Mrs. Mouse’s Flower Cart

Crabapple Crossings has become a little more colorful this week with the debut of a new flower cart. Mrs. Mitzi Mouse, president of the local gardening club has always been enthusiastic about sharing her floral expertise with the town. Her flowers and arrangements are highly sought after as a cheery addition to homes and businesses.

Cart Mouse

“I’ve been doing most of my flower arranging at the kitchen table or outside on my potting bench. My customers knew me mostly by word-of mouth, so they had to take the initiative to seek me out. Now with my cart, I’m much easier to find!”

Cart

Mrs. Holly Holstein agrees with Mrs. Mouse’s sentiments. “I can’t say I’ve ever thought to buy flowers from Mrs. Mouse before. But when I was walking by, I couldn’t help but take a look at her gorgeous specimens. It’s so nice to be able to buy a lovely bouquet on my way home from the market.”

Cart Sale

Mrs. Holstein’s daughter, Hazel Holstein is also excited about the cart. “Mrs. Mouse gave me some lavender to take home. It will smell so nice next to my bed, and is sure to bring me lots of good dreams!” she said.

Mrs. Mouse’s flower cart will frequently be found in the town square, weather permitting, of course. Mrs. Mouse also encourages anyone with an upcoming special occasion to contact her. “I love doing weddings and other big events, so please don’t hesitate to let me know what you have in mind.” She’d also like to remind everyone that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, so order early if you “have something special in mind for your special someone.”

This flower cart has been my project for the past couple of weeks. The Iron Craft Hearts and Flowers theme was so perfect for me. I have been mulling over this flower cart idea for a while now (you can see that Mrs. Mouse has a flower cart in her bio that I wrote almost a month ago.) But I hadn’t taken the steps to actually make it happen. 

Cart Side 1

I don’t always have a solid plan going into my projects; I often start on one thing and see where it leads. So for this project, I actually started by making the buckets. I printed off the 1/12 version this pattern from about.com (seriously a great resource for minis, there will be several more links to them in this post). I wasn’t a big fan of the particular designs on the pattern, so I very carefully cut out one of the larger bucket patterns and traced it onto gray cardstock. I then followed the assembly instructions. I wanted to give the buckets a more weathered zinc-look, so I applied white paint. To get the streaky look of the white, I used a dry-brush technique, wiping most of the paint off my brush before adding it to the buckets.

While I was making my buckets, I had a series of paper punches out, primarily to see if one in my stash was the right size for the bottoms of the bucket – nope. But I did discover that although my 3/4″ circle punch was just slightly too big, a finished bucket could be suspended in the hole quite effectively. This discovery became crucial to making this project work.

Once I made my discovery, I sketched out a plan for the cart. I wanted a stepped-look to the cart, and dithered back and forth about the length of the cart and number of buckets. I’m not a huge stickler for scale, but I didn’t want things to be too out of proportion, so I did have a critter on-hand to check heights and such. That helped me decide that four buckets in width would be way too long. The cart is made out of a combination of bass and balsa woods, along with paper. I won’t get into the details of specific measurements for everything unless someone wants it; if so, just leave a comment.

Cart Side 2

I cut all the wood with an X-acto blade. This kind is my favorite, as I can’t stand the usual type where the collar that holds the blade is where I grip; it constantly gets loose. With this type, the collar is at the back end. I also use a metal ruler to ensure clean (enough) cuts. All the wooden parts were then painted with multi-surface acrylic paints that matched the cardstock I wanted to use. It was a happy coincidence that I had a pretty close match with cardstock and paint already in my stash. Also, the green is almost identical to the original 1980s Sylvanian Families furniture, which I found a bit amusing. The cart itself was a pretty quick project – from concept to completed structure it was probably only a couple of hours max – and that’s including letting the paint and glue dry!

Compared to the quickness of building the structure, actually filling it was a serious undertaking. I estimate I spent a good 20+ hours working on the flowers; they are definitely not for the impatient!

FlowersFrom left to right, top to bottom: red roses, black-eyed susans, pink roses, pink delphinium, lavender, calla lilies, white daisies, orange daisies, irises.

So. Flowers. There are nine different “types” of flowers in the cart to create some variety in color and shape. All (but the lavender) were made with thin floral wire for the stems. Some of the flowers have paper-wrapped wires and some do not. I think I used 22- and 24-gauge wires (a couple of my packages have lost their labels.) For the flowers with traditional petals, I used simple colored tissue paper. I purchased some of my tissue at a craft store and some of it at a party supply store. Each package was 99 cents and came with eight sheets of 20″x 20″ tissue. I used less than half a sheet for each set of flowers, so this is a great deal! All the leaves were made using acrylic-painted copy paper and small punches or cutting freehand.

So I’ll go into a little detail for each flower, starting with the roses. I used this tutorial from about.com. There are some spots where I got confused, so I kind of did some guessing. I used a mini leaf punch from Punch Bunch for the rose leaves.

For the black-eyed susans and daisies, I used this tutorial from 1-inch Minis from Kris. I used this flower punch from Punch Bunch (between 3 and 4 per flower) for the petals of the blacked eyed susans and white daisies. Unfortunately, that punch jammed (there’s probably tiny tissue bits stuck in the spring…) so for the orange daisies I used this other punch, two per bloom. For the centers of the black eyed susans and orange daisies I used black flocked paper. I can’t find a source online, but I bought it from Joann for around $2. It’s about the thickness of normal cardstock with a velvety flocked side. I used a 1/8″ punch. The centers for the white daisies are yellow cardstock. I wet the cardstock and then pulled the layers apart for a rougher texture.

For the delphinium I used this tutorial from Tudor Dollhouse Project. Instead of using bugle beads for structure, I dipped the stems into acrylic paint. Each stem used between 30 and 50 blooms. Yikes! I also used a white gel pen to add detail after applying the blooms.

For the calla lilies I used yet another about.com tutorial. I chose not to add texture to the centers. The petals are simply white copy paper. I punched the paper with this heart punch from Stampin’ Up, then cut the hearts in half.

The irises were made using this tutorial from Joann Swanson. For the petals, I used the same mini-heart punch as I did for the roses, but carefully cut them in half. I also chose not to add the yellow paint to the petals (I found it too difficult.)

Finally, the lavender. I actually came up with my own technique for these, so I posted a quick tutorial.

Overall, I am very, very happy with my flower cart. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment about it. I find it so cool to think that it started out as just some wood, paper, glue, and paint. I don’t know if I’ll ever undertake this many miniature flowers again. I still have so much tissue paper and floral wire, but it was really very tedious. Maybe an arrangement or pot here or there, but probably never again the 200-some stems I made for this project! 

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