Since I shut down Tradewind Tiaras to focus on Tikkido and blogging, it occurred to me that I should share some of the tips and tricks I figured out over the years in the bridal business and help some DIY brides. Today I'm going to start with an easy tutorial for making crystal stems.
Crystal stems are fabulous for adding some sparkle and shine to any floral arrangement. I'm showing them here in wedding bouquets, because that's what I have pictures of, but they're great for so much more than just weddings, of course. Flowers are gorgeous, but you just can't go wrong adding a bit of Swarovski sparkle for any event!
Crystal stems are simply Swarovski crystals on floral wire. Anyone with a single, eensy, crafty bone in his or her body could look at that picture and say, "oh hey, I could totally do that." And that person could. BUT I'm here not to state the completely obvious, but rather to share something that will make doing this craft so much easier.
Here is the secret weapon for making beautiful, evenly twisted crystals stems and saving yourself from carpal tunnel syndrome: an electric drill and a screw hook (like this one). My dad is the one who came up with this genius technique and who gave me my first Makita drill. (The gorgeous, sexy new number above is courtesy of my lovely husband, who knows how to woo this DIY-nut!)
Start by cutting a length of floral wire. I like using the type that comes on a paddle like the picture above. I just buy mine at my local Michaels craft store. It's inexpensive, and just the right hardness for this project. A 36" length of wire is perfect for making crystal stems to go in wedding bouquets.
Stick one or more crystals in the center of the length of floral wire. I like using more than one crystal per stem for extra sparkle with less work, but it's really a matter of personal preference. Start the twisting by hand, but just get the crystals secured, don't twist any more by hand.
Take the tail end of the wires with the crystals you just attached, and wrap them both around the hook screw. Hold the crystals in one hand, and the drill in the other, and start the motor spinning. It'll do all the hard work of twisting for you, and do it better and MUCH faster than you ever could by hand. Trust me.
Just trim off the dodgy bit at the bottom where it attached to the hook, and you'll have a perfect crystal stem in no time. They're ready to incorporate into your wedding bouquet, or hand off to the florist if you're not doing your own flowers.
But wait! There's more! You can easily use this technique to add feathers to flower arrangements and wedding bouquets. Or antique brooches. Or pine cones. Or acorns. Or pearls. Or whatever. Go nuts! Personalize!
Who doesn't like a little extra sparkle, especially for a big event?
Don't be afraid of using colored crystals, too. The same color as your flowers for subtle sparkle, or light sapphire crystals for that "something blue," perhaps?
And to keep costs even lower, try Chinese crystals instead of Swarovski crystals. I used to be a big Swarovski snob, but the Chinese have really figured out how to make gorgeous leaded crystal beads in the last few years. The quality is almost as good as Swarovski, and the Chinese crystals are much more affordable. For an application like this, I wouldn't hesitate to use the Chinese crystals.
What would you add to your floral arrangement? I'm dreaming up something with buttons could be really adorable and whimsical.