The only materials needed for making corsages at home are wire, for individual flowers, and tape, for binding the stems. Two spools of florists' wire will do-Number 24 for most flowers except the very delicate ones, on which Number 32 is used. The tape many florists employ is a commercial product called parafilm, a rubber and paraffin product which is self-adherent and available in various colours, and usually three-fourths of an inch wide. If the corsage-making kit is to be kept to a minimum, buy one roll of green parafilm
Learning to wire and tape
You need only a few minutes of practice to become familiar with the mechanics of corsage making. Pick a few flowers (five will give you ample practice), and brace each one by winding with a 12-inch strand of wire. Wind a strip of parafilm around the wired stems, then wrap them together with more wire and parafilm. Clip off the extra lengths of wire and shape the flowers as you wish.
This is a corsage of five gladioli-two fully-opened blooms, two smaller blooms, and a bud. Break each flower off just below the calyx. Run a 12-inch piece of wire through the calyx of each flower, about a half-inch below the corolla, so that an equal length of wire sticks out on each side of the flower. Bend one end of the wire down, flush with the stem, and wrap the other end of the wire around and around the calyx and adjacent wire. Wind lightly but firmly, to bind the flower securely but not to crush it.
When a bloom has been thus wired, you will have a flower with a strand of wire 4 or 5 inches long for a stem. Wrap each wired flower with parafilm, all the way down to the end of the wire. Use 5 or 6 inches of parafilm for each flower. Hold the tape against the calyx with the thumb and forefinger of one hand and turn the flower with the other hand.
When the taping is completed, the blooms will consist of flower-heads at the end of pliable stems of parafilm. Only their arrangement in any desired design remains to be done. The flowers may be held together by twisting the parafilm stems around one another, but professional corsage-makers prefer to wire them together. Do not try to put them together all at once; add one flower at a time until the corsage is completed.
A corsage with five gladioli
An attractive arrangement of the five glads would be the bud on top, the two full blooms directly in line below it, and the two smaller blooms branching off to either side of the middle flower. Start with the bud, add on the two small blooms in a V, then attach the two large blooms in this order:
When all the stems have been joined, wrap them all together with parafilm to form a single stem for the five-flower corsage. Do not jam the flowers against each other, but keep them sufficiently close together to avoid gaps in the design. In seeking to preserve the corsage, remember that there is no point in standing it in water since it cannot possibly obtain moisture through the parafilm-wire stems. Sprinkle the petals lightly with water and place the corsage in the icebox, in a closed box, or covered container.
Even the exotic orchid is not beyond the
scope of the homemade corsage. Be sure not to pierce the stem with wire,
and if it is planned to use a ribbon, use only the best ribbon or none
at all. Let the orchids speak for themselves and do not cover them with
a huge bow. Finally, wear the orchids up, stem down, as they grow.
Another attractive corsage may be formed of six carnations of one colour encircling a single carnation of another colour. The same wiring and taping method is used for the individual flowers, except that both strands of the wire are wrapped around the calyx and then twisted together in a two-strand stem, because carnations have heavy heads that require stronger support. Bend the flower heads to a right angle to the wire stems, to form a flat design, and bind the ends of the stems together with lighter wire, as at the hub of a six-spooked wheel. Attach the central flowers at the hub and wrap the joined stems with parafilm.
A single tulip with a 4-inch stem firmly wired and taped makes an effective decoration. Turn the flower at a right angle to the stem and bend each petal out flat. Then bend the stem into a circle, which may easily be pinned onto a dress. The flower will last for a few hours.
A nosegay may be made easily. Use a half-dozen clusters of statice, on 3-inch stems broken from the main stalk. Wire two clusters together and keep adding others until all have been wired into a single ball, then tape the gathered stems together with parafilm. To give the bouquet an old-fashioned touch, slip the parafilm stem through a paper doily which forms a collar for the bunch.
A half-dozen Amazon lilies, wired and taped individually and gathered in a circle, or a single panicle of oncidium orchids, with only the main stalk wired and taped and the individual flower stems left free to point the blooms in their own graceful manner, make effective corsages of exotic flowers.
These examples are basic examples of corsages which may readily be made at home. With them in mind, once facility is acquired any number of combinations may be attempted, limited only by the kinds of flowers available. As with flower arrangements, only a little skill and imagination are needed to adorn one's person as well as one's home with the blooms of the garden.