Dried Flower Gifts: Creating Decorative Arrangements

Overview

Filled with ideas and projects for glorious dried flower arrangements, this is the perfect guide for beginners as well as the ultimate sourcebook for more experienced dried flower arrangers.

Lavishly illustrated with specially commissioned photographs and detailed step-by-step instructions, this book features more than twenty projects for exquisite gifts to create for family and friends. The collection includes scented garlands, flower pots, ribbon-tied pomanders, flower ...

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Overview

Filled with ideas and projects for glorious dried flower arrangements, this is the perfect guide for beginners as well as the ultimate sourcebook for more experienced dried flower arrangers.

Lavishly illustrated with specially commissioned photographs and detailed step-by-step instructions, this book features more than twenty projects for exquisite gifts to create for family and friends. The collection includes scented garlands, flower pots, ribbon-tied pomanders, flower baskets, bouquets, and classic topiary trees in terracotta pots. An invaluable reference section at the back of the book provides information on how to grow flowers for drying and how to buy the best-quality dried flowers and other materials from florists and suppliers.

The author also explains how to dry and preserve flowers at home using desiccants and the microwave oven, and supplies ideas for prolonging the life of dried flowers. The book also provides a useful summary of the tools and equipment that are required to get started, while a helpful color chart serves as an instant reference for mixing and matching different types of flowers.

Other Details: 150 full-color illustrations 128 pages 9 1/4 x 9 1/4" Published 1994

flowers we know what to look for.

I have an aversion to dyed dried flowers and never use them. But avoiding dyed flowers does not mean that your palette will be limited. Flip through the pages of this book and you will see a rainbow of colour. Flowers that have been well dried and stored will have wonderful rich colours, often deeper than when they were freshly picked. True, they will fade with time, but this is a gradual process and most dried flower arrangements retain a good colour for one to two years provided that they are not displayed in direct sunlight.

Ideally, you should buy your dried flowers from a grower or a specialist shop which carries large stocks and has a quick turnover. Dried flowers are quite fragile and the more they are handled the more likely they are to be damaged. When you buy from a grower, the flowers will have been picked, dried and stored in optimum conditions. They will not have been thrown around in transit, displayed for some time and handled by customers, so you will have a far better chance of buying a bunch of flowers that is in peak condition. Similarly, a specialist shop will ensure that the flowers are properly handled and stored.

The best dried flowers are not cheap, but compared with fresh flowers they are very good value for money.

Getting Started

For those who have never tried dried flower arranging before, this is the exciting part. You have the book, the flowers and now you are ready to start. I should now propound my theories on colour and form, but I would like to tell you a story about myself instead.

In my late teens, I met a group of keen bridge players who persuaded me to join them. I played quite well and thoroughly enjoyed myself until one evening, when having trounced our opponents, my partner proceeded to explain to them why I had played my cards the way I did, what conventions I had followed and what my bid had told him. I was amazed because what he attributed to a sound understanding of the rules of bridge was in fact pure intuition.

Similarly, when it comes to colour and form, I feel what to do rather than follow any rules. The exciting part about doing it this way is that you will, in time, discover the rules for yourself, you will notice that certain colours used together are intensified, that some proportions work better than others and that rules are only other people's observations.

Observation is the key to all creativity. I am a careful observer of everything around me and would recommend that you develop this ability in yourself. There are so many inspirations in everyday life, some in the most surprising places--it may be the colour and texture of a tree trunk, a photograph in a magazine or a cleverly decorated shop window. Stop and look closer, see if you can put your finger on what it was that attracted you, and make a mental note.

For example, a few months ago I saw a wonderful Chinese film. The story takes place in rural China in the middle of winter with little colour in the landscape but the outsides of the peasants houses are hung with festoons of chillis and corn hung to dry under the eaves. The intensity of the reds and yellows against the drab countryside made an indelible impression on me and I have carried that image in my mind ever since.

So inspiration is all around us. We live in a world of colour, form and texture and, once you develop the habit of observation, you will find a never ending source of new ideas.

I called into one of my suppliers recently to pick up some materials for the projects in this book and, as usual, I wandered round looking at what was new. Two items caught my eye, a divided picture frame and a tiny woven basket. At that stage I had no idea what I would do with them, but I brought them home and put them on a shelf in my workroom. A few days later I was sent a sample of tiny yellow rosebuds and it occurred to me that they would look good in the picture frame alongside other flowers and some mosses, so I played around with the idea and found it worked. I shall buy more frames and experiment further. The little basket came in useful when I was icing a cake and felt too lazy to walk to the shops to buy decorations. Casting around for a substitute, the little basket came to hand, and filled with little roses and moss it makes a very pretty decoration and a charming keepsake.

Don't feel that you should restrict the use of dried flowers to 'arrangements', they have many other decorative uses within the home. A simple coolie lampshade is enlivened with an edging of dried flowers and a picture frame is transformed by mosses and shells.

For a special occasion such as a wedding, decorate a hat with a garland of dried flowers and make a brooch to match. Gifts look even better with a few dried flowers tucked into the ribbon.

When I first started working with dried flowers I, too, bought books and followed other people's ideas. As you work on the projects in this book you will gain confidence in your own abilities and by emulating my style you will work towards the point where your own begins to develop. If you are a beginner, choose an easy project like a lavender posy on page 20 or the Victorian rose pot on page 52 before moving on to something more ambitious.

I hope that this book will help open the door to your creativity and be a source of inspiration and enjoyment.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Both of these recent imports are entries in an increasingly crowded field. Donaldson's book, the more substantial of the two, reflects her expeience as a teacher of dried flower workshops in England. She includes projects for posies, pomanders, potted arrangements, topiary, and wreaths as well as general information on drying flowers. Each project has a list of materials, step-by-step instructions, and an excellent color photograph of the finished product. Eckhardt's book, part of an Australian publisher's series, deals with pressed flowers in flat, two-dimensional arrangements framed under glass. She gives hints for pressing and mounting flowers and instructions for making a press. With only a dozen actual projects, this book does not have enough material to warrant purchase by a library. Neither of these books can compete with earlier, more comprehensive titles such as Susan Conder and others' The Complete Flower Craft Book (LJ 5/1/94), which is a much better buy for public library collections.-Constance Ashmore Fairchild, formerly with Univ. of Illinois Lib., Urbana-Champaign
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789200051
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/1994
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 9.29 (w) x 9.79 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: History of Dried Flowers

Today's books on dried flowers are full of wonderful decorative ideas, but the history of the subject is far removed from the decorative arts.

Since the very earliest times, civilised societies have used dried flowers for their aromatic and healing properties. The Egyptians used flowers, herbs and aromatics in their cosmetics, and entertained their guests in rooms fragranced with pot-pourri. Cleopatra welcomed her lover in an apartment that was strewn knee-deep with rose petals.

Both the Greeks and Romans continued this tradition by marking great occasions with showers of scented flowers, sometimes in such abundance that in ancient Rome a guest was asphyxiated.

All cultures have their traditions of healing herbs and flowers that have been passed down through the centuries. As Europe entered the Dark Ages and the great civilisations of Greece and Rome declined, it was left to the monks and the housewives to carry the knowledge.

In the Middle Ages it is likely that the majority of dried flowers were in fact fed to cattle and horses. The medieval hay meadows were a far cry from today's carefully cultivated pastures, and the abundant flowers that grew in these fields were as important as the grasses.

Housewives started to dry flowers and herbs for their aromatic and healing qualities and by the time that Elizabeth I ascended the throne of England, the stillroom was an important part of the house. Here, herbs and flowers hung to dry and the housewife would prepare herbal waters, pot-pourri, strewing herbs and innumerable lotions and potions. While the primary function of all these preparations was to promote health and ward off theevil stenches that were part of everyday life, there was a growing appreciation of the beauty of flowers. Decorative gardens were planted in Europe for the first time since the fall of Rome and an increasing variety of plants was brought from distant lands. Flowers no longer needed to be useful, their beauty was sufficient.

Over the centuries, this appreciation grew until it reached its apotheosis in Victorian times. Flowers were everywhere. Vast teams of gardeners tended elaborate gardens and cosetted exotic blossoms in conservatories. Cutting gardens were established to keep the house supplied with fresh blooms and, significantly for this book, dried flowers or 'immortelles' as they were then known were an important crop.

The flowers dried by the Victorians are familiar to us today. They include statice, Helichrysum, achillea, honesty and Chinese lanterns as well as the aromatic herbs, all of which air dry quite readily. The Victorian ladies spent many hours making intricate tussie-mussies, or waxing flowers for display under glass domes; nothing was too time consuming, for they had little else to do.

With the arrival of the twentieth century all this changed. People had busy lives, the gardeners were gone and dried flower arranging was relegated to a minor craft for Women's Institutes.

Looking back, it seems to me that in my youth most of my aged relatives possessed at least one dried flower arrangement. It was nearly always in a fireplace, a sad concoction of faded statice, honesty and Chinese lanterns festooned with dust. I thought they were hideous and would have greeted the information that I would one day write a book on the subject with utter disbelief.

The fact that I am now writing this book is due to the renaissance that dried flowers have undergone in the last fifteen years. New designers have shown us that dried flowers can be a desirable and attractive alternative to fresh flowers rather than a second-rate substitute. Modern technology has greatly improved drying and storage techniques so that the huge variety of flowers that we buy today last better, keep their colour longer and more closely resemble their fresh counterparts.

Buying Dried Flowers

These days few of us have the space or the time to grow sufficient dried flowers in our own gardens, so it is important that when we buy flowers we know what to look for.

I have an aversion to dyed dried flowers and never use them. But avoiding dyed flowers does not mean that your palette will be limited. Flip through the pages of this book and you will see a rainbow of colour. Flowers that have been well dried and stored will have wonderful rich colours, often deeper than when they were freshly picked. True, they will fade with time, but this is a gradual process and most dried flower arrangements retain a good colour for one to two years provided that they are not displayed in direct sunlight.

Ideally, you should buy your dried flowers from a grower or a specialist shop which carries large stocks and has a quick turnover. Dried flowers are quite fragile and the more they are handled the more likely they are to be damaged. When you buy from a grower, the flowers will have been picked, dried and stored in optimum conditions. They will not have been thrown around in transit, displayed for some time and handled by customers, so you will have a far better chance of buying a bunch of flowers that is in peak condition. Similarly, a specialist shop will ensure that the flowers are properly handled and stored.

The best dried flowers are not cheap, but compared with fresh flowers they are very good value for money.

Getting Started

For those who have never tried dried flower arranging before, this is the exciting part. You have the book, the flowers and now you are ready to start. I should now propound my theories on colour and form, but I would like to tell you a story about myself instead.

In my late teens, I met a group of keen bridge players who persuaded me to join them. I played quite well and thoroughly enjoyed myself until one evening, when having trounced our opponents, my partner proceeded to explain to them why I had played my cards the way I did, what conventions I had followed and what my bid had told him. I was amazed because what he attributed to a sound understanding of the rules of bridge was in fact pure intuition.

Similarly, when it comes to colour and form, I feel what to do rather than follow any rules. The exciting part about doing it this way is that you will, in time, discover the rules for yourself, you will notice that certain colours used together are intensified, that some proportions work better than others and that rules are only other people's observations.

Observation is the key to all creativity. I am a careful observer of everything around me and would recommend that you develop this ability in yourself. There are so many inspirations in everyday life, some in the most surprising places--it may be the colour and texture of a tree trunk, a photograph in a magazine or a cleverly decorated shop window. Stop and look closer, see if you can put your finger on what it was that attracted you, and make a mental note.

For example, a few months ago I saw a wonderful Chinese film. The story takes place in rural China in the middle of winter with little colour in the landscape but the outsides of the peasants houses are hung with festoons of chillis and corn hung to dry under the eaves. The intensity of the reds and yellows against the drab countryside made an indelible impression on me and I have carried that image in my mind ever since.

So inspiration is all around us. We live in a world of colour, form and texture and, once you develop the habit of observation, you will find a never ending source of new ideas.

I called into one of my suppliers recently to pick up some materials for the projects in this book and, as usual, I wandered round looking at what was new. Two items caught my eye, a divided picture frame and a tiny woven basket. At that stage I had no idea what I would do with them, but I brought them home and put them on a shelf in my workroom. A few days later I was sent a sample of tiny yellow rosebuds and it occurred to me that they would look good in the picture frame alongside other flowers and some mosses, so I played around with the idea and found it worked. I shall buy more frames and experiment further. The little basket came in useful when I was icing a cake and felt too lazy to walk to the shops to buy decorations. Casting around for a substitute, the little basket came to hand, and filled with little roses and moss it makes a very pretty decoration and a charming keepsake.

Don't feel that you should restrict the use of dried flowers to 'arrangements', they have many other decorative uses within the home. A simple coolie lampshade is enlivened with an edging of dried flowers and a picture frame is transformed by mosses and shells.

For a special occasion such as a wedding, decorate a hat with a garland of dried flowers and make a brooch to match. Gifts look even better with a few dried flowers tucked into the ribbon.

When I first started working with dried flowers I, too, bought books and followed other people's ideas. As you work on the projects in this book you will gain confidence in your own abilities and by emulating my style you will work towards the point where your own begins to develop. If you are a beginner, choose an easy project like a lavender posy on page 20 or the Victorian rose pot on page 52 before moving on to something more ambitious.

I hope that this book will help open the door to your creativity and be a source of inspiration and enjoyment.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword

Introduction

Posies

Pomanders

Terracotta Pots

Topiary Trees

Garlands

Baskets

Practicalities

Useful Addresses

Index

Bibliography

Acknowledgements

Author Biography: Stephanie Donaldson has run her own business, Classes in a Country House, in England, which included dried flower workshops. She has also worked as a photographer's stylist and a writer and has taught at prestigious venues such as the Chelsea Physic Garden and Longleat House.

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