Sep. 4th, 2013

hsifeng: (Ladies Sewing Circle)
So, taking up where my prior entry left of; how did we make those Mucha things anyway?

We started with the headdresses.

This seems simple enough, until you try to find flowers the size of the ones in the inspiration images, or at least my inspiration image:

Alphonse Mucha - Bieres de la Meuse

Poppies. That. Huge. Cannot. Be. Had. Anywhere.

After poking around online I had found sources for all my floral needs except these enormous beasts. A few places had 5” poppies, but they were asking $20+/flower and 5” was still too small. Great. Now I sound like a flora size queen.  *chuckle* I was up in the Bay visiting friends on another sewing related adventure when I found myself at Beverly’s Craft & Floral. I was delighted to find that they had All The Flowers there that I needed – except my damn poppies. That was when T stepped in and pointed something out:

“Why don’t you just buy some of these red peonies and modify them?”

Red Peony - Unmodified


So that evening we gutted the central section of one of our peonies with the help of a sharp pair of embroidery scissors. These flowers are constructed with a small plastic ‘basket’ that holds the central section of petals closed around the stamen of the flower; we found that if you cut this basket off and remove the petal sections it contains, you end up with a nice, open flower with a bright yellow stamen center. After applying black fabric paint to the ‘new’ central petals[i]– and perhaps also to the center-facing portions of the next layer out – you end up with a HUGE poppy.

Red Peony - Modified

Now make a bunch, because you will need them.

The whole group met up the last weekend in June at the fabulous Sewing Circle Retreat[ii]. What did we take with us? Here is the general list:

·         Fabric flowers & greenery (procured at Michael's Craft & Floral, Beverly Fabrics, etc.)[iii]
·         Floral tape & wire (I personally recommend the fabric/tape covered floral wire)
·         Wire cutters
·         Glue gun & glue
·         Any 'bits and bobs' you are adding to your headdress for bling (sparkly bits, ribbon, etc)
·         WIGS[iv]
·         Head forms – because being able to *see* the darn thing being worn makes all the difference, and you don’t want to drip hot glue on your own head…

Things to keep in mind when you are making your headdress:

·         Ensure that you have enough ‘range’ in your materials palette to provide for variety in both color (different types of greenery, for example), size (big focal point pieces – like poppies! – plus smaller interest pieces make a more interesting looking result), and effect (drapey bits that hang down, stiff bits that stick up, etc.).  Worst case scenario, you have enough left over for another headdress!

·         If you aren’t sure if it is big enough yet, it probably isn’t. Seriously. Aim for just shy of this and you will be there…
Bracken Buck

·         This is a 3D piece of art, make sure you fill in any gaps and that it looks good from all angles. Place the headdress on a head/wig form and check it out from behind, in front, on top. Fill in as needed.

·         There is a stage in every headdress where you are sure it is a disaster, just keep working on it and adding bits – you will eventually hit a critical mass point where it becomes FABULOUS

·         If you are making yours based on a piece of art, keep that image handy and check back in often.

The ‘Construction’ Steps:

Start by making a ring of your floral wire that is slightly bigger than you want your finished piece; the extra space will be filled out by flower and tape bulk as you build.

When your ring is the right size, bend the wire where the two ends meet into a pair of ‘hooks’. These will hook around each other (and possibly be bent around each other to form a permanent ring) and allow you to open and close the ring base of your headdress as/if needed during construction.

Using your floral tape, begin by making a small bundle of interesting floral and greenery bits. Think the size of an overgrown boutonniere. You will probably be cutting flowers and bits of green off of larger bundles, but be sure to leave enough ‘stem’ to wrap around as you gather them together. Keep the principle of variety in mind here – color and types of bits.

When you have a tiny bouquet that you like, make another. Having two or three of these under your belt makes the idea of facing a whole headdress a lot easier.

Now.  Starting at either the center front or a focal point location on your headdress design[v], place the tiny bouquet on your floral wire ring and tape it in place with your floral tape. This should be done as securely as possible; while trying to avoid using so much tape that you end up with a wad. Don’t worry – this will become easier as you work along. Also, if the thing won’t stay you always have more floral wire and hot glue[vi] if need be.

Add more tiny bouquets to the ring.

Occasionally throw in a larger flower (size variation) or drapey/pokey bit (effect variation).

When you have gotten all the way around the ring (or covered the portion your headdress requires), place it on your head/wig form and check it for holes. Can you see the wire anywhere? Obvious bits of floral tape showing?

Grab your glue gun and some spare floral bits (smaller sizes work well here) and greenery (left over leaf bits from your flower bunches are perfect for this). This is best done on a wig/head form because Second Degree Burns Hurt.
Forms Help Make This Happen

Fill in the holes.

This is also a chance to add any ‘blingy bits’ – jewelry bits, sea shells, crystals, small birds, bones, etc.  These can either be glued in place or added by stringing them with bits of floral wire and affixing them that way.

Check for holes again and repeat above as necessary.

Now, try on your headdress over your styled wig. Does it still fit? Too loose? Too tight? Adjust it at the ‘hooked ends’ of the ring and add/subtract flora as needed to accommodate.

Once the headdress is sized you can either permanently twist the ends of your ring together to cover with floral tape and more flora; or you can leave the hooks in place, allowing you to adjust the size. This second option is better for folks who may have to open their ring in order to get it around wig bits or hats in future.

Eventually you will find yourself with something like this:

Mucha Headdress Workshop, June 2013 - Cherylyn as Bieres de la Muse

And now, some general Oh My God This Was So Much Fun shots:

Mucha Headdress Workshop, June 2013 -  Jessica
J, wearing one of the original White Picnic headdresses that started this whole thing off...

Mucha Headdress Workshop, June 2013 -  Amy and Brayton
A & B Rock The Mucha Look

Cathy Visits
[ profile] harmanhay - winner of the longest distance traveled to attend (via Skype from England...)

Variety is the Spice
Seriously, Buy More Flowers!  Also, berries, hops, nuts, twigs, ferns....

Mucha Headdress Workshop, June 2013 - Tonda
T, in all her Bracken Buck glory...

[i] Painting Tip: be sure to ‘fade’ the black paint out as you move away from the center of the flowers, this prevents a harsh black-to-red transition and looks more natural.
[ii] Not the real name of this establishment – but if we had a club house, this would be it!
[iii] LOTS of flowers and greenery. Mountains would not be an underestimate here. Basically, if you think you have enough, get a couple more pieces just to be sure.
[iv] Cosplay wigs rock for this. They are cheap, long, and you can style the crap out of them with the addition of a couple swags of plastic fake-hair and some foam rats. You will want your wig around when you are making your headdress because you need to be able to get the headdress ON TO your styled wig-wearing head. ;)

But I warn you, you will NOT look like yourself when you are wearing them...
Wigging Out
[v] For example, my headdress doesn’t have a central flower on the front, but rather two large arrangements of poppies over each ear. So I started there on each side and worked my way around to the back, finishing the project by filling in the front with bits of green.
[vi] As a total novice at this floral wire and tape game, I found hot glue to be my best friend.


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