Boy Meets Girl

It's the story you've heard time and time again.

Boy meets girl.
Boy pursues girl.
Boy proposes to girl.
Girl says yes.
They live happily ever after.

Only not.

Our story is more complicated. And yet, it's all so simple.

Boy meets girl.
Girls is unavailable.
Boy and girl work together.
Boy and girl become great friends.
Girl is available.
Boy likes girl.
Girl likes boy.
Boy proposes to girl.
Girl says yes.
Boy gets deployed.
Girl plans a wedding.

I'm that girl, welcome to my blog.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Girl makes brooch bouquet

Boy proposes to Girl.
Girl says yes.
Boy goes to war.
Girl plans a wedding.
Girl asks for help.
Girl gets brooches.
Girl makes brooch bouquet.

When I decided to make a brooch bouquet... I had no idea what an undertaking it would be!
I had seen pictures and figured I was pretty good at crafts...

Little did I know...

After looking around on the internet and trying to figure out exactly how I wanted to do it, I came up with a plan... sort of.

Before I begin explaining this process, I want to give kind of a disclaimer:
1. This is a HUGE project. It takes lots of time and lots of patience. It also takes a lot of trail and error.
2. This takes a TON of brooches. I used about 80 brooches to get the full look of mine.
3. Some people seem to choose brooches of the same color scheme. I did not. I wanted my bouquet to have meaning, so my family and friends sent them to me. None of them matched. At all. But I loved it that way. If you are choosing your own, you could choose a color scheme, or even a metal color. Or simply all "flower" shapes. I chose not to do that... I had all colors, shapes, sizes and metals... I even had some that were not flower shapes.
4. This is not something I would recommend doing yourself. I did 95% of it myself, but my wonderful florist friend, Angela, helped me put it all together. Had it not been for her, It may have looked like a sparkly mess.
5. I am explaining these steps according to how I did it. I couldn't find step by step instructions anywhere, so I just kind of had to figure it out. You may want to change the way you do it to fit your style and what you want the outcome to look like..
6. The end result is VERY heavy. It is not easy to carry all day long, and can also make picture taking somewhat difficult. So be prepared for the extra weight as well.

With that said....

First, I headed to Michael's (craft store) and loaded up on all the stuff I thought I'd need. Needless to say, I made a couple of trips back. But this is what you will need:
1. 22 gauge green florist wire (lots of it!)
2. Pipe cleaners (at least 2 for each stem)
3. green florist tape (lots of this too!)
4. 50-80 brooches (vintage or otherwise. Other misc jewelry can sometimes be used also)
5. 2-3 stems of silk hydrangeas (I used white, but you could use any color)
6. Wire cutters
7. Needle nose pliers
7. 2 inch wide ribbon (I used off white, but any color would work)
8. Hot glue

Once I had gathered all the stuff I thought I'd need, here are the steps I took:

1. Prepare the brooches.
I made sure they were all securely pinned shut. For a few of them, I had to hot glue the clasp to make them stay. A few didn't have pins on the back, so I had to be sure there was some way to wrap my wire through them.

2. Attach wire to each brooch, creating a "stem"
Each brooch is different. So this was kind of a trial and error for each individual brooch. I wrapped wire around the pin part of the brooch and connected it in the middle of the brooch, twisting it tight so that when I held the wire, the brooch wouldn't flop. I twisted the two ends of the wire all the way down the stem to reinforce it. The needle nose pliers are a lot of help here. You want the stems to be close to a foot and a half (18 inches). I know it seems long, but they need to be long enough to go through the hydrangea and make a long stem for you to hold.

3. Reinforce the wire "stem" with pipe cleaner

I took a green pipe cleaner and wrapped it around the wire to give the stem reinforcement and thickness. The stems were long enough that it usually took two pipe cleaners for each stem. Sometimes three. It isn't crucial for the pipe cleaner to go all the way down... its most important on the top half.

4. Wrap the stem with florist tape
Starting from the top of the stem, wrap floral tape around and around in a diagonal motion to cover the stem. This reinforces it again, makes the stems look green like stems should be, and also gives the stems a little stick which will help when you put the whole thing together.

5. Continue this process with each brooch (or piece of jewelry)

It's good to have lots of different shapes and sizes because it will help your bouquet to have a full look. It will help with piecing it together and making the finished product.

6. Cut stems of hydrangeas
Not too short! You want them to be plenty long enough to hold with two hands... and still have a little room left. But most of the silk hydrangea flowers have SUPER long stems and that makes them hard to handle.

7. Hold hydrangea stems together
This will create kind of a mini bouquet, and the base for your bouquet.

8. Begin placing brooches
This is where it gets tricky and where I had help from my florist friend. She took each brooch stem and pulled it through the hydrangeas, letting the brooch sit on top of the flowers, and gathering the stem with your other hand. This is basically creating the bouquet. You do this much the same way you would with live flowers or silk flowers. It will get harder the more you do. It's best to start with the larger brooches.

9. Fill in the open areas with the small brooches
Continue the same process, but fill in the open areas with the smaller pieces. It will help your bouquet look full and complete. You can also use the wire stems to your advantage by bending them to fit where you need them.

10. Wrap the stems
After you have built the bouquet where you like it, and you are ready to finish it up, keep the stems gathered in one hand, and use florist tape to wrap the stems together. It may help to have another person helping you here. The bouquet will be full and heavy by this point and hard to handle with only one hand. Wrap in a diagonal motion all the way to the ends of the stems.

11. Finish off the stems with ribbon
Take the two inch ribbon, and starting at the top, wrap in the same diagonal motion all the way down the stems, being careful to completely cover the green from the stems. Use the hot glue gun to secure the ribbon at the bottom of the bouquet.

This whole process takes a long time... I did it over the course of several days. It is also a lot of trail and error and being patient. But if you can manage to do that, it is really a beautiful result.

Thanks to our fabulous photographers Chris and Erinn of White Haute Photography for the images :) And to my friend Angela of Perfectly Pink Florals for helping me with this huge project!