Friday, October 05, 2012

Making Silk Flowers - The Camellia

What you will need
·          About 15cm of fabric – natural fabrics such silk, cotton work best
·          French Flower tools – if you don’t have them, be creative – look in the kitchen drawers or the tool box
·          Burner to heat tools - stove top, gas camp stove, spirit burner
·          Foam block and cotton cloth to cover – foam should be about 10-12cm thick
·          Florist wire (about 22 gauge)
·          Florist tape
·          Stamens
·          Clear craft glue
·          Fabric Stiffener
·          Scissors
·          Pliers
·          Dressmaker’s pins

Stiffen the fabric

You can use straw stiffener (flammable and really smelly). 

You can use the recipe from my previous post. 

If you want a really simple and effective stiffener you can use PVA glue and water solution.  Mix 1/3 PVA to 2/3 water in a bucket or large bowl. PVA is a woodworking glue that you can buy from the hardware store.

Scrunch the fabric up and dunk into the solution and make sure the fabric is really soaked.  Wring out the fabric really tightly and then hang on the line to dry.  Use pegs or weights on the bottom on the fabric in the corners to stop the fabric gluing together. 

Hint – if you are doing a lot of stiffening of fabrics for flower making do your light colours first and then darker colours.  Dye can sometimes run from darker fabrics.

Cut out your fabric using your paper patterns

Draw from this diagram and enlarge patterns to size,  Use tape measure as a guide.

Petal 1            Cut 4
Petal 2            Cut 3
Leaf                Cut 3 (cut on bias of fabric)

Cut out all the petals and leaves.   When pinning the pattern to fabric make sure pins are in the centre of the petal – the hole from the pin does not disappear so have the pin hole in a spot where it will not be obvious when finished.

Hint: Always cut out 1 or 2 more petals and leaves than you need – sometimes the tool may be too hot and burn so in this way you have some spare. Sometimes you will want a fuller flower depending on the thickness of the fabric chosen.

 If you don’t use them in this flower keep with other spares you will collect. It will be surprising how you can construct a hybrid flower from all your leftovers. The combination of the colours and textures of fabrics can be really interesting.

The leaves

Glue the florist wire onto the backs of the leaves so glue can dry while you are tooling the petals and constructing the flower.  Place the wire in the centre of the leaf. Make sure the wire is glued to almost the top of the leaf.

Heat the knife tool.  (If you don’t have one raid the kitchen drawer and look for a butter knife – ie one that is smooth and doesn’t have serrated surfaces.)

Once glue has dried place leaf wrong side down on flat hard surface (ie don’t use foam pad or sand bag).  Run knife along the wire on each side of the wire.  Make veins in the leaf – run knife from centre to the edge of the leaf.

Wire the leaves together by first overlapping two of the wired leaves and twisting the wire until there is no movement.  Cut off extra wire from one wired leaf. 

Repeat with third leaf.

Neaten this wire bunch by winding florist tape from the base of all leaves to the end.

Pressing the petals

Using foam pad (or sand bag if you prefer) place Petal 1 – right side down.  Tool all petals on the wrong side of the fabric.

Place ball tool into centre of each petal, by holding the petal in the centre with the left hand, push down with tool in right hand lift up at the same time.  All four of Petal 1 are pressed the same.

Place one of the circles of petals on the foam pad and press the heated knob into each petal. 

Press heavily into the foam pad so that the petals are pressed into deep cups. 

The three larger sets of Petal 2 are pressed in much the same way but instead of one deep scoop in the centre of each petal, make two indentations in each petal.  Press the remainder of Petal 2 the same.

Into the centre of each circle of petals press firmly using the round tool:
Press 2 of Petal 1 on wrong side
Press 2 of Petal 1 on right side – the reason for this will become clearer later
Press all of Petal 2 on right side

Assembling the camellia

Take a piece of florist wire and fold in half.  Put the folded wire in to the centre of the stamens.  Fold stamens up and pinch the florist wire at the base using some pliers.  Twist the two pieces of wire together.  Wrap the base with florist tape and tease out the stamens so they sit evenly.
Cut a small X in the middle of each circle of petals.  This little X allows the circle of petals to slide over the wire.

Put a small amount of glue at the base of the stamens. Take Petal 1 (the one that was tooled in the middle of the wrong side) and slide onto the wire.  Place the petals around the centre stamens so the petals overlap evenly. The petals should fold around the stamens forming a little centre bud. Hold gently until the glue has held the petals around the centre stamen bunch.

Place a small amount of glue around the base of the first petal.  Slide the second Petal 1 (the petal with tooled centre of wrong side) onto the stamen base.

Place a small amount of glue around the base of the previous petal.  Slide the third Petal 1 onto the flower bud.  This third petal will sit out from the stamen base rather than around the centre. Repeat for the remaining Petal 1. Place around so the petals go in between previous petals.
Now slip the three large circles of petals on (ie Petal 2); placing them so that the petals curl out. Place a little glue between each slip-on petal circle. Place Petal 2 so that petals go in between previous petals.  Repeat this process with the remaining petals.
When the glue on the flower is dry, attach the leaves.  Place leaves so that about half of the leaf shows beyond the flower and secure the leaf bunch by winding in the wire stem of the leaves around the main stem of the flower.  Position leaves onto camellia making sure they are close to the back of the flower - this helps to have the flower sit a little flatter at the back when you are attaching to hats or when using as a brooch.  Cut off extra wire.

To neaten the back cut a small circle from the fabric. Cut a small X in the centre of the circle – glue and then slide the circle over the wires. 

Neaten all wires using florist tape.

Use the pliers and pinch the back of the camellia (at the base) on the wire and fold the stem over.  Cut off excess wire using pliers. 


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