Silk Flower Arranging: Must-Know Basic Techniques
Here you will learn basic silk flower arranging techniques you must know — how to shape silk flowers, measure and cut stems, and add extensions.
There is also a description of supplies you’ll need on hand to make a silk flower arrangement.
During your first silk flower centerpiece projects, keep in mind that you want to get a feel for the process.
The challenge of making an artificial floral arrangement is in getting everything to blend together into a pleasing, realistic whole.
Don’t worry, your silk flower arranging skills WILL improve quickly as you continually practice and experiment.
It won’t be long before you feel comfortable with these important basic techniques.
Silk Flower Arranging: How to Shape Silk Flowers and Stems
When you first purchase your silk flowers they may look compacted and squeezed together. This is due to packing for shipment to the dealer.
Before using them in an arrangement, spread the branches and blossoms apart so they don’t look crowded. Remove any manufacturers tags and stickers at this time.
You can now do some preliminary shaping to any parts that are wired, such as branched stem sections, petals and leaves. Shape them by applying gentle pressure with your thumb and first two fingers. Try not to make any sharp, angular curves.
Be sure to shape the main stem sections just a bit, too. Leaving stems rigidly straight will look unnatural. Strive for an overall lifelike effect.
As you assemble your silk flower arrangement, additional shaping may be required. Imagine how real plants and flowers might look. For example, a bud stalk would curve outward and then up in a search for sunlight. Petals could be in various stages of bloom. A plump blossom might droop as if it were a bit heavy for its support. Leaves would twist in a quest for more growing space. Got it?
If you are not sure how a silk flower stem should be shaped to look natural, search the Internet for pictures of that variety.
Silk Flower Arranging: Stem Measuring and Cutting
One thing to keep in mind: as a general rule, the height of a floral arrangement should be at least 1.5x to 2x the height of the container for pleasing results.
Get used to handling the materials. Practice bending and shaping silk flower stems and blossoms. Buy a few cheap artificial flower stems — go ahead, cut them apart, bind an extension to a piece.
Always allow for an extra length of stem to serve as an anchor in the styrofoam.
Before cutting any stem, hold it up alongside the container. ‘Eyeball’ what length would look good, starting from the point where the stem would sprout from the styrofoam.
Grasp the stem at that point and make a slight bend in the stem or pencil mark the spot. Cut approximately two inches below that point to leave a good anchor. (Styrofoam sheets are 1 or 2 inches thick. Styrofoam blocks may vary.)
In all cases, especially for deeper containers, leave anchors as long as possible. If items are used for other silk flower arranging projects later on, it will be easier to cut them shorter than to have to add extensions.
How to Cut Artificial Flower Stems
For easier insertion into the styrofoam, try to cut stems at an angle. This will form a pointed leading edge.
Some stems are too thick to cut easily. If this is the case, grip the stem with cutting pliers at the point to be cut. With your other hand, bend the stem briskly back and forth. Friction will weaken the metal wire inside the stem and cause it to snap. Then trim the leading edge at an angle.
How to Add a Stem Extension
When you first get started in silk flower arranging, you won’t have many stem remnants available as yet — but make a habit of saving any cuttings that might be of later use.
Cut stem remnants of three inches and longer can be used as extensions for short-stemmed items or as sturdy stems for fragile elements, such as dried flowers or natural Eucalyptus branches.
You can buy stem wire from a local shop if necessary. Or, for a quick fix, you can use a paper clip as a stem extension. Just straighten the clip as best you can and bind to a stem, overlapping at least one to two inches.
Whatever you choose to use as an extension, use floral tape or paddle wire to bind them together. (I prefer to use floral tape.)
Overlap the two pieces one inch or more. Bind them TIGHTLY together, starting .5 inch above the area to be joined. Wrap downward in an overlapping spiral while applying steady pressure. End the binding .5 inch below the area being joined.
Cutting Silk Flower Stems into Parts
If you want to separate the blossoms of one stem for placement in different areas, or if a complete stem would be too much to place in an area, it can be cut apart.
Clip off a section where it joins the main stem, cutting at a point where the clipped piece will keep as long a stem as possible. It can always be cut shorter later.
Add an extension (as explained above) to any stem that may require more height.
Silk Flower Arranging: Supplies You Will Need
Here is a list of the main floral craft supplies you will need to start on your silk flower arranging adventure:
A block of this serves as the foundation for the centerpiece. It comes in large sheets (3 ft. x 1 ft. x 2 in.) or packaged bricks, in white or light green colors. Unless a transparent container is used, color makes no difference since the styrofoam will be covered with moss in most cases.
Cling Clay, Double-sided Foam Mounting Tape, or Hot Glue Gun
The styrofoam block needs to be secured inside the container. There are several ways to do this.
– Most popular: a gummy, adhesive clay-like substance that comes on a roll (Cling Clay or other names)
– Double-sided foam mounting tape also works very well for securing styrofoam
– Some crafters prefer to use hot glue for strongest, permanent bonding
Dried moss can be used to cover the styrofoam for a natural look. It comes in loose pieces or flat mat shapes, in shades of green and brown. You can buy it by the bag. Spanish Moss, which looks like curly spaghetti, is also available in several colors.
Various types of containers, such as baskets, vases, etc., produce different visual effects.
A link at the end of this article will take you to the page on how to prepare a container for a silk flower arrangement.
Floral Tape and/or Paddle Wire
Floral tape is used to bind loose items, such as single leaves, to a stem. You can also bind an extension (either stem wire or remnants of trimmed stems) to a stem that is too short. The floral tape is made of a sturdy paper, which when slightly stretched, releases a light-tack glue from its pores and sticks to itself. It works well and looks nice. It comes in green, brown and other colors.
The paddle wire is very flexible and easy to use. You can use it to bind a group of items together before attaching to a stem with floral tape.
You don’t need to buy both right away. Choose the one that you feel comfortable with. (I started with, and just kept using, the floral tape.)
To trim stems (from any hardware store).
To cut the styrofoam (a steak or butter knife is fine