Well it has been a few crazy weeks. Between illness, a new little dog, family, a cancer scare, and the holidays, I totally lost sight of my art and blog posts. Plus I guess I should admit to an electronics fascination. I have a new iPod and the new Nook tablet. The month of December had a lot of hours spent playing with those! But I think I have caught up to myself. I’m grateful to still have readers and I appreciate all those who have subscribed. I am back on track and am eager to work on some new designs. As I mentioned before, clicking on the pictures will enlarge the image.
While sorting through shells I was listing in my online shop, I found a few larger shells. It’s been a while since I made a flower arrangement using these shells as the vase. I have a brown and orange cameo, a couple of cones, a large abalone, and a few others. I also want to do finish my wood and rock project. The project in this post will be using a large black and white murex.
This is one of my favorite shells. I like the texture and the sheen of the shell. All the little bumps and points have that lovely dark color. Even just sitting on the shelf as a specimen shell, the murex is eye-catching. The opening is smooth and glossy. There are a couple of flaws, however, on the front of my shell. Four tiny holes mar the perfection. If you have a shell similar to this, it really isn’t a problem. Use it to your advantage. Flowering vines can drape over the holes. Leaves can cover the flaws. If the hole was larger, you could make it part of the design by having the flowers ‘bloom’ through the hole.
I plan on standing the shell on end as pictured for the arrangement. The following two pictures are a murex design I did a couple of years ago. That murex was much larger. For that design, I laid the shell on its side because I felt it would be more stable.
Whenever I start a design, I pick up anything that grabs my eye. I may or may not use it. I already had a few flowers made, so my project time will be considerably shorter. I decided on a purple-ish color scheme, using yellow and white flowers for contrast.
For greenery, there are small silk leaves and tiny white silk flowers. I use whatever material that catches my eye. You can use feathers, sticks, pine cones, dried leaves. I like the wood potpourri pieces, also. They add a bit of character and uniqueness but I let them air out so the scent will dissipate before use.
As I said, I gather more than I will need. Nothing frustrates me more than having to stop and find greenery or make flowers. In addition, the left over flowers will be saved for future designs. Sometimes I spend days just making a variety of flowers. But everyone works differently.
I’m using floral oasis in the shell. I’ve used Styrofoam but I like the oasis better. The texture is softer, less brittle than Styrofoam. After pressing the piece of oasis firmly into the shell opening, I trim it back. You don’t want it exposed. I don’t toss the trimmings away, though, until I’m completely finished with the arrangement. There are small gaps that may need a small piece. I do not add the moss yet, I want to play around with design. In my supplies, I have three types of moss; a spongy green moss, dried grey moss, and an artificial green type. The last is what I am using here.
Except for two flowers, there are no stems attached, yet. I don’t want too many holes in the oasis. Carefully placing the flowers, I work out the design. I choose the leaves I want to use. When using multiples of the same flower, make sure you use matching leaves. I once made some violet roses then discovered the leaves didn’t match. Additionally, my creation has to allow for a vine to naturally drape over the four tiny holes.
After I’m satisfied with the design, I’ll glue short stems into the flower base and attach leaves.The moss will be laid over the oasis before inserting the flower stems. Prior to placing the flowers, I’ll trim the wire stems to size. I want the stem long enough to go deep into the oasis but still be above the moss. The leaves are glued beneath the flower. In the picture above, you can see a small pectin shell. It isn’t needed for stability, but I wanted the appearance of a ‘stand’. I made another arrangement with a murex once and every time someone picked it up, it was replaced it a different position.
So here is the finished piece. I think it turned out exactly as I envisioned. The purple and yellow pair up beautifully. I covered a couple of the holes, but since they are there naturally, I didn’t stress too much. The holes don’t seem to distract from the overall design. I’ll start the next arrangement using the orange and brown cameo. The flowers will be gar scales and cup shells. Can’t wait to get started!