We made three types of flowers, a daisy, a wild rose and a carnation.
As the workshop was only three hours long, we did not prep the fabric in class - Martha had starched the cotton and silk fabrics we used.
The first step was cutting out all parts, petals, corollas, leaves, calix and sepals. Yes, some knowledge of botany is useful when making faux flowers.
Starched, flat fabric does not make for very convincing flowers, it's necessary to goffer to give a more natural shape. Goffering involves using hot metal tools in a variety of shapes (ball, spade, curler) to shape the starched fabric. Heat plus starch can result in a real mess, it takes a certain touch to get it just right.
It's a little hard to see, but I have a goffered daisy corolla in the following photo:
Flowers, of course, require stamens. These are formed with cotton and/or linen thread. For the wild rose, starched linen thread has just the tips dipped in colored gum arabic.
Gum arabic is used to bind all the pieces in place, a bit of drying time is required between layers, making a hanging rack very handy.
Here's my three flowers (I didn't quite finish my carnation):
It's easy to see why flower making was a traditional "sweatshop labor" product - it's a very time intensive process.
Would I ever produce flowers for sale?
No, as it's too time intensive a process and very few people would be willing to pay the price.
Would I ever make flowers "just because"?
Once the initial tools had been purchased, it would be low cost in terms of materials. It would be a great group activity, many flowers could be produced in a weekend, with everyone working factory style. So we'll see....maybe!
I'm so pleased I was able to take this workshop, I'll certainly have a greater appreciation for those dainty beauties trimming my bonnets.