As I was assembling today’s second project, it occurred to me that the use of solid vase filler material should be addressed in this post. Using unconventional materials to fill flower containers is one of my favorite techniques. To utilize the materials requires mindfulness of all the components of the floral arrangement.
First and foremost is the artisan’s personal safety. This is especially true when the container is constructed of glass or brittle plastics. Second is the fill material itself. Third is project arranging process, as a whole.
The first project utilizes a vintage clear glass swung vase. When using a narrow, fragile container, it pays to be mindful of pressure and stress. If I would have poured in all of the aquarium gravel, then attempted to add the stems, I would have had to cram and jam them into place. Not only would the floral materials become bent and damaged, but if the stems are sturdy, they would have displaced some of the gravel. The outward pressure of the gravel would have nowhere to go. Hence, the glass vase might crack or shatter.
For this project, I poured about an inch-worth of aquarium gravel, to act as stabilizing mechanicals. I created the floral arrangement. Then, with a small plastic funnel, I slowly poured and distributed the small gravel stones into the vase interior. The result is the appearance I wanted with none of the danger of glass shards.
With the glass brick vase, the shatter risk is low. However, I wanted to use copper pennies as fill. Theoretically, I could have jammed the dried materials into the mass of pennies without harming the glass brick. However, arranging the dried components is nearly impossible due to the physical nature of poured pennies. In this case, I poured in pennies to about one-third of the volume. Arranged most of the dry elements. Poured in more pennies nearly to the top. I added the fern and the Gerbera daisy, then topped off the container. The main safety concern with this, is the weight of the finished project. The heavy glass when combined with the pennies yields an unwieldy result. By the way, I lost count of the pennies after 500 or so.
With the narrow IKEA bud vase, the danger of shattered glass is most apparent–especially when using beach sand. Even a small amount of floral stem displacement could cause the sand to shatter the thin glass vase. I followed the same technique of adding a little fill material to the bottom. Then arranged the floral elements. Finally, I slowly poured and distributed the sand around the stems to the desired level of material.
When a project utilizes lightweight material as fill, it’s still usually smart to add it last, as well. In the case of lightweight fill, that material is usually the finishing touch to a project.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actor and comedian, Tim Allen. “Electricity can be dangerous. My nephew tried to stick a penny into a plug. Whoever said a penny doesn’t go far didn’t see him shoot across that floor. I told him he was grounded.”