Today I’m going to introduce you to the wonderful world of flower mechanics!
When you hear this word (and you probably will hear it from me a few times) it does not mean that dude at the garage who rotates your tires and changes your oil. In the world of flowers, mechanics are what you “build” that help the flowers stay put in the place you put them.
Mechanics are the bones of the bouquet, the skeleton of the ‘scape (flower-scape, that is!) and the architecture of the arrangement! As a rule, they shouldn’t ever show because they function as the behind-the-scenes base and if you can see behind the curtain, it takes some of the magic away from the final product.
There are unlimited tools in the mechanics toolbox, and I am constantly learning new ways to make things stay. Here are some things that are dependable, easily obtained and adaptable for whatever project you want to tackle!
1) Floral Arranging Foam
OASIS©is the popular brand name for floral arranging foam. There are two kinds, dry foam (for fake flowers) and wet foam (for real flowers). You can buy the foam at Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, A.C. Moore or any craft store that sells flower arranging paraphernalia.
Let’s talk about wet foam, since it is the key to life (literally) for many fresh floral arrangements. Wet foam is what it sounds like, a dense foam product that is water absorbent. It’s a great product for beginners and experts alike because the flowers stay where you put them.
The foam can take a ton of stems, so when you have a dense packed look in mind, Oasis is your flower mechanic of choice. The foam comes in many shapes, sizes and colors. You can easily cut the foam to fit your container.
Oasis is a onetime use product. You might be inclined to save it and let it dry out and use it again, but it really does not do the job. Resist the urge to reuse this product; once it’s punched through with holes, you will be glad you started fresh!
When you buy Oasis, it comes dry and you will wet it before using it in an arrangement. To do that, it is best to fill your sink or a tub or bucket up with water, float the Oasis on the water, walk away and wait a few minutes. The Oasis blocks are ready to use when they sink to the bottom of whatever you are using to hold them in.
It is my strong belief that it is better to let the water come to the Oasis vs. the other way around. When you spray Oasis with water, the outside is the only part that gets wet. You want the entire block wet since the flower stems are pushed deep into the center of the foam. The water is for the flowers after all, so you want it to be where the flower stems are.
2) Waterproof Floral Tape
This is narrow (about a ¼ inch wide) tape that comes in green and clear colors. If you can, have a roll of both around. If you can only swing one, and you can choose, I would go with clear.
When talking about flower mechanics, waterproof floral tape is invaluable when you are working with clear glass vases. I use the tape to establish a grid over the opening of a vase. Place the strips of tape evenly spaced across the opening (with a ¼ inch overlap on each side), and then again in the opposite direction. Make sure all tape that overlaps and attaches to the glass is secure. Then take your final piece of tape and wrap it around the circumference of the glass vase at the very top. This will secure the gridded pieces.
The grid will allow you to place your stems in the vase, and provide support to each stem as you arrange. Arranging without a grid is doable, but for beginners, this is a great trick that will up your game right from the start.
The key to all mechanics is that you do not want them to show when you are finished arranging. In the case of waterproof tape, make sure your tape does not overlap too far down the vase, or it will show.
3) Floral Frog
Kind of an unusual name for a flower mechanic, right? Go figure….What a Frog really looks like varies, but basically they are metal, glass or pottery devices that sit on the bottom of a vase and hold the flowers in place either with a series of holes (glass and pottery) or pins (metal).
These Frogs can be decorative or utilitarian. An example of utilitarian is the Kenzan, and it is often used in the arranging style known as Ichebana (more on arranging styles later!). Decorative frogs, which became popular in the United States during the flapper era of the 20’s and 30’s, are often grand pieces of art themselves, independent of flowers they help support.
This is whatever you use to hold everything together; the mechanics, the water to sustain the arrangement, etc. And the best part? It can be visibly part of an arrangement, or completely invisible to the arrangement–it’s up to you! You really can use anything. Like an old rusty bucket, an antique vase, a piece of Oasis taped into a plastic tray, a chicken wired contraption….. they all work! Here are some examples of some traditional and some creative containers: