Monday, March 3, 2008

Coal Flowers

Darn it, I can't get the pictures to move where I want them, and I ALWAYS load them in the wrong order, so the bottom picture is actually #1 and so on. : )

It's a coal flower garden! One of the groups was talking about bluing, and the subject of coal flowers came up and one lady posted the recipe for them. They're SO pretty...the pictures don't do them justice. Here's the recipe...
"Coal Flowers
6 Tbls. water
2 Tbls. Ammonia
6 Tbls. salt
2 tsp. food coloring
6 Tbls. Bluing Pieces of coal or other porous material
Combine water, salt, bluing, and ammonia in a glass measuring cup. Place pieces of coal (4-6) in a deep glass dish (do not use metal of any kind). Pour the liquid ingredients around but not on the coal. Dot coal with food coloring (use various colors). Place dish on a window sill or some other place where the bowl will not be moved nor disturbed. Within 3 days you will notice your "flowers" forming and growing. You can refresh the "garden" by adding a bit of water, but eventually this "garden" will degrade. Just wash all ingredients down the sink and wash your pieces of coal to be used again in the future. I store my pieces of coal in a paper lunch sack up in the cabinet. My coal came from my grandparent's coal bin over 30 years ago. *You want to use stoker coal, which is the small pieces of coal. Coal comes as stoker and chunk. If all you have access to is the chunk, then chip or break off 2-2 1/2" pieces of coal. Also known as a Depression Plant or a Crystal Garden. During the depression people often used mercurochrome or iodine to color their "flowers". The Mrs. Stewart's Bluing Company would have this or a similar recipe on their site. "
I looked up a lesson plan about them, so I'd know what to put in the girls' portfolio, and it says "crystalization". Now, that *might* be what you're supposed to be watching, but it really doesn't seem like it to me. As the top picture shows, a mere brush of hair knocks them off. And they're not "crystal-like". But, since that's what the internet says it is, that's what is going in their books. lol


Heather said...

I do that same thing with the pictures!

Neat project!

Anonymous said...

My son and I toured a coal mine and they told us about the coal flowers. They let us take home some coal to use. Your photos have me really excited about the process!

Check out the mine link...

Love, Stuart the Duck
If you are ever in the area, this little mine was great big fun to tour!