Flowers for OSCAR

24 April 2007

flax flowersA lot of the one-off flax weaving workshops I get invited to run involve some kind of unique challenge. This was certainly the case for the art project I was invited to co-ordinate for this year’s national conference of the OSCAR Foundation, an organisation that runs out-of-school activity programmes for Primary School children throughout New Zealand. OSCAR conferences always involve an art project that will be displayed at their national office — the one conference activity that every delegate can contribute to.

This year the art project involved weaving bouquets of flax flowers to fill three flax vases that I had made beforehand. Well, not really vases, more like tubs or barrels at the size I made them! As there is no specific time space allocated in the conference programme for working on the art project, all of the weaving had to be squeezed into lunch and tea breaks. This is where the challenge came in — teaching up to two dozen people at once, all of whom arrived at different times and had maybe five minutes to spare to make a flower!

There are quite a few different ways to fold or weave flax flowers. Depending on the time they had available, I either taught people how to quickly fold a simple flower or rose, or — for those who had more time — a fully woven flower. There were a few experienced weavers who were able to make their own varieties, and one or two people were keen to learn how to make a koru or a lily that they saw in the booklet that I offered for sale at the conference.

For part of the afternoon I was joined by two Samoan delegates who not only wove beautiful, delicate flowers but showed me how to make a couple of other types of flower as well. I have seen Samoan weaving before and noticed that people from Samoa use finer strips for the woven flowers, and they also soften the strips a lot more before weaving than is traditionally done by New Zealand weavers. I imagine this is partly because pandanus, the material used for weaving in the Pacific Islands, is a much softer and finer material and so they prepare the tougher flax leaves in such a way as to make them similar to pandanus. I’m not sure about this but it seems to make sense.

I also wonder about the origin of weaving flax flowers and when they first emerged. None of the old photos I have seen of traditional Maori weaving have flax flowers in them so it seems that they may be a late twentieth century invention. I first noticed a flower woven from flax in the early 1980s in Christchurch, so wonder if they originated about that time — although this may not be a true indication, as the population of Maori in Christchurch is quite low. Have any readers seen flax flowers made before the 1980s in New Zealand? Or in the Pacific Islands?

76 Responses to “Flowers for OSCAR”

  1. Pat Irving Says:

    Do you have a copy of the booklet that you were selling at the conference as I would like to purchase a copy. Thanks

  2. Ali Says:

    Hi Pat

    I do have a copy I can send you. That booklet has instructions for five flax flowers and is $8 plus $3 p+p. I am currently updating the booklet and will be adding instructions for two or three more flowers if you’d prefer that one. I plan to have it completed in the next few weeks. Let me know whether you’d like to wait or not.

    I don’t have a credit card facility for payment, but you can mail me with a cheque and your home address. Alternatively, you can email me your home address, and I’ll email you back with my bank account number, so you can pay me by direct credit.

  3. Junko Says:

    Hi Ali,
    I also would like to buy the booklet but updated one. I will email you so please reply me. Thank you.

  4. Ali Says:

    Hi Junko

    I am planning to have instructions for nine flowers in the new booklet and will be increasing the price slightly. When I finish the booklet and finalise the new price, I’ll let you know.

  5. Louisa Says:

    Hi Ali,

    I was one of the ladies that enjoyed the flower weaving and creations at the Conference. I did the fine weave ones. I come from Kiribati not Samoa. I also would like to ask if you can send me instructions on how to make the vases/flax woven tubes.

    all the best,
    Louisa

  6. Ali Says:

    Hi Louisa

    It’s good to hear from you and my apologies for assuming you were Samoan. I have woven with Samoan weavers and your weaving seemed to have a similar style and finish to theirs. Is pandanus the material that is usually used for weaving in Kiribati?

    I’m still in the process of doing the instructions for the large woven containers and I will be putting them, along with instructions for other containers, into another booklet. I’ll let you know when the booklet is finished.

  7. Louisa Says:

    Mauri Ali, (Mauri is a Kiribati Greeting - meaning good health.

    Thank you for your reply and look forward to the booklet on your woven containers

  8. Louisa Says:

    Hi Ali,

    Just to answer your question re:weaving materail - yes we use the pandanus leaf so using harakeke is a new experience. The weaving concepts are the same though. You were also discussing the flower and its origin. We do flowers in Kiribati but with pandanus ofcouse. They are usually used for head adornments and decorations for baskets. The Marshall Islanders do very delicate and wonderful versions of the flowers.

  9. Ali Says:

    Flowers Booklet: I thought I’d better let people know that the flowers booklet will be a bit longer before it comes out. I’ve been working steadily on it in my spare time, but I keep thinking of ways to improve it, so it’s getting bigger by the week! At a guess, I’ll have it finished in the next couple of months although I hope it will be sooner. :-)

  10. Bernice Nehemia Says:

    Hi Ali i would like to buy one of the flowers booklet when it comes on sale thankyou

  11. Annie Munro Says:

    I would like to purchase the booklets on how to weave the flowers, etc. Thank you.

  12. Ali Says:

    Hi Bernice and Annie

    Quite a few people have expressed an interest in the Flowers booklet. I will add your names to the database of people interested in purchasing it and email you when it’s available. Thanks for your interest!

  13. Louisa Says:

    Hi Ali,

    Just a question - do you know if flax flowers can be dried or preserved at all. I’m hoping to include them in my daughters wedding arrangement but realise that they won’t be flowering at that time. Thank you.

  14. Ali Says:

    red flax flowerHi Louisa,
    The red flax flowers are just gorgeous when they first come out aren’t they?

    I’ve never tried to preserve flax flowers but I assume it’s possible to preserve them in the same way as other flowers by using silica gel, glycerine or borax. You may need to separate each flower, preserve them individually and then make a stem with a piece of florist’s wire when you are ready to use them in the wedding arrangement.

    There’s a lot of information available on google about preserving flowers. For example www.pioneerthinking.com/preserveflowers.html and http://www.budget101.com/articles/article14.htm

    Have you thought about using the seedpods? They are effective in a floral bouquet too.

    It would be good to hear from anyone who has experience in preserving flax flowers.

  15. Jenny Cochrane Says:

    Hi there i am also interested in the flax flower booklet, if the new version is not already out do you have any of your older booklets left? and when you have released the new one i would like to purchase that too.

    Thanks Jenny

  16. Ali Says:

    Hi Jenny

    I can print off a copy of the old version. The cost is $8 plus $2 postage and packing. You can pay by sending a cheque to 253 McQueens Valley Rd, RD 2, Christchurch, or by direct credit to my bank. Let me know if you want to pay by direct credit.

  17. Las Says:

    Hi Ali. Happy New Year! I’ve just looked though the above comments and hopefully your latest book on weaving putiputi is now available? I also notice you have another book that you were working on, ie containers and vases and I would be interested in that also. Thanks alot. Look forward to hearing from you.

  18. Ali Says:

    Hi Las

    How time flies! Although I did say back in November that the flower booklet could be ready in a couple of months, it isn’t ready yet. I do continue to work steadily on it in my spare time but it will be a wee while longer before it is finally finished. I’ll add your name to my database and let you know when it’s ready.

  19. Las Says:

    Thanks alot. I look forward to hearing from you. Its great to see sites on ‘Mahi Raranga’. Good luck on completing the book.

  20. kiwilayla Says:

    I would like to buy a copy of the flower booklet when it becomes available

  21. EnnaVic Says:

    Hi,

    I be in your putiputi booklet too if you could add me to your database.

    Thanks very much :)

  22. EnnaVic Says:

    just re-read my note from yesterday - what I meant to say was

    “I’d be interested in your putiputi booklet too if you could add me to your database.”

    Me and my mousepad have issues when typing late at night! *g*

    Thanks again :)

  23. Anna Says:

    Hi, I would be very interested in buying the flower booklet too when it becomes available.
    Thank you

  24. Andrea Says:

    Hi, I would love to buy one of your putiputi books when you have them on sale, please add me to your database so I can purchase one asap!
    Thank you

  25. rose Says:

    Would also like a copy of the booklet when it is available. Does it show how to make the roses or any of the other flowers you described from the other islands? Thanks.

  26. Leah Says:

    Hi, I would love to buy one of your putiputi books when they are available. Please add me to your database also. Thanks.

  27. Donna Says:

    I’d be interested in your putiputi booklet if you could add me to your database.

    Your website is very interesting on mahi raranga.

    Look forward to the booklet when it is finished.

    Cheers

  28. Ali Says:

    Thanks for your interest in the booklet. I have added your names to the database.

    The booklet does include instructions for the rose and the flowers from the islands.

  29. Ima Reid Says:

    Hi Ali
    I tried to send you an email requesting to be put on your data base for a Putiputi booklet when they become available -but it bounced back to me!

    Love reading your pages and admiring the beautiful creations. Beautiful

    Kia ora Ima

  30. Michele Says:

    Hi Ali,
    I’m new to weaving and love your site. Please add me to your database for the putiptuti booklet. Any update on when it will be available?
    Many thanks

  31. Ali Says:

    Hi Ima and Michele

    Thanks for your interest in the Flower booklet - I’ve added your names to the database. Check out my latest blog post, The wax in flax, for an update on the progress of the booklet.

  32. Jen Says:

    kete with curled flaxHi Ali, I love your site and check it every so often for new weaving ideas. I recently made a little kete and decorated it with shells and curled flax inspired by your gift wrapping blog-it looked quite cute, thanks for the inspiration!

    Can you please add me to your flower booklet db also?
    Thanks
    J

  33. Ali Says:

    Hi Jen
    Yes I’ll add your name to the database for the Flower booklet. I’d love to see your little kete decorated with curled flax. If you send me a digital photo of it, I’ll add the photo to your comment.

  34. cherie Toatoa Says:

    Hi Ali,

    Please could you email me more info about your book. What a wonderful resource it must be, I would love to learn how to make a bouquet of flowers. Thank you so much
    Cherie

  35. Ali Says:

    Hi Cherie
    Yes I’ll add your name to my database. Check out my latest blog post, “The wax in flax”, for an update on the booklet.

  36. judith Says:

    Please add my name to your database.I would also like to purchase your booklet on how to make flax flowers and dying.Look forward to hearing from you
    Judith

  37. yvonne weily Says:

    i to would like to purchase a book of weaving flowers if it is available
    yvonne

  38. Ali Says:

    Hi Judith and Yvonne

    Thanks for the interest in the booklet. I’ve added your names to the database and will let you know when it’s ready.

  39. Ngaire Evans Says:

    Please add me to your database - would love a copy of the booklet. ngaire

  40. Carol Says:

    Hi I just love your site it is just so full of information. I have been weaving on and off for about four years now and have always prefered to use flax in its natural state. I have made small kites, vases, simple flowers and several different styles of baskets for storing potatoes, onions etc. I have also taken a interest in making several different design balls which can be quite decorative and also useful as a ball to play with my children love them. Your site has given me a new interest in weaving and I am really keen to get going again. I think I might try dyeing and see how I go. I also wouldn’t mind getting your new book on flax flowers.

  41. Ali Says:

    Hi Ngaire and Carol

    I’ll put your names in the database for the booklet - thanks for your interest.

    I’m pleased that you’ve found the web site useful Carol. What sorts of things do you find most interesting? Good luck with the dyeing.

  42. Antoinette Says:

    Kia Ora, tonight I had a go at making ur hibiscus flower and was amazed at how easy you made it with the clear instructions and photos provided, thankyou it was so much fun, and I was very proud of what I made that I showed everyone haha
    I would like a copy of your old booklet please, could you send your details to me via my email and I will deposit $ into your account.

    Thanx again
    :0)

  43. Ali Says:

    Hi Antoinette

    I’m glad you found the instructions for the hibiscus easy to follow and you enjoyed making the flower. They are fun to make aren’t they?

    The booklet’s not ready yet so I’ll put your name on my database and let you know when it’s finished.

  44. amy Says:

    hi Ali
    i am wanting to make some flax flowers but i cant find instructions anywhere on the web so i was wondering if you know where i could find some without
    having to buy a book?

  45. Ali Says:

    Hi Amy

    I don’t know of any book that has instructions for making flowers in it and that’s one of the reasons why I’m writing a booklet on making flowers. Have you seen the instructions for making the hibiscus flower on the Weaving a flax flower page of this web site? There are instructions there for two different versions of this flower and once you get used to making the flower you can shape it in different ways. I hope this helps.

  46. amy Says:

    thanks Ali
    that was helpful
    yes i saw that now i will try to make it.
    its hard to find websites that tell you how to make
    flax flowers.
    i have seen websites where you can buy the flowers i might try to figure out how to make it from the picture.

  47. Rachael Says:

    Hi Ali,

    Your website is great. I would love to buy your flax flower booklet when its ready. Or do you have any of your old stock in the meantime to get started?!

  48. Ali Says:

    Hi Rachel

    I’ve put your name on the database for the booklet. Sorry, no, I don’t have any old stock left but I hope you’ll find the new one worth waiting for! :-)

  49. Donna Crispin Says:

    hi Ali,
    Your website is so well done! Extremely informative.
    Please add my name to your list for the new flax flower booklet. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
    Donna

  50. Raewyn Says:

    Hi I would also like to buy your book please your most updated one would be great cheers Raewyn

  51. Ali Says:

    Hi Donna and Raewyn

    I’ve added your names to my Book database. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

  52. Trina Says:

    Hi id like your new flax flower book as well please. Does your old one have how to do lilly and roses in it?

  53. Ali Says:

    Hi Trina
    I’ve added your name to the book database. It’s difficult to know which flowers you are referring to as the same flowers can be called by different names. The book has instructions for flowers that I’ve named an Arum Lily, a Calla Lily, an English Rose and a Tropical Rose, among other flowers, so hopefully you’ll find the ones you are looking for! :-)

  54. Kylie Says:

    Hi Ali
    Great website, I am making our own table arrangments for our wedding and am using flax and pohutukawa flowers, however the flax curls over night, do you know if flax can be presevered?

  55. Ali Says:

    Hi Kylie

    Your table decorations sound interesting. How are you using the flax? Are you using full leaves or strips? Let me know a bit more detail and I may be able to help with some suggestions.

  56. lisa Says:

    hi
    I am wanting to also buy the flowers book my sister and i are wanting to make flowers for her wedding and i am hoping that we will be able to do it.We have never weaved a thing but i am assuming we would be able to do this.can you please get back to me so we can sort out a pyment for a book.
    Thanks

  57. Ali Says:

    Hi Lisa

    My book, Weaving Flowers from New Zealand flax, has instructions for simple flowers that take little time to make, to instructions for more complicated flowers, so I’m sure you’ll find something that suits you. Go to my new Book page and you’ll see the costs for the book plus postage and packing and several options for paying. You can also see more information about the book on my latest blog post.

  58. Liz Yockney Says:

    I’m hoping you still have a book available on flower weaving as I’m keen to buy it. I have made the basic flowers before but am keen to learn more styles so I can incorporate them in my bouquets.
    Many thanks,
    Liz

  59. Ali Says:

    Hi Liz

    Yes my book Weaving Flowers from New Zealand Flax is now for sale. You can find the details about the book and how to purchase it on the Book page on my web site. There is also more information about the book on my latest blog post.

  60. trudi Says:

    thanks ali for sending your fax flower book to me so quickly. i love it. the instuctions are very clear. extremely easy to follow.this book would b a great gift!i highly recomend it!!!

  61. evelyn brunning Says:

    Hi im really interesting in learning to weave puti puti, could you email me info on how i can buy a book. Thank you.

  62. Ali Says:

    Hi Evelyn

    Thanks for your interest in my book. All the information about how to buy Weaving Flowers from New Zealand flax is on the Book page of this web site.

  63. Betsy Young Says:

    Kia ora Ali,
    I would love to purchase your flower book should i send a chegue to your address

  64. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Betsy

    Yes you can send a cheque to my address. All the information about purchasing the book is on the Book page of this web site.

  65. Barb Says:

    Hi Ali,
    I would be interested in aquiring a book from you for kite and container making.
    I have your book on flowers which takes pride of place on my book stand.
    I love it.

  66. Ali Says:

    Hi Barb

    Thanks for your comment. I don’t have any other books available as yet but hope to start writing another one soon. It will take a while to write so I don’t expect to have it available in the near future, but do keep an eye on my blog for any updates.

  67. Ima Reid Says:

    Kia ora Ali
    Have bought and used your book on the putiputi-a wonderful resource. I notice you mentioned a book on containers, vases? I’d like to buy that one when it is available.

    Thank you

    Ima

  68. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Ima

    I’ve only just started writing the book on small baskets and containers so it will be a while away yet. Keep an eye on the web site as I’ll put up a blog post when the book becomes available.

  69. Deb Lydford Says:

    Hi Ali

    I have just received your book Weaving Flowers, thanks for being so quick :) .

    My housework has now gone by the wayside because I’m about to make one of each right now, I just cant wait til later!!! This book is going to be invaluable! I had decided to make flax flowers for my wedding in january, thank goodness I’ve still got plenty of time because they are all so beautiful that I can’t make up my mind as to which ones to do!! :)

    It would be fantastic if you ever held a workshop here on the Hibiscus Coast, hint!

    Regards
    Deb

  70. pauline julian Says:

    I have just had the best Christmas present ever Ali. I received your flowers booklet from my daughter and i’m so thrilled……I can’t wait to start! Thank you so much and I look forward to further books you may put together.
    Please let me know if you ever do a workshop in PNth or Napier or Wellington. I will be a starter.
    Have a great christmas
    Arohanui na
    Pauline

  71. Ali Says:

    Hello Pauline
    Glad you’re enjoying the book. I don’t have any workshops planned for the North Island but am happy to take one if there is a group of people who are interested.

  72. Shirley Says:

    Hi id love to purchase your book by he dates i see on this page i so hope im able to make contact
    Kia ora mai…i dont mind what book is available ill buy it lolol on puttiputi…..I am able to pay by visa card or directing to ur bank

  73. Susan Owen Says:

    Hi Ali I would so like to purchase your book on how to make putiputi

    I hope Im able to get one.

    Im able to pay via the internet just need your details and the cost.

    So looking forward to hearing from you. Kia Ora.

  74. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Susan

    Thanks for your interest in my book “Weaving Flowers from New Zealand Flax”. You can purchase one by depositing $36.30 into my Westpac bank account 03–0823–0516382–000. The book will be sent promptly once payment is received. Don’t forget to send me your postal address.

  75. Zira Caetano Says:

    Hi Ali ! Tudo bem? Realizo Trabalho Social com Idosos e gostaria muito de adquirir seu material sobre flores a fim de trabalhar as oficinas de artesanato. Moro no estado de São Paulo - Brasil. Como poderíamos realizar esta ação, em quanto tempo? Saberia me dizer qual o valor em minha moeda (Real) ? Por gentileza, poderia me responder também por email? Ali, GRATIDÃO e forte abraço !

  76. Ali Says:

    Translation:
    Hi Ai! How are you? I do Social Work with Elders and I’d love to get your material on flowers to work the craft workshops. I live in São Paulo - Brazil. How could we carry out this action, how soon? I know tell me what the value in my currency (Real)? Please could you answer me also by email? Ali, GRATITUDE and big hug!

    Hello Zira
    Thank you for your email. You can purchase the book through Paypal. I will send you a Paypal invoice, which will be in your currency, and you pay that. Once I receive the payment, I will send you the book.

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