Spring has finally sprung! At least here in Northern California. The plum blossoms and daffodils are over, but the tulips are here and the roses soon to follow. Soon, all of nature’s blooms will be plentiful again, gracing our gardens and homes with their ephemeral beauty. But you don’t have to throw cut flowers away after they have passed prime. In the spirit of upcrafting, San Francisco crafter Claire Lee shows you how to get the most out of your flowers by making gorgeous petal ornaments or miniature wreaths.
By Claire Lee
The wonderful thing about petal ornaments is that anyone can make them, no skill level required. Plus these are materials you already have and might otherwise throw away. Making them is the perfect activity when visiting with friends and you don’t want to spend the entire time snacking! Think Easter activity. Everyone wants to make something so easy to do yet so spectacular.
They make the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, thank you’s for teachers or friends. You can also give them away as party favors or wedding remembrances or keep them as mementos … that memorable bouquet of two dozen roses for your birthday. These petal ornaments make lovely home accents — hang them on furniture, cabinets, doorknobs, or under lamps where the overhead lighting intensifies the colors.
Thread, pick colors to match your petals
Ribbon, to hang the wreath (optional)
Choose Your Blooms
You can use almost any kind of flower, but the best ones are tulips (parrot tulips lend a lot of character), roses, gladiolas, freesias, and phalaenopsis orchids — anything that has large enough petals, a bit of fiber, and will dry well. Herbaceous flowers like wild flowers do not have enough substance.
Aim to have some color variations in your ornament, and select petals not only for their color but texture. Raggedy edges, like those of the parrot tulip, will curl and become very musical, whimsical.
Dry Your Petals
When your cut flowers are past prime, lay out the petals out in a single layer to dry. No need to flatten them. Because they are still very decorative, I like to put petals on plates, table runners or place mats. The color will naturally darken as the petal dries.
Make Your Wreath
This is kind of like making a miniature lei. Measure out enough thread to make a donut-sized loop, plus extra, about 15″, then triple it for strength. I like to use several colors of thread together for added effect.
Tie off one end of the thread, leaving a 2″ tail, and ready the needle. Poke the needle through the smallest tip of the petal, where it was attached to the flower. As you thread more petals, fan them out, keeping all the points in one direction with their cups up. Try to vary the color selection as you go, creating more or less regular sequences of repeat units. Once you’ve gathered between 6 to 12 petals — whatever’s comfortable — move the unit down the thread.
You will need a lot of petals, and it will take a little while to get enough threaded to make the ornament. Each time you move the petals down, squish them a little tighter together. This will help you gauge how many more you’ll need. Once you’re satisfied with the length — I usually do about 8 to 10 linear inches — tie the 2 ends of string together and pull them really tight, making a little ball or a donut. Tie off. You can use the extra length of thread to create a hanging loop, or substitute ribbon.
Petals are surprisingly strong. You don’t have to be terribly delicate with them, or too exact when threading your fans. If you desire a more even ornament you’ll want to repeat a color or a petal type with some regularity, but a carefree attitude can make for wonderful accidental forms.
Alternate Petal Project
You can also create more traditional flower shapes out of the petals. Instead of stringing your petals along a linear length of thread, spiral the petals around a tight axis, pinching the base with your fingers. Tie off the end of your faux bloom with a small rubber band, and secure a length of floral wire underneath it. Twist a bit of green floral tape starting at the base of the bloom and covering the length of the wire twice, much like a boutonnière. You can also glue the blooms to hair ornaments or pins.
About the Author
Claire Lee is an artist and crafter, a mother to five (now adult) children, and a university administrator. She shares a love of art, music and books with her husband in their home near San Francisco — and Paris remains a state of soul after having lived there for half of her adult life.