Monday, February 16, 2009

project: centerpieces !

being a teacher, i am lucky enough to get all of those "extra holidays" off from work. today was one of those days. i decided at the last minute to head out to the los angeles flower market, ikea, and michael's to try my hand at making floral centerpieces. it was HARD! i didn't read any tutorials or get a supply list, i totally winged it. that may or may not have been the right thing to do, but i wanted to be spontaneous!

flowers are not really my thing. i prefer the look of leaves and greens, moss and stones and wood as decor. i want overflowing dishes of greens and a few jewel-toned flowers! we will also have some candles (in 5" hurricane glasses) resting on wood circles for some soft dinner lighting.

i started by purchasing a two shallow "decorative bowls" from ikea.

bladet 12.5" $12.99

blomster 10.25" $9.99

then i went off to michael's to pick up some supplies. if i had actually planned ahead, i would have bought what i needed online, or at the flower mart; it was all pretty expensive at michael's. also, i would have figured out what i needed, since i didn't use most of it (yet!!). learn from my mistakes, dear readers!

a roll of twigs and wire! $2.99. green floral wire, floral tape, and floral clips, $1.49 each

wet foam, 4 pack $6.49

fake flowers $2.99, a fake birds nest $1.19, fake fiddlehead fern $2.99, and fake forest fern $2.99.

from the market: ferns $3, some sort of long ivy $3, some sort of heather $4, green and brown moss, really pretty little white flowers $3, and a hanging flower i didn't end up using at all and it was the most expensive at $10. parking at the flower market was a ridiculous $6, because i didn't have enough change for the meter. tip: bring at least $3 in coins so you can park on the street!

i wanted to make something that can easily be produced the evening before the wedding, kept overnight in an air-conditioned room, and transported in a car without getting smooshed. we will be having one extremely long table for all 100ish people at our wedding. i want to keep the centerpieces low, so people can easily talk across the table. we will need two per table, plus small centerpieces for our cocktail tables (which is an entirely different project, involving my favorite: bell jars!)

first, i cut open the twig roll, and unrolled it. i do not know what this twig roll is normally used for, but i looooved it. i used about 1/6th of the roll for this one centerpiece. it was easy to bend into the shape i wanted (so it would work well with an oval or square vase as well). i then squished the moss in between the twigs and the side of the bowl. i used about 1/5th of the bag of moss i got for $5 at the flower mart.

at this point i got slightly lost. i really liked the way it looked so far! i started thinking i might like something simple like this, maybe filled with river rocks and few ferns, maybe a birch tree piece. this will be my next trial run.. instead i cut up one of the wet foam blocks and squished it into the bowl. i added some water (as per directions). then i just started sticking fern branches in! i have no idea if this is how i should have done it, but it seemed to work well.

the greens were starting to be a bit higher than i wanted, so i kind of bent the ferns down a bit with my palm. whatever i did, it helped.

i put my favorite plants in, the (plastic) fiddlehead ferns, and then just worked around that with the other greens/flowers i got at the market. i really hope to find fresh fiddleheads for the real centerpieces. they are so beautiful. when it looked finished i stopped, and filled in any gaps with some brown moss and thin, windy, ivy strands. i wish i knew the names of all of the plants i used, but i got to the flower mart late and everyone was packing up, so i didn't have much of a chance to talk to the people there about their plants. i just picked what looked forest-y to me.

at the end i stuck a few purple and red flowers in there, along with a little red bird in a nest.

the end result (at three angles):

results: i really like it, it looks beautiful in my house, but i don't love it. i am really glad that i started early and i have a few months to get these right. i think i may be happier with a square dish, and i want to try to keep it a bit smaller. i need to do more research on forest dwelling greens and flowers. it needs a bit more color. i was slightly discouraged after this, but i did try out a smaller version in the 10" dish:

circles of ivy, no wired twigs, no foam.

i like this smaller arrangement too, maybe for one of the outside sitting areas.

all together it cost approximately $29.00 to make the large centerpiece. i found that if i buy the foam chunks online, find less expensive (and real) fiddleheads, and use these square dishes, it will work out to $22 per centerpiece. we will have about 10 tables pushed together to make our long table, with two per table, that works out to 20 arrangements, for a grand total of $440. my four cocktail table centerpieces will add on another $120.
from what i found doing a little 'net searching, this is a pretty reasonable price (and within my $600 centerpiece budget).

this was an entertaining project for my rainy monday, and i have so many green bits to let the kids play with at school tomorrow!

are you diy-ing your centerpieces? did you find this a cost-effective adventure?


  1. Oh, cool. I like how they look, especially the little twirly things. Great job!

  2. i really dig what you came up with (especially for being your first time!)...who is doing your bouquets and boutonnieres? need a floral designer for that? :) wink wink...i love marvimon and love the vibe you are going for! let me know if you need anything! and good luck with it all!

  3. hey carissa!
    we actually are looking for someone to do the bouquets.. i checked out your blog and i love your style. i'll be in touch!!