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1  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Understated bling: tutorial for a Gumnut Rose Wedding Bouquet on: March 04, 2011 05:23:24 AM

I am an unapologetic hoarder of Martha Stewart Wedding magazines.  I pull them out of the bookcase again and again - they are so beautifully crafted and have wonderful ideas in them time and time again.  I got the urge to make a hand-tied wedding bouquet, which I haven't done for a while.  Hand-tied bouquets have been the most popular style of floral arrangement for brides for a while now and they look just as at home in a vase as they do accompanying a bride down the aisle (minus the ribbon of course).

I managed to purchase these lovely large roses for a very reasonable price at the markets as they were on their way out.  Good for practicing, however I definitely recommend buying as fresh as you can if it is for a special occasion.  I actually removed about a quarter to a half of all the rose petals from every rose as they were going brown and deteriorating.  The buds that were uncovered underneath were lovely, full and happy to oblige for this project.

Gumnut Rose Wedding Bouquet Recipe

   * 20 full soft pink roses
    * 20 full butter-coloured roses
    * 12 to 15 sprigs of gum-nuts or other types of nuts that can be wired and used as vessels for your diamantes
    * roll of string/twine
    * 15 green stem wires (craft or florist suppliers) or similar guage wire purchased from hardware for the gumnuts
    * green stem tape to cover wires on gumnuts
    * small packet of diamontes (dicount/craft stores)
    * floral tape or gaffer tape - silver or black (discount/hardware store)  for attaching ribbon to stems
    * roll of brown satin ribbon or colour of choice
    * 6 coffee coloured pearl pins (just everyday sewing pins) to match in with and secure the ribbon at the top and back of bouquet)
    * 2 decorative appliques for the front of the bouquet handle
    * flower scissors
    * stem cleaner (plastic yellow flower-shaped tool in the picture, used to strip leaves and thorns from stems) or a small sharp fruit knife to nip the leaves and thorns off, OR if you have neither of these and you are feeling brave you can carefully pinch off the thorns and leaves with your nimble little fingers
    * hot glue gun with glue sticks.

Before you wire the gumnuts fill the cavity of the gumnuts with hot glue right up to the very top  (glue gets very hot so be  careful) and drop a diamonte in, this process gets easier with practice.  You could use tweezers to place the diamonte if you''re worried about the hot glue however doing it that way may take an eternity and send you batty at the same time! With this process you can only do one at a time as the glue dries very quickly.  Clean up any bits of dried glue that are outside of the gumnuts and you're ready to wire.

Thread the stem wire through a little branch in the gumnut twig.  Keep one end straight and wind the other around the twig and all the way down.  I've looped it over the branch quite loosely as they are quite brittle and you don't want to snap them.  Starting at the point on the twig where there are no little branches that will snap, start wrapping the stem and wire in green stem tape gently stretching the tape and winding down as you go all the way to the end.

Select your central flower - usually the best in form and colour.  Pick your next flower and, pointing the stem away from, you place it to the left of the main flower so the stems are crossed over one another at the point you will be binding them with the string (which will be fairly high on the bouquet as pictured below).  At this point you can add one of your gumnut diamonte sprigs.  Then place the next rose to the left of this, with the stem crossing to the right.  Turn the whole bouquet a little.  You are basically making a spiral with the stems and turning the bouquet bit by little bit as you go, making sure the stems are crossing over from left to right (or opposite if you are left handed).

Make sure that when you are turning you keep a firm hold on the flowers you have grouped so that they don't move from the position you have placed them.  If this sounds tricky, which it can be (was for me), at first you can practice with skewers.  Stick some marshmallows on the end of the wooden skewers and spiral them evenly around each other, one by one, crossing over the sticks from left to right, continuing to turn the whole bouquet bit by bit as you go until you have a bouquet of marshmallows with a gentle dome.  Sounds like an idea for a bonfire!    
For this bouquet it is important to place the gumnuts at equal intervals amongst the roses.

Tie off your bouquet with string by holding the bouquet and end of string with your left hand (if right handed). Cut enough string to wind around three times quite firmly.  Place the bouquet on a table whilst still holding the string firmly.  Tie a knot with both hands and knot, then cut any excess string.  Hold the stems together towards the base of the bouquet, decide how long you want your stems to be (taking into account the desired length of your ribbon handle and green stems showing below ribbon - this will depend on how tall the bride is) and cut.

Take your florist or gaffa tape and, starting at the top, wind around the stems once then turn the tape back on itself so the sticky side is facing out and wind down as far as the ribbon will be wound.  Twist the end of the tape back, stick down and cut.  Taking the brown ribbon, start winding it from about three-quarters down the sticky taped part of the stems.  Continue down to the bottom of the sticky tape and then back up again to the top with the end of the ribbon finishing at the back of the top of the bouquet.

Before you pin your ribbon in place at the back, turn the bouquet around and decide which is the most attractive side of your bouquet and make that this is at the front (that which will be facing outwards for all to admire).  Tuck the end of the ribbon under and secure it with the coffee coloured pins on an angle so that the sharp ends don't go through to the other side.

I found these beautiful brown, gold and diamonte appliques, which have been hot glue gunned onto the front of the bouquet's handle, at an Indian stand at a craft fair a few years ago.  I think they give it a little bit more bling for a special occassion.

Make sure that when you first bring your flowers home, cut two inches off the stems and place in a bucket of water in a cool room until you are ready to begin.  When you have completed your bouquet you can place the bouquet in a vase with a little water at the base so that the ribbon doesn't get wet - keep an eye on the water level just in case the flowers get thirsty.

I'm going to have a nice cup of tea now and look at my latest Martha Stewart Weddings!

Virginia @ spider flower

See this post in full with step-by-step photographs and more at my blog:
2  COOKING / Dessert / sour cream/ beetroot/ white chocolate truffles on: February 22, 2011 07:18:21 AM

Cute truffle recipe for Valentine's... they look more like jewellery beads than chocolates!
3  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / got balls? vegan sundae: raspberry/ melon/ coconut/ tapioca on: February 22, 2011 07:14:28 AM


I love this from foodieandthechef.com - I've tried the recipe for the instant berry sorbet and the coconut tapioca = YUMMY.  

Mine weren't as pretty as these ones though Smiley  I guess I ate them too quickly to worry about all that!
4  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Summer's End Tea Party: floral table centrepiece tutorial on: February 22, 2011 03:10:32 AM
See this post in full with step-by-step photographs and more at my blog:

I walked out the back door yesterday morning with our dogs and pussy cats in tow.  As we wandered around the backyard, looking for some flowers for my next project, I realised that summer is coming to an end.  Not a flower was in sight except for some ground cover primulas so I went out to the front of the house where the roses reside - not a single bud.

Well, there was one more little garden that I hadn't checked - the vegetable garden.  Admittedly it has been a little neglected, but the sturdy little herbs and leafy greens have soldiered on despite the lack of water.  So I trotted back around to the back of the house and found miracle of miracles: the only flowers with stems in the whole garden.

Can you see the little froggie sitting on the pebble?

The baby spinach leaf provided me with a lovely purple daisy-like flower and the mint bush had a cone shaped end full of minute little flowers - very sweet.  What to do, what to do....

They kind of reminded me of something you would find in an English field, growing wild.  Inspired, I dug out the assortment of butterflies, frogs and ladybirds I had in my little nature drawer, collected from various craft and discount stores over the years.

The Japanese box hedge was perfect to make the greenery for the 'ground cover' of the arrangement (and it was due for a mini trim anyway!).  

Summer's End Table Centrepiece Recipe:

    * 3 stalks of baby spinach with mauve flowers.
    * 4 stalks of mint with flowers
    * Japanese box stems (as many as you need to cover the bottom of your container) - or any shrub with a small leaf
    * artificial butterflies, frogs and ladybirds (discount/floral supply/craft stores) or whatever appeals to you in the small insect/amphibian/mini bird category.  You can often find plastic frogs etc. in the toy area of discount stores at a very reasonable price.
    * 2 pieces of floral foam (discount/floral supply/craft stores), or as much as you need to fill your container.  You can use small pebbles instead to fill the dish and stick the stems into.
    * low ceramic waterproof dish (could be a small baking dish - or large if you want to make a statement).
    * couple of smooth pebbles for the frogs to sit on.
    * knife to cut the foam to size for the dish
    * scissors
    * floral adhesive - which is basically a very strong blu/glue tack for attaching insects, frogs etc.
    * green stem wires (floral supply/craft stores) for attaching the butterflies.
    * a wooden skewer to make holes in the floral foam for the softer stems.

Drop your floral foam into a bucket of water and let it sink to the bottom.  I've noticed that some foam blocks sink faster than others - depends on the brand.  When you cut it open it should be wet through.  Cut the foam to fit your receptacle and just cut extra little bits to fill in any gaps.  It doesn't matter if it looks messy, it will all be hidden.

Cut your Japanese box stems down so that each stem looks quite short.  Really you are making many little sprigs out of the stems.  You may need to use your trusty skewer to make holes for the cuttings of newer growth as they tend to be quite soft.

Once you have covered all the floral foam with the mini box leaves, start placing your flowering spinach stems and mint stems where you think they look aesthetically pleasing, taking into consideration where all the other elements will be put.  

Put a little floral adhesive/blu tack on the back of the frog and attach to a stone that you have placed in amongst the leaves on the bottom of your receptacle.  Attach the butterflies to the upper part of the stem wires and arrange upright amongst the mint and spinach stems so that the wires aren't too obvious.

If you don't have blu tack you can attach the butterflies by firmly winding a bit of cotton around the middle of the butterfly and the stem wire.  My butterflies had magnets already attached to their backs so they attached easily to the green metal wires.  You could probably getaway with wedging the butterflies between the leaves and flowers if you wanted to.

Remember to top up the water in your receptacle once you have it in place.

The baby spinach leaf plant had grown quite high and collapsed so that it had an interesting curve to it when I took the cuttings - it looks quite wind blown.

Here is my little lady bird friend which I also attached with floral adhesive/blu tack.

If you can't find any little creatures in the craft stores that take your fancy, you could always colour and cut out your own insects for the summer 'field''.

Farewell summer.

5  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Valentine's Day / Be My Valentine OR ELSE: double decker heart bouquet on: February 13, 2011 06:56:02 PM
Drop by my blog for the full post and step-by-step photographs:

Valentine's Day is on the 14th and this year I've decided to love me.  My husband brought me home a lovely box of chocolate truffles yesterday (he figures better too early than too late).  I excitedly helped myself to pink champagne, leatherwood honey, tia maria... only to wake up the next morning with a headache to rival any cocktail-induced hangover.  Poor hubby.

For a change I'm trying red Celosia and hot pink roses on split levels this year.   It almost looks as if they have braces on.  The Celosia bloom is very heart/organ like, so it makes a cool high-school-biology twist on traditional bouquets.  I've paired them with the classic flower of romance: the rose.

'Double Decker' Heart Bouquet Recipe

  • 10 long stemmed hot pink roses (if your roses are tight buds you may need of each rose to fill the hearts).
    12 red celosia stems (you can use red roses if you prefer, they are easier to work with).  In that case you would need about 20 long stemmed roses.
    1 medium and 1 small heart shape in galvanised steel (from craft store).  If unable to obtain these, you can shape your own hearts from the 2.00mm diameter wire, securing at the base with silver gaffer tape. (hardware/discount stores).  Mine measure: small heart: 6" at the widest point
    the small heart measures 6" (15cm) across and the medium heart 8" (20cm) across at the widest point.
    small roll of galvanised steel wire 2.00mm diameter ( local hardware or discount store in hardware section)
    small roll of very fine galvanised steel wire for securing the wire 'legs' to the wire hearts.
    wire cutters
    satin pink and burgundy organza ribbons/ or of your choice
    silver gaffer tape if making your own hearts with the wire
You'll need three 12" (30cm) lengths of the 2.00mm wire to attach to the large heart and three 17" (43cm)lengths of 2.00mm wire to attach to the small heart.  You want the small heart to sit above the large heart's flowers in your bouquet, so make sure you attach the longer wires to the smaller heart.

When cutting the thicker wire, you'll need to put a bit of effort into snipping it.  Measure how much you'll need and grip this point firmly with the wire cutters/pliers.  Grasp the middle of the length you are cutting and rotate the wire in big circles until it snaps at the point the pliers are gripping.
Attach the a wire 'leg' to the right side, left side and base angle of each heart.  Do this by winding the end of each wire on to the heart a couple of times (using your pliers). You might want to sit in front of the television (or a glass of wine) while you do this as it takes a bit of perserverance.

Once you have firmly wound the thicker wire around the attachment points on the hearts a couple of times with the pliers, use the fine wire to secure the joins in place so they don't move.  This also helps to hide the lumpiness and to give it a more interesting/refined look.

Sit the small heart with its attached three legs inside the large heart so it is sitting 5" above.   Tape all six legs together .  Gaffer/florist tape all the way down to the bottom and tape over the end so it can't scratch anyone.

After you have finished the 'mechanics' of the flower design fetch your flowers and remove at least three quarters of the leaves off the stems.  Holding the taped wire 'legs' of your hearts, start by placing the bulk of the red Celosia blooms in the bottom large heart, staying within the shape.

Cut some string and firmly wind this around both the stems of celosia and the wire 'legs'.  Wind three times and tie off to make your life a little easier when you start placing your roses in the top half.

One you've placed your roses inside the heart shape, tie the stems off again with string, being sure to include the Celosia stems and wire 'legs' while you are winding.

Add a few extra celosia around the perimeter of the lower heart to finish off your design and tie off with string for the third time, trimming the ends.  Trim the stems to the same length as you wires.

Add  two yummy, scrummy ribbons and tie a big trailing bow or a florists bow as described in Sunshiny Sunflowers http://spiderflower.blogspot.com/2011/02/sunshiny-sunflowers-floral-bouquet.html.

Push in the top of the wire 'legs' a tiny bit so they have a gentle curve inwards.

This would make a very cute dinner table decoration if you made it as a VERY short bouquet with much shorter wires.  You would need to push the stems into a shallow bowl full of floral foam/pebbles to hold the weight of the bouquet (topping the bowl up with water).

I hope the recipient is deserving of all this effort!

I think I'll go and have a lie down (and maybe eat some more choccy truffles.....)

Virginia @ spider flower
6  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Sunshiny Sunflowers: a floral bouquet on: February 06, 2011 12:31:29 AM
See this post in full with photographs and more at my blog:

I was in the fruit and veg shop yesterday and I saw these looovely sunflowers - they really are a ''happy'' flower.  Another happy and really long lasting flower is the chrysanthemum... I sound like I have a speech impediment when I say that, so just as well I'm typing it!

This posy could be used for the home, as a gift for a dinner party or even for a flower girl as it is quite stylised in its shape and form.

Sunshiny Sunflowers Recipe

   * 4 stems of white 'spider' chrysanthemums
    * 4 stems of white 'single' chrysanthemums
    * 5 sunflowers (if you can't find any real ones, artificial sunflowers can be very life-like)
    * scissors
    * a lighter or a pot of boiling water for singeing the sunflower stems
    * twine (string) or polyester twine for tying the bouquet
    * one wide and one narrow yellow ribbon (or colour of your choice)

Remove most of the leaves off of all of the stems.  Remove and set aside all the little flowers and buds that are too low on the stem to be visible at eye level on the bouquet.  In other words, decide where the bulk of the flowers are on the chrysanthemum stem and remove flowers above and below this line.

You can use these discarded blooms and buds for a mini bouquet - these can be very cute and none of the flowers are wasted.  

Decide how long you want the stems of your bouquet, I made mine 11"/ 28cm long.  Cut the sunflowers stems and singe the ends with a lighter (a long handled lighter would have been better for this!)

Alternately, you can just dip the ends in boiling water for half a minute.  This seals the exposed cuts on the sunflower stems so that the sap doesn't leak into the water and damage the other flowers.

Cut a piece of string approx 72cm (28") long before you start so that you're ready to tie the bouquet while you're holding your finished design.

Starting with the four 'spider' chrysanthemum stems, make a little posy with a slight dome (don't cut these stems yet) for the centre of your posy.

Surround this dome with four 'single' chrysanthemum stems, placed slightly lower to add to the dome effect.

When you're happy with this, place each of the five sunflowers around the chrysanthemums, slightly lower again.

Holding on to your finished design, grab a hold of your string.  The string will be tied at the very top of the stems to hold the design - the sunflower stems are very heavy and just droop if not hauled in.

Leaving about 6" at the end of the string for tying, put your thumb down on the string over the stems and wind the string around the stems three times.

Bring the string back to the front and place your bouquet on table to tie a knot.  Trim loose ends of knot.

The chrysanthemum stems can now be trimmed to match the sunflowers.

Tying a florist ribbon:

  1. Cut 35"/ 90cm each of the thick and the thin yellow ribbon.  Hold these two lengths together and tie once around the neck of the bouquet.
   2. Cut an additional length of each ribbon, each one 70"/ 180cm long (double your previous length).  
   3. Place these side-by-side on a flat surface.  
   4. Pick both ribbons up, holding them about 17cm (6 inches) from the end between your thumb and index finger.
   5. With your right hand loop the next 13 inch segment of the ribbon back around to the your left hand so this loop is 6 inches when it meets the middle where you are holding it.  
   6. Now make another loop the same length in the opposite direct bringing it back to your left hand.  You are effectively making a figure eight with your ribbon which will become the bow for the bouquet.  
   7. Repeat steps 5 and 6, so that there are two figure eight 'bows' being held between your thumb and index finger.
   8. With your ever-helpful thumb and index still holding the two figure eights in the middle, place your bows on top of the single knot of ribbon you have already tied on your bouquet.  
   9. Use this to secure your double figure eight bow to the bouquet by tying a double knot.

A simple big bow with a nice wide satiny ribbon that has a bit of hold (stiffness) in it would look just as good.

Try and have the ends of your ribbon the same length as your stems to maintain the elongated style of your bouquet.

If you want to place your bouquet in a vase, the ribbon could be left on or removed depending on the surrounding decor.

Macci our pooch thinks we made this posy for his singing abilities - encore, encore!.  We won't disappoint him.  I think I''m going to become a stage mum.  Any talent scouts out there?

7  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Chinese New Year Floral Centrepiece on: February 01, 2011 01:14:41 AM
See this post in full with photographs and more at my blog:

As Chinese New Year is upon us and Bonsai originated in China, this little centrepiece starring a Chinese farmer and his cattle seem very appropriate for the festivities.

It is traditional for parents and adults to give children red envelopes filled with money (sometimes thousands) on Chinese New Year.  The amount has to add up to 6 or 8 (for good luck), so my kids will be receiving 80 cents each.  Aren't they lucky little munchkins (I can see them rolling their eyes now)!

I found a beautiful silver 1950s-retro dish at our local op shop and I thought it would work perfectly for a little miniature scene on the table.

Chinese New Year Floral Centrepiece Recipe

   * 9 pixi (pom-pom) carnations or any other flowers/small foilage of your choice for the perimeter
    * moss
    * floral foam (available at discount stores, craft retailers and floristry suppliers)
    * bowl, plate or saucer
    * very small pebbles (optional)
    * miniature figurines of your choice to create the desired theme - the ones I've used are from a bonsai store

Fill the dish with floral foam cut to size for your receptacle.  It doesn't matter if the foam is in bits and pieces around the corners.  Fill with water to soak the foam.

I had some green pixie (pom-pom) carnations left-over and thought they would create a really cute perimeter for the subjects inside.  Cut carnation stems to two inches (5cm) and poke in foam around the edges.

Then simply cover the middle with clumps of moss (if you can't get hold of any moss, very small pepples would look just as good) and add miniature figurines of your choice.

The characters I chose here are from our local Bonsai nursery - however it could be any theme you like e.g. fairy, fish, animal.  Whatever takes your fancy and brings your little make believe world to life!

I chose this exercise as it is so quick & easy and makes a cute interest piece for your table if you have guests.

You could even use a dinner plate or pot plant saucer as the receptacle - cut the stems really short if you choose to use either of these.

If you don't have any floral foam available just fill your bowl with pebbles as the filler and then place everything on top and add water.  Keep your finger at the top of the rim of the receptacle whilst filling so you know when the water level has been reached and voila - micro village.

Happy Chinese New Year!

8  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Peacock Courtship - Wedding Bouquet on a Budget on: January 24, 2011 03:56:04 AM
See this post in full with step-by-step photographs and more at my blog:

I've been to countless weddings where the flowers could have been a bit more interesting, especially considering what they had cost.  I thought it would be fun to show how cheaply I could make an extravagant wedding bouquet with just a  few unusual elements that will have your guests in awe (and asking who did your flowers!)  The total estimate for this bouquet is AUD$35/ USD$35/ GBP21.

I found these lovely peacock feathers the other day and they really are magical.  I love their 'eyes', made up of azure blue, island sea turquoise and regal purple.  Male peacocks use these feathers to court female peacocks, so I think they are a perfect inclusion in a wedding procession.  

The cymbidium orchids are from my the local fruit shop - they are so cheap here in Sydney.  They are often dyed gaudy bright colours, however when married with accompanying shades of lime green they really 'pop' and make the most amazing cascade wedding bouquet.

Peacock Courtship Bouquet Recipe:

(all the leaves are from my garden)

2 large lime green anthurium
3 stems of small cymbidium orchids (dyed) blue
6 stems of small cymbidium orchids lime green
6 peacock feathers
elephant ear leaves in varying sizes
aspidistra leaves
birds nest leaves
floral wire (available from craft stores, floristry suppliers)
stem tape
floral tape
ribbon for handle
pins with coloured heads for securing and decorating the ribbon on handle of bouquet

Start with the largest elephant leaf.  If the edges are looking a little weathered, trim off any jaggerdy lines for a clean finish.  The stems of all the other leaves and flowers in this bouquet will be trimmed to two inches, however I have left the stem on here in order to support the weight of the leaf.

Pass a wire through the back of the leaf, over stem and back through the leaf.  Pull down both sides of the wire, keeping one side straight against the stem and twisting the other around the stem and straight wire.

Trim the Aspidistra  leaves at the stem to two inches and repeat the same wiring process as for the elephant leaves.  

Trim the stem of orchid to two inches.  Pass floral wire through middle of cymbidium orchid stem pull down both sides of wire, twisting one side around both wire and stem as done before.

After you have trimmed (2 inches) and wired all your greenery and flowers you will need to tape everything with the stem tape.  Stem tape comes in white, brown and green shades.  

Starting at the top, hold the tape on the back of the stem and twist and wrap it around the stem, working your way down until you reach the base of the wires.

This takes a bit of perserverence, patience and practice but makes the assembly of the bouquet much easier.  The wires allow you to place and point the leaves, flowers and feathers in whatever direction you deem the most artistic.      

Finally - all trimmed, wired, taped and ready to start the fun!

Start with the largest elements of the bouquet, the elephant leaves in this case (one large and one medium).  Add three peacock feathers and the two large lime green anthurium's (I've use artificial anthuriums here as they look so real and add to the overall look of the bouquet).  

Begin layering your blue and green cymbidium orchids along with the smaller leaves, working your way up to the top of the cascade.  When you are half way through, gently bend the wires at base of the bouquet so that you create a handle (shown in the top photo).  This handle allows the bouquet to be held closer to the body without sticking into the bride's tummy.  Subsequent additions will be bent to fit the handle as well.

You will surprised at how how effective this layering techique is, and the results are really worthwhile.  At the top I have looped the Aspidistra leaves under themselves, scrunching the end then wiring and stem taping them to create three loops.  

If your hand gets tired holding the bouquet as you are designing you can stem tape portions together as you go if you are pleased with how they look.  

Remember to finish the very top of the bouquet with flowers so the bride has something pleasing to look down on.  I wired about ten single cymbidium orchids by passing the wire through the thickest part of the base of the flower, gently twisting it, then covering the wire with stem tape.  Tape the single orchids together so that you have a little bunch, then add this to the top of the bouquet using the stem tape.  

Starting at the top of the handle, use floral tape to start winding over the handle, turning it back on itself and winding the other way so that the sticky side is facing up.  Work your way all the way down to the bottom of your 'handle', turning it back on itself again to stick it down at the base of the stems.  

With your chosen ribbon, start in the middle of the handle and wind the ribbon down to the base and back up to the very top.  Trim and fold the end of the ribbon under.  Use the pretty pins to secure your ribbon, inserting them on an angle to avoid pinning yourself (something I have learnt the hard way - ouch!)

As these flowers are wired they can't be placed in water.  You will need to make your bouquet the evening before the wedding and place it in a cool room.  It is probably not a good idea to mist the flowers with water either, as the peacock feathers will clump together!

Make sure you have a blue lagoon cocktail in one hand and the bouquet in the other - it will help get you through the day!

9  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Bento Box Blooms: flower arrangement on: January 18, 2011 06:25:10 AM
See this post in full with photographs and more at my blog:

This is a variation on the Jane Packer Bento Box (Japanese lunch box) design I learnt at her flower school in London, using plants from the garden and flower markets.  It is such a cute idea - very visually appealing and sure to illicet "oohs" and "ahhs" from its recipients.

The box comes complete with chopsticks, of course!

Bento Box Blooms Recipe:

*5 lime roses
*2 stems of brunei nuts, leaves reserved
*6 Hens and Chicks succulents
*1 stem/ cluster of Blue Finger succulents
*3 stems of yellow chillies (or 15-20 individual chillis)
*2 patches of moss

*1 open-top rectangular or square box (min. 8cm or 3 " deep).  You can use any box material as it will be lined with plastic.
*cellophane or plastic sheeting (enough to cover the inside of the box)
*1 bamboo or cane stick (4x the length of your box)
*1 skewer or fine stick (for making holes in the foam)
*2 blocks of floral foam
*1 pair of chopsticks

You will need to saw your cane or bamboo into four fairly slender pieces.  Measure the inside of your box first for the lengths of the bamboo you will need.  Lay them to make a grid and bind them at the joins by winding the raffia diagonally each way and then tying a knot underneath.

Using a kitchen knife, cut the floral foam (available at discount stores or floristry suppliers) into the sizes you require.  Drop your measured and trimmed foam pieces in a bucket of water and let them slowly sink to the bottom.  Soak for a couple of hours.  Don't dunk the foam under the water as it won't absorb the water through to the centre - you'll end up with thirsty, sad little flower specimens.

Line your box with cellophane or plastic sheeting (making sure there are no nicks or cuts in the lining from over-enthusiastic waving of scissors...)

Trim your lining around the rim of the box once you have fitted the foam blocks (not too low or the water will leak out). Pop your little bamboo grid creation on top so it sits just near the rim of the box.

Trim your rose stems on an angle (more surface area to take up water) to 5cm or 2 " long.  Trim the rest of your stems for the bento box to the same length.  Make sure you reserve the leaves from the brunei nuts as you can use them on their own for one of your bento squares.

If you have any soft stems that may crumple as you load them into the foam, use a skewer to make a hole for them to sit in.  Once you have finished arranging the bento box squares, poke in a pair of chopsticks (I've used ones from our local take-out) for a mouth-watering finish.

The perfect accompaniment to a sushi lunch, this box is sure to add a bit of fun and quirkiness!

douzo meshiagare !  (Japanese for bon apptit)

10  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Branching Out! Floral Vase Arrangement on: January 13, 2011 08:17:59 AM
See this post in full with photographs and more at my blog:

I thought the easiest and most effective project to start with would be a vase arrangement with lots of help from branches I picked up from around our back yard - after a really windy weekend!  Small branches and twigs help space out and hold the flower design.  You can fiddle and tweak as much as you like and they will stay in place without having to start over again if you're not quite satisfied with the look. I've used quite a lot of them for this arrangement.

The flower 'recipe' for this arrangment is:

*10 mini pink rose sprays
*12 soft lime roses
*10 pixi (pom-pom) carnations
*5 stems of Brunei nut

*Medium-large size glass vase with a fairly wide mouth
*Various twigs and branches (try to pick ones with interesting lines and forks)

When you bring your flowers in from the markets or garden, pop them straight in a bucket of water and get all your sundries ready.  You will need scissors - my kids have taken every pair of florists scissors I've owned which is why I have a manky pair of old scissors for this. Secateurs might come in handy for the branches and twigs if they are too hard to snap and a leaf/thorn stripper (the bright yellow thing in the picture) is great for stripping roses.  If you don't have one just pick the leaves off the stems with your fingers, being mindful of thorns.  The stems are stripped pretty bare - this will keep your flowers fresh for longer.  You'll need to strip over half the leaves from your foilage to keep the water clean.  

Try to hold the base of the rose when preparing, arranging and tweaking as the petals bruise easily and if you're not careful, they will end up covered with brown marks (I found this out the hard way when I first started!)  Just before you place each flower in the vase cut the base on an angle at the desired length so they have more surface area for drinking water.  

In the vase is a mix of heavy duty twigs for holding the design and soft floaty willowy twigs for aesthetics.  Fill the vase less than three quarters full and start with the heavier Brunei nuts or alternative foilage you've chosen (this could be camelia branches or any bush with a leaf you like the look of), then you can start adding in your flowers. You can hang some of the flowers on twig joints to give more height to the arrangement and try to keep in mind that three/five (odd numbers) of the same flower together ususally look better.

At the back of the vase I have inserted quite chuncky sticks to strengthen the height and form at the rear of the arrangement. Naturally this arrangement will stay with its back against a wall for display.  As such, you can get away with a lot less flowers as it a frontal display. This is an especially good way of arranging if you want to splurge on some more exotic bloooms for your flower design.

When you've chosen where you are going to display your arrangement, carefully top up the water from the side or back of the vase.

I think the most important thing about floristry is to give it a go - if you're not sure about what you've created take the flowers out of your vase and start again.  Although this is a fairly classic arrangement, anything goes in floral design these days.  As long as you have the basic preparation techniques, consider it an art form and let your creativity loose!
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