Special tools may be needed to assist in the creation of exceptional designs.
There are a few tools that will not be in your toolbox all the time. These are tools that you may not needed every day, but unusual designs may demand their usefulness. It is important to be able to make use of them when they are needed.
Flower Preservative is essential for fresh flowers. There are many ways they can be purchased. We used powdered preservative in the shop. It was offered in different container sizes and in boxes of individual packets. Individual packets are consistently available in wrapped bouquets. Often, more than one bouquet is used for an arrangement. In most cases, only one packet of preservative is needed for one container of flowers. Save additional packets for future uses.
Rose Strippers make preparing rose arrangements much faster. This tool can remove the thorns and leaves from the stem of a rose in one pull. The tool is used by holding the tool at the desired height on the stem. Do not have leaves below the water line of the vase. Carefully, squeeze the prongs together around the stem. Draw the tool down to the bottom of the stem. Be careful not to squeeze so tight that the bark is stripped from the stem. After practice, this procedure can be done in one movement!
Wooden Picks are great for securing objects into foam. It is useful to keep assorted sizes on hand. In the shop, we had three lengths – 3”, 4” and 6”. The smallest length was a thinner pick. They all came with thin wire attached to the pick.
A toolbox should contain fastening materials such as tapes and twine!
In my toolbox, I carry a roll of floral wrap tape, and waterproof floral tape in green and clear. I also include a roll of green florist twine. These are the most useful fasteners for me. This is how I use them.
Floral wrap tape is essential for fresh flowers. (The light green tape in this picture.)
This tape is a thin crepe paper lightly encased in wax. To start this tape, hold the end between the index finger and thumb. Pull the tape over the are you are securing. As the tape passes through the finger the friction created activates the wax to secure it to itself. This tape is used to create blooms from petals. This will include corsages, boutonnieres, and bouquets used in weddings. Others uses include covering florist wire with the floral wrap tape. This keeps the wire from cutting the pieces that are being connected, it also conceals the wire.
Waterproof tape is used to hold the floral foam to the design container. I keep green and clear in my toolbox.
I also use it to make a crisscross on the top of a vase, such as Roses, to hold the stems in place.
Some clear decorative vases look more elegant when the tape is invisible. Be sure the vase is dry when applying the waterproof tape. Notice that I cut the tails of the tape close to the tape encircling the vase. This also helps the secure the tape, especially if the tape gets wet.
Florist twine has been used for decades, maybe even centuries! This twine is also covered with wax. This allows the twine to be used with water. This twine is used to create the Arm Bouquets you see in beauty events. The greenery is tied to the stems of the blooms and the stems are arranged to create the bouquets. This twine is very strong! It will tie arrangements to permanent fixtures. Be careful, like a wire, this twine can cut and it can be very painful!
A silent tool that helps the florist tremendously is wire.
Wire aids flower blooms in many different functions! Strong Wire adds strength to a floral stem. Thin wire can totally recreate a bloom. There are many different roles for wire in a floral setting.
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.
This is a sample card supplied to the wholesalers by wire suppliers, Southern Steel & Wire, Inc. And Highland Wire, Inc. The sample card was offered to the florists to show all wire gauges available. Orders could be made if a project required a special gauge and a minimum was met.
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 harm anyone.
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.