It all starts with someone giving me an idea. Last year, my floral designer friend was working with a grapevine angel and wanted something colorful for the angel to hold in her hands. So, I started thinking about it and this is what I came up with. Naturally, I forgot to take pictures along the way, but I can give you the basic order of events.
As always, I start with recycled wool. This smaller poinsettia was made from a single skirt in classic, bright red. I sketched out 2 sizes of petals and used my rotary cutter to cut out some pairs. this one only had 4 small and 4 big. I've since moved to 5 and 5. Odd numbers always look better.
The petals were sewn together and trimmed close. Then, I ran a tight but wide zigzag down the center line of each petal. This line becomes the channel for the wire. I used regular floral wire that comes in long packages. You need something pretty stiff. This is 20 guage. I left the wires long for the time being.
Once I had all the petals made, I made the center. I used a piece of wool and stuffed it with some offcuts from wool or cashmere or whatever I had. I really don't like fiberfill. Ever. Once it was stuffed, I took thinner floral wire and wrapped just below the stuffing. Then I sewed some glass beads on for a bit of sparkle.
So now I have a bunch of petals and a center. This is the trickiest part. I take a long piece of thinner floral wire, arrange the petals around the center, and wrap around the base of all of it. Tight. Extra wire is used to wrap all the long ends of 20-guage wire to make a stem. At this point the flower is closed up tight and the petals stick straight up.
Now you want to cover the stem and the ugly wires. I take a long strip (about 1/2 inch wide) of the same green used for the center. I wrap it at the top first to cover the wire. This is the only glue I used. A dab of glue and pin hold the strip in place until you can stitch it down. Catch a bit of a few petals as you stitch so the green strip stays in place and doesn't go sliding down the stem. Once it's secure at the top, you just wind the strip down the stem, stitching every wrap so it is secure. Make sure you cover the bottom of the stem as well. You don't want to see any metal at all.
After the whole thing is stitched and secure, you can gently bend the wires outward to form the flower. This is the time to arrange the petals as well. I love how the wool has the velvety texture of real poinsettias.
This bunch of poinsettias is going to my friend, Lisa, for her Christmas present. Happily, our girlfriend Christmas get-together is not scheduled until the 21st so I got to enjoy these in my own house for the whole season practically! I'm hoping Lisa doesn't follow my blog. Otherwise, the surprise is ruined. She admired my original poinsettia last year and said that, if I ever made more, she wanted to buy some. I never got around to it, but when I drew her name for the gift exchange, I knew what I would do.
These are a little different because I didn't have enough wool from any one skirt to make all the flowers. I wanted a bigger flower and they actually used up quite a bit of wool. So I cut out the petals needed and then over-dyed the entire batch with some crimson dye. I highly recommend the Jacquard acid dyes that come in a little packet that dissolves in water. They're meant for use in the washing machine, but I did it stovetop in my big dye stock pot. The crimson was just the beautiful, dark red that I wanted. I dyed the batch and then ran it all through the washer on gentle to remove the excess dye. Make sure you run some similar colors in the load immediately following. I stupidly ran a load of whites and ended up with pinks. Rookie mistake. But, the dye holds beautifully and the only acid involved is a bit of white vinegar.
Now the only question is how to wrap them! Once you bend the wires out to form the flower, it's a pretty big package. Merry Christmas, Lisa!