OK I admit it, when it came to wedding planning I was 'putting off' a visit to the florists. I can't put my finger on why, but every time I turned around I'd found a new alternative to using actual flowers. So when the first florists quote for the shower bouquet I'd had my eye on came back as something extortionate, I was reminded of the new trend adorning every Wedding Magazine this year: Heirloom bouquets. Recycling old buttons and broaches into a lovely lasting display that I will be able to keep forever and maybe hand on to my daughter one day.
After five minutes with goggle I was hooked on the idea. I found some lovely inspiration at DCbouquets including some designs that had the teardrop/shower design I had been lusting over in Phalaenopsis Orchids. Armed with a useful tutorial from Junk Shop Bride I set off in search of old forgotten treasures in the depths of my jewellery box and managed to find a good handful of suitable objects within a short space of time.
Although this little hoard was obviously going to be nowhere near enough (guides recommend 60+ broaches), so I roped in friends and family to see if they had any broken bits of floral jewellery to donate to the cause. And started bargain hunting at car boots, jewellery sales and charity shops, setting a budget of about £1 an item.I tried to stick to mostly silvery tone items, some with ivory enamel and a few touches of purple.
In the meantime, I bought sliver florists wire, wire cutters and bottle nosed pliers so I could start wiring up the broaches. I ended up using a little garden wire too for the heavier items but I tried not to use too much as it would have weighed down the bouquet.
Every piece of jewellery used requires a different approach to wiring. Some were easy to wire, others required more inventive solutions.
I decided to wire the broaches as I went along, this meant I could see the general composition, and wiring one or two every now and then was preferable to sitting for hours trying to wire 60+ items of jewellery at the end.
I picked up 2 hydrangea flowers from a local haberdashery shop, they were rather pretty already with pearlized petals and little silver centres - seems a shame to be covering them up! I pulled all the leaves off, trimmed the stems and tied the two together. Together these will form the base for the bouquet and support and pad out the wire stems for the brooches, and fill in any little gaps. An alternative technique to achieve this is to create a wire mesh the right shape and size and feed your stems through this.
By the 100 days I had quite a collection of brooches, earrings, hair clips and scarf holders, but was probably only at the halfway point. I found carboot sales were the cheapest way to discover perfect finds, although high street fashion shop's jewellery sales were also a great source, along with charity shops and eBay.
Ever impatient, I started placing a few brooches before I'd finished collecting my stash. Placing a few main items in key points and surrounding with contrasting tones and textures. This gave me a good idea of coverage and what complimented the rest of the collection.
This is the bouquet at just over the halfway point, I had placed 33 brooches and buttons with 90 days to go, but was badly in need of more trips to the carboot to finish the collection. I tried to make sure the really 'stand out' pieces were given pride of place at the front, and I kept sentimental pieces near the top so I could see them on the big day.
Once I was happy with the coverage and placement of all of the brooches it was time to secure the stems together. If trying this yourself DO NOT twist the stems together too tightly as connections can break and broaches can end up being pulled in towards the middle and ruin the shape - Mr S did this to mine and the whole thing split across the centre - it was utterly heartbreaking and took a good few days before I could bring myself to look at it again, let alone fix it. But fix it I did :)
Once I'd re-shaped and re-aligned all the brooch stems I used tape to secure them together. Originally I wanted to use a champagne satin ribbon - but the satin didn't have the stretch to lay flat. Next I tried stretch elastic (top left) but eventually settled on purple velvet. I can strongly recommend it as it wrapped beautifully (assisted by some double sided tape) and on the day my hands were so sweaty from nerves I was glad of the extra grip it gave. It also added an element to our purple theme. At the top of the ribbon I wove in a buckle that had belonged to my Grandmother (top right) and for the base I gathered in the end of the ribbon and secured with a final broach. I was going to cover the underside of the wires but in the end I left them - it was nice to be able to show people how it was made and a nice reminder of my handiwork.
The final bouquet weighed in at just over 1kg and was definately one of the talking points of the day - so many people wanted to hold it and ask how it was made. It took just over a year to collect everything and assemble, was a source of great pride and also upset (when Mr S accidentally broke it). It was worth all the effort, although I'm glad I don't need to make another!