over the contents to further crush the plants, releasing their dye.
Carefully pour the pot of hot water into the tray until the cards are covered, and watch as the color blossoms! Allow the dye bath to cool, 1 hour or overnight.
Remove the notecards from the bath one at a time, gently swishing though a pot of clear water to remove any plant material (though stubborn bits will easily come off when the cards are dry). Lay the cards out on a trash bag to dry, and when they are just barely still wet stack them beneath books to dry flat. Remove the masking fluid with your finger or an eraser.