Learn about Life in the 1920s

The Charm of Window Transparencies

KEEP a little touch of summer in your home all the year. When the days are gray look thru the window and see a flower garden in miniature where some of your favorites are framed between two pieces of glass. Window transparencies are perhaps as old as windows and they have been made of many different materials but none of them more interesting than pressed flowers. Have you often wished for some way to preserve the lovely, fragile things that bloom for a few brief hours and then wither? Try this plan; you will enjoy every detail of the work.

The method of pressing flowers is too simple to need description. When pressed between sheets of blotting paper the moisture is quickly absorbed, but thick layers of newspapers will answer the same purpose or books may be used. As soon as all the moisture is absorbed the flowers are ready for use.

TRANSPARENCY MADE FROM PANSIES, ALYSSUM, AND FERNS Flowers for this purpose must not be too thick and bulky in any part as they must press thin and flat so that the two glasses will lie close together when finished. Petunias, pansies, sweet alyssum, dandelions, gypsophila, aquilegia, cypress vines with their white and red blossoms, nasturtiums, ferns and grasses, dill, and that most exquisite of wild flowers, Queen Anne's lace. In every garden that is not too well kept grow little weeds that make a delicate tracery against the light.

Use the thinnest window glass. Have two pieces cut the same size; the flowers are placed between the glasses. Use mending tape, which is strong, or passe partout, for binding the glasses together. Use small picture cord for hanging.

WINDOW TRANSPARENCY MADE FROM PETUNIAS AND DILL When you are ready to begin placing the flowers make a trial arrangement on one piece of glass; when you are entirely satisfied with the composition, begin placing them on the other piece of glass. Use the tiniest touch of glue on the back of one or more flowers or leaves of each piece to hold them in place while working. If you are careful not to use too much glue it will not show thru the glasses when they are seen against the light. After the last flower has been placed lay the other piece of glass on the composition, hold it up to the light and study the effect. If it seems too thin in some part add another flower or spray until the effect is just what you like. When you are ready to bind the two together put a thin line of glue around the inside edge of the top piece of glass. This will be covered by the binding and will not be seen. It serves to hold the two pieces together. Tie them around both ways with a small cord. Unwind about two inches at each end of the picture cord that is to be used for hanging, cover this with glue and stick the cord to the outside edges of the glass at the top. Press the cord down flat and close and it will show very little under the binding. Place the glasses under something heavy for several hours until the glue is dry, then the binding becomes a simple matter.

Petunias make the loveliest of window pictures. Select small single flowers, buds and half-open ones. They are so transparent when dry that interesting effects in grouping are easily achieved. A marvelous range of color from deep purple thru lavenders and rosy pinks to white make it possible to work out very light and delicate effects as well as others of deep, rich coloring.

In the photograph in center of page (b) petunias and dill have been used. Unfortunately the transparent effect is lost in the photograph. Pansies, sweet alyssum and wild ferns make the gay one (a). The round one, (c), is a very simple arrangement of a pink flowering vine (I do not know the name). It is bound with metal braid such as that used in lampshade making.

FLOWERING VINE TRANSPARENCY Aquilegias are interesting in form and compose into graceful patterns against the light. There are many unusual color combinations in this lovely flower. In time much of the color will fade but there will be left the silhouette in neutral tones.

Dandelions furnish an interesting variety of lines. Gather the seed pods just as the flowers fade, while the calyx is still green, press them under a heavy weight, this makes the silky fluff of the seeds spread into motifs ready for use. The cut at the top of page 42 shows how easily the long, graceful stems and leaves compose themselves into any space.

You may design a simple landscape if you like a real picture. Make a little hillside of grass; it may be full of tiny flowers. Cut a tree of simple lines from brown or dark gray paper, train vines up the trunk and let them hang from the limbs, an old fence or some rocks in the middle distance, some large flowers in the foreground—before you know it you will have a cheerful little picture.

Then if you like Japanese things cut a trellis from black paper and trail delicate vines over it. A few brush strokes on one glass will create a distant Fuji, a water line and a reflection of the mountain in the water (the clear glass). Some rocks, grasses and a few flowers in the foreground, and there you are looking thru a window in Japan!

When the days are grayest and the winter winds blow hard hang one of your gayest transparencies in the window to remind you of the sunshine in your summer gardens!

Source: BETTER HOMES and GARDENS, September, 1927.