Sunday, 16 January 2011

The brooch bouquet: The tutorial

You will need:
Approx 75 brooches (or rings, earrings or anything else you can wire the back of)
Approx 150 Pipe cleaners (2 per brooch)
Approx 75 lengths of gardening wire
Florists tape (I used a roll and a half)
Masking tape
Wide ribbon/Trim to finish (I used white but you can choose any colour you want!)

1. Wire the flowers
I'm sure there are loads of different ways of making a brooch bouquet, but this is how I did it! I treated each individual brooch like a separate flower (see above). I made the flowers by taking the wire and (using the pliers) wrapping it around the clasp of the brooch so that it was pretty secure and the length of the wire hung down like a stem. This didn't give enough security and often wasn't tight enough though, so I then wrapped a pipe cleaner around each side of the clasp and then twisted these around the length of the wire, making the stem thicker and more secure. Then just to make the flowers look pretty (and more like flowers!) in case you could see any of the stem once i'd constructed the bouquet, I took the florist tape and used it to completed cover the stem, like to you see above.

Doing this for each of your brooches is a pretty lengthy process and it took me up to 10 minutes to do each one, depending on how fiddly the clasp is. My tip to make this less grueling is to do each "flower" as you buy the brooches, so you don't have to sit down and do 75 all at once.

2. Assemble the bouquet
Once you have your 75 flowers constructed, its time to start putting the bouquet together. This is tricky, especially if you want a traditional rounded shape like I did, so it's best to take it slow to get it right. I started by laying out all the brooches and seeing which ones would fit together nicely. Then I started putting them in little clusters of 3 to 4 brooches to see how they would look. Once I had my little cluster looking good, I twisted the wires of those 3/4 brooches around each other, so that they were secure in the position I wanted them to be, without using any glue. I started with the first cluster I wanted at the top centre of the bouquet and worked down and round.

If anything needed repositioning, or the bouquet was starting to fall flat I turned it upside down and started 'fluffing' it up and pushing the brooches back into the positions I wanted to be in: it's easier that way. What I ended up with was a nice looking bouquet, but with an ugly looking twisted stem.

Depending on the length of wire you use, you might have to shorten your bouquet at this stage I did!) We just used wire cutters to trim though each flower (I got Mike to help with this, as it needed a stronger arm than mine!)

Now is the time for the masking tape! To cover your ugly stem, and give you an even surface for your ribbons, wrap masking tape around the stem as tightly as you can, making the stem as compact and even as possible.

3. Trim your bouquet
This was the bit I found hardest, and i'm not going to give a full tutorial on this, because if you google 'wrap bridal bouquet' you'll find lots of much better video tutorials to follow: that's what I did!! The lace trim around the flowers (which of course you don't have to have but I liked as it added to the vintage feel) was a case of trial and error. I pushed my lace under the flowers and into the position around the bouquet that I wanted. Then using a needle and thick white cotton I stitched it into place: I used the brooches as anchors for this (because I had no other fabric to stitch to!!) and stitched around them and their stems. It seems to have worked well and feels pretty secure.

Et voila! The brooch bouquet is complete!

Sorry I didn't take more photos during the construction process, but I hope that makes sense! Good luck making your own brooch masterpieces!

Love, Tor xxx

NOTE: I'm sure if you didn't mind ruining the brooches there would be a much easier way of doing this, using hot glue. This method just didn't work for me, because a lot of the brooches have sentimental value, and I didn't want to damage them.