Is floral arranging outdated? Seriously. Do you grab a bunch of stems, plop them into a container and call it ‘done’? I see that a lot. And that’s fine. But that’s not me. Sorry.
Nope. I spent years as a florist, both in a flower shop and in a major craft store, and I still arrange flowers. Or, as we say in the trade – “design”. Just a wee bit of sarcasm with that last statement.
Whichever side of the fence you’re on, you might find one of these 10 tips beneficial. Most are geared for artificial – “faux” in the trade. (Every time I write ‘trade’, I giggle. It sounds so . . . I dunno, so pretentious.) Some will work for fresh arrangements too.
With the holidays upon us, I thought some floral “design” tips might be helpful. And save some dollars. Didn’t I mention that? Oh yeah, I’m all about saving money with seasonal décor. Almost everything in this arrangement came from the Dollar Store.
Okay, to get started I gather all – and I mean ALL – of my seasonal stuff so I can see what I have to work with. (And because my mind can’t remember what I have from one year to another.)
Ok, I admit, this is a lot of stuff. Do you need all of this stuff to make a floral arrangement? Huh uh. But I got 10 Tips, people! I ‘needed’ all of it.
Here are the basic tools. You pretty much need all of these, but most are available at the dollar store.
Basic Floral Arranging Tools
- glue gun – low temp, please. Otherwise you can add burn cream to the list.
- wire cutters
- 2 pairs of scissors – one for ribbon without wire and one just for fabric & ribbon
- floral tape
- wire – I like both paddle wire & stems, for which I’ll explain later. The lower the number, the stronger the wire. I use 20 gauge for most arrangements
- Styrofoam. Not floral foam. I’ll explain that later too.
Tip #1 – Use Styrofoam, not floral foam
This is specifically for artificial flowers, btw, not fresh. If you use the brown floral foam it simply won’t hold the weight of the wired stems. Styrofoam will last. And last. And last.
There are various ways to anchor foam. First you need to cut a block. It doesn’t need to fill the entire basket – just large enough to hold your stems. It does, however, need to be deep. So I put one block on top of the other.
Form a “U” or a horseshoe shape out of your wire, poke it thru the bottom of the basket and up thru both blocks of foam and twist.
This puppy ain’t going anywhere. Hot glue would hold it, temporarily. There’s also floral adhesive. But you’ll have wire anyways, so just use one stem and your foam will be securely anchored.
Tip #2 - Create Height & Width of Arrangement
The first step in arranging flowers is determining the height and width. There are some rules of thumb, or rule of thumbs. Or whatever. But rules are made to be broken too, so my advice is to play around until you like what you see.
Unless you buy single flowers, which gets pricey quick, you’ll need to extend the length of the stems you cut from bushes. Grab a piece of wire and your floral tape and you can make your stem as long as you need.
If you’ve never used floral tape, here’s a hint – it’s waxed tissue paper. You need to stretch the tape as you go or it won’t adhere.
Maybe that should be a tip. But 11 Tips doesn’t sound as good as 10 Tips, does it? Or is it just me.
Tip #3 – Curl & Bend Artificial Flowers
The quickest way to get a professional look with artificial flowers is to add a slight bend to each stem. Try it and you’ll see.
“There’s no straight line in nature.”
That’s a quote from my floral design teacher. In case you were wondering.
The “curl” part of this tip refers to the little grass thingies that seem to be prevalent on dollar store bushes. Why, I have no idea. You can also cut them off because they get a little much.
But keep a few, then run your thumbnail along one of them – GENTLY – and you’ll get a curlicue – like using scissors & curling ribbon. If you get carried away with thumb pressure you’ll get a curly curlicue. Trust me. A little goes a long way here.
Tip #4 – Use Triangles
You’ve most likely heard about using 3’s in floral arranging. It’s not that you have to use 3 of any one type of flower. But you do want to create triangles.
Triangles do not have to be even, either. In fact, they’ll look better if they’re not perfectly even.
Tip #5 – Use 3’s . . . or not?
Like I said, you don’t have to use 3 of any particular flower, as long as you’re creating triangles. I used 4 cattails, but they create different triangles. I did use 3 mums, but not in a triangle because I’m adding other flowers later that will create a triangle.
Confused? Forget the rules, ok? Once you fill in your arrangement, it’ll be beautiful. Remember, these are simply “tips” to guide you.
Tip #6 – Use Bushes to Save Money
I use bushes whenever I can because I cut them all apart and have a bunch of stems. It saves oodles of money. These poppies are from the dollar store too, btw.
Sometimes I’ll use a couple of stems as focal points. But some can get really expensive – like $14. Whaaa? Too much for my budget. A centerpiece like this is simply a gathering of color & texture and doesn’t require them.
Tip #7 – Throw in Accent Colors for Contrast
I love fall colors but sometimes I add some accent colors for a little ‘pop’. Like these purple . . . whatever they’re supposed to be.
Sometimes I add accent colors to coordinate with the room’s décor. Turquoise would work in this too, although it’s hard to find turquoise flowers. Or if you have a lot of neutral tones, pull some of those in. Natural elements always work wonderfully for that – twigs, pinecones, etc.
Tip #8 – Ornamentals Add Another Texture
Fruit adds a great texture to floral arrangements, any time of year. But you could also use some Fall novelties too. The tricky part is figuring out how to “pick” them. Not choose – pick, add a stem so they’ll stick in the foam.
Most artificial fruit is foam now, so I just poke a hole, insert a strong wire or left over stem, and hot glue it into place. Done.
Tip #9 – Use Foliage for Filler
Once you get your flowers & fruit in, you’ll probably still see your foam so you need some filler to cover it. You can use more flowers, but it can look a little too busy.
You can also use moss – green moss, spanish moss, etc – and fill in the spaces. I’ve seen many people cover the foam first with foam, before adding flowers to make sure the foam is completely covered. Don’t. Add the moss after the flowers and don’t pack it in there. I actually pull my moss up thru the stems too. It adds an organic touch and creates some filler higher in the arrangement.
This greenery had varied colors and I only needed a couple of stems.
I just “picked” each stem by taping wire to them. Now I can control how much and where I want to put my leaves, rather than a huge clump of foliage.
Are you with me still?
I like how the leaves have a little green, a little red, etc. The preserved fall leaves were a bit “too too”, ya know? But, regular green foliage forms a nice frame too if you can’t find varied colors like this.
Tip #10 – Use Ribbon as an Accent
And I mean “accent”, not a focal point. I’m just old enough to
be haunted by visions of remember wedding flowers. You know, those white baskets with huge sprays of gladioli and football mums and a humongous satin floral bow right smack in the center. The flowers are lost because the eye goes straight to the shiny bow.
I love ribbon, don’t get me wrong, but I like touches of it here and there. “Cheater loops” add the perfect touch. And, btw, save a lot of money because you don’t need yards and yards of ribbon.
To make a cheater loop, cut a length of ribbon, fold part of it onto itself, forming a loop. If you leave one end out then you’ll have a loop and a tail.
Scrunch it together, add a piece of wire and wrap it with floral tape.
Then you can place the ribbon wherever you want, in the amounts you want. Without overwhelming the entire arrangement.
Now, with all of these colors and textures it might seem like a bunch of mish-mash.
So I grouped a few more Dollar store things – glittered pumpkin & pear, ceramic pumpkins and a couple pinecones for good measure.
Don’t tell me that you can’t make a nice display without spending a fortune.
Dollar Store flowers & pumpkins, thrift store basket, and the rest I had on hand.
Color and texture as a centerpiece. They may be outdated to some, but not to me. I still love them.
However it sure would be a lot easier to show you these tips in person, wouldn’t it? Or maybe, on a video? Well, guess what! That’s gonna happen! And it’s not just me, either. A bunch of my blogger friends are joining me with all kinds of Thanksgiving projects. On video!
An entire week of Handmade Thanksgiving projects!
Sound like fun? I’ll share more a little later. We’re still finalizing the schedule today. But as soon as I know who, what and when, you’ll be the first to know!