Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The 'Art' of Fantasy Flowers!

Fantasy Flowers... love them or hate them?

Sue Bowler
Mother's Day Design created by Sue Bowler CBA

I know that this is a bit of a 'bold' statement, but it's true, there are those of us who can see that using this technique can enhance a balloon design and there are those who don't think that they have any place in the balloon industry... which one are you?

The History!

Like any new technique it has a beginning and it is recorded that the 'Fantasy Flowers' was first created in 1983 by Graham Rouse CBA. Graham used wires, water and any number of other items to alter the shape of latex balloons! 
Graham also credits Ken Fetgatter and Gary Wells, who both with a floristry background took the Fantasy Flowers to a whole new level, re-creating flowers and using them within  floral designs.

Graham has written a great article 'Fantasy Flowers- The Beginning of 'RIBS' for Balloon Sculpture, to read his article click HERE.

I have often heard it said, "my granny use to do this with old stockings and wires to make flowers", so it looks like the making flowers from wires and other materials goes back quite a long way!
My first experience of Fantasy Flowers was seeing designs created by Christopher Horne and Gill McGregor, both qualified florists and extremely talented balloon artists too! I loved what I saw and could see how this technique has it's place within the balloon industry!

Today, I see many 'Fantasy Flowers' in designs or should it really be 'Fantasy' techniques, as it is not always flowers that are being made!


Here is the basic items that you will need to start making fantasy flowers:

18 Gauge (102mm) Floral Wire

Try and get the longest lengths that you can- not less than 14" (35.5cm) and if you can get the green covered wires they are the best as the un-covered  wires can be a little rusty and need cleaning up first!

Floral Tape

This is a semi sticky tape that acts like 'cling film' and helps to hide the wires and mechanics. It takes a little practice to use it, but once you have it mastered it works perfectly every time!

Reel Wire 

Reel wire, Rose wire or binding wire, this wire has a number of different names! It also comes in varying gauges, you will need something like 28-30 gauge wire. It needs to be strong but not thick as it will add extra bulk to the base of your flowers!

Pinch Nose Pliers

And finally, pinch nose pliers, we need to be able to bend our wire and these little pliers are perfect for the job!

So before I show you some very simple steps on how to make a 'Fantasy Flower', I asked Jodie White CBA (Norris) to give me her thoughts on this humble technique!

Fantasy Flowers 
Although these can be a time consuming element to your business if implemented right they can actually add a creative and profitable aspect!  In our Company the Fantasy Flower was an intrinsic part of our offerings because it made us diverse from our competitors.  We had a good system in place for creating a range of petals, in the quite periods and storing them in black containers, avoiding the light which causes oxidization and decay, if stored correctly they can last over 1 year. This process was a huge time saver overall, as it meant we could pull out the petals and simply whip up the required flowers, creating a unique display in a matter of minutes, yet still demanding the higher perceived value these elements bring with them.
Creating: to create the flowers is relatively simple, you just need to master the single petal and then any flower can be reproduced in balloons.  To work with a new form we would simply purchase a real flower head, break down the elements, look at the individual and natural shapes and colours and then reproduce in balloon form.
Treatment; if you want to add a different finish you can use a number of different products from hi-float painted on each petal to give a porcelain finish once dried or adding glitter whilst wet for a sparkle to rubbing over balloon shine to give a soft glow and take off any dull areas
You have to be realistic Fantasy Flowers will not ever be a main income for your business to rely on but it can be valuable source to supplement a profitable income!
Jodie White (Norris) - CBA
Education Development Manager
Pioneer Balloon Company
A number of years ago, Jodie & I worked on a Conwin photo shoot and Jodie created some truly amazing Fantasy Flower designs, many of which I do not think have ever been published!
Jodie Norris
 Jodie has used a combination of silk and fantasy flowers along with both 4" & 9" Qualatex Microfoil's to make this beautiful car decor!

Jodie Norris
Just a simple single petal flower with wired beads make this stunning boutonniere - Designed and created by Jodie White CBA

Jodie Norris
I love this 'Mother of the Bride' corsage, it has many of the same elegant elements and lines as the beautiful brides bouquet as featured below! The roses are made from heart latex balloons, and the elegant curves from wires covered in 260Q's! Designed and created by Jodie White CBA

Jodie Norris
Bridal Bouquet by Jodie White CBA
Here's a short clip that will give you the simple steps that you need to make a 'Fantasy Flower'

Other designs that incorporate the ''Fantasy Flower" technique. I apologise in advance as I do not know all the designers of these amazing creations, if any of these designs are yours or you know who made them, please let me know so that I may add their names: sue@suebowler.com

enza mondello
This stunning Top Table decor was created by Enza Mondello and Team Italia,  at the Qualatex Slovenia

very best balloon blog
This stunning Golden Fish was a competition entry at the Moscow Balloon Festival in 2009
Everyone was blown away by this incredible 'wood carving', which in fact is 90% 'fantasy flower ' type work! It was designed and created by Mady Chiappetta and team, BACI, Italy! 
This design was created by Kyoko Shirai You cannot really get the scale of this design, it is an entry from the 'Mini' sculpture competition held at JBAN - Japanese Balloon Art Convention. These flowers are so tiny! The whole sculpture fits inside a perspex box that is approx. a 4" cube!

Gold Rose - by Jodie White CBA
This amazing balloon dress was made by Ingrid Hogers of Ha Ha Entertainment and shown at the Millennium Jam

And finally a few more flower based designs

Sue Bowler

Sue Bowler

Sue Bowler

very best balloon blog

Happy Ballooning!



Unknown said...

WOW!!! those fantasy flowers are awesome!!!

Lewis Clark said...

Great post, have all the information one need to know about fantasy flowers. Thanks for sharing it with us and keep posting such posts

Marge Padgitt said...

Very creative!  I'd like to include a couple of your fantasy flower designs in my book about balloon flowers with full credit to you of course. Please contact me at margepagitt@comcast.net