French beaded flower arrangements
If you’ve been following my French beading blog series, then you’re going to enjoy exploring the topic of French beaded flower arrangements.
So, by now, you’ve learned how to start French beading. I’ve guided you through the materials, techniques and patterns. Last time, we talked about colouring.
If you’ve been putting all this information into practise, then you should have a growing collection of flowers. But how do you display them? How can you create your own French beaded flower arrangements?
Types of French beaded flower arrangements
To my way of thinking, you can divide French beaded flower arrangements into four basic types:
- Bouquets to carry
- Corsages to wear
- Displays in a vase
- Flowers or plants in a pot
So, what do you need to know to create these different types?
General Principles for all French beaded flower arrangements
If you have ever done any flower arranging, then you may have some prior knowledge that will come in handy. However, I think that arranging French beaded flowers is a little specialist. So, here are some extra things you need to know.
The first thing you will notice is that French beaded flowers are a lot heavier than real flowers. The combination of beads and wire soon adds up!
As you would expect, the larger and more complex flowers are also the heaviest.
So, when you create any kind of arrangement, you need to think about this. You should try and use a mix of larger and smaller flowers to create balance.
You also need to think about where the weight sits. So, if you try and put heavy flowers on long stems in a vase, you may find the vase ends up toppling over. To combat this, you would need to weight the vase, or create a centre of gravity that is nearer the neck of the vase.
Similarly, for a bouquet, think about the poor bride or bridesmaid carrying it! If you pack it full of large, heavy flowers, it won’t feel good to hold. I have written a whole ebook about French Beaded wedding bouquets. So, rather than cover them here, let me refer you to the ebook, which you can buy here>>
For a corsage, the weight problem is also one of balance. How do you design and construct an arrangement that can be worn without tearing the fabric, or falling forwards all the time? That is exactly the problem I have addressed in my ebook, ‘Beaded Wedding Flowers and Corsages’. So, I won’t cover that again here. If you need a copy of the ebook, you can buy it here>>
It may be tempting to pack an arrangement full of as many flowers as possible. It will certainly look impressive. But aside from the weight issue I’ve just discussed, how about time to make?
Think about how long you want to spend making the flowers for your French beaded flower arrangements. If you are making them for a customer, or making a set to use for a party or wedding, this is going to be really important.
So, that is why I started to study Japanese Flower arranging – Ikebana. This is an ancient artform. It focuses on creating very striking arrangements with just a few flowers. Over the years, I have used these principles to create arrangements in vases.
I have a little collection of books about Ikebana, but this one is my favourite.
Don’t rule out Western style arrangements too. For these, you may want to familiarise yourself with basic principles, like proportions. There are ‘rules’ about the shape and proportion of an arrangement relative to the vase in which it sits. Following these rules will help you create arrangements that are pleasing to the eye.
But having said that, there’s nothing wrong with simply adding all your flowers to a vase and not thinking about the design!
The guidelines for creating beautiful French beaded flower arrangements are the same as for any design. You need to create visual balance. So, we’ve talked about weight and stability. Now, think about how you can also use colour to create impact.
For this, you can use anything you already know about choosing colours for a beading design. Think about using colours to guide the viewer’s eye around the arrangement.
Also, think about the balance of colour. For this, you might want to focus on a lot of foliage to create a backdrop. Then add coloured flowers to give you interest.
The thing to remember in all of this is that French beaded flower arrangements don’t have to be complicated. Something really simple can look stunning if you create some interest in the colours and shape of the arrangement.
What vases and pots should you use?
When you are looking for vases and pots, you need to think about the flowers you are going to be arranging. Are your French beaded flowers life size?
For me, a lot of my designs are just a little smaller than the real flower. So, I am always on the lookout for miniature vases and pots.
You don’t have to restrict yourself to actual vases or pots either. Think about any vessel that you could use.
So, I have created arrangements in little jugs. I even discovered that my Pansy plants look great in an empty spool of wire. It occurred to me that this would look even better with some beads around it. So, I plan on creating a beaded cover for this very soon!
I have found my pots and vases in charity shops, garden centres, craft stores. So, basically, wherever I go, I keep an eye open for something I might be able to use for my French beaded flower arrangements.
How to create arrangements in vases
Now, I have a very particular way of creating my French beaded flower arrangements. I like to take advantage of the fact that my French beaded flowers are on wire. So, that means I can bend and curve stems to ‘place’ flowers exactly where I want them.
The trouble is, when you put all those stems in a vase, they have room to move.
I also recommend that you fill your vase with glass marbles or even cheap beads. This will give it some weight and also just makes it look nice if it’s a clear vase.
However, once you do that, it becomes quite tricky to push each individual flower stem into the vase. So, I create my arrangement, then use stem tape to bind all the stems together. That gives me just one single stem to push into the vase and keeps my flowers exactly where I placed them.
How to create arrangements in pots
I think that it is easier to create French beaded flower arrangements in pots because you can fill the pot with oasis. Then, all you have to do is push the flower stems into the oasis wherever you want them.
However, if I am creating a plant that would normally be on a single stem, then I like to bind it all into one stem. So, this would be the same as creating an arrangement and I end up with a single stem to just push into the centre of the pot.
Filling pots with oasis
When I first started ‘potting’ my French beaded flowers, I used to spend hours with a craft knife, sculpting the oasis to fit my pot. I would then glue the oasis into the pot, wait for it to dry and plant my flowers.
Then, one day, I tried something different…
I took a fresh slab of oasis and my plant pot. I just turned the plant pot upside down and pushed it into the oasis. Then, when I removed the pot, out came the oasis as well. I sometimes have to neaten the edges a little. But this is the fastest and most efficient way of filling a pot. The oasis is rammed in tight, so it stays packed in the pot without glue. And it is a lot easier when you have an odd shaped pot to fill!
Covering – the finishing touch
Once you have planted your flowers, you have a few options. You may decide to leave the bare oasis. If you have a neat finish, then that looks fine.
But I like to add a layer of something to the top of most of my pots. And here you can get creative. Think about the effect you want.
So, I have used reindeer moss for a grassy effect. Try tiny bits of gravel for a stony effect. You can just glue these in place on the oasis.
I even glued cotton wool into the top of my flower pot for my Poinsettia. I use this as a Christmas decoration, so I thought a little ‘snow’ would be nice!
My friend Lesley has created an amazing effect using coffee grounds and glue. She managed to make her pots look like totally real earth with this technique!
So, have a play around with your craft materials and see what you can come up with.
Over to you…
I hope that has given you some techniques and ideas. So, you can turn your beautiful flowers into French beaded flower arrangements to decorate your home. I promise they will get a lot of admiration from visitors!
Let me know how you get on and if you have any other tips for planting or arranging flowers, please share them in the comments below.