Focus Art craftsmen – Handmade flower maker

Today, I want to talk about the art of making artificial flowers and of making flower adornments. This is a rare savoir-faire which detailed process is more than a creative technique but an intriguing, emotional, complex and artistic process above all in which your creativity can express. Each flower maker has its own feeling, its own techniques and you can notice this in their flowers and foliages.
The artificial flower making art is intended to fashion for their Haute Couture outfits and flower adornements (jewelry, fashion accessories, hat adornements, etc…) as well as to home decor, shows, event planners.

I am going to tell you about the various steps that are required for flower making (5 steps), the tools and the fabrics I use. After that, you will nearly know everything bout the subject. ?


silk roses
Step 1 : stiffening the fabric.

Preparing the fabric is needed in order to stiffen it, to permit it to not fray when you cut it. It also facilitate the molding of the different elements of the flower.
The fabric is set on a wood frame, coated with a stifenner (preparation with starch, gelatine, gum) and let dried one night. The stiffener can also be applied with a brush for several fabric such as velvet for example.
The artificial flower maker uses different fabrics such as cotton net, cotton, silk, batiste, muslin, velvet, tweed, leather, feathers, horsehair, paper, percale, vynil to make his flowers. Their use can be complementary to make the same flower. Generally, they are natural fabrics because they better support the heat coming from the molding tools and keep their shape longer.
Until now, my preference goes to silk satin for its luxurious brightness and to pongee which gives more lightness to the flower.

Step 2 : cutting the elements of the flower or foliage.
The artificial flower maker has tools called cutters (or iron cutter) which permit him to cut petals and leaves.
Sometimes several iron cutters are needed to cut the same flower or foliage.
In the old times, the cutting was made thanks to a big beetle that beated strongly a cutter over fabric « notebooks » previously stiffened put over a slab lead.
Modernity now permits to flower makers to cut fabric with a mechanical press which permits an easier work and silent work above all…

old flower cutters

old flower cutters

silk petals

Step 3 : the tainting-painting of petals and leaves.
It exists 2 manners to paint these elements.
The 1st one is to use small bowls of paint
where you soak petals/leaves in different colors or the same color several times to have different shades.
The 2nd one is to use brushes and to paint where you want to paint your colors.
These elements are then retouched with cotton, brushes to obtain the final result you desire. They dry on a blotting paper but as it is an expensive material most of the flower maker use newspapers to dry them.

These 3 steps are essential before molding of petals and leaves in order to keep their shape and volume longer.

silk paints

brushes

silk paint

silk petals painted
Step 4 : the shaping.
The shaping is aimed to bring relief to petals and leaves.
I use different types of tools (modern and old) according to the effect I want to give or in a complementary way.
It exists 2 types of tools having a wood handle.
The millinery irons (molding mandrel), ball irons, hooks, various millinery tools with different ends, etc… which are heated thanks to a spirit burner or an electric plate that are used to shape petals other a bran cushion. Soft pads of different hardness can also be used according to the work to do and have to be covered with a cotton fabric which not burn to the contact of heated tools.
Tweezers are also used in a complentary way to shape the border of the petals, to curl them, to pleat them according to the flower to make.
The old molds with 2 parts ( mold and casting mold / shape and casting shape).
After they have been cutted with a cutter corresponding to the mold of the same shape and size, these elements are placed into the heated mold put under a press. They permit to « print » wrinklings and veins.
These molds and cutters have been created at the Belle-Epoque (end of 19th century), because the art of artificial flower maker was at its peak.

silk flower making tools

silk flower making tools

silk flower making toolsThis photo provided by Hatblock.com

silk flower making tools

silk flower making tools

Today, it exist modern tools created by japaneses to create somebana flowers very popular technique for Russians who are very fond of this art.
NB : Somebana school, school learning flower making art putting particularly in relief the painting of these flowers. Somebana means « painted flower » (Bana/Ha-na means flower and So-me means painting-printing-color)
These irons have exchangeable tools. They pemit to shape petals as well as leaves.
It exist a petal mold and 1, 2 or 3 leaf molds of general shape that are put at the end of the iron to shape the leaves of most of flowers in the style of the old molds in 2 parts.

silk flower making tools

silk flower making tools

silk petals

silk flower making tools

Step 5 : the assembly of the flower called blossoming.
The artificial flower maker glues the petals together with a quick sticking glue which becomes clear when it dries one by one, by doubling and even tripling them around a heart fixed on a brass stem or around stamens.
The finishing of the stems is made with silk paper, strips of silk fabric, with thin silk threads, silk cordonnets and with gutta.

I hope that this article permitted you to see clearly the art of making artificial flowers.
Next article : I will show you what my old millinery molds can do.

glues and brushes

silk flowers

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