Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Make me! The Milk Bottle Everlasting Daisy

Or, a gentle reminder to make the most of whimsy when you can
Around 50 or 60 Milk Bottle Everlasting Daisies grouped together, they spin in the wind!

Can you recall the last time you made a daisy chain or idly pulled the petals from an Oxeye daisy to play the whimsical game of “He loves me, he loves me not”.  I confess it has been a good deal of time on my part.  I regret that I did not take my daughter into the fields in the Spring of last year to lie in the abundantly flowering Capeweed daisies, look up at the sky and lazily form strings of daisies into chains whilst pointing out interesting clouds and making up stories about them.  It is also unfortunate that I cannot remember why we didn’t do this together last Spring; was the weather too bad, did we all have terrible colds, or were we simply too busy with the ordinary and mundane minutiae of everyday existence to say; ‘let’s stop for a moment and go into the paddocks and take some time to make daisy chains’.

It is Sylvie’s grandmother who never fails to seize any opportunity to share a moment of whimsy with her grand-daughter and for this I am grateful. On the days when it is sunny in my mother’s garden, Sylvie and her Mémé will spend the morning noodling about re-potting plants, observing insects they encounter, doing a spot of weeding and; if Sylvie finds any sort of species of daisy in flower, she is bound by the Rules of Childhood to pick one and Mémé will sit and sing “Effeuiller la marguerite” to her as they pluck a petal with each phrase.

"Il m’aime un peu – beaucoup – à la folie – passionnément – pas du tout".
(And for the last petal;)
"M’aime-t-il ?".

Which roughly translates to:

“He loves me a bit, a lot, madly, passionately, not at all” 

which I think is a vastly superior version to the plodding English, that is: 
“He loves me, he loves me not” 
And, after all, in the French version, 

there are more chances to be loved

The Oxeye daisy is such a simple and humble flower, in some regions considered a noxious weed, in others, venerated as a steady garden perennial.  It most certainly doesn't deserve the ugly sounding botanical title of Leucanthemum vulgare.  (Although the fact that stock avoid eating this plant along with this daisy's natural hardiness, means that the plant can propagate rapidly, perhaps a reason for the vulgare reference).

I love to see the Oxeye daisies in flower, I pick their blooms and bring them inside, the simple colour combination of yellow, white and dark green is fresh and clean and a little posy of them in a small vase beside my keyboard always lifts my spirits.  I miss their flowers when they are dormant, and as it is officially now Winter here in Australia, I have devised a visual homage to my beloved daisy, and I simply cannot wait to get out into the paddocks and plant my Milk Bottle Everlasting Daisies that spin in the wind.  Now, I shall have daisies all year 'round!

PS.  When the Capeweed daisy is in flower, I shall show you how the fields turn yellow, I might even arrange a "Make a daisy chain" picnic in the paddocks; can't wait for Spring!

To make one Milk Bottle Everlasting Daisy you will need:

For the daisy pattern:
downloaded PDF pattern printed onto plain paper (check when you open the PDF to ensure the size is 10.87cm wide by 10.35cm wide and change if necessary before printing)
a piece of light cardboard (think cereal box)
glue stick
standard single hole punch

Click on the link below for the pattern:

Milk Bottle Everlasting Daisy pdf pattern

The printed pattern (onto A4), the card, glue, scissors and the single hole punch.

To prepare the milk bottle:
adhesive dissolving liquid (I use de-solv-it)
rubber gloves
hot water
kitchen scissors
an empty 2 litre milk bottle (lid required)

The items required to prepare the milk bottles.

To make a daisy:
milk bottle plastic and handle
a sharpie texta for tracing
a few sheets of kitchen paper to remove the tracing marks made by the Sharpie using de-solv-it)
a small blob of blu-tack
standard single hole-punch
clear plastic tubing 4mm (available in craft stores), 5cm for each daisy
bamboo skewer cut to a 6.5cm length
hot glue gun & glue
the daisy pattern you made earlier
All the bits you need to start making up the daisy.

For the stalk:
1 wooden chopstick
green paint & brush
drill bit (viper bit 3” or 2.38mm, high speed steel for drilling metal, wood, plastic)
electric drill
small piece of sandpaper (not essential, only for perfectionists)
The electric drill and some chopsticks.

A prepared chopstick, also the drill bit and it's specifications.

I had this old paint hanging about from another project.

But once you have prepared all these items, why not make a bunch of Milk Bottle Everlasting Daisies?  To help you calculate, you will get 2 daisies from one 2 litre milk bottle.

Preparing the milk bottle
Firstly wash the milk bottle out thoroughly using detergent.  Fill the milk bottle with very hot water and wait a few moments.  The heat from the hot water will allow you to peel off the labels.  Remove the labels and discard.  Tip out the water and spray de-solv-it onto the remaining sticky residue.  Use your gloves to rub the de-solv-it well over the sticky areas.  Use a little detergent to dissolve everything and rinse clean.

Cut through the top part of the bottle and down one corner to the base ridge.  Cut around the ‘square’ of the base following the ridgeline.  Discard the base cut-off.  Cut off the top part of the bottle following the upper ridgeline (cut above the line).  A long rectangle of plastic should remain.  Set this aside. Cut the handle off and set aside.  Retain the yellow lid and remove the lids’ inner sealing (the white circle).

Preparing the stem
Drill a hole through the chopstick with the electric drill using a 3” (2.38mm) size drill bit.  Wiggle the drill bit around a tad to make the hole just a little larger.  Sandpaper to remove any jagged edges if you wish.  Paint the chopstick green, the bottom tip doesn’t need paint as it will eventually not be seen when the daisy is “planted” in the soil.  I let the stem dry by placing it in a pot of soil.  You can see I made a batch of around 60 stems all at once.  Let the paint dry while you work on the flower component of the daisy.

Preparing the daisy pattern

Milk Bottle Everlasting Daisy template
Download and print out the PDF pattern provided.  Stick your paper pattern onto the cardboard using the glue stick.  Cut out the pattern.  Remember to punch a hole in the centre of the daisy pattern where indicated.

Making the petals
Open out the long rectangle of plastic.  Place a small flattish blob of blu-tack on the underside of the pattern and centre your daisy pattern on a flat section of the plastic (that is, not over one of the curved parts that were the corners of the container). Trace out the pattern shape onto the plastic using the Sharpie pen, make a mark onto the plastic through the centre punched hole also.  Cut out the daisy carefully.  Once the daisy pattern has been cut out from the plastic, punch a hole in the dead centre using the hole punch.  Remove any remaining Sharpie marks using the de-solv liquid and wash off any residue with detergent.  Dry.

Take the daisy in your left hand and make the small cuts at the angle shown on the pattern at the base of each petal. Heat up your glue gun.  Cut a 1cm length of the plastic tubing, slip it through the centre hole of the daisy piece and apply a loop of glue (on one side only) around the tubing’s circumference to secure. Pop the daisy petals piece in the freezer to cool.  Note well: Make sure the cuts on the tubing and handle are parallel to each other to create an even height on the sides.  If these cuts are uneven, the daisy might have an odd wobble when it turns in the breeze.

Using the milk bottle lid to make the daisy’s yellow centre
Cut a 1cm length of the plastic handle (use the ruler and the Sharpie pen). Apply a generous amount of hot glue to the centre of the inside of the yellow lid and place the 1cm length of milk bottle handle in the centre.  Fill the void in the handle with glue and insert the 6.5cm piece of bamboo skewer.  Slip a 3cm length of clear plastic tubing over the bamboo skewer and push down to the base of the skewer.  Hold the skewer vertically until the glue has cooled sufficiently for the skewer to remain vertical of it’s own accord and place this component in the freezer to speed up the glue cooling process.

Putting all the pieces together
Retrieve the daisy petal piece from the freezer.  Holding the petal piece so the handle side faces you, bend each petal toward you, working your way around until all 8 have been bent in the same way.

Retrieve the stigma (the yellow lidded component from the freezer).  Thread the daisy petal piece onto the skewer with the non glued side facing toward the front, after this piece, thread a final 1cm piece of plastic tubing onto the skewer.  Hold the stem in your left hand and insert the skewer into the drilled hole, pushing the stigma (the yellow lid) from the front with your thumb.  Spin the petal piece around and adjust the skewer, you might need to push the skewer in further or let it out a little (or remove the last 1cm piece of tubing and trim just slightly if it was too tight).  

Showing how to thread the components together.

Hello daisy!  You are ready to plant.

As each daisy was constructed, I began to pop them in a vase, that eventually reached capacity and I  then need to transfer the lot to a much less photogenic bucket (not shown, on the grounds it was aesthetically displeasing).

Take your Milk Bottle Everlasting Daisy (or better still, daisies) outside and “plant” it.  Wait for a breeze and watch the daisy spin.  Whimsy on a stick... Happy days!

Of course, it was a dead calm on the day I chose to 'plant' my daisies... when the wind picks up I shall add a short video of the daisies in full flight.

My earliest memory of daisies were these decals on the front of a cart my father made for me.  This photo was taken in 1971, when I was 19 months old, in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.  I'm wearing a frangipani flower in my hair.  I loved that cart that my Dad made from scraps from the dump.  It's odd how your recollections can modify over the years.  I could have sworn the cart had the daisies down the sides, and not the front!
Look carefully at the front of the cart and you will see a glimpse of the daisy decals I loved so much.

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