So I have finished my bouquet and I am really happy with how it has turned out.
These are made from pages torn from a French novel. I decided that instead of blotting the paper with paint on a sponge, I was going to do a streaky wash of bright red acrylic, thinned down heavily with water.
These are the pages I painted, drying on my clothes rack!
This is my table, halfway through making the roses…
I made the roses according to this tutorial [Editor's note: sadly, the original tutorial is no longer online, but this one looks to be similar], so I didn't bother to post any pics of that process — I will say that it was amazingly easy to do. I am not the craftiest person in the world but they worked out really well. I used a ton of glue to join the layers together very solidly, which was fine because the paper I used was so sturdy, and has also given the roses a nice weight.
But, the roses needed stems! So, I bought some floral wire and some pipecleaners. The floral wire was too short (it came in precut lengths) so I used the pipecleaners and some floral tape to cover their fluffiness, like so…
First, bend the tip of the pipecleaner around like a shepherd's crook, then bend the curl 90 degrees.
Then poke a hole through your rose, carefully, using something pointy. I found working from top to bottom was easier than bottom to top. I used a cake-testing skewer, but a long compass, or a mattress needle, or a meat skewer would do. The glue makes the flowers a bit stronger, but try not to distort the shape of the flower too much while you push, and don't try to push through a huge glob of glue, as you will hurt your fingers. Some of my roses were pierced through the base layer only, while some were easier to pierce through the third layer, beneath the central bud.
Poke the straight end of the curled pipecleaner through the hole and pull it gently through.
When the pipecleaner curl gets to the rose, twist the stem to arrange the curl under a petal, so it's hidden — probably best to have a similar coloured pipecleaner to use — mine were orange and pink in red roses, so not perfect, but acceptable. Bend the pipecleaner stem to the length you want. I made mine double thickness for strength.
Using floral tape, wrap your pipecleaner together. Offbeat Bride Tribe member LindyHopper gave me a good tip of using the floral tape in 12inch lengths, and also advised that you need to stretch the tape to make it sticky, which I didn't know. Thanks LindyHopper! It's helpful to leave a “tail” of tape on the edge of the rose, but it won't stick there by itself. I left it hanging for now and glued it later.
One wrapped stem (the only floral tape my craft store had was white, but it also comes in green and that would probably be better if you can get it).
Three wrapped stems, and showing the blob of glue I used to glue down the end of the floral tape. It would probably be better to use a shorter bit of tape, as the tail showed a lot on my roses.
Oh, and I didn't bother making calyxes (the green pointy bit around the bottom of the rose) because I knew mine would be covered up. But if you were only making a few roses, or wanted to show the bottom, a calyx would be good. Make it out of the same paper as the leaves — see below.
Once I'd made all eight, I started on the leaves. Once again these are made with an acrylic wash over pages torn from a French novel, only in green this time. I cut out the leaf shapes using a template I got from Martha Stewart, but they could easily have been drawn freehand. The shape is pretty simple so you can cut out four at a time if you fold the page right.
I folded the leaf shapes in half and ran a bead of glue along the inside of the fold, then pressed the floral wire along the fold.
After the glue had dried, I opened the leaves out and curled the wire back to give the leaves a pretty shape. Many of the leaves tore slightly as I opened them, leaving white patches in the green paint, but I fixed this by overpainting them. Easy.
Then I started assembling the bouquet! I think there is probably a better way to do it, I've never done it before, but I started with a central rose and added two roses to the sides, bending the wire until it looked right, then carefully floral taped them together. (I was too excited to remember to photograph this stage!) I then added three more roses to fill in the sides and give a rounded shape, again bending the wire and floral taping the whole bunch together. It looked like this from below.
Then I added leaves in a vaguely asymmetrical fashion, winding the floral wire around the bouquet stem. I stabbed and scratched myself quite a lot while doing this, as the wire is pointy! I also discovered that the stem was too short, so I added more pipcleaners to lengthen it, winding these around to attach. I covered the whole stem in three layers of floral tape to protect my hands (and cover up the messy blue pipecleaners I used), and the stem will eventually be covered in red ribbon.
But, for those of you who have read this far, I present, my pretty-much-finished bouquet! I am very happy with it, very happy indeed! Saving money, making things, enjoying myself — hooray for the OBBT!