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Usually, surviving February merits a celebratory rush of energetic, brightly colored projects in the studio. But it has been so unseasonably warm and mild this winter, I don’t feel quite the same urgency about ushering in springtime. I wore shorts the last week of February, and the weather is already playing its April games, revolving between sunny 70’s and thunderstorms. Tornado season also seems to have arrived earlier, much to my children’s chagrin. (There are only so many times you can make a game out of doing your schoolwork in the downstairs hall closet by flashlight.)

However, the last few weeks have felt distinctly February when it comes to matters of the heart, and this paper craft seemed the perfect fit: hopeful, but fragile. The blooms and leaves are made from pieces of a coffee filter. I folded and watercolored the small shapes, then glued them in place on a tree branch. (That’s twice now our Bradford pear tree has done something useful — pretty sure that’s a record.)

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This is another project from Margaret Van Sicklen’s fantastic Modern Paper Crafts. Like the pleated paper bowl I made from the same book, this also required some complex paper folding and a delicate-but-determined touch. I found the leaves much simpler to make than the blossoms, but the instructions were clear and detailed enough to get me through it without frustration. And the nice thing about a paper craft with coffee filters is that your raw materials only cost a few cents, so it’s no great loss if (when) you have to start over.

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Watercoloring the blossoms and leaves also required a gentle hand, but I love the effect gained as the paint bleeds into the fibers of the filter. I used to make watercolor coffee filter art with my kids when they were little, so this was a sweet reminder of those early homeschool years. My son and daughter are more complicated creatures now, but we all still revel in doing art together.

In the end, that is what my plum blossoms speak to: fondness and nostalgia for a more innocent time, determination to get through winter’s challenges together, and growing hope for the future. I think that’s a pretty good way to end February.

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