Technical Challenge: Woodland meets Modern

Last week, over on Facebook, I shared a few pictures of some unusual table centres. They were rustic and reminiscent of a woodland walk, whilst also having a modern twist of an orchid flourish.

I thought I’d share with you how, with a little imagination, a spot of foraging for the right chunk of bark and a few twigs, and an hour or so, you too can create an interesting feature piece.

You’ll need:

  • A section of curious looking bark (or a few pieces) – go for a wander and see what you can find! Obviously, if it’s private land, check with the landowner you’re ok to take some, and in any situation only take already-fallen bark (don’t go ripping those lovely trees apart!)
  • A few mossy, knarly twigs
  • moss
  • an orchid plant, or few stems of your choice of flowers
  • a stem of Dracena, or your choice of exotic-looking foliage
  • a block of Oasis (floral foam)
  • thin silver wire or gardeners twine
  • a small piece of cellophane (or a few layers of cling film)
  • sharp scissors and a knife
  • hot glue gun, (or strong liquid glue and a lot of patience!)

With all your bits and pieces collected, let’s get started!

20160603_142344

Take your piece or pieces of bark and have a good look at them. Remove any unwelcome bugs or dirt clinging on, and check you’re happy to have it sitting in your house. If it’s damp, let it dry out before continuing.  Check there is a slit or gap or two on the top surface for stems to fit through -if there isn’t, get busy cutting or digging a few out with your knife. Not too big mind, you want it to be subtle.

20160603_143016

Take your block of floral foam, and cut to size to fit snuggly into the underside of your bark. Soak the foam – sit the foam on top of a bucket of water, and let the weight of the water take the foam down. Don’t push it down as you’ll get air pockets which your flowers won’t like.

Cover the bottom of your Oasis with cellophane or several layers of clingfilm, to protect your surface. Leave the top surface clear, so you’re stems can enter unhindered. Secure in place with the silver wire or twine. Cover the visible ends of your foam with moss.

20160603_143355

Using your glue, position and attach your twigs diagonally across the top of the bark. Remember to leave your holes accessible for your flower stems! You may also like to cover your wire or twine with a few bits of moss, but this is by no means essential. Make sure the glue is dry before continuing to the next step.

Next, get creative with your foliage and flowers! Depending on where you’re going to place your arrangement, think about the positioning of the flower heads – if it’s going against a wall, make it front facing, if it’ll be in the centre of your coffee table, make sure there’s something interesting on every side.

Put your foliage in first, just a few bits to frame and ‘set-off’ the blooms. Ensure the stems are going right into your floral foam beneath. Then add your flowers. Keep them looking natural – use the movement of the stems to your advantage, e.g. the curve of the orchid flower stem.

20160603_144609

Ta-dah! There you have it, a woodland meets modern table centre. And the best bit? Now you have your frame, you can just change the flowers as your mood takes you! I’m thinking holly and ivy for Christmas, a few cheerful daffodils for Spring…

A final tip – make sure the foam is kept damp (a dribble of water over the sink will do it) and perhaps change the foam every few times too to make sure the stems are going into foam rather than holes.

I’d love to see your creations – why not share them with me over on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?

Advertisements

Technical Challenge – wired spray rose corsage

Among the many skills of a florist, is the ability to rise before the sun, and even the birds, to put together the delicate wired work of the personal flowers for weddings. All those gorgeous buttonholes, corsages and head dresses are all made on the morning of the event, guaranteeing the freshness and peak condition throughout the day.

I thought you might like to see the stages of creating these mini-masterpieces. Firstly, and I think most importantly, the kettle needs to go on and a cuppa made. Nothing much goes right before the first sip of tea, eh?

Tea - check! scissors, wire and tape - check! pretty flowers - check!
Tea – check! scissors, wire and tape – check! pretty flowers – check!

Once the brew’s made and you’re settled, it’s a case of getting all the separate components ready. In this instance, it was white spray roses and Eucalyptus for ladies corsages. You need a good selection of leaves, from small to medium, and the same with roses – some buds, some part open flowers, and a few open for focals.

Begin by wiring the leaves – as you see, I used eucalyptus leaves, but you can use any leaf that will last out of water without wilting for the day – Pittosporum, Ruscus, ivy, pine, box, yew… quite a lot of options! When selecting your foliage, think about colour, tones, leaf shape and textures, choosing to compliment your flower choice.

Choose the weight of your wire carefully – you need a guage that is supports the flower or leaf, but also still allows ‘natural movement’. The purpose of wiring the components not only allows for a light accessory, but also manipulation into the perfect shape.

flowers all wired...
flowers all wired…

Next, wire your flowers – you need to cut the stems about a centimeter under the flower head. For roses, I take the wire through the stem just under the head of the flower, bending the length of the wire down the stem of the flower. These then need to be taped with special florist tape (Stemtex or Parafilm). This takes a bit of practice as you need to stretch the tape as ‘roll’ the stem between your thumb and finger, bringing the tape down the stem.

Once all your foliage and flowers are wired and taped, the fun starts – construction. the ‘proper’ way to work is to make ‘units’ of leaves to create your framework, and then add the flowers to that. Over the years though, I have altered my method for efficiency, and now tape as I go along.

One corsage created, two to go!
One corsage created, two to go!

A traditional lady’s corsage is a small teardrop shape. Start with a small leaf and bud, and tape. Add the next bud, another leaf, and tape. Continue in this way, staggering the flower heads, bringing in larger flowers towards the center of the design, and creating a wider base to the design. Bring the flowers round to curve the base, bending the wire to help create the desired shape. Tape all the wires, cutting out the bulk to create a tidy ‘stem’. At this point you can add a magnet, or decorative pins can be used to attach the adornment.

There you go! One corsage! Once you’ve perfected this process, it’s easy to develop the method into different applications – bag flowers, shoe flowers, hat flowers, hair flowers, wrist corsage… How about some bag flowers for a Summer wedding? These were wired and glued onto a badge which is then attached to the bag.

Where would you wear flowers??

How about some bag flowers? Pretty!
How about some bag flowers? Pretty!