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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Enamel Flower Bouquet

I personally LOVE alternative bouquets and I’m constantly on the look for new materials that I can make bouquets with. Don’t get me wrong I love live flower bouquets but non-traditional bouquets can become a family heirloom and can have deeply personal touches added to them. This tutorial is a play on a simple paper bouquet but adds the element of durability. I have seen several beautiful paper bouquets but I always question how long the paper will last. There are so many “what ifs” on a wedding day the last thing you want to worry about is your bouquet falling apart. The great thing about this bouquet is that the enamel gives a nice hard coating which will protect your flowers and will look great all day and night long! The only drawback to this tutorial is that there is a small investment for necessary tools but if you are planning to become or are a serious crafter than it is totally worth the cost.

Things you will need for the flowers:
  • Flower Paper Punches
    • Choose punches that will give you enough variety for a dynamic bunch of flowers. Also make sure you choose a small flower punch that you will use for the center of your flowers.
  • Beautiful Papers
    • I found some beautiful papers from Paper Source but you can find papers at any craft store.
  • Ranger Sue Weinberg Melting Pot & Tools
    • I got my melting pot on Ebay for $25 with shipping. It also came with the tweezers and spatula.
  • ¼ Yard Fabric
    • Choose any color that matches your bouquet color to wrap around the bottom of your bouquet.
  • Non Stick Craft Paper
  • Utee Thick Enamel
  • Gorilla Glue
  • 12 Guage Floral Wire
  • Small Block of Dense Foam
  • Craft Tacky Glue
  • Rubber Band
  • Small Buttons or Pearls for the centers of the flowers
Things you will need for the bouquet handle:
  • 6” Wooden Dowels
  • Lace or any fabric / ribbon you want to wrap your handle with.
  • 3”-4” Diameter Foam Ball
  • Small Buttons
Things from around the house:
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Needle Nose Pliers with Wire Cutter
  • Small House Fan

Optional Tools:
  • Sizzix Die Cutter
    • If you are a “hardcore” crafter like Mee! This is an amazing investment! I got my die cutter on sale at Joann’s for $70 and that doesn’t include the different dies you have to buy to use it. But once you know the ease of die cutting paper, felt, fabric, etc. you will never want to go back!

Step 1:
Either punch or die cut your flowers. I suggest at least investing in the paper punches otherwise you will be hand cutting flowers for a LONG time. Once you have a substantial pile of different size flowers in all the same colors or a variety of colors you are ready to glue.

Step 2:

Take each flower cut out and cut from the edge of one of the petals to the center of the flower. Take your Craft Tacky Glue and put a little on one of the petals next to where you just cut and glue the adjacent petal to it. Depending on what kind of paper you are using you might have to clip you petals together and let them glue. In my case the Tacky Glue was enough so I didn’t have to clip which was nice. Repeat this step until all your flower cut-outs are 3D! Let everything dry and by hand fold back your petals or curl them around a finger.

Step 3:
Plug in your Melting Pot and put it to the Utee setting. Make sure you have your non-stick craft paper rolled out nearby otherwise you are going to make a huge mess. Pour in a good amount of Utee Enamel into your pot and let it melt without stirring it, which cause air bubbles. I like to have a small fan next to me when I work because it helps dry the enamel faster as well as clears the fumes from the melting enamel.
I used clear Utee Enamel which turns an amber color very fast but is still pretty. You can purchase many different colors and test out how it looks with different papers. After the enamel is melted take your per-made 3D flower cut-outs and dip them one at a time into the enamel. Using your tweezers and coat both sides of the flower and then place it onto your non-stick craft sheet. This sheet is amazing! You can drag your flower along it to get the excess enamel off and after a few seconds the enamel will be dry enough to peel off the craft sheet and throw back into the melting pot! Repeat this process until you have dipped all of your flowers cut-outs. Tip: If you excess enamel on your petals you can simply use a pair of small scissors and it will snip right off. It is always easier to do this process when your enamel is not fully dry but can be done after. It takes less than 60 seconds for the enamel to fully dry so working quickly is key.

Step 4:
After you have dipped all your cut-outs it is easier to see how many layers you want your flowers to be. Stack your dipped cut-outs and make your desired flowers. After you have your stacked piles take out your floral wire and cut it to approximately 4” lengths. Bend the end of each wire with your finger or with your pliers. Put a good amount of hot glue on the inside of your bottom layer of one stacked flower and glue down the wire. My die cut pattern had a hole in each flower but if yours don’t you can simply cut one in your bottom flower layer so you can thread your wire through. Once the wire is glued continue gluing your layers as you had already stacked them.

If your flowers don’t have enough surface area to glue into the next layer cut a small piece of dense foam and glue in-between the layers to act as a spacer.
Once your flower has all its layers glued including its small center piece take a rhinestone, pearl, button, or anything else you can think of and glue it in the very center of your flower.

Now you can place the wire steam of your completed flower into your block of dense foam block and continue on to the next flower. Depending on how big your foam ball is (which will be attached to your handle) and how big your flowers are will tell you how many flowers you will need to make. In my case I used the Sizzix Flower Layers # 3 with a 3” foam ball and used 19 flowers to complete my bouquet.

Step 5:

Making the handle!
I am sure there are hundreds of ways to make a bouquet handle but this is what I made up and it works well. You can also buy plastic bouquet handles with dense foam tops from Michaels Craft Stores for about $5. For my handle you need to either find (6) 6”wooden dowels or cut dowels down to 6” lengths. I found 12” long dowels at Michaels and used a small hack saw to cut them in half. After you have your dowels at the length you want them take your hot glue gun and run a line of glue down one of the dowels and then glue two together. Continue gluing in a circle until you have your handle. If you have cut your dowels yourself make sure the rough cut edges are all in the same direction and the smooth factory edges are all level and on one side.

Once the dowels are glued cut a piece of the same paper you used for your flowers and cut it to size. Cut out a piece of lace or matching fabric that is larger than the diameter of the bottom of your handle and glue the piece to the factory edges of the dowels. Cut the excess fabric edges and wrap it around the side of the dowels and glue them down. I wrapped the same paper as I used for the white part of my flowers around the dowels and glue the edge with your craft tacky glue. I used a piece of lace and covered the edge of the paper and also wrapped a 4” piece of lace around the paper so the user can hold the lace and not the paper. You can use any type of fabric, lace, and paper combination for the handle. I also glued on a few small buttons along the length of the handle for decoration.

Now take your foam ball and push your finished handle (the cut rough end) into the top of it. Push it down about 1” in depth. Pull the handle out and I put some Gorilla Glue into the hole and replace the handle back in. Let that dry and now you have a handle or a pretty foam microphone which is key for singing alone at home!

Step 6:
Take your handle and wrap your ¼ yard of fabric or lace around the top and wrap an elastic band around the bottom of your foam ball.

Now that you have your dry handle and your dry flowers with wire stems……it’s time to assemble! I like to arrange my flowers by pushing the stems into the foam ball until I like the way it looks. Once I have arranged the flowers the way I want them to look I take my Gorilla Glue and cover the bottom of the stem. Be careful with the Gorilla Glue it expands when it dries and can be hard to work with but it is the best glue for foam because it expands inside the foam and really becomes secure. Repeat this process and you have done it!

You just made a unique handmade bouquet that will last forever! As long as you don’t get to drunk at your wedding and smash it (not saying I would ever do that)….hehe….you will have a beautiful bouquet for years to come. The hard work you put into it will pay off for your big day!