Let's Look At - Florist Wire . . .
There are many different roles for wire in a floral setting.
Wire aids flower blooms in many different functions! Strong Wire adds strength to a floral stem. Thin wire can totally recreate a bloom. Wire is a silent tool that helps the florist tremendously.
The samples of wire above are straight pieces of wire and paddle wire. Length of wire are most popular are 12” and 18”. Paddle wire is usually a thinner wire that is wrapped on a strip of heavy cardboard.
In my floral designing, I use three gauges of wire. For strong support to fortify stems, I use #18. This is one of the heaviest gauges that the florist utilizes. It is great to support carnation blooms in funeral work. The gauge I use most often is #22. This gauge is flexible. It can used in many situations. It can support the stems, create shapes for designs, and it is great to hold together a bow! The thinnest gauge I use is #26. This gauge is used to wire flowers for corsages, boutonnieres and wedding bouquets. The thinness of the wire allows control to hold together the petals, but it takes skill and practice not to cut the petals. It is important to realize that this gauge of wire can cut your fingers like a razor if you pull it through your fingers.
My major tools for cutting wire are wire cutters and shears. I use wire cutters for gauges #18 and #22. When using #26 gauge, shears are better for me to cut the wire. The thinness of the wire does not always make a clean cut using wire cutters. It is important that the cuts of the wire be neat, so as not to injure anybody.
Like any other artist, a flower designer needs different tools!
There are a variety of tools used for cutting flowers. These are the tools I use most often for cutting the variety of flowers I choose.
I use pruning shears for cutting flowers from the plant , and also heavy stems such as evergreens. This tool easily cuts through the bark and makes a clean cut. I sometimes use pruning shears to cut flowers underwater.
Ribbon scissors are used exclusively for ribbon. This pair of scissors need to be very sharp. This allows a clean, sharp cut on the ribbon. I try not to use these on wired ribbon. This may dull the scissors. I may cut the ribbon with a pair of shears, pull through the wire on the end, then make a clean, angle cut on the ribbon ends.
Shears are another pair of scissors that are used by designers. My Mother used shears, instead of a knife, to design flower arrangements. These shears are multipurpose. They can cut flowers, thin wire, plastic, and other thin solid surfaces. Shears are usually serrated. This can cut through heavier objects.
Another cutting tool is the florist knife. There are different styles of knives. The knife I used is a foldable knife. It is very sharp. It takes practice to use a knife. To use a knife, learn the hold the knife at a 45 degree angle against the stem of the flower. The trick is to pull the stem against the stationary knife. This helps prevent cutting your thumb.
Remember, practice is the best way to learn control and speed when using the tools for flower designing.
Let's Look At - MY Toolbox . . .
A toolbox keeps essentials together!
In my toolbox I have my basic tools. For Cutting I have – pruning shears, florist knife, shears, ribbon scissors, and wire cutter. The wire in my toolbox is paddle wire, great for saving space, I carry # 26 and # 22 in paddle wire. I also carry a few pieces of straight #22 that I have folded in two from the box in my workroom. In tape there are a roll of floral wrap tape, and waterproof floral tape in green and clear. I also include a roll of green florist twine. To complete my tools are packets of flower food, a few corsage pins, and rose strippers.
This is the toolbox I am currently using. It was my Mother’s. In the late 1960’s, Dad decorated a fishing tackle box for her tools. This works for me because most of the work I create is done off the site. I arrive at the site with most of the arrangements completed. At the site, most of the work is placement and decorating permanent fixtures that are on the site. All I need are basic tools to finish the designs for decorating.
My sister also is a floral designer. She does most of her work at the site. She will bring the flowers and tools to the site and create in a small area. Her toolbox is four times the size of mine. Hers is a current fishing tackle box with foldouts. But, she has to carry anything she may need to complete her plans to decorate the site.
Like the tools, the toolbox is a reflection of the designer.
When we were operating Rosecliff Florist, we had a lot of customers comment on the longtime freshness of the blooms in our arrangements. In my opinion, this was because of the steps we took to condition the flowers. We took these steps days before the flowers were used. Make your fresh cut blooms last longer by following the steps used by florists.
Let’s look at those steps:
Select fresh blooms.
Cut flower stems underwater.
Place cut stems in warm water.
Allow flowers to drink overnight.
Place in cooler for 24 hours.
Fill container with water and arrange flowers.
Keep water in container clean by changing water frequently.
Look for flowers that have bright green leaves, blooms, and some blooms that are still in the bud stage. Centers of the blooms should be firm. Outer petals should have very few blemishes.
Cut the stems of the flowers underwater, in warm water conditioned with floral preservative. Place the cut flowers in a clean container, filled with warm water and floral preservative. Allow the flowers to drink in a warm area at least overnight.
In flower shops, after the flowers have drunk overnight, the containers are placed in a cooler for about 24 hours. Temperature is about 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
I simulate a floral cooler by placing the containers of flowers in open ice chests filled with ice. Place the ice chest of flowers in a space that is dark and well ventilated. Allow the flowers to remain in the cooling area about 24 hours. Add more ice if needed to keep the water cool. The water temperature should be like the cool beer temperature.
When arranging the flowers for a floral design, fill the vase with fresh, warm that has floral presentative added. When adding additional water to the vase, use cold water in the arrangement. These steps should also benefit flowers out of the garden!