Crafting With Nature: Frames, Boxes, and Floral Sculptures | Betty-Baines Saum | Skillshare

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Crafting With Nature: Frames, Boxes, and Floral Sculptures

teacher avatar Betty-Baines Saum, Florista, Artist, & Entrepreneur

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class & Project Overview


    • 3.

      Observe & Connect With Nature


    • 4.

      Floraging: Seek, Gather, & Collect


    • 5.

      Framing: Using Bark & Branches


    • 6.

      Making a Bark Box


    • 7.

      Floral Sculpture: Creating a Wall Installation


    • 8.

      Closing Thoughts


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About This Class

Nature is a canvas with infinite possibilities, just waiting for the imaginative mind to create.

Join Betty-Baines Saum to learn her process of craft functional, seasonal, and stunning artwork with found objects in nature.  Betty’s design work integrates a unique combination of floral arranging, interior & landscape design, crafts, and upcycling. Her nature-based design work has been written up in the New York Times, Brides Magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Country Living Magazine, and many other publications.

In this class, you’ll discover Betty's nature-based approach to creating frames and boxes with a brilliant natural touch. You’ll also learn her approach to creating Floral Sculptures, an extraordinary practice for bringing nature into your home or designing a spectacular centerpiece for any event.  Beyond the specific projects in this class, you’ll uncover new and exciting ways to connect creatively with nature and bring it into your home.

In this class, you will learn:

  • Observation skills for identifying majestic objects in nature to use in your art
  • Sustainably sourcing objects in nature for your art, or as Betty calls it, “Floraging”
  • Framing paintings or photographs using dead bark and branches
  • Creating beautiful bark boxes using dead bark and moss
  • Installing floral sculptures on your wall using vines and flowers
  • Various other applications for nature-based art

Who is this for?  This class will be a joy for artists, nature lovers, designers, or anyone looking for a fun weekend project to spruce up their home or office. The projects will deepen your relationship with nature through tangible creations, and everything in the class can be done entirely from found objects on a walk through the woods.

Come and spark your creative imagination by making art with nature.  See you in class!  

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Betty-Baines Saum

Florista, Artist, & Entrepreneur


...Nature is everything...

As a designer my eyes are constantly creating something from nothing at all.  I am a seeker of beauty, florista and forager, artist and cook. Inspiration comes from the ephemeral elements in nature, from all that surrounds me. For me nature is everything. 

I am the owner and creator of Hawk & Floret and FlowerPorn. FlowerPorn is a design company creating outdoor spaces, gardens, sculptures, as well as florals for events. Hawk & Floret is a store and community space with antiques and unique gifts with a story, hand crafted wellness products, art, and physical & sensory magic. It's a space to transport & let your imagination roam!  

My work integrates... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Welcome to Hawk + Floret, my latest creation. I want to share with you my vision of bringing the outdoors inside. So let's get in there and do this class. I'm Betty-Baines Saum and we're here in Hawk + Floret, one of my businesses and my other business is FlowerPorn. I've been making nature-based art for over 35-40 years, and what we're going to do today is we're going to take from nature outside and we're going to bring it indoors, and we're going to make some practical things and some beautiful, artistic, creative, sculptural things as well. I'm going to take you into nature. I'm going to teach you how to observe and see and collect things, maybe in a way that you never have before, and really take in your surroundings, and then we're going to come back in and I'm going to show you how to make frames and boxes. This class is for anybody that loves nature or would like to develop a relationship with nature. I'm really excited to share my passion with you and get outside and collect things and come back and make some art. Let's get started. 2. Class & Project Overview: In this class, I'm going to teach you how to make three things. First thing I'm going to teach you how to make is a bark and wood frame for a photograph that you may have at home, a piece of art that you want to frame. Very, very simple and very economical because it's all found objects. The second thing that I'm going to teach you how to make is a bark box made from just dead bark that we're going to gather from outside, and then I fill this with some grass to make it like excelsior instead of using excelsior, and moss to cover any joints and for decorative purposes. The wall sculpture for me is one of my favorite things to do, and I'm going to teach you how to gather from outside and actually create on your wall a semi-permanent, permanent sculpture that brings a landscape insight to your home. 3. Observe & Connect With Nature: Hi, I'm Betty and were in Frenchtown park in Frenchtown New Jersey. We just entered the Frenchtown park. This is basically my backyard. I'm here every morning, sometimes twice a day, and we're going to take a little walk through the woods. I'm going to show you how to observe nature and maybe see things that you don't normally see when you're on a hike. When I walk into the park, I first start by actually just taking a moment to be quiet and taken the sounds around me. I don't know if you guys can hear there's water in the background, there's this beautiful creek next to me, the birds are singing, the wind is moving the leaves, and I just take a moment to just be still and take all of that in before I get started. Just take a moment to be really still. Maybe listen to yourself, maybe close your eyes and breathe and become aware of all of your surroundings. Do you hear anything? What do you here? Do you hear water? I hear water. I also hear some children yelling or like playing in the park to the left of me. Then I hear some birds over to the right of me and just soak in all the different elements around. Every day, it could be in the morning, it could be in the afternoon, something changes in nature. The flowers change every day, different plants start to open up and bloom like these rambling roses just started blooming, and then yesterday, last night we got this really heavy rain and a ton of the petals are gone, and there's new things coming. There's so many things around that affect our senses. Like for example, not only are these beautiful to look at, but the fragrance in the woods right now is beyond. I mean, it's just like you're being enveloped by the smell of these rambling roses. After you have grounded yourself in the woods and you're ready to start your walk, then I just recommend that you look around you and take note of things that you're drawn to, or things that you may want to collect or florage and bring back with you to create something. If you see a shape or a texture or something that inspires you and you think, oh, I'd like to make this out of that, pick it up, and bring it along. Another suggestion, if you like to journal or you'd like to write, you can bring along just a small notebook or journal with you and take notes of your observations so that either maybe you find locations you want to go back to, which is what I do, I go back to locations all the time when I find certain things. Or maybe you just want to write about something that inspires you that you're experiencing while you're out here. 4. Floraging: Seek, Gather, & Collect: We're in step two we're about to florage. I'm going to teach you all how to florage. There's a few key. Can you say what floraging is? First of all, I made up the word floraging. It's actually foraging, but I forage for flora, so I call it floraging. What it is, is it's going into nature, and collecting dead and alive materials to create something else, to make something from. There are a few rules that all people need to know about floraging. First of all, it's about honoring our earth, our mother earth. We really need to be respectful when we're taking from nature. I'm going to teach you how to do that. If you're going to prune, and it's called pruning, you don't break things off of plants. I tend to ask each plant if it's okay if I take something from them. Some say yes, some say no, some are healthier plants, and I just know intuitively, but I never just rip something off of a plan. I bring clippers with me, and I can show you how to prune so you're not harming the plant in anyway. The other thing is to keep in mind is there are an abundance of that particular plant that's native to the woods that you're in. If there is, then, it's more acceptable. If you only see one Jack in the pulpit in the whole woods, I wouldn't take it. For every 10 of something, I'll take maybe one. As far as anything that's dead, like a branch, or that has moss, and lichen, and it's beautiful, and you can reuse it and turn it into something, a piece of art, or centerpiece, whatever you want to do, that's fair game. You can take anything that is broken off, dead, dried, and reuse it. I came upon this beautiful sycamore branch that have fallen off one of these trees in here. Just take note, I mean, not all the bark is here, but just the natal, little gnarly nabi things on it and some of the lichen, and some of the bare wood, and the diameter of this is perfect for me to cut into discs, and use for a frame. But it's also actually pretty incredible to, you could actually make a standing sculpture out of this if you add other elements, or other branches to it. Or I've even taken branches like this, and made them into another type of florages by keeping them intact as a piece of wood. I'm going to cut a piece of this with my saw and bring it back. These here are rambling roses, and this is the, well, you can't smell it but we can, it smells amazing. The whole, woods, the whole part is just full of this really old, fashioned, sweet aroma. I'm going to show you how to prune one of these rambling roses. It depends on the length that you want. I'm just going to use this short one as an example. You're going to want to cut at the joint of a leaf, just like that with an angle, on an angle. There we have it. This is one of my favorite little spots because it's super abundant with a variety of things. I can get bark here, and there's moss here, and there's a whole tree that went down, actually there's a couple. This bark right here is actually perfect for making a frame or a box. It's pretty flat, this would work great for a base. I'm going to take this. It is a little bit damp because we got a lot of rain last night. So I'm going to need to let this dry out a little bit before I actually make it into something. Over here, there's a lot of moss, and this is really easy to just lift up, and bring home. Look how beautiful that is. I'm going to bring some of this. I knew ahead of time that I was looking for some bark, and some moss because I was going to make them via bark box, and the frame. I was going to use the moss just as accents and to help hold it together, hold the box together. When you're out, and you're looking around for materials, just be certain that you're picking up dead bark, that you're not pulling bark off a the tree, that you're being conscious, sustainability conscious. You're free to let your imagination go if you see something in nature that you're inspired by, and you want to try and make something else go for it. Now that we have all the materials and natural supplies that we're going to need to make our three projects. Let's head back, man, I'm excited that I was a little loud. Sorry. Yeah. 5. Framing: Using Bark & Branches: Now I'm going to show you how to create the frame project, and I'm going to ask you to collect all your bark pieces that you brought in from outside. I'm going to show you another technique which is taking just a piece of branch that you found on the ground. I'm going to actually slice them into these little disks with a tree saw. Then we're going to glue them, just hot glue these right onto this base that I've made, which is a piece of a cardboard box. I've taken this lovely painting that my daughter made for me for Mother's Day. We're going to frame this up. I'm going to show you how to do it. Basically, you're just going to need bark, a branch, a tree saw, some hot glue, and some cardboard, and double-sided tape, if you're actually mounting an image onto the cardboard. Pretty much anybody can find a cardboard box. I thought that would be a good material for mounting this, plus it has a solid back so you have a backing to it. If you're an artist and you paint on paper, another good way is to actually glue that paper onto a piece of masonite or a piece of thin plywood, and you can then glue the bark or the pieces of wood right directly on to that. Two things to keep in mind, just some safety tips. Number 1, glue gun, the glue is quite hot, and if it does touch your skin it is going to burn you. So you want to be careful about that. Then the second thing is when using the tree saw you want to make sure that you've got a real secure grip, and that your piece of wood is stable when you're sawing through. Those are my two safety tips. One last tip about the gluing with the framing. If there's any residue on your piece, on your frames, the stringy glue pieces, you can try and pull them off with your hand or a blow dryer works amazing. It just blow them right off, it burns them right off. The other thing is if you don't have a glue gun, you can use wood glue. I would recommend you can get a glue gun in any hardware store, any craft store, and they're really relatively inexpensive, and they're just really immediate fast way to make anything. The way that I'm going to mount this painting onto this cardboard is really simple. I'm going to take double-sided tape and I'm going to stick it on the back of the paper and then I'm just going to press that down to secure that painting first before I start gluing on the bark or the pieces of wood that I've chosen. Now I'm just going to show you all how to do it, and give you some tips after I'm done. I want to give you an overview and walk through everything that I just did. A couple of things to keep in mind is how you want to fit these pieces together so it looks consistent all the way down. It's like putting together a puzzle, and what you're going to want to do is just arrange and see what fits, what pieces fit together best. As you go, nature is pretty amazing because it really flows easily, it won't take a lot of effort. It's just like putting together a puzzle. What I did was I just broke the bark pieces and fitted them as best that they looked. It doesn't have to be a perfect straight line by any means. As you can see, it's beautiful that it is taking on the natural shape of the bark itself. So don't worry about straight lines, it's really not important because overview if you look at it, it looks really great. On this side the symmetry just does it itself. These little disks of wood are pretty much consistently all the same. I cut them, I guess about a quarter inch thick for this particular size, which is about, I don't know, it's probably an 8.5 by 11 or 12, and they fit together really nicely. I wanted to show you both methods, two different ways to do this. Whatever feels best for you, but it just gives you a couple of options. Personally, I like the way the dark bark looks against the stark white in this image here. Where as in this particular piece over here, it has a lot of color in it. I felt that the slices of the branches look better, and I think the circles actually mimicking this and the whole nature of the painting, it just seemed more fitting to me. This is a finished piece. If you're a visual artist and you want to do your own frame, this is a perfect example of how to do that. Just from going outside, collecting a log, and cutting it up, and gluing it together. Now to the second project that we're going to be creating, and it's the box out of bark. 6. Making a Bark Box: Now I'm going to show you how to make a bark box. I've gathered bark from outside and I've cleaned it up a little bit with my knife, scraped off any moist pieces of dirt or anything like that. I've tried to pick some of the flattest pieces for my base. That's what I'm starting to do here. I'm going to use my trusty glue gun again and I'm going to glue the base pieces together. The thing about bark is that you really can make all kinds of things with it. I've made shelves out of it. You can make bookends out of it depending on the thickness of the bark that you find. I tend to only use bark that I find that is on a dead tree, peeled away or on the ground. I never take bark from a live tree. Basically here we have a base already, one glue and we have a base. Now I'm going to build sides. The other thing that I do when I'm putting this puzzle together, because it is like a puzzle with the frame. The same idea is you're just going to take pieces and try them out. If they don't fit, just pick up another piece and try that until you find the perfect piece that fits together. I also use moss to fill any joints and it also is great for helping to even make the box stronger. I'm going to add some glue here. Then we're going to take this piece. It's better to use bark that's dry because it's stiff. When it's moist or wet, it's going to expand and change when it dries and your box may fall apart. I'm going to use this just to secure the joint. It also looks pretty. Look at that. In less than five minutes we have a base and a side built. Like I said, I use these boxes for gift boxes in my store. If people want to put together a gift for somebody instead of a cardboard box. Just to recap what I did by creating this box that came out so beautifully actually, what I did was I took bark that I found from outside, I puzzle-pieced it together, and I used the hot glue and the moss to secure all of the joints. The bottom is flat pieces and then I added this lichen or shroom that I found on a tree just for an added little special focal point there. This glue dries really quickly. So basically in 10-15 minutes you can have your whole box completed and ready to turn into a gift for somebody. I use the moss to secure any of the joints because the bark is uneven. I use the glue and then fill in with the moss, it secures it and it also looks beautiful. I just want to show you how at Hawk and Floret we would take this box and we would create a gift for one of our customers for one of their friends. Instead of excelsa, I just take this dry grass that I find out in the woods to give it a bit of a cushion. Looks like a little nest in there. Then I'm taking just a few products, our facial steam, bag of white sage, our flower porn scent, and then an aromatherapy candle. There you go, you have a beautiful gift. Now that I've taught you how to make this bark box with moss, you can use these skills to inspire you to make any other kind of vessel. For example, like I've made containers that I then sit a glass vase into. You can use that as a vase or a vessel for a flower arrangement. Or you can create a box that can be used as a planter or vessel as a planter, if you line that with a plastic pot or something like that. As I said before, you can make shelves or you could do bookends or anything functional around the house or just make a creative sculpture. That's an abstract piece that you just enjoy it. Now we're going on to my favorite project, which is the landscape. 7. Floral Sculpture: Creating a Wall Installation : This is our third project of the class, and I have to say it's my absolute favorite project of the class. If you're a visual artist and you like to work large-scale, this is a great project for you. I discovered this by using these sap buckets, which you see behind me on the wall. They're vintage sap bucket, but you can take any metal bucket, flower bucket. If you want to paint it, you can paint it. If you want to leave it just plain, you can leave it plain. Literally, they have holes. Old sap buckets have holes in the back that we just mount on to the tree, and I've nailed them into the wall. Just put a nail in the wall, hung the bucket, fill it with water. Sometimes I use chicken wire to help if I want to help with the structure of it. But basically, I've displayed them on the wall, and what we're going to do now is take all of the things that we foraged outside and we're going to create a landscape on this wall. When you're figuring out the structure, I like to have different levels because in nature, there are no straight lines. I placed these buckets on the wall in varying heights, according to some are taller, some are squatter, and then as you see, I'm just going to spontaneously take the materials that we've collected and create an interior landscape with them. There are some guidelines that I want you all to think about when constructing something like this. When you go out into nature and you're gathering, I want you to think about structure first, how you're going to build a structure or a form that will sustain all the layers that you're going to create that are created in nature. I want you to think about, first, a base, and think about the spatial relationships between different elements in nature like trees with vines wrapping around maybe the bush, and then the grass or whatever. It's all three-dimensional layering that you're going to create on the wall. After you gathered all your materials and you're ready to put it together, I started off with, as you can see, the vines that I foraged, and I use those as my structure, and then I took it from there. The second thing I really want you to think about is that you want to create a natural flow. You don't want to think about it too much. You want to take what you've seen in nature and just try and recreate in your own way without, again, thinking much to create something that's really feels natural and fluid and feels like you're bringing the outdoors inside and literally creating it on a wall. I'm just going to recap. Where I started out with was the sap buckets. I collected them over time. They're antique sap buckets, what I'm using, but you can use any kind of bucket, and you literally just have to put a hole through the back and they're just nailed and hung on nails on the wall. A tip that you might want to consider is if you have materials that you want to stand very still, you can use chicken wire as a frame inside the can. Once you put the water in, you can stick a chicken wire, piece of chicken wire in there, and that will help secure branches or stems or whatever you put in there. The other thing that I added, as you can see, are the peonies. Those are locally grown peonies. Seasonally, if you go outside, you can gather flowers from the woods or you have local farmers that are growing flowers. You can get flowers from them, and then this is also a seasonal type of project. In the fall, you may bring in different fall branches, leaves, pods. In the winter, you can do a whole winter scene on your wall where you have branches with no leaves or evergreens, pine cones. Whatever's outside, you can bring it inside and create your own interior landscape. 8. Closing Thoughts: I want to congratulate all of you for completing this Skillshare class with me and the three projects or however many projects you decided to create. I'd love for you to upload those onto Skillshare for me. I really would love to see what you guys have created, and I also wanted to say that if there's one thing that I really hope that you guys have taken from this experience is that when you go into nature, you observe in a new way and you're able to take those elements in a mindful manner and implement them in whatever you create. Now that you have these technical skills that I've given you, you can go out into nature and gather and florage your own materials and make anything that you want. If you're interested in any of the things that I may be creating and I create a lot of different things in different platforms, you can find me @hawkfloret or @flwrprn and you can see what kind of art I'm making. Peace out.