A Different Shell Flower Application – The Epergne

My husband found this epergne a few months ago on eBay. He paid a very reasonable price for it. This style is called silver crest and is manufactured by Fenton. We have a collection of bohemian and Czech  glass, as well as a few pieces of Vaseline glass. One day, I would love to have a Vaseline glass epergne.

As you see in the picture, there is only one horn to this piece. My vision is to create vines covered with flowers coming from the top and flowing over the side, much like a waterfall.

Like with all the floral arrangements I create, I will let the piece speak to me. Sounds a little dramatic, I know. Shells really don’t talk, at least not in my world. But it’s funny how I start with one vision and it quickly evolves into something different. The difficulty with the epergne is that there are two levels. I’ve never tried creating an arrangement like this ever. Striking the right balance between the  flowing vines and building up from the bottom is the strongest issue.  I don’t know how to do that yet. The beauty of the epergne can’t get lost in the arrangement.

For the flowers, I’ll use dyed cup shells. They’ll be red, orange, and yellow. I will be constructing five-petal flowers. The cup shell is ideal for the vines because they’re light and delicate. They won’t weigh down the vines.

As you can see in the two pictures, I assembled flowers in two different methods. In the first picture, I put a tiny blot of glue on a paper towel. Working quickly and carefully, I pushed the shells into the glue, gently maneuvering them into place. Once the glue is set, you just gently peel the flower off the paper. You want to make sure that your glue blot is small. Use just enough glue to hold the shells. Too much glue becomes difficult to hide. Then you can either glue the flower directly to the vine or to an artificial green backing.

The other application uses a poly sheet. I like it just as well for the smaller flowers. I purchased a Poly_E low density sheet from The Shell Store. I’m sure most hobby shops would have something similar. I also have a collection of plastic lids in different sizes. Neither the Bond 527 glue nor the Tacky glue adheres to the plastic. Like with the paper towel method, place a small amount of 527 glue down. Arrange the shells so they are evenly spaced. The glue remains malleable long enough for you to shape your flower. If a shell won’t stand up how you like, place another shell beneath it as a brace. Be careful that you don’t get it in the glue. Leave the flowers overnight so the glue will set up. If it’s humid, you may need to add a little extra time. Carefully peel the flowers off the mat.

I can see a trip to the hobby store is in my future. In my stock pile of supplies, I don’t think I have enough material to create this ‘show piece’.

I’ll post more pictures and an update in another day or so.

About leggygillin

I make Sailor's Valentines, Seashell flower arrangements and other shell art. Blogging about them helps me improve the quality of my work. By looking at my progress through images, I'm able to view the pieces differently. I think also it helps others who may be wanting to learn. Not that I am a teacher, by any means. I'm still learning, growing, and developing my art with each post.
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2 Responses to A Different Shell Flower Application – The Epergne

  1. Marlene Wadsworth says:

    Congratulations on your imagination !!!!! I have come to realize I can reproduce something I see but have difficulty in creating my own vision !!!

    You have a great gift of imagination.

    Thanks for sharing your ‘how to’ hints, as well as sharing the mistakes along the way. It is helpful to know and perhaps help us learn.

    Right now I’m working on flat flowers ie. like ones on Valentines and used flat on a surface. Thanks so much for your hints.


    • leggygillin says:

      You’re welcome. Sometimes I have to look at a piece for a while before I can actually picture it. I gather up shells and greenery that that I think will fit the design. Then I start to make flowers. As I am working, I try them out and make adjustments as I go. Surplus flowers are used in subsequent arrangements. With the Valentine, I have to start with a design then as it evolves, I can see the shells and colors.
      It has taken me awhile to feel comfortable in letting my imagination run. But I’ve come to realize that it’s OK to explore. The more you let go, the better your art.

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