Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Hand-Pressed Petals

August 13, 2010

One crafty afternoon, my assistant Montita came over with her flower-making supplies to teach me the art of pressed millinery flower making.  Montita was a silk flower maker in Thailand, and she is a fount of wisdom on the subject.   Let me just say it’s  a difficult and time-consuming process.  Here’s what we went through to make one fluffy flower:

1.  Boiled clear gelatin with water to make a liquid, and spread it onto sheets of fabric.  Hung them outside to dry.

2.  Tested out the irons to make sure they weren’t so hot that they would melt or burn the fabric.

3.  Hand cut petals from our stiffened fabric. We used silk dupioni and a thinner poly silk.

4.  Used over 4 different iron tips on each petal to achieve the exact curve, curl, and wrinkle we were going for.

5.  Stacked each layer of petals, and sewed them together using pearls as “stamens”.

Here is the result!  I made this super simple ivory flower with freshwater pearl center especially for my friend Kim to wear on her wedding day.  I’m so honored that she wore one of my first hand-pressed creations on her big day!

Image courtesy of Orange Turtle Photography.

Here is a more complex peony flower that I made for one of my dearest clients to wear next weekend on her wedding day.  The lace bits compliment the rustic Spanish feel of her wedding perfectly.

These flowers are so much effort, but they are infinitely more beautiful than some silk flower you’d buy from a craft store, chop off the stem, and glue to a hair clip.  I’ve been experimenting with different fabrics, fabric dyes, and iron tips to see what comes of it.


The Treasured Petal Boutique!

January 13, 2010

Announcing my brand new etsy shop, The Treasured Petal Boutique!

I am selling items to have (decor), to hold (ring pillows and flower girl baskets), and to wear (accessories galore) for weddings and everyday.

I LOVE working with fresh flowers. They are evidence of God’s artistry, they smell divine and offer endless design possibilities.

Golden Carnation

But there is something comforting about creating nonperishable items that will never ever wilt or die.  Plus I can do it in my pajamas in front of old movies whenever wedding season  slows down.   Now I’m able to sell T-Petal creations to people all over the world, not just to my dear brides in L.A. and O.C.

Athena, In Gold

Can you tell that my stomach has butterflies in it? It is way intimidating to dive into etsy waters.  Especially when there are so many artists selling gorgeous pieces (heartoflight, whichgoose, and twigsandhoney are among my favs!) But I do believe I am bringing something special to the etsy community, so  stop by my shop and take a look around.  I will be adding items almost everyday, and shipping is just 2.00 to the U.S.!

Ever Wonder How…? Part 4

November 3, 2009

Ever wonder how… to make a floating floral raft?

The first floral raft I ever saw was this R. Jack creation on the Love and Splendor Blog.


(Photo by The Image Is Found).

There are also some amazing Japanese flower rafts on the net, like this one:

ocean flowers

(photo from here)

Piggybacking off my last post, I thought I’d share how I created the floral rafts in this picture.  I’m often asked to create things that I’ve never done or even seen before.  This was one of them!  I’m sure there are many ways to do this, so let me know if you have another method that works.


1.  Purchase styrafoam sheets, at least 2 inches thick.  Mine came from a floral supply store.

2.  I wrapped satin ribbon around the foam and secured it with pearl pins for a nice, tailored look in the water.

3.  I gathered different height candle holders and positioned them on the styrofoam.  I took wooden picks (aka hyacinth sticks) and stuck them around the candles like a little fence.  They keep the candles in place.  I was worried that the weight of these candles would be too much for the foam. Surprisingly, the foam is very bouyant and I could have probably loaded the rafts with even more.

4.  Next, I took 3″ round caged foams (see picture below, from the fss website) and spaced them evenly on the styrafoam.  It took about 10-12 cages per raft.  Note:  If you’re using sturdy flowers like mums and carnations which do ok without a water source, you can insert these flowers directly into the styrafoam sheets using toothpicks or pins.

caged foams

5.  I wanted the rafts to look like fluffy beds of flowers, so I chose flowers that would give me a lot of coverage (hydrangea, stock, open roses, and ivy).  I inserted the flowers into the foam cages and tried to keep the arrangement low, so as to not block the view of the candles.


6.  We used LED pillars for one reason- if the wind blew these suckers out, who was going to jump in and relight them?  Real wax LED’s look realistic from a distance.

7.  Oh yes, remember to LIGHT THEM/TURN THEM ON FIRST before you dive in to set them up!

8.  We created hooks on the bottom of our rafts with ribbon, and attached fishing weights to the hooks with fishing line.  You can spray paint the weights light blue to blend in with the bottom of the pool.

9.  Hindsight is 20/20, and I realize now that we could have attached the  fishing line to opposite sides of the rafts, and then tied them to waterproof suction cups on the walls of the pool. You would need to  test it out ahead of time to make sure they would be secure enough.

These are incredibly labor intensive, which can make them very pricey.  I think a simple raft with votive candles on a bed of petals or greenery would be just as gorgeous (and a little more budget friendly).




Ever Wonder How… Part 3

October 7, 2009

Ever wonder how... to prevent “sweaty vase syndrome”?

I like the look of stacked vases.  The picture below features bubble bowls stacked on top of cylinders of submerged orchids.

entry 2
Photo by The Image is Found.

I also love creating floral cake stands with glass vases and plexiglass.

Photo by Trista Lerit Photography.

I’m also loving enclosed terrariums, like the one below via Grey Likes Weddings.

terrariumLidded apothecary vases filled with flowers are also sweet.


Here’s the potential problem:  flowers and plants sweat, and if the evaporated water can’t escape, it causes fogginess inside the glass.  This is not such a cute look.  I’m embarrassed to point this out, but you can even see my vase is sweating a little in the picture above!

I learned a cool tip passed on to me by my head assistant, Shana.  She is full of wisdom and I’m blessed to have her on my team.

Step 1.  Find a stick of clear glue for a glue gun.

Step 2.  Use sharp scissors to cut it it up  into little pieces, the thickness of a pencil eraser.

Step 3.  Use a glue gun to glue the pieces to the rim of your vase or jar.

Step 4.  Place your plexiglass sheet/vase/lid on top.  The little  glue gun pieces prop up the cover just enough to allow air circulation, and help to prevent your vase from fogging up.

What makes this so handy is that the glue pieces are hardly noticeable, they come off really easily when you’re done, and every florist has glue sticks in her/his toolbox somewhere.  I have yet to try this trick on a super hot day, when sweat of all kinds is all too abundant.  Can anyone vouch for this, or have another solution?







Ever Wonder How…? Part 2

June 26, 2009

Ever wonder how… to keep fully wrapped bouquet stems hydrated?

*Disclaimer: Sorry if this post seems a little risque! I’m trying to be technical.  Thank you to my assistant Shana for sharing this amazing little trick with me!

I’m about to share with you all a little florist secret- shh! Don’t tell anyone I told you this!

Take for example this stunning bouquet by Karen Tran via Away Soiree:


Notice that the satin ribbon wrap fully covers the stems, even at the bottom of the bouquet, allowing for a luxe, tailored look.

Since the bridal bouquet is the star of all wedding flowers, it’s crucial that the flowers have a supply of water until the last possible second to keep blooms fresh. I usually don’t do full bouquet wraps for this reason. I feel more secure when I deliver the bouquets in a vase with water so I know the thirsty stems are drinking and are ready for a full day of wedding action. But there IS a way to keep fully covered stems hydrated. Don’t giggle please. Condoms.

Here’s how:

1. Simply create your hand-tied bouquet and leave it unwrapped in a vase of water until the day before the wedding.

2. Drench some paper towel in water. I mean DRENCH.

3. Wrap the drenched paper towel nicely around the bottom of the stems. Bunch a little bit around the bottom, but you don’t want it to look bulgy.

4. Fill the tip of a condom with water and roll the condom over the stems, essentially creating a sleeve. Not too much water- you don’t want any leakage!

5. Voila! If the rubber apparatus does what it’s supposed to do, you’ve got a sturdy, sealed reservoir of water for your stems. Simply wrap with ribbon and go!

Another plus about this method is that it prevents the green stems from staining white ribbon, which can be a big problem.

Does anyone have any other nifty ideas for wrapping bouquets? Let me know!

Ever Wonder How…?

June 9, 2009

As a floral designer, I’ve vowed to never stop learning. I still like to attend design seminars when I can, and I’m always asking other florists and my super savvy assistants if they think I could do something faster, prettier, or smarter. I might even go back to flower school to take some classes (and hopefully TEACH some classes someday.) In my new “Ever Wonder How…?” series, I’ll be posting some neat florist tricks of the trade addressing some questions that I certainly had before becoming a florist. And please, if you have an even better technique than what I am showcasing, leave me a comment!

Ever Wonder How… to decorate a cake with fresh flowers? That’s one thing I didn’t learn in floral school, surprisingly. I’ve seen and tried many different techniques.

  • Some florists just stick the stems directly into the cake (after rinsing the flowers of course! A gentle fruit and vegetable wash works well for this.)
  • Some actually wire and tape each flower, essentially creating a ton of little boutonnieres to stick into the cake. Some wire and tape the flowers onto picks, and insert them into the cake. Can you say time consuming?
  • Some use tiny floral foam cages, fill them with flowers, and lay them on the cake (with cellophane in between, to protect the cake).

Now, all those ways are fine and dandy. They work. I’ve tried them all. But something always weirded me out about sticking an ordinary flower stem into a gorgeous, priceless confection. First off, no matter how well you rinse, are you really getting off all the pesticides and preservatives? And I doubt that florist tape and wires are much cleaner. My issue with the floral foam is that sometimes the cages leak out water and tiny green foam particles, which could be toxic. And the foam is heavy- I do NOT want to see a cake collapse because I’ve just topped it with a 5 pound arrangement. A collapsing cake is one of my recurring nightmares. I’m serious, I can barely breathe when I put flowers on a cake.

The best and easiest solution I’ve found came from my assistant Montita, who spent most of her life in Thailand. She is full of snazzy ideas that she picked up from her home country. Basically, she’s the bomb.

  • Step 1: Select the flowers you’d like to use. Now this is kind of a bummer- most flowers are indeed toxic to some extent. I think the only common wedding flower I DIDN’T see on the on that list was roses. Hmm. That doesn’t leave us with much, right? Keep in mind that there are some flowers that are considered more toxic than others, including ivy, delphinium and kangaroo paws, so try to avoid those. Thankfully, this method really reduces the flower-to-cake contact, so you don’t have to lose sleep over this.

    Some white roses from my garden.

    Some white roses from my garden.

  • Step 2: Cut off the stems completely, leaving just the flower head.IMG_0355
  • Step 3: Take a clean toothpick and poke it into the bottom of the flower.IMG_0357
  • Step 4: If you’re really concerned about your flowers making any contact with the cake, you can cut a small circle of celophane, a little smaller than the flower head. Then pierce it with the toothpick and shimmy it up to the flower head so it acts as a barrier between the cake and the flower.
  • Step 5: Simply insert the toothpicks into the cake and voila! Couldn’t be easier! The best part- it doesn’t leave a huge gaping hole in the cake like a flower stem would.

Thanks for joining me for my first “Ever Wonder How…?” I’ll see ya next time!

And now, I’ll leave you with some pretty pictures of florified cakes 🙂

Photo by Sarah K. Chen

Photo by Sarah K. Chen

photo by Christine Marie Photography.

photo by Christine Marie Photography.


photo by Jasmine Star Photography.

cake table

photo by Jason Q. Tran

photo by Jessica Claire

photo by Jessica Claire

Just For Fun: Flower Pot Escort Cards!

April 10, 2009

In a post long ago I included this rough doodle of a fun idea to display escort cards:

teeny-arrangements Each guest would have a teeny tiny container filled with their own special arrangement. It would be an escort card and wedding favor in one. I just love all things tiny. Well, the incredible calligrapher Lisa of Pen and Ink saw the sketch and thought my idea should be brought to life. She offered her help and promptly sent me beautifully scripted escort cards to use for my mini-baby project. Thanks so much, Lisa!

At the flower mart, I scooped up some yellow daffodils, acacia, navy blue privet berries, spray roses, billy balls and delicate lily of the nile. I purchased tiny flower pots (about 1.5 inches tall), lined them with cellophane (water tends to leak through the terra cotta pots leaving discoloration) and stuffed them with a bit of wet floral foam. I then created mini arrangements with the cutesy spring flowers. These would be adorable in mossy boxes, as shown, or at each place setting.

Lisa's handiwork is so beautiful. I wonder how she came up with all those names! "Jayden King" and "Anthony Colette" have such a nice ring to them.

I love navy blue, yellow and white together. I'm dying to do a wedding with that palette!

Like I said, I love all things tiny!!!

Like I said, I love all things tiny!!!

Thank you to my husband Joe for snapping these pics, and to the sweet Lisa of Pen and Ink! Your work is incredible!

Flower Care Facts and Myths

January 13, 2009
Photo by Trista Lerit Photography.

Photo by Trista Lerit Photography.

I hate when flowers wilt and die. I do all that I can to keep them blooming for as long as possible, but I refuse to waste time and money on strange florist rituals that might actually be doing more harm than good. I’ve worked in several flower shops, and have seen my share of strange practices- banging on woody stems of hydrangea with a hammer, piercing the necks of tulips with pins, dunking flower heads in water- what is this, a flower torture chamber? Not to mention liquoring up the flowers with vodka and gin.

In an Introduction to Floral Design class I took years ago, our teacher passed out a fabulous article called “De-myth-tifying Cut Flower Care” written by Terril A. Nell, PhD, who actually heads a flower care research program. Yay for science!

Here are a few flower care myths from Dr. Nell’s article. You can see for yourself by reading the entire article:

1. MYTH: Homemade flower foods- such as mixtures made with water and aspirin, gin or vodka, 7 Up, pennies, and/or bleach- keep flowers fresh.

TRUTH: There’s logic to some of these “flower cocktails”. For example, they say dropping a penny into the vase allows copper to enter the solution, which can extend vase life. But as Dr. Nell points out, the copper in pennies isn’t even soluble. Who knew? People who use vodka or gin as a bacteriacide may be wasting their alcohol- bleach is much cheaper and much more effective in curbing bacterial growths.  Or opt for a pre-made flower solution, but be careful to follow the instructions.  The wrong proportion of water to solution can be deadly.  In that case it’s better to just use clean water and change it often.

2. MYTH: You should smash the ends of woody stems to promote water uptake.

TRUTH: Don’t! Smashed stems = more bacterial growth in the water. Bacteria-laden water can plug up the stems and prevent water from making it up to the flower.

Lilacs have woody stems- simply make a sharp cut and place into clean water.  No smashing necessary!  Photo by Christine Marie Photography

Lilacs have woody stems- simply make a sharp cut and place into clean water. No smashing necessary! Photo by Christine Marie Photography

3. MYTH: Soaking birds of paradise heads in warm water will cause the flowers to emerge from the sheaths.

TRUTH: This won’t solve the problem of stubborn birds of paradise that won’t open. Simply cut a slit in the top of the flower and gently pull the flower petals out of the sheath.

4. MYTH: Removing the anthers (those pollen filled nodules that stain everything in sight!) shortens the vase life of lilies and alstromeria.

TRUTH: Nope, removing the anthers has no effect on vase life, but will prevent pesky pollen stains from ruining pristine white dresses! I learned this lesson the hard way when I did my own flowers for my wedding (early on in my floral career mind you!) I made my bridesmaids’ bouquets 2 days before the wedding, and didn’t realize that the anthers on the gloriosa lilies had matured and released pollen after I had made them. The bridesmaids were gracious with me as they tried to remove the bright orange stains on their champagne Vera Wang dresses. Doh! See picture below…

The spidery gloriosa lilies are my favorites, but those pesky anthers cause major stainage if not removed!  Remove excess pollen that falls onto the petals of the flower by using a pipe cleaner to gently brush them off.  Photo by Trista Lerit Photography.

The spidery gloriosa lilies are my favorites, but those pesky anthers cause major stainage if not removed! Remove excess pollen that falls onto the petals of the flower by using a pipe cleaner to gently brush them off. Photo by Trista Lerit Photography.

5. MYTH: The ideal way to store tulips is in newspaper, in buckets, in the dark… Keep flowers from blowing open too quickly by piercing them just under the flower.

TRUTH: Wrong! Tulips bend not because of light, but because of gravity. Therefore, storing them in the dark is not necessary. You should actually keep them in their plastic sleeves, upright. If they’re even a bit sideways in the bucket, they will bend. As for the piercing idea, I actually set up an experiment years ago testing this notion. Both I and Dr. Nell agree that this is bogus and doesn’t do anything benefitial for tulips. The best way to keep them from opening is to keep them nice and cold.

Tulips, like the white ones above, can be stored upright in their sleeves.  Resist the urge to prick them with needles!  Photo by Trista Lerit Photography

Tulips, like the white ones above, can be stored upright in their sleeves. Resist the urge to prick them with needles! Photo by Trista Lerit Photography

6.  MYTH: You should snap the ends off of tall line flowers, such as gladiola, tuberrose, and snapdragons to extend vase life.

TRUTH: This doesn’t extend vase life, but may serve an aesthetic purpose.  The ends of the tall flowers usually don’t open and can turn brown, so snapping them off may make them look prettier.

No need to snap those tall yellow snapdragons unless you want to!  Photo by One Love Photography.

No need to snap those tall yellow snapdragons unless you want to! Photo by One Love Photography.

Now, I think you should all buy yourselves  a little bouquet of flowers today, stick them on your desk or next to your bed, and marvel at how they add sunshine to your day.  Everyone deserves fresh flowers once in a while!  Just take care of them and don’t do anything bizarre, ok?

Bamboo Ladder Arch!

October 8, 2008

I mentioned in a previous post that I needed to create a simple arch out of bamboo for Sharon and Dean’s wedding which took place the last weekend in September.

I stumbled upon this blog, Ramblings of a Renovating Couple, and saw that they gave step by step instructions on how to create this arch out of bamboo ladders:

When I saw how easy it was to make, and when I found two 9 foot tall bamboo ladders for sale, I knew this could be gorgeous.

Here is Sharon and Dean’s simple and elegant wedding arch, stained a deep espresso brown, and strung with an assortment of mokara, dendrobium, and mini cymbidium orchids.  Notice the beautiful white cranes, hand-folded and strung by the wedding planner of all wedding planners, Angel Swanson.

I must give a shout out to my power tool yielding sisters-in-law, Teresa and Christine, for putting together this arch. To be honest, I am a total dummy with power tools. In fact, the noise scares me! But they came to my aid and created something truly beautiful. And I held the poles steady while they drilled the holes.  Yay for me!  Pics taken by my hubby Joe.

Plus, I can easily take the arch apart later and create the most bomb-diggity towel rack

… and keep one next to the bookshelves in our future library for easy top shelf access. We’re househunting, and hoping to set aside one room in our future home to be the reading and relaxation room. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Image above from In Style via Style Court.

Stay tuned for more pictures of Sharon and Dean’s incredible wedding!