Anyone who has ever retrieved a no-longer-white orchid from the back of the refrigerator may have mixed feelings about the traditional corsage. No matter how pretty the ribbon, limp, browned and shriveled petals make a poor souvenir of a happy occasion. Today's corsages present both a more creative approach to wearable flowers and a varied range of materials likely to keep their memorable qualities. Use some of these new ideas to create a floral memory that you or another recipient will want to keep.
Flowers and Other Basic Materials
Flowers can come from the florist, your garden or even the supermarket. For those with allergies, consider silk flowers. You can obtain floral wire, clippers, and floral tape at local craft stores; wire and tape enable you to increase the versatility of fresh flowers by strengthening their stems. Backings for flowers can include fresh ferns or other flat-leaved greens, their artificial counterparts, and scraps of lace, ribbon and decorative papers. Craft or sewing supply stores are good sources of corsage pins.
Additional Corsage Materials
Corsages are no longer strictly pinned to the lapel or bosom, nor must they be mounted on a uniform elastic wrist cuff. Colored wire, fabric-wrapped or glittery, wire-rimmed ribbons, feathers, jewel-piks and beads are only some of the possible additions to a corsage. Look at ribbons in all widths and lengths; in some corsages, the variety of ribbons and streamers is greater than that of the flowers.
Location, Location, Location
Placement and attachment are both important parts of creating the corsage. Consider the impact of flowers at the waist, on a choker ribbon around the neck, attached to a spaghetti strap at the arc of the shoulder or crowning an up-swept hairdo. A corsage can be worn at the top of a French twist, cuffing the upper arm or pinned to a handbag.
Making the Pieces Work--An Example
Just for fun, experiment with this list of components to produce a new-style corsage. A homegrown tea rose, just opening, and two buds make a good start. Cut them with 3-inch stems and place in water; refrigerate. Add 5 stems of lavender, cutting three with 4-inch stems and two with 3-inch. Let all flowers hydrate for at least 12 hours. Wire and wrap, placing roses on top of lavender, fanning lavender slightly. Add purple fabric-covered wire, wrapping each piece around flowers and curling around fingers or a pencil to make tendrils. Save one piece of wire to pinch into a butterfly shape and wire it to sit above roses. Add a gauzy ribbon in pale green or the rosebud color, and secure it to the corsage with a length of dark green ribbon on which you have strung several sparkly beads. Pin your corsage to a straw hat or straw bag, and make that lunch date one you'll remember.