Floral Arranging 101 With: Elaine Burns

One of my New Year’s resolutions for Scissors & Sage is to invite other people to guest post throughout the year. I so enjoy getting to learn from crafters and bakers and the like, and thought that this would be a nice way to collaborate. The first guest blog post this year is from my friend Elaine.

Elaine and I went to college together. Have you ever had the experience of knowing someone through a friend, but not really knowing them, only to find out later that you two have so many similar interests? That’s me and Elaine. I hope to craft with her in real life someday. She lives in Brooklyn, works for J.Crew, and is an overall lover of crafting. She knits, crochets, bakes, arranges flowers, and embroiders, among other nifty talents. Today she is here to teach us how to make our very own floral arrangements! I can’t wait to give this a try.

From Elaine: It’s the dead of winter and you’re counting down the days until spring — only three more months until warmth! While it may be desolate outside, a perfect (and foolproof) way to bring the promise of springy days ahead into your or a friend’s home is with a unique flower arrangement. You really can’t go wrong with some added pops of color.

Selecting Flowers

For this arrangement, I spent about $50 at my local grocery store and purchased six bouquets of flowers. When selecting, I aim to assort a variety of textures and shapes: long and skinny (like snap dragons) and round and dome-like (like dahlias).  Next, I focus on a color palette.

In addition to selecting the focus-flowers for an arrangement, I am also sure to select some foliage flowers or plants to add needed balance. I used hypericum berries, as well as leaves from carnation stems, in this arrangement.

Preparation

Once you have the flowers back at home, immediately take them out of the cellophane/paper wrapping, cut the stems at an angle (do not trim the stems at this point), and stick the flowers in a bucket of water. Grab a pair of scissors or a knife — it’s now time to process the stems.

When you bring home a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store or farmer’s market, they are typically unprocessed, meaning they still have all of their leaves, nubs, and thorns. Use your hands or a knife/scissors to clean these leaves from the stems. This will make it easier (and less messy) to assemble your arrangement.

 

Assembling the Bouquet

When I make a vase arrangement, I find it easiest to make a traditional bouquet as my skelton and then add embellishments from there.

To start a bouquet, take two flowers and cross them in an “x” shape. Then, rotate both flowers clockwise. The flower that was on top (in this case, the orange carnation) will now be behind the second flower (here, the light purple dahlia). Repeat again with a third flower: add to the “x”, then rotate clockwise. This rotation is important because it creates the spiral shape of a traditional bouquet.

 

 

Keep adding flowers; the more the better! With the first ten or so flowers you add, the spiral bouquet shape won’t be immediately apparent. But, the more you add, the more pronounced the shape will become.

Once you have added all of the flowers to your bouquet, you can trim the stems (cut at an angle) to fit into your vase of choice. I typically go for mason jars. The one I used here is a vintage find!

From here, it’s a matter of finessing your arrangement. Aside from processing the stems, I usually spend the most time on this step. Some flowers probably slipped below others while you were assembling the bouquet, so they will need to be pulled up. If you notice that one side of the bouquet is very heavy in one color, you may need to remove some stems and place them elsewhere.  If that is the case, just be sure to continue following the twisted shape of the bouquet. You really can’t go wrong!

Bonus Bud Vase

When processing and arranging a large display, you will inevitably accumulate a collection of smaller buds, extra foliage, or a flower or two that didn’t make it into my final arrangement. Bonus!!

These smaller flowers can then be used to filled smaller bud vases (of which I now have a growing collection) and used to pepper the rest of your home with some added color and texture. I usually make a loose bouquet shape before sticking these into a vase.

So, happy winter, all! Here’s hoping your home feels a little bit brighter and warmer with the addition of a new floral arrangement.

Flowers Used

Dahlias, Carnations, Snapdragons, Daisies, Hypericum Berry

All Photos taken by Elaine Burns

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An Afternoon at Petit Jardin en Ville

Today I would like to share with you all Scissors & Sage’s very first small business profile.  I chose a small business that I am continuously drawn to: Petit Jardin en Ville.  This “little garden in the city” can be found tucked away in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood, and it instantly transports you to Paris.  Claudia Roux, Parisian florist and garden designer, is the owner of this magical storefront.  She offers her floral design services for weddings, special events, parties, restaurants, and hotels, as well as her garden services for your every garden need year-round.

When I contacted Claudia to see if she would be interested in having her small business profiled on Scissors & Sage, she was delighted.  I couldn’t wait to head over to Petit Jardin for an afternoon.  From the minute you walk in, your senses are fed.  Beautiful flowers, found objects, gardening tools, and whimsical French music fill the space.  Claudia, with the help of her French-born husband, Vincent, assist customers both in and out of the shop.  (I have personally received two flower deliveries at my front door from Vincent — what a happy sight!)

Claudia sat down with me and spoke of her journey to Petit Jardin en Ville, and below are some segments from our conversation.  At the end of my visit, Claudia, Vincent, and I clinked apple tart slices to celebrate Petit Jardin.  This shop, first opened in May 2014, has quickly won the way to my heart.  I am excited to share Claudia’s story with you all today.  Be sure to check out Petit Jardin en Ville online (Official Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook) or stop by in person!

From Claudia: After I met my husband, and right before we got married, I moved to France.  We were living in Paris.  I had always been artistic and had worked with florals, but I really didn’t find my path until I moved there.  Flowers are part of the culture in France, so I started to take horticultural classes.  I worked very closely with my teacher, Catherine Muller, who was the protégé of Christian Tutora.  I studied with Catherine for the five years that I lived in Paris.  I still continue to take classes with her now.  Her aesthetic is very similar to mine.  It’s a very garden-y kind of style that I like a lot.  France is a mixture of old and new, which really brings an interesting aesthetic.  It’s where I gained my understanding of combining both of those.

 

My husband and I spent a lot of time in different regions in France [collecting found items].  For example, in Bordeaux, you can find old metal grape pickers with leather straps that you would throw the grapes in as you picked.  A lot of the areas we go to are in the countryside.  We find a lot of farm pieces, which really appeal to my aesthetic, too.  We like to go and find things that others haven’t found yet.  We do bring some city-type things such as a parking sign and original advertisements from the 1940s.  Of course, I choose many things that I can put flowers in, like bottles and glasses, to evoke a feeling of a relaxed, carefree atmosphere that you find in the countryside where people spend so much time outside.

 

Philadelphia as a whole has changed over the years.  When we were looking at spaces, we kept coming back to Old City.  We wanted to be part of a neighborhood, and to emulate the spaces you would find in Paris.  Those spaces tend to be small and have a very special kind of dark feeling.  The flowers bring the light to the inside.  You know, I came from the suburbs where everything is big.  When we moved to Paris, there were so many things that I left behind that I realized I didn’t need.  You can live so beautifully and simply by just editing what you already have.  It enabled me to see a different way of life, and I love small spaces now.

 

Blogs are really important for people like me to get feelings from.  I look for interesting blogs that have a little bit of my aesthetic but also bring something different.  If you’re doing different kinds of projects, it’s always super interesting to me.  I love everything that you can do with your hands.  The more you do, and the more you create, the more people will see.

 

If you have a really great idea, go with it.  Don’t second-guess yourself; don’t hesitate.  If you really like it, and if you can spend the time with it, it shows to other people and they will like it.  In retrospect, I would have tried to start earlier and not be so afraid to start something new.

 

DIY Leaf Flowers

Three years ago, I read an interesting guest blog post on Design*Sponge by artist Kate Pruitt.  She took autumn leaves and transformed them into a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  How did she do it?  I was sure to find out.  Living on a breathtaking college campus in upstate New York at the time, I walked the campus to find fallen leaves.  It was such a fun project that I decided to make it again for you here today.  It’s the perfect time of year to be collecting leaves of all shapes, sizes, and colors — ingredients to surely make a beautiful arrangement!

Materials:

  • 15 or so leaves per flower (dry and freshly fallen)
  • Thin, straight sticks (one per flower)
  • Washi tape

The first time that I made these flowers, I used maple leaves and followed Kate’s instructions more closely.  This season, it has been quite difficult finding rich, red leaves in Philadelphia.  I adapted my folding technique to work with these pretty yellow leaves I collected.  Above are step-by-step picture instructions on how to fold and create your own flowers.

This is one DIY project where I wished I had three hands.  It can become difficult as you add more “petals” to your flower to hold them, fold them, and then place the stick in the center of the bunch to begin taping it.  My third yellow flower completely fell out of my hand when I began taping it to the stick, so I started over.  If it becomes frustrating, take a break and go make some tea.  The end results are completely worth it!

Below is a picture of my red leaf flowers three years ago.  They kept their red color and dried beautifully.  My housemates and I enjoyed them on our dining table for about three months!

What are you making this season?  Share your fall DIY creations on Instagram with #scissorsandsage.