This floral tiara is designed as an accessory to be worn at weddings, proms or other special occasions. Flowers are becoming the raw material for a different kind of artwork. Floral artists are using blooms and botanical elements in new, fresh ways as in floral jewelry and wearables.

Want a memorable accessory for that big event? Think beyond the traditional pinned-on boutonnière or corsage, and consider wearing a piece of floral art.

“There are those floral artists who are thinking outside the box and are using blooms and botanical elements in new, fresh ways, as in floral jewelry and wearables,” said Tobey Nelson, owner of Tobey Nelson Events and Design in Langley, Washington.

Wearable flowers have been getting play on fashion runways, and are increasingly popular as necklaces, bracelets and crowns at weddings, proms or other special occasions. Some can even be replanted later.

Nelson describes her flower jewelry as “neck gardens” or “wrist gardens.”

“I see so many different plant parts — be it a flower or berry or an acorn or curly stem — as a gem of nature,” she said. “It is only fitting that I would fashion them into jewelry.”

Floral designers cajole blooms — often succulents — into jewelry bases that can be worn around a wrist or finger, or used as necklaces, earrings and headpieces. Many of the bases can be used again after the flowers are spent.

Succulents are resilient, simple to grow and don’t need to be watered frequently. Sedums, echeverias and sempervivums multiply rapidly. Eventually, they will expand off their bases, sending out roots in search of nutrients.

“The life expectancy of a floral wearables piece made from succulents can be three weeks to two months, as long as it is stored in sunlight,” Nelson said. “Jewelry made from succulents can be taken apart when the plants begin to outgrow the jewelry piece and then planted.”

Susan Mcleary, a floral designer, artist and instructor who operates Passionflower in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has a long list of go-to flowers and foliage that she uses as wearables.

“The best way to form your own list is to test obsessively,” Mcleary said. “Anytime I get a new flower in the studio, I snip off a few blooms to test how they fare out of water.

“For floral jewelry, I love using young, tight ranunculus, astrantia blooms, hyacinth pips, delphinium florets, huechera foliage, herbs, berries, pods, miniature orchids . to name a few.”

Floral pieces appreciate a periodic misting but they are made to last for the duration of a one-day event such as a wedding or party, Mcleary said. Succulents can last up to three weeks without watering.

Mcleary’s designs often center around a single family of colors, adding a variety of shades and textures to boost interest. “Larger blooms and darker shades typically are set down first, and more delicate materials and lighter shades float above,” she said.

She receives many illustrated thank you notes from former clients — usually brides — for whom she designed succulent jewelry that was successfully re-potted.

“A favorite photo came on one couple’s first anniversary: a pot of overflowing plants, happily nestled in their new home,” she said.





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