Reviving old ideas in new ways is fun, especially when doing so ignites a passion for something as creative as botanical headpieces.
Françoise Weeks was inspired to try something new when an email arrived from photographer Ted Mishima five years ago. Mishima was exploring 1890s photography and discovered botanical headpieces by European designers that intrigued him. He asked Francoise to create similar designs for him to photograph.
“I had no clue what he was talking about,” Françoise remembers, “but I said OK and began my research. I found many creative ideas and especially liked the woodland styles.
Françoise began to experiment with different materials and techniques to develop a look of her own. She now teaches these techniques to floral classes across the country and shares some of those design tips with us.
What’s old is new again
We’ve used flowers and other readily available items to decorate hair for centuries. Bone fragments, feathers, beads, jewels, lace, gold powder, fine fabrics, fresh flowers and foliage have served as adornment.
From the 13th to the 21st century, hats, headbands, headdresses and fascinators went in and out of fashion following changes in hairstyles, fashion and the ups and downs of economies.
In the 1990s, it became popular again to wear a small headpiece of fabric, feathers or flowers called a fascinator. This 17th century European term once referred to a lacy veil, but as the years passed the style evolved into trendy hairpieces made on a frame.
Wire armatures return
“Originally, I used frames as the basic structure of my designs,” says Francoise, “but after a while my supplier stopped making them. I found wire collars at the Flower Market and began using them.”
The beauty of a wire armature is that it is lightweight and can be easily stretched to any size and shape to establish the base of a design.
“When wire collars became unavailable, I was at a loss. OASIS Wire Armatures are returning to the market and I am thrilled!” Françoise says enthusiastically. “I love the versatility they give me in creating new designs of different forms.”
“Three years ago, I was teaching a workshop for Florabundance in Santa Barbara. All 65 students came up with a different shape for their design.” The possibilities are endless.
Begin with the frame
While these intricate designs seem to have been magically formed, actually there is a sequence of steps recommended in creating your own botanical headpieces.
Start with an OASIS Wire Armature or other wire form. Pull and stretch the wire into the desired shape of your design.
Françoise suggests the optional step of covering the structure with a lightweight plastic cling wrap over the top and bottom. This gives you a flat surface to glue your basing foliages onto using OASIS Floral Adhesive. Otherwise, glue foliage directly to the wire form.
“Typically, you don’t want your wire armature frame to show,” Françoise explains. “However, one student placed her armature on her head and manipulated it into the form she wanted. She pulled some of the wire forward loosely over her forehead to make a veil over one eye. It was lovely.”
Consider the water source
Determine the water needs of your design. Some designs won’t require a water source. For example, orchids can simply be glued to the form. However, most designs do require a water source and there are several ways to create one.
Françoise often cuts a small cup base to about one centimeter high and fills it with wet OASIS Floral Foam that is two centimeters tall. She secures it by taping a grid over the foam with 1/4″ OASIS® Waterproof Tape, then zip ties the container to the frame.
To make this step faster and easier, soak either a small IGLU® Holder or MINI-DECO™ Holder in water, then zip tie it to the wire frame. If you are creating a large design, secure a couple of the larger IGLU Holders to your frame as its water source.
Personalize your design
Zip tie decorative items like fans, bark, twigs, tiaras, lace or beads and jewels to the form to customize your design. Use OASIS Floral Adhesive to glue floral materials into the design. Start by inserting line flowers that create the structure. Add rounded materials that fill out its 3-D form. Finish by tucking small and delicate filler materials into place.
Secure the design in place
Attach the design using the longest bobby pins you can get. For photography, two or three will do, but if the design is to actually be worn, eight or nine hairpins will be needed. According to Françoise, “long hair is very helpful as well.”
Botanical headpieces are a trendy new look with a long history. Which style will you try?
For more inspiring ideas – Pinterest.com/sharonmcgukin/floral-hats-headbands-headdresses