Monday, August 15, 2011

My Big Fat Wedding Updates: The Brooch Bouquet, A Delicate Disaster

As recorded in a previous post, I decided to create a brooch bouquet for the wedding. I started out with about 20 brooches that once belonged to my Great Nana Irene, who loved to add a little sparkle to her sweaters even as a cute old lady. Since March I collected about 30 more from my family, Ryan's family, friends, vintage shops, etsy, and Good Will. Little boxes have been arriving in the mail from my Mom's dear friend Linda, my Aunt Renee, and Ryan's Aunt Joanie. Last week I finally put it together.

My brooch bouquet finished.

I had planned on more before and after photos, but I'm going to level with you. "Before" was basically me surrounded by a massive tangle of wires convinced I had gotten myself in over my head. I have an art degree, I've taken actual sculpting classes, so when I read the easy-to-follow DIY steps of brooch bouquets in March I thought, "Pssssht, this will be a snap!" Absolutely not, no snap was heard. It was hard. Wiring antique brooches with delicate parts is complicated, and once you have wired them all (it took me a day and a half) the brooches are so heavy that each movement of the bouquet sends them all drooping south. Soon I was holding a handful of 'wilting' metal flowers in one hand and my head in the other.

I even laid out the pieces all cute.
This was time I should have spent wiring.
After wiring the flowers they tell you to wrap them in floral tape for strength. I got about four flowers in and had to stop. One: It did not add strength, they still bent in half. Two: Floral tape is horrible. I have what you might call a tactile sensitivity (read: I'm a weird person). I intensely dislike being sticky. And the increasing stickiness of the left over floral tape guck on my fingers combined with the drooping flowers mocking me lead to a 'Gone with the Wind' moment when I stood against the sunset and yelled to the world, "AS GOD AS MY WITNESS I'M NOT TOUCHING ANYMORE OF THAT GROSS TAPE!"

That hand is in a fist
because it's too sticky to open.

And so I tossed the tape and began wiring flowers together. That was a bad idea, because they turned into a jumbled mess. So I carefully picked them apart, and...began wiring them together again. WAIT! It was the same bad idea. I did this several times before I gracefully wadded a thick pile of cloth hydrangeas and lace together and began stabbing the wires into the top and pulling them through the bottom. This was not only very satisfying, but gave the heavy flowers something to rest on. My victory was short lived though, as they continued to all drag downward.

Silas Skunk gazes from a bed of wires as if to say,
"You just couldn't get a $15 bouquet from the grocery store, could you?"

Sometime around one in the morning, as I sat stabbing and pulling, stabbing and pulling, and the whole thing was creeping further and further to the bottom, the answer suddenly hit me. It was as if the Heavens opened up to give me direction and a choir of angels trumpeted, singing two words: Fishing Line.

The bouquet was already entirely metal, pins, and wire. Why not go all out dainty and lash the entire mess together with fishing line? And so that's what I did, because I keep a spool handy for just such an emergency.

Here are the results. You'll see I added some sprigs of fishing line with little faux pearls for baby's breath.

Because every bunch of flowers needs a bee.
The ribbon stem.
And Ryan's boutineer.

Sometimes the creative process is not a straight line, sometimes it's a zig zag to the end result. I love my bouquet all the more because it was so stubborn and difficult. The prettier a thing is, the harder it is to come by easily, I suppose. The original artist of the brooch bouquet offers to put them together for brides here for $350. I used to think that was expensive for a DIY project, however since you couldn't pay me enough to make another one, now I think it's a good deal.

Or remember: There's always fishing line.


  1. The "baby's breath" is such a great addition! It's lovely, and you can keep it forever without it wilting or attracting bugs or falling apart!

  2. It's gorgeous! I love how it came together and am so happy you are going to have such a special memento of your wedding day. The colors are so beautiful together -- I just can't get over how HAPPY it looks! :)

  3. Oh my goodness, that is a truly gorgeous bouquet and totally worth the effort!

  4. So under your brooches is lace covered flowers? And you took the fishing like and linked the top of each brooch to another brooch? I think that's one I've not seen yet, so I'm excited to see if it works! Thanks.

  5. Hello! Yes, I did. I took white cloth hydrangeas (about $4-5 at the craft store) and used them for volume. I wrapped the lace around those and sort of gathered, stuck it together in the bottom. I laced everything together with fishing line to keep it stable. Honestly, it was all a series of happy mistakes leading to fixing mistakes leading to more mistakes--but months later, it looks exactly as it did on our wedding day! And it survived two flights. I'm SO happy I made one, you will be too! They are well worth the effort!


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