A new technique I'm really excited about is making beads using dried flowers. My sister, Jody, suggested this idea to my niece, Sarah, when she got married last year. As soon as Sarah mentioned this to me, I was immediately surfing Google to find out how to do it. With dried flowers from Sarah's bridal bouquet, I took the flower petals and ground them in a coffee grinder. (I bought a new fancy grinder for us to use at home.) Then, I pushed the ground flowers into polymer clay and baked them. I found that using colored polymer clay gives a more predictable color to the finished bead. I used the same purple flowers in both translucent clay and purple clay. The final produced with the translucent clay resembled something similar to a blueberry; the color "ran" in the translucent clay, giving the bead an entirely different look. The purple clay produced a consistent color with dried flower petals still being visible. The beads look kind of like rocks with spots of different color.
I've also made beads using rose petals I gathered from rose bushes at church. (I asked permission before I went crawling on the ground around the bushes!) I also dried some dark orange gerbera daisies I bought at the grocery store. There are even a few beads with coffee grounds in them. We really like coffee in my family.
So far, I've done well at not invading my neighbors' landscaping to "borrow" some flowers. Every flower I see, I'm curious what color it would be once it's dried. I'm looking forward to planting a "bead garden" in my back yard this year.