Oddly enough, if dandelions are picked just after the blossom closes up, and before any white appears, it takes them only a couple of days to turn into fluffy little white puffs that will stay that way. Hang them upside down in a dark place to dry. They are gossamer as moonshine, but unbelievably stable and long-lasting.
Interesting pieces of branch or root to be used in a composition should be brushed clean, and in some cases even sanded a little. They may be waxed with floor polish, darkened with paste shoe polish, bleached with household bleach, dipped in mineral oil and polished, or just used in their natural state.
The ground element for the arrangement can be the unadorned slab on which it rests, providing it is some natural material like slate, stone or wood. Sand, pebbles and rocks can also serve for natural under-foot effects. So can mosses and lichens.
Materials are secured to the base in various ways. Modeling clay, white plastic foam (cut and jabbed with needed holes), flower holders, sand, rubber bands to hold things together, rocks to prop things up, a few drops of glue sometimes to hold them down-all come in handy.
Leaf printing is something that many children learn to do with great enthusiasm at summer camps in connection with nature study. Not only is it fun, and a revelation of beauty in the commonplace, but it has many practical applications. Papers decorated in all-over leaf patterns may be used to cover notebooks and scrapbooks, or put under glass on trays and table-tops. Border designs may be made on home-made bookplates. Single leaves may dress up personal notepaper. Well-arranged sprays may be framed as pictures. A collection of specimen prints could be made into a botany album.
There are several methods of leaf-printing, but perhaps the simplest way, and least messy, is the following:
Thumbtack a piece of flannel to a small board. Brush flannel with stamp-pad ink. Lay leaves, one at a time, on the inked surface. Cover with several layers of newspapers. Then, with a rolling-pin, wallpaper roller, or a rubber photoprint roller, roll hard until leaves are thoroughly inked. Lay paper to be decorated on a hard surface. A piece of glass is ideal.
Place inked leaves on the paper in the desired design and cover with fresh newspaper, being careful not to disarrange them. Roll firmly to transfer the leaf pattern. This method reproduces veining and surface fibers as well as the intricate outlines. Inks of various colors may be used. Screen-process poster ink is also suitable.