To economise or not on tools and supplies for making flowers? Part II

Not so long ago we started discussing whether a flower making artist can or can not economise on tools and supplies without compromising the quality of a finished piece.

Read To economise or not on tools and supplies for making flowers? Part I here.

millinery toolsAs we saw there was no definite “yes” or “no” answer. Rather, one has to approach and estimate every aspect separately in order to make a decision.
Thus, I recommended to try and choose a really good quality set when it comes to flower making TOOLS.
Low quality tools will not last you. They will be uncomfortable to use and will leave you dissatisfied with your work and a finished item. Why go through all of this when you can have a much easier and more productive life with a decent (but probably more expensive) set of tools?
Occasionally I offer basic sets of tools for sale. If you are interested in one please let me know so that I can put one aside for you Friend when they are next available.
 On the other hand when it comes to DYES and BRUSHES there is a choice here.
I do think that liquid dyes, like water based Javana silk paints  are easier to use, especially if you are a beginner. However, they are more expensive than powder dry dyes, like Dytek Procion Dye by ColourCraft, which I mostly use myself. Powder dyes are very economic and will last you a long time. If you wish you could get several plastic dropper bottles of Amazon and prepare some liquid dyes by simply diluting the powder dyes in water. These dyes should keep reasonably well. I often store the leftovers of my dyes in tiny jam jars and have never experienced any problem with them.
As for the brushes, normal flat synthetic ones in a variety of widths will do you fine. However, if you’d like to splash out, there are specially made fur brushes for painting on fabric. Made with deer or horse hair, they come in different sizes and can be rather pricey. If you have ever attended any of my workshops you might have had a chance to see them in the flesh  and use them.
leather poppy kit

The last but not the least thing I wanted to talk about is the KNOWLEDGE.

Yes, you get it right, the knowledge of the craft. Do not try and save here, at least not before you have acquired some solid foundations of flower making, tried a variety of techniques and approaches, made a number of flowers. Then you can go on and experiment yourself, develop your style and invent new techniques. That of course if you are serious about flower making and wish to master it, enjoy the process as well as the result.
The good news is, there are so many flowers in the world, we can not possibly get bored making them, do you agree with me? The bad news is, once you’ve mastered one flower, that’s it, you’ve mastered just one flower. The knowledge of how to make a rose will be pretty useless if you need to create a chrysanthemum or a sunflower. Flowers differ a lot and so do the techniques and patterns. Have a look at pictures of real roses, they are soooo different. To make them look as different when made of fabric or leather you will need to use different patterns and techniques too.
 Are you overwhelmed by this or excited to learn new things?
If the latter is the case, then hopefully you’ll be glad to know that we have worked hard and prepared an ever growing library of downloadable detailed step-by-step tutorials on a wide range of flowers so you can start enjoying flower making right now. Explore the current range of our flower making tutorials HERE
how to make flower stamens

How to make flower stamens

how to make flower stamens 1

 

Did you know you could make your own flower stamens to be used in fabric and leather flowers in case you do not have access to factory made or for some reason they are not suitable for your project?
Often tiny stamens for small and blooms can be difficult to obtain. That’s why today I am showing how to make very small stamens similar to those most roses have. You can also use them for cherry blossom, apple blossom and other small flowers.

 

What you’ll require  is some PVA glue (or other stiffener), thick cottonhow to make flower stamens 3

thread and  some acrylic paint in brown , yellow or other suitable colour.

 

 

First, the thread needs to be stiffened. That will give it some body and let the stamens hold the shape in a flower once assembled. You can starch it or use your preferred stiffener. I simply cover a length of thread with PVA. To do that apply a blob of glue on your index finger and run the thread between the index finger and thumb to coat with glue as shown.

 

how to make flower stamens

 

 

To make sure the stiffened thread dries straight I like using a weight and hang it to dry (I am using a large wooden star as a weight in the photo). Because you will need to make a considerable amount of small stamens for each flower, try hanging several long threads at a time and leave them to dry.

 

 

Once the threads are dry and stiff (if you use PVA it dries rather quickly), cut them

how to make flower stamens

up into individual stamens. The standard length of a double sided stamen strand is around 5 cm, but you can always adjust the length to suit your project and make them either shorter or longer.

 

 

 

Now squeeze out some acrylic paint onto a piece of card, fold a piece of thread in half and dip the  tips into the paint. To get  enough paint onto the tips try dipping a couple of times. The thicker the thread the more paint will stick to it and stay on the tips.

how to make flower stamens

 

 

 

I am using a very thin thread here so the drops of paint on the tips are quite small after one dip. For more impact please use a thicker thread (and / or more paint).

 

 

Now the freshly made stamens need to dry. I am using an improvised rack created by placing a couple of thick wires across ahow to make flower stamens box or a box lid (pictured). Simply hang the stamens in rows over the wires and leave them to dry completely. Make sure to space the stamens well apart to prevent them from sticking to each other when the paint is still wet. In a couple of hours  you have got your handmade stamens ready to be used.

 

 

 

Now you know how to make flower stamens. However, this by no means is the only way of making flower stamens. We might be exploring other options in our forthcoming  blog posts and tutorials.

how to make flower stamens 8

 

 

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below you will find some tutorials that cover the use of different stamens in flower making.

 

thistle jewellery

Thistle jewellery made of leather and fur

fur leather thistle corsage

Which thistle corsage do you prefer: s furry fantasy or a more realistic one? Some customers can’t decide and so they order both versions of our leather thistle corsage.

These pieces of leather thistle jewellery have been very popular lately so we decided to offer an in-person workshop on the leather and fur variation. Moreover, as a BONUS you will be given additional instructions on how to make and assemble a more realistic version with purple flowers.

What you’ll learn in this workshop:

❀ making the stiffening solution for leather flowers

❀ stiffening and shaping leaves by hand

❀ stiffening leather flat

❀ shaping parts of flowers with millinery tools

❀ assembling flowers in different sizes

❀ arranging foliage for the design

❀ assembling all the elements together into a wearable corsage

 

To book your space at the Leather and Fur Corsage Workshop please visit our Workshop page.

To order your leather thistle corsage in either variation please visit our online shop.

 

leather thistle jewellery

 

tools and supplies for making flowers

To economise or not on tools and supplies for making flowers? Part I

flower shaping millinery toolsWhether you are relatively new to flower making or you have been creating blooms for a while you know that tools and supplies for making flowers can get rather pricey. In case if you ever wondered whether there is something you could spend less on without compromising the quality of a finished item, this article would be of interest to you.

Let’s talk about bare necessities for a flower making artist and find out where it makes sense to save some money, and where it is advisable to invest in the best possible tools or supplies for making flowers.

There are certain things that you should not economise on. The first one is a set of millinery or flower shaping tools. Make sure you invest in a good quality basic set of tools, that you can expand later on as you develop your skills in flower making. A basic one must include a range of balls from tiny 2 mm to 30 mm or so, knives for scoring veins (with or without groves), tools for scoring softer lines, a hook and possibly some other tools depending on the manufacturer.
Pictured is  the extended set of tools I use for making my flowers and flower pieces..Rubber pads for millinery tools
Tools can be made of brass or other metals, this is not that important.
To heat up the tools you will require a soldering iron. I would not try and cut costs here. I tried working with a number of cheap soldering irons before and I all I can say that not only do they burn out really quickly, but they might be very dangerous for you, too. To be on the safe side get yourself one of the tried and tested ones from  Amazon or your local hardware shop. I am very pleased withthis Weller one available of Amazon.

 

To shape petals and leaves you’ll need some rubber and foam pads. Here you can get creative. As long as your pads deliver the right results you can use rubber or foam you have sourced yourself. I do offer professional flower shaping pads on my websiteif you do not have time to source your own. Should you want to make your own flower shaping pads, remember that the medium one is about 15 to 20 mm thick and is rather resistant. You can make one yourself out of old style mouse pads by cutting one in half, stacking 2 halves one on top of the other and covering them with a piece of plain thin cotton fabric. The soft one, however, is a much softer foam type pad about 30 mm thick and can be substituted by a suitable foam from a supermarket or a hardware shop. Do not forget to cover it with a piece of plain thin cotton fabric as well.

taster fabric packThen naturally you will need fabric (or leather) to make petals and leaves out of. This is a vast subject. But what ever you choose, be it natural silks that you stiffen yourself, some vintage re-purposed fabrics or professional factory made flower making materials go for the best quality you can.

There is nothing wrong in stiffening your own fabrics. Quite frankly sometimes it is the only choice, when for example you are asked to incorporate a customers fabric into their flower piece. Just make sure you use the best stiffener for the fabric in question, stiffen it flat to ensure no creases spoil the look of your petals and go for it.
However, if you wish to try something different or if you do not have time to stiffen your own fabrics, factory stiffened fabrics can be a great solution for you. Some professional flower making fabrics only exist in this prestiffened ready to use form and you won’t be able to find them anywhere at an ordinary haberdashery department. Some of these wonderful fabrics are currently for sale in my online shop. I am in love with the cotton velvet with its short pile and and the sparkly lame fabrics that are great for festive and fantasy designs.
Fabrics are offered by fat quarter but larger quantities (from 1m) can be available by request at a reduced price.
There’s more to the art of flower making that meets the eye. There are a lot of other tools and supplies for making flowers that are involved in the process of turning a flat white piece of material into a stunning colourful flower piece. To achieve a realistic or fantasy look for your flowers you will need to paint the fabric of your choice with some fabric dyes. Which ones? To stay tuned subscribe to our newsletter HERE
To read To economise or not on tools and supplies for making flowers? Part II click here
schedule full subscription 2018

Flower Making Tutorial SUBSCRIPTION 2018

For the second year running we are excited to be able to present you with our tutorial Subscription packages. Much like with a magazine subscription here you subscribe to a series of tutorials, and receive a new one into your inbox on the 1 day of every month (or on the 1 day of every alternate month in case of 6 month subscriptions)
As last year, there are three types of tutorial packages:
❀ a full 12 month subscription (includes 12 tutorials  on both leather and fabric flowers + a bonus)
❀ a 6 month fabric subscription (includes 6 fabric flower tutorials)
❀ a 6 month leather subscription (includes 6 leather flower tutorials)

Here are some of the benefits of our Subscription packages:

❀ 12 new and unique flower making tutorial designs
❀ Value for money
❀ Variety of flowers AND finishes
❀ NEW package options including both tutorials and DIY flower making kits (see below)
❀ Discounts on DIY flower making kits throughout the year
❀ Access to all the Bonus mini-tutorials automatically included in the packages
❀ Lowest price guaranteed when purchased at launch
❀ NEW dedicated Facebook group exclusively for the Subscription 2018 members
❀ NEW special offers for in-person workshops

❀ +1 more BONUS Flower Tutorial 

The schedule for the 12 month Subscription 2018 Fabric and Leather Art Flower Package is the following:

leather butterfly tutorial

 

❀ January – leather butterfly – BUY HERE 

 

Silk Apple Blossom tutorial

 

❀ February – fabric apple blossom – BUY HERE

 

 

❀ March – leather anemony

❀ April – fabric hydrangea

❀ May – leather magnolia

❀ June – fabric lily

❀ July – leather rose

❀ August – fabric rose

❀ September – leather orchid

❀ October – fabric passion flower

❀ November – leather grapes

❀ December – fabric water lily

 

❀ + 1 BONUS tutorial on Fabric Iris

All the tutorials are developed and prepared by Svetlana Faulkner, the creative mind behind PresentPerfect Creations. They come in the form of detailed step-by-step photo tutorials and include short video insertions to demonstrate the most tricky points for you, too.

 

Christmas gift guide for flower maker artist crafter

Flower Artists’ Gift Guide for Christmas 2017

Our Flower Artist’s Gift Guide for Christmas 2017 has landed!

Feast your eyes on PresentPerfect Creations Studio gift selection for flower artists.  Treat yourself to a new tool, tutorial or supply and create something amazing today. Because you deserve a gift, too.

FREE DELIVERY coupon code inside. Hurry, the offer is time sensitive and valid only until 24 December 2017.

Happy gift hunting! ☺

To turn the pages of the gift guide, click on the arrow found next to the pages of the guide.

how to dye silk

How to dye silk for leaves in bulk

As you know making flowers is a lengthy process with a number of steps involved like cutting out parts, dyeing, shaping, assembling etc.
Although there is not a great deal we can do about speeding this lengthy process up, however there are a few shortcuts that allow us, makers, save a bit of time creating beautiful hand made flower masterpieces.

When it comes to dyeing, one thing you can and should do is to dye your petals in small piles (usually it is 2 or 4 depending on the thickness and stiffness of your chosen fabric). But what about foliage? Similarly, leaves can be dyed in piles, too if the fabric allows you.

Alternatively, you can use the method I am describing below, which is dyeing larger pieces of fabric to be cut up for leaves, calyxes, stems etc later on.

This method comes particularly handy when:
1. you've got a lot of foliage to make for your project
2. the leaves etc are of a small size
3. you want to dye some fabric for future projects in advance
 
This method is also useful when you want to dye some fabric for fantasy flowers (see the very end of the video).
In this video I am using 3 different shades of green from paler lime one through to dark olive green.
You will see that I also add a little purple colour to my fabric. This is done to tie the foliage with the petals of your flower and is often a very good idea to bring the whole flower piece together, but can be omitted.
I am dyeing a rectangular piece (about 20 cm by 30 cm) of factory stiffened rayon satin (see at the end of the post) which is known for its beautiful soft shine and is easy to dye. If you have not got any, feel free to use pure silk satin or dupioni silk, or other fabric that suits your project (like cotton velvet etc).
Here are a couple of points I'd like to draw your attention to before you watch the video:
 
❀ Work on old newspapers or use some drawing paper
❀ Wet the whole piece of fabric with your brush and some clean water before dyeing
❀ Apply dyes in random misshapen spots similar to the camouflage fabric and blend their edges together
❀ Avoid clearly visible stripes or circles of dyes on your fabric
❀ Repeat the process of applying the dyes for more intensely coloured fabric as shown in the video
❀ Take into account that when dry the fabric will look paler than wet
❀ Whilst drying the dyes will blend even better with each other to provide a subtle gradation of colour
❀ Use already stiffened fabric for dyeing to avoid losing any colours in the stiffening process
❀ After the fabric has dried completely use it to trace and cut out all the leaves and other parts required for your project as normal
 

Below are the links to some ready stiffened fabrics and special fabric brushes available from my online shop.
Have fun dyeing your fabrics!
 

Cotton Velvet

cotton velvet fabric

Horse Hair Brushes

silk painting brushes

Rayon Satin

flower shaping millinery tools

More on flower shaping aka millinery tools

Flower shaping or otherwise known as millinery tools… We use millinery tools to shape fabric in order to create realistic or artistic petals and leaves which we then assemble into flower pieces. They are essential for the craft (and ART) and yet they cause more questions than any other aspect of flower making.

In our previous articles we have discussed how one could shape petals and leaves without the use of tools ( Shaping fabric flower petals without the use of tools ). Yes it is possible, but really rather limiting. Owning a set of tools gives you many more possibilities when it comes to flower making, in particular if you are interested in our yearly SUBSCRIPTION programme (learn more and register your interest for 2018 here). To make the most of the tutorial Subscription one must have a set of flower shaping tools.

Today I will try and answer 5 hottest questions about flower shaping tools that I hear most often.
❀ 1 ❀ Which is a better set: the one on separate handles or the one that comes with an electric iron?
This could possibly be down to personal preferences but I believe that the electric iron set allows to work quicker. It is advisable to have 2 or 3 flower irons so that when shaping a flower you could have 2-3 tools, that are required for shaping it, heated at the same time. Sets on separate handles come from the times when there was no electricity, why not use the achievements of the civilization to our advantage? If you have inherited a set of tools on separate handles or you have already got one of those, you can of course continue using it. For those of you who are thinking about purchasing a new set I would recommend to go for an electric flower iron with a set of interchangeable tips (see the photo of the tips above).
❀ 2 ❀ Do I have to have a whole set? How many tools will I really need?

millinery tools

There are a lot of different flower shaping tools. Some are used very often and are a part of any basic set, others are more rare and specialist. So how many of them will
one flower maker need?
Each tool has been designed for a particular purpose whether it scoring a line, creating a concave or curling up fabric. Some tools are interchangeable and differ only by the design, but are really meant to do the same job. I would say if you are thinking about making flowers seriously, it is good to have a starter or basic set which consists of a number of round tips of different diameters from about 3 mm to 30 mm, two knives to score lines, two chrysanthemum tools to create softer lines, a tube making attachment and a hook. Later you can add  such tools as lily-of-the-valley attachment or forget-me-not tool, or 35mm and 40mm round tools as optional extras.
The main thing to understand is that the more tools you have the more options there are at your disposal to shape fabric. Start with a basic one and build up your set by adding other invaluable tips to it ad you go along. In love with flower making? Then do not hesitate, get the whole lot straightaway and start creating.
If you own a set of tools but you believe you could do with some additional tools, consider our special offer on 2 extra narrow millinery tools which are indispensable for shaping leaves as well as petals. They are used in most of our tutorials.
❀ 3 ❀ What metal should the tools be made of?
Some tools are made of brass, hence the yellow-golden colour. This metal heats up well and does not rust which makes it a good choice for flower shaping tips. On the other hand, steel tools are available for sale as well.  Steel takes a bit longer to heat up but otherwise is an excellent choice too. Some Japanese tools are made of brass, mainly round tips (because it heats quicker), and others are made of steel (knives, chrysanthemum tools etc), there are some that are even made of a combination of both (a forget-me-not tip).In any case let not the metal stop you when choosing millinery tools, you should be alright using a set made of either brass or steel.
❀ 4 ❀ Where to buy a good set of millinery tools?
Suppose you have not got any, where do you go to get one?
Flower shaping tool set is a highly specialised item that can not be picked up at your local craft shop and only sold by very few. The easiest way is of course to buy online and have the set shipped to where you live. Places to check out is ebay and Etsy. You can also pick up some antique flower making tools at your local antiques shop or again online. Another option is to buy a set of tools of your flower teacher.At the moment you can place an order for a flower shaping tool sets here. These are the exact same sets I have used myself for the last 6 years for making flowers, teaching and filming my tutorials.
❀ 5 ❀ Why are millinery tools so expensive? Can I find them anywhere cheap?
Are the millinery tools expensive? I guess they are. And they are not. No more than hat blocks or other tools that we use for creating our handmade masterpieces. Regard the purchase of a set of flower shaping tools as an investment in yourself and in your ability to create countless gorgeous flowers with their help. I would steer clear of very cheap sets as the quality might not be there and you will end up throwing money to the wind. Better start with a smaller good quality reliable set and then just add more tools to it as you go along.
flower making tools full set

I am pleased to offer  the exact same full 22 piece set of flower shaping tools that I use for making all of my designs, film my tutorials and teach,

These sets of flower shaping millinery tools can be ordered HERE.
So if you are considering subscribing to our monthly flower making tutorials in 2018 make sure you have all the necessary tools to work with during the learning process.

Why buy flower making kits?

If you have follower our recent tutorial releases you have probably noticed that with every new tutorial we try and offer you to buy flower making kits as well.

leather poppy kit BROOCH
Leather Poppy Brooch KIT

Now, you might prefer to source your own materials, if you know well what you are looking for. However, if you have not had much experience in flower making as we offer it, hunting down the right materials can be more complicated than it seems. That’s why when making your first silk or leather flowers you might want to try one of our flower making kits.
Although having a kit is just a part of success, you will get a very good understanding of what materials I use myself when I make my flower pieces as well as develop tutorials for you Friend. Next time when you source your own materials you will know exactly what you need. Say, leather for leather flowers has to be rather thin, soft and pliable, with as little sealant or coating as possible, to give the required result. If you make a leather poppy from our latest tutorial using a kit, you will get the feel of the suitable leather you want to source for your future projects.

Silk Dandelion kit
Silk Dandelion Clock KIT

 

Some flowers may require specialist fabrics because of their nature. One of such flowers is the Silk Dandelion Clock made with finest pure silk organza.
Luckily, the silk dandelion clock can be made without the use of flower shaping tools. All you need is one of our Silk Dandelion Clock kits, some silk dyes, good quality thick PVA glue and lots of patience to create this jaw dropping design.

Due to popular demand, we are now developing flower making kits for of our older tutorials, like this one on the Wild Leather Rose Corsage. That’s another great flower that can be made without the use of flower shaping/ millinery tools. All the parts of this open leather rose design are hand shaped, the petals being finished with a pair of tweezers. A limited quantity of the Wild Leather Rose Corsage kits is now available on our website.

 

 

Remember that our kits are flat packed and therefore can not contain any dyes, glue or tools.
If you have a question regarding any of these, please get in touch with us via enquiries@presentperfectcreations.com to receive a recommendation or advice on what sort of dyes, tools or glue are the best to use and where to obtain them.
A lot of basic information of this kind can be found in my introductory ebooks on Silk and Leather flower making, designed specifically for beginners, as well as at the beginning of each tutorial.

 

colouring stamens

Colouring stamens for flowers

colouring stamensAlthough ready made stamens come in a variety of colours and sizes is is often difficult to find ones in suitable colour for a project in question. That’s why I find it easier to colour white stamens myself. This way I make sure that the stamens match my flower in colour and size.

For dyeing stamens we’ll need:
– non porous surface (plastic or glass)
– some vodka (or even better spirit)
– Procion (acid) dyes in chosen colours
– a receptacle (a porcelain dish)
– a pair of tweezers
– a bunch of stamens
Vodka evaporates quicker than water which means the dye will dry before the stamen heads dissolve in the licolouring stamensquid. Water is not as good for this task and even with vodka one should act really quickly.

Pour a small quantity of vodka (10-15 ml) into the dish and dissolve some powder dye in it. I find intense colours work better, that’s why I put a generous amount of powder dye into the dish. colouring stamens
Using a brush dissolve the dye well in vodka. It will take a bit longer than dissolving the dye in water, so make sure all the dye grains are dissolved.

Now using a pair of tweezers ( and possibly disposable gloves) dip several stamens at a time into the prepared dye and dye them evenly. Do not try to put all of the stamens at once. This will only dissolve all the stamen heads and ruin the stamens.
colouring stamensHaving dyed a small bunch of stamens put them onto a prepared non porous surface like glass or plastic and leave to dry. It is important that the stamens are separated (see the photo). Otherwise they will stick together as they are drying.
In this way, portion by porting a small bunch at a time dye all the stamens and lay them out tocolouring stamens dry on the non porous surface. Please do not use paper as the wet stamens stick to it.
I hope this information was useful for you and you’ll be confident to dye white stamens for your project now.

 

 

 

 

Video tutorials on flowers from £39
Video tutorials on flowers from £39

 

EXPLORE FLOWER MAKING PHOTO TUTORIALS

 

EXPLORE FLOWER MAKING VIDEO TUTORIALS
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