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Astar's craft - Orchids, midwinter wreath - 18 June

Caged Orchids

This is one of my favourite designs - Singapore orchids caged within a frame of twisty willow. The orchids are like little birds and look so sweet captured within the branches, awaiting release.

I've teamed them up with a little moss, some berries and hanging vine. And because it's a birdcage inspired design, I found a birds nest which will complete the story.

The urn used has been paint-finished in a rust effect.

Things to gather:
Paint finished classic urn
Wet floral foam to fill urn
Either fresh or artificial moss
10 stems of Singapore orchids or 4 stems of cymbidium orchids
About 1/2 dozen branches of fresh twisty willow
Say 6 bunches of berries
Hanging vine - I used black artificial Spanish moss
Birds nest

- With urn filled with wet foam, draw a cross lightly into the foam at a 12 o'clock point, then 6 followed by 3 and 9.
- Place willow cut 1/2 times the width of urn into the above locations.
- Cover foam with a nice layering of moss, allowing some to hang down sides of urn.
- Place berries and vine as close beside willow as possible.
- Place birds nest in middle of moss.
- Finally place orchids in and amongst willow - to appear as if they are inside the cage.
- Mist with water to keep fresh.
- The beauty of this design structure is that if foam is kept moist, when the spring arrives the willow will burst into life. When this happens, I dig holes down into the foam, and then place budding bulbs like hyacinths.

Liquid iron and instant rust paint effect

This is a wonderful paint finish and can be used on wood, plastic, masonry, MDF and most paintable interior and exterior surfaces.

I've seen it used on 
- fire surrounds
- front doors
- garage doors
- pots feature walls
- balustrades
- exterior retaining and feature walls.

I purchased materials being demonstrated from Porters Paints, 90 Anzac Ave, Auckland. Ph 09 3776008
For undercoating - 1 can Porter's Limeproof undercoat sealer - with all the painting I've done in my house I reckon this is the best on the market.
1 can Porter's Liquid iron base
1 bottle Porter's Instant Rust
Paint brushes and rubber gloves
Surface or container to be painted

The surface must be free of dirt, grease, oil and mould.
- Give the object to be painted a good application of Limeproof undercoat sealer and allow to dry - a good 12 hours.
- Liquid iron base - ensure that paint is well stirred with a board spatula.  The paint contains iron particles and these need to be evenly distributed through paint.
- Apply a good coat and allow 12 hours to dry.
- Repeat second coat and allow 12 hours to dry before applying with a brush the:
- Instant rust liquid - the rust effect needs a good 3 hours before applying a second coat.

Note - rust effect can be further developed by lightly spraying surface with water. Instant rust will continue to rust after initial application.

On interior surfaces to protect and or preserve the desired effect, coat with an all purpose clear sealer, which will slow or stop further rusting.

Products are water based.

Midwinter Solstice Wreath

What a great four weeks, and who would have imagined there was such an enormous array of material available to design with at this time of the year?

Each week I see more and more forms which I know I could turn into visual floral magic.

This week it's all about combining rust coloured chrysanthemums with red cotoneaster berries and magnolia leaves reversed to reveal their lovely suede like finish.

Things to gather:
Medium sized green floral wreath frame. Use the one that comes with a plastic backing
Big fat bunch of magnolia leaves
10 stems of standard rust/orange chrysanthemums
Cotoneaster berry branches
And if you can find any: Several small orange pumpkins or gourds, or clusters of small mandarins
Wire and kebab sticks.

- Soak wreath frame and allow to drain on an old towel or paper towels.
- Cut all foliage, flowers and berries to a stem length of around 6cm.
- Mark the top, bottom and side sections of wreath and although the completed wreath is to rest on a table surface, establishing these points make for quicker and easy construction.
- Cover base with magnolia leaves.
- Work in the section groups as marked.
- Fill each section evenly with a couple of chrysanthemums, clusters of berries, and 1 or 2 gourds. 
- As each section is completed repeat pattern in the next working your way around until wreath is filled.
- A large central candle will immediately make for a wonderful table display for winter dining.