When Things Go Off The Rails
What could possibly go wrong when you’re making bead flowers? Here are some of my real-life scenarios, and how I dealt with them.
- You run out of wire or your wire breaks in the middle of a leaf or petal. If you’re making something exotic, and you’re using color-matched wire, you could wrap the wire very tightly at the top of the piece and enjoy the piece’s asymmetry. The other option is this: wrap the wire at the bottom of the piece as if you’re finishing it. Then, using a new loaded paddle or spool of wire, wrap the new wire up the piece’s stemwires and continue as usual.
- Your hank of beads comes untied at the top. You can take half of the top threads in each hand and knot them together. You can also tape them together with floral tape. If you do this, be sure to fold the tape and the threads over and around each other so the threads won’t come loose again.
- There is a black bead loaded among your yellow beads on your spool wire. Occasionally a bead that’s the wrong color will show up on a hank or in a bag of beads, and be loaded onto your wire before you notice it. You don’t want to unload all the beads that followed it. Simply take a plier, not a wire cutter, and carefully crush the black bead. Alternately, you could leave it on the wire and work it into your flower. Flowers often have a spot or other bit of a different color in their petals.
- Your floral tape leaves too much sticky residue on your hands. Sometimes you’ll get a roll of tape that’s exceptionally waxy, and simple washing doesn’t get the wax off your hands. Rub a little baby oil on your hands, then wash again with regular hand soap.
- A completed flower’s petals are too floppy. Use lacing wire and a regular sewing needle to “sew” the basic row of each petal into shape. This is an extreme example of skip-lacing. For a flat and open flower, like a lily, work on the outsides of the petals. For a vertical and closed flower, like a large crocus or tulip, work on the inside of the petals. This is so that the lacing wire won’t be visible.
- A flower is too heavy for its stemwire and the stemwire bends under the flower’s weight. Tape two or three more lengths of stemwire, and tape them on around the flower’s existing stemwire. For a thinner stem, use the long piece of a wire coat hanger instead of more stemwires.
- Your clay is too stiff to mold and place in your vase. Dedicate a plastic or glass container and microwave the clay in 15- to 20-second intervals. The inside of the clay block will heat much faster than the outside and it may liquefy. To avoid this, cut the clay into small chunks before heating. Allow to cool before touching. Alternately, use an old, clean coffee can and warm the clay slowly in the oven.
- Your Spanish moss won’t stay in your vase. Cut a piece of stemwire approximately four inches long. Bend it in half. Insert it into the moss and push it well into the clay like you would use a bobby pin.
- Your wreath frame breaks as you’re assembling your wreath. Cut a piece of heavy stemwire that is longer than the space between two crosswires on the wreath. Wrap one end of the stemwire completely around one wreath crosswire. Holding the wreath in its proper shape, wrap the other end of the stemwire completely around the next crosswire. For extra reinforcement, lash in an X shape around the joins with 24 gauge paddle wire.
- Your arrangements or wreaths become dusty over time. Whatever you do, don’t dunk your flowers in water! Also, don’t spray them with any liquid. This will rust the wires. Using plain baby wipes, roll the petals’ rows between your fingers. It will take a little time, but your flowers will look lovely and fresh, and you won’t risk rusting the wires.