What florist wire should I use?
Wires come in a vast array of differing thicknesses, known as the gauge. The two basic colours are green and white, usually paper covered, and various metallic colours are now available for more decorative uses.
Use a pair of wire cutters to cut a wire, and a pair of tweezers to make a hook on the end of a wire for flowers. Cut each wire into 3 or 4 lengths, depending on what you are making.
If you require a very thick stem e.g. For calla/arum lilies, use a pipe cleaner alongside a thick wire and tape together.
If you are short of thicker wires, as an emergency measure, tape two or more thinner gauge wires together.
Generally speaking, use a white wire if inserting into a white or pale coloured petal/leaf as there is less chance of it showing through the paste. Use a green wire for darker colours.
All wires used in flowers, after flower/leaf is complete, are best covered with florist tape to give a more realistic finish to your wired flowers. The florist tape may then be dusted to give an even more realistic finish to the stem. The metallic wires (24 gauge) are more decorative, and look great when used in a fountain or explosion on the top of a cake.They can also be shaped, twisted, or used for sparkling beadwork on or around a cake for a sensational effect.
No wires should be inserted directly into a cake – always use a posy pick. These are also available in different sizes to accommodate various sizes of wires, stems etc.
Here is a general guide to the different gauges and their uses:
30 gauge - for inserting into very fine, fairly small leaves.
26/28 gauge - for small, lightweight flowers and leaves
24 gauge - for small / medium size roses or other flowers, say, 1-1 ½” diameter max. Or for creating a fountain / explosion supporting shapes e.g. stars, hearts, letters, numbers etc.
22 gauge - For medium / large general flower use, similar to 24 gauge, but these are just a little stronger.
20 gauge - For larger flowers that need the support of a thicker wire, and to hold their position in a spray.
18 gauge - To hold very large, heavier flowers such as a full blown rose, calla lily, chrysanthemum etc. and which may be included in a spray of flowers and need to hold their shape.
What is florist tape?
Paper florist tape, sometimes known as stem tape, is a paper tape with its own glue, which, when stretched will adhere to itself. It is used to tape flower/leaf stems for a more realistic finish, and taping stems together when making a spray. It is generally available in a full width reel which is too wide for general use, but can easily be cut into half or quarter width if required.
What colours are they available in?
Florist tape is available in basic colours such as: Nile (light green), Moss green, Olive, Brown & White. We have also recently introduced glitter tape to the range, Available in White, Black, Gold, Pale Blue, Pale Green & Pale pink to add some sparkle to your flower sprays!
The tape is used mostly in half width, sometimes in quarter width, therefore it needs to be cut, either with scissors (cut off a length, wrap around two fingers, slip off fingers, and cut lengthways), with a sharp knife (cut into the tape on the roll) or with a tape cutter (made specifically for the purpose). You can finish off a spray in full width tape, to neaten, but as there is no need to use any more than half width, this can be rather wasteful.
Starting at the top of the stem, wind tape around once and attach the tape to itself to hold in place. (You can cut tape to a point if you wish, to make a neater start at the top). If you have a flower where you cannot start at the top, ie. if the petals are hanging down, start taping a little way down the stem and then push up. Wind the tape around and down the stem, twizzling the stem in one hand as you go, and stretching fully as you do this to release the glue. If you practice the technique of taping, you should soon get the knack, and be able to tape stems quite quickly. There is usually no need to tape right down to the base of the stem if it is to be added in to a spray. This can make it very thick and bulky where it joins the main stem, and is a waste of tape.