Monday, February 8, 2016

DIY Gathered Fresh Flower Crown + Floral Preservation Tips

Our garden is brimming with beautiful fragrant baby pink roses and other goodies at the moment, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share how to make a simple floral crown using gathered materials.  The same basic techniques work with bought blooms if seasons/opportunity don't allow you to gather your own, and easily adapts to artificial or paper flowers as well. This post is a guest share in collaboration with our partner blog, Green in Real Life.

If you are making a circlet, you can form your own wire base (recommended for wearing as it's more flexible for a nice fit) or you can buy an inexpensive metal ring from a craft supply or hardware store (great for a hanging circle or a centerpiece).  You'll often find them in the lamp-making section - do feel free to try them on...I have! :) The metal ring has the advantage of being very sturdy, so is a nice option for heavier arrangements, wall pieces, or if you would like to preserve and hang your crown. It can also be stripped and re-used over and over, which is what I do with mine.  If you aren't sure on size, you can make a wire ring in close-to the estimated size, but instead of closing the ends into a circle, twist them into a loop so the crown can be tied to size on the wearer's head with ribbon. If you are making a delicate piece or are simply worried about the metal being visible, you can use green floral wire, a woven fibre floral wire, paint the metal, or wrap your base.  Floral tape is quick and easy, ribbon is pretty and a nice way to add extra colour, and twine or raffia gives a rustic twig-like look. I kept mine plain for this demo so that you can see how the foliage and flowers cover it fresh but expose it when preserved. Once you have a base and a few basic supplies (trimmers, wire, and tape), it's crafting time!

  • Gather your fresh flowers and greenery - make sure that you have suitable permission if gathering from somewhere other than your own garden.  Ensure that they are healthy, clean, and free of bugs. 
  • Cut your flowers stems, leaving around 10cm below the base of each flower (where possible) so that you have ample options for placement and securing. You can re-trim the stems later if/as needed. If you wish, you can pop a little floral tape on the ends while you work.
  • If you're using a vine-style greenery, start with this to create a lush base for your flowers.  Wind flexible stems around your wire base, and intermittently secure with either a fine floral/green wire (secure outwards if the crown is for wear) or floral tape. Keep a few smaller pieces for final fill, if/as needed.
  • Place your flowers, starting with your best feature blooms, then incrementally adding others to fill. Consider the placement of your flowers and the final look you hope to achieve.  Do you want a crown (best blossoms frontwards, full outwards, sparse inside), a wreath (best blossoms upwards, flat bottom), etc.  It can be a delicate or as lush as you like!  There is no right or wrong, so have fun.  Secure as you go with either a fine floral/green wire (secure outwards if the crown is for wear) or floral tape. You can also use both if you want both, wiring first then taping over the wire. You can save a little effort in building your crown by making a few mini-bouquets, taping them them, and then securing the bunches to your base.  This is particularly helpful if you are using tiny delicate flowers, like waxflower or baby's breath.   You can also experiment with floral glue, adhesives, or even a little (carefully applied) low-temp hot glue for exbellishments.
  • Give the finished piece a gentle shake to check for loose stems. Secure if/as needed.
  • Inspect and trim or cover any errant stems or wire. Done!

Floral crowns have a pretty limited lifespan, so the closer you can make the crown to wearing, the better.  To help extend it's pre-wear life:
  • Start with healthy fresh flowers and foliage.
  • Limit your materials to sturdier options. Some flowers seem to wilt withing seconds of being cut - these are not good options for a crown. Seek out hardier flowers that can go thirsty a little longer, like small roses, wax flower, jasmine, etc and waxy greenery.
  • Try to minimise moisture loss during assembly.
  • Spritz your completed crown lightly with water or floral spray.
  • Keep cool until use. Placing it in a cool room (or refrigerator, but be careful if storing in the kitchen as some foods can accelerate wilt) on a damp cloth on a plate is an easy option.
If you're finished with your crown and want to keep it, you can try preserving it the same way as you might with a bouquet. Your crown will be starting at a disadvantage as it will likely be droopy and wilting. Depending on your flowers, rapid drying with a dehydrator or oven can work relatively well, but you will loose much of the fullness which may expose tape and wirework, as per our demo piece. Picking a few select pieces and pressing them is an alternative option, or you can go the other direction with a more complicated (and costly) silica or free-dry preservation; however, your wilting crown may not be up to the challenge. Green in Real Life will share a full post on preserving flowers after Valentine's Day.

The crown in this post was made using ivy and hebe for greenery, and a combination of miniature spray roses, white iceberg roses in bud, and hebe flowers - all gathered from our home garden.

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