Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.

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Making Calendula Balm or Salve

Jane making Calendula Balm

I first became aware of the amazing soothing powers of calendula when my youngest daughter caught chicken pox as a baby. This is many, many years ago now but I still vividly remember the horror of her being so covered with itchy scabs, inconsolable, unable to bear clothing, unable to feed - completely miserable.

A friend suggested bathing her in a mix of oats and dried calendula flowers - so simple I was sceptical, but it soothed her almost immediately - taking the itch out of the pox, allowing her to feed, be held and snuggle into sleep.

Making calendula balm - perfect as a moisturiser, to help with irritated skin, or to soothe insect bites - is incredibly simple.

making calendula salve

You need.

  • Calendula oil (you can make this by steeping calendula flowers in any base carrier oil for 4-6 weeks on a sunny windowsill or you can buy it).
  • Beeswax pellets
  • Essential oils (lavender and tea tree work well)
  • An old glass or metal bowl you don't mind getting covered in wax
  • Small jars

Weigh out your calendula infused oil and add 1/8 of that in beeswax pellets - so if you have 80g oil add in 10g wax.

Carefully heat in a bain marie/double boiler (or put your bowl over a pan of boiling water or in a steamer) or on low setting in a microwave - just until the wax melts. You do not want to overcook the calendula oil as it is sensitive to heat - so it is important to take your time and heat it slowly.

Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding in essential oils - it depends on how strong a scent you want but I find 20-25 drops per 80g oil works well.

Stir well and pour into the jars - leave a gap at the top of about 0.5 cm and leave to cool naturally before putting the top on.

Label.

We have put together a beautiful box of everything you need to make calendula oils and balms from scratch, along with full instruction cards - check it out here

If you are interested in making natural products from herbs and flowers you can sign up below to get access to our e-book library along with my Friday letters.

making calendula salve

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
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As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
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Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
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It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
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Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
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My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
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Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
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As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
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This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
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This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
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I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
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Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
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This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
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That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
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What are you looking forward to doing today?
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About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here

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