Having the opportunity to attend the recent World Cup competition in Philadelphia was a humbling experience, but ever so inspirational. Watching the amazingly talented designers scrutinize such steps as stem placement really emphasized the importance of details for me. Judges were looking for clean and constant application of mechanics, along with solid elements and principles of design, as well as the interaction of every element of design with each other. These are all influences that can be used in creating everyday arrangements that are not only beautiful, but budget-conscious as well.

The hand-tied competition was intriguing, underscoring the importance of flower head placement and also how the stem was placed on the base. Watching the international masters create stunning bouquets was very educational. Spiraling the stems took on a new skill level as these great designers meticulously adjusted where each stem was placed…with special attention paid to how important the interaction of flower heads and stem placement is in the total composition.

I was struck with the depth and transparency created in the floral presentation of these bouquets. Layering of materials to draw the eye into the composition added textural elements and developed the line within the bouquet. What’s more, using an armature for a base enabled the designers to control placement and spacing of floral materials.

The impact achieved in armature designs during the World Cup was made much larger by creating spacing between floral elements in the design. Utilizing these techniques in our everyday designs can add creativity, innovation and size value.

One design I wanted to master was the crescent fan-style hand-tied bouquet. I carefully watched this design being made by other World Cup designers to understand the stem placement and I was inspired to try this bouquet myself. I built an elongated armature from 12 18-gauge wires covered with black corsage tape using the chicken wire technique (see photos 1 and 2). The armature was elongated to accommodate the angled placement of the stems. I added midollino to the structure, weaving it through each other to create depth and transparency (see photo 3).

To start the bouquet, you insert one stem mid-structure on the right side and one stem from the left side. Everything inserted on the right side goes behind the armature stem and insertion from the left goes in front of the frame stem (see photo 4). This process stays consistent with all of your insertions forming an X-pattern before it is bound.

Observing the stem placement as well as the head placement is crucial to getting the stems to layer together properly. Using your fingers to comb through the stems to help assure that they lay beautifully together works well with this spiraling technique. The end result is that spiraling the stems can take your bouquets to the next level (see photo 5).