Friday, February 1, 2013

Boutonnière and corsage roundup

Since I mentioned the other day how much I enjoy making what is often called 'personal flowers' or 'body flowers' in floral design terms, I thought I could do a little roundup of some of the corsages and boutonnières I made in class during the past year.

This is one of the boutonnières I made to go with my garden-inspired pew décor last week. Just a single orange tulip, backed with a folded tulip leaf, some filler, and a raffia wrap for a pop of color.

Another take on the garden-boutonnière: a lavender blossom on a gardenia leaf, supported with a loop of angel vine. This one smelled great, too!

Making a corsage was actually the very first thing we did in the first floral design class I ever took. We started by learning how to make a florist's bow, and how to wire and tape different types of flowers and foliage to create the elements that would then be assembled to make up the corsage.

These were the first corsages I ever made — not bad, but certainly some room for improvement.

While some of the techniques you need to learn for making corsages or boutonnières are fairly specific to creating personal flowers (namely wiring and taping flowers — that is, replacing the natural stem of the flower with one consisting of wire and floral tape, which allows you to bend the flower in whichever way you want it to face, secure it permanently in the miniature arrangement, and lock in some moisture), other aspects are more general and apply to arrangements of any size and style (think of balance, harmony, and transition, which are as important in a tiny boutonnière as they are in a huge arrangement). Hence, learning how to make a boutonnière or corsage is a great starting point for studying floral design, albeit on a really small scale. I happen to love miniature things (Mini cupcakes! Tiny hats! Kittens!), which is probably why personal flowers are right up my alley.

I love the vibrant colors in this corsage made with a single rose, freesia, wax flower, ivy and seeded eucalyptus. I'm pretty sure I had summer on my mind when I made it!

Preparation is key when making a boutonnière or corsage; you want all of your elements clean and ready to go. Assembling the often tiny pieces can be a challenge to your fine motor skills, and you don't want to have to put everything down and start over just because you forgot to properly prepare one of your elements.

The different textures of green blackberries, seeded eucalyptus and sea holly make for a pretty backdrop for the agapanthus floret and buds in this corsage.

We have been practicing making corsages and boutonnières quite a bit in several of my classes, mainly to become faster at it. After all, they are a fairly small item in a wedding order, and you should be able to put them together efficiently. At the same time, they shouldn't only be pretty but need to hold up and be comfortable to wear: no exposed wires that could catch fabric or skin, and well balanced so that they sit correctly against a lapel or wrist.

During a critique with one of my instructors, Jenny Tabarracci. Don't the corsages look pretty all lined up like that?

We also made corsages to learn about how to handle special flowers like stephanotis and gardenia. Gardenias do well with a backing of leaves to protect the delicate petals, which will turn brown upon contact with our skin's oils. Try making a corsage without touching the main flower!

Gardenia blossoms and stephanotis florets are highly fragrant, so this corsage smelled heavenly. I wore it going out the evening after class as a perfumed accessory. Who says corsages are just for weddings and prom?

If it were up to me, wearing a boutonnière or corsage on a regular basis would undergo a huge revival. Flowers are such a pretty fashion accessory, and you can tailor them to any outfit or occasion. And what's not to love about carrying a lovely scented, miniature flower arrangement with you all day?

I made these Bavaria-inspired boutonnières for a birthday party at a German restaurant during Oktoberfest. Guinea fowl feathers are a lovely stand-in for the tufts of animal hair traditionally worn on alpine Trachten hats.

P.S. If you're not tired yet of looking at miniature flower arrangements or are looking for more inspiration on boutonnières and corsages, check out my Pinterest board of body flowers.

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