August Handcraft: Preserving pretty flowers in mobile phone cases

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MENTAKAB — Close friends Lim Jia Ying and Shi Ying (also known as Sim) wanted to immortalise flowers — which tend to wilt quickly in our tropical climate — and use them for functional products.

So they started August Handcraft and used pressed and dried flowers in mobile phone cases, key chains, necklaces, rings, earrings and even hand pressed flower frames!

Lim explains, “People usually associate flowers with weddings and parties. Few would connect them with mobile cases and accessories.” The online business also offers customisation services.

In fact, pressed flowers is not something new. This method of preserving the delicate blooms hark back to the Victorian era in England.

One can easily press flowers between the pages of a heavy book. Once the moisture is gone, the blooms have a papery texture.

For the past 30 years, pressed flowers have been used for various craft projects or even art installations. Modern technology also saw the use of techniques like pressing the flowers between glass panes and vacuum sealing to preserve the colour of the blooms.

About two years ago, both women started their own event planning company called Instafie. As flowers were a constant decorative item for the events, they both started exploring the idea of using dried pressed flowers for other purposes and August Handcraft was born.

Since they officially started in August 2016, they decided to incorporate the month into their business’s name.

Both girls take immense pride in offering unique designs that cannot be found anywhere else since each item is fully handmade. “August Handcraft offers a customisation service which extends worldwide. Our aim is to make Nature permanent. We use flowers that retain their colours and stay beautiful,” said Sim.

Lim also shared that some of the flowers are planted by them. For seasonal flowers and greenery, they import these items.

Each of August Handcraft’s mobile cases goes through a painstaking process. First, the duo will pluck and select the fresh flowers and press them . It will take around three to seven days or sometimes even up to a month for the blooms to dry completely.

After the drying process, the duo will sketch out the designs. They prefer to use clear Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) mobile cases that have a flexible texture but are durable. Just before they start carefully laying out the pressed flowers with tweezers, they will coat the cases with resin.

As they select high quality flowers, the pressed blooms still retain their vibrant colours. One example of their excellent craftsmanship is a black mobile case bordered with white and yellow flowers, forming a lovely contrast against the dark background. You also find that their designs are not limited to flowers only as pressed greenery such as leaves with their delicate veins, ferns and ginkgo leaves are also utilised.

Their bestseller on their online platform is the Tree Series that depicts a single tree decorated with a delicate network of lace-like flowers. There is a choice of 12 colours or your own mix of colours to make it completely unique.

Soon they will launch their 3D alphabet series that allows you to personalise your mobile case.

August Handcraft also uploads their designs on to their Facebook page and Instagram account. The cost of personalisation for a mobile phone case is RM69. For existing collections, the mobile phone cases are priced from RM49 to RM79. Prices vary depending on the designs and not phone models.

Every month, August Handcraft participates in art bazaars across the Klang Valley and other areas.”We have participated in flea markets in Singapore, Klang, Melaka, Johor Baru, Muar, Penang and many other areas,” said Lim.

You can purchase ready-made mobile phone cases from their stall or even request for a pre-order. They also ship their mobile phone cases to Singapore.

They both aim to make one-of-a-kind products using dried pressed flowers. This includes necklaces using glass bottle pendants filled with dried flowers secured with a tiny cork, earrings and rings.

In the future, they also hope to offer workshops to teach others pressed flower techniques.