How can you add greenery glam to your fresh foliage designs this season?
Create a glamorous new vibe for your weddings, special events, and botanical couture?
Grab a can of spray paint and add a metallic finish,” suggests Ian Prosser AIFD, AAF, PFCI.
The magic is in the mist.
Floral designs take on a glamourous new vibe when greens, branches, grasses, or other floral materials are spray-painted with metallic or neon colors.
Mix gold, silver, or copper foliage stems with fresh, faux, or dried flowers to create a high visual impact for your fresh flower events.
What’s the inspiration behind spray-painted fresh foliage designs?
Searching for Gold
“It seemed like all of a sudden we needed big areas of gold in our designs,” explains Ian, owner of Botanica International Design Studio in Tampa, Florida. The search for an affordable solution led Ian to his supply of metallic spray-paints.
“The AMI Kids 50th Anniversary Gala needed 24-karat gold glamour for its celebration,” says Ian. He contrasted warm gold tones against cool white flowers to deliver instant glam.
Eight or ten massive arrangements of gold-painted tropical foliages with white roses and hydrangea created a high visual impact across the room.
Tall glass vases, with gold-painted palm leaves tucked inside, supported the large focal designs. Spray-painted foliages and white flowers arranged in floral foam filled Lomey dishes topped each vase.
Smaller pedestal bowls of white roses with gold salal leaves dressed the remaining 35 tables.
Leaves of Gold
“Monstera leaves take color very well,” says Ian. “Even good old-fashioned funeral jade looks surprisingly trendy when sprayed with metallic paints.”
Phoenix palm, Italian ruscus, Israeli ruscus, seeded eucalyptus, and salal dress well in the paint.
While metallic tropical leaves are impressive, reflective finishes can also upscale artichokes, succulents, anthurium, protea, thistle, feathers, and fresh or dried greenery garlands.
Spray-painted natural materials with a low moisture content dry well for longer-lasting flower arrangements.
- Wear latex gloves while spray-painting.
- Spray paint in a well-ventilated open area or outdoors.
- Shake the paint can vigorously before spraying.
- Apply the paint in delicate layers by misting with a light spray.
- Spray the paint in even strokes so it doesn’t run.
- Let the paint dry for a few seconds; add more layers.
- Allow foliage to dry fully before handling.
Design Tip: Hold the paint can 15 – 18 inches away from foliage when spraying to keep the propellant from freezing or damaging fresh materials.
Start with an Undercoat
Experimenting with different paints, Ian discovered the importance of starting with an undercoat.
While painting a few large hot pink monstera leaves for an arrangement, Ian decided the intense color looked too harsh. He tried using an undercoat of Design Master Super Silver.
“A light mist of silver paint over the leaves helped lessen the intensity of their natural green color.” Ian explains, “A light overcoat of the hot pink gave me the glorious pink-pearlized effect I wanted.”
Design tip: No need for a heavy metallic look? Create visual interest by adding a light mist of metallic paint along the sides and tips of leaves.
Mix Painted, Dried, and Fresh
A wedding show took place at Armature Works – an old storage and maintenance garage barn for Tampa’s electric streetcars.
The raw texture of the building’s exposed brick and hardwood floors inspired Botanica to use a mix of painted foliage and dried materials with fresh roses and orchids.
“Ruscus holds gold paint well and blends nicely with popular bleached materials like pampas and amaranths – making it an obvious choice,” explains Ian.
Design tip: For a soft rose-gold effect – spray Design Master Super Silver paint over large foliage leaves and mist with light coats of Design Master Rose Gold.
A Two-Piece Framework
A backdrop was constructed from a flat pack of 1 x 2 reclaimed wood boards to support a two-piece floral foam framework of flowers and foliages. Vertical frame across the top, horizontal frame down the side.
“Metal hooks, coated in a rubber sleeve, were added to the top and hooked over the wall’s edge to hold designs in place. “We refer to these hooks as beaver-teeth,” explains Ian, “we get them from the hardware store or Home Depot.”
Not all walls are this labor-intensive.
Another quick and easy foliage wall trick is to start with a faux boxwood covered wooden wall. Pull a layer of chicken wire tautly over the boxwood and anchor to form a secure grid to secure the stems.
Tuck spray-painted fresh foliage stems – including monstera, palmetto, and palm, into the chicken wire grid. “It’s an easy way to create an effective backdrop that doesn’t take a lot of time,” says Ian.
Spray-painted leaves are an easy upscale for centerpieces as well.
Dressed in Red
Spray-painted red monstera leaves added glamour to the Museum of Art centerpieces in Sarasota.
How does Ian charge for the paint and labor of an upscaled leaf? “Double the price of the leaf. If it was a $5 leaf (retail), it’s now a $10 leaf,” he explains.
Design tip: While painting, position larger leaves beneath the spray area. The over-spray paint mist will settle onto lower leaves to start their color coverage and save money on paint.
Accent botanical couture
“Painted foliages can accent botanical couture as well,” says Canadian Lea Romanowski CAFA, AIFD of Calgary, Alberta.
It’s really important to wash and dry your foliage before painting it,” Lea explains. Any existing dirt, residue or polish will affect the paint finish.
Foliages need to be room temperature before painting. “Don’t paint materials you’ve just taken out of the cooler,” Lea advises. Temperatures below 10° C (50° F) can have negative effects on your paint or smooth paint application.
“If it’s too cold outside to paint, create a ventilation area indoors” suggests Lea. Drape 4- to 6-mil plastic sheeting over a painting space near a window that can be opened for ventilation.
Create a New Vibe
Want a glamorous new vibe for your weddings, special events, and botanical couture this season? Try spray-paint your fresh foliage and dried materials in metallic or neon colors.
What spray-painting tips can you share with us?