The holiday decorating season officially kicks off at the end of the month and this year a delightful photo of fall flower pumpkins crossed my desk. The work of floral designer Alix Astir, of Trellis Fine Florals, in New York City, the photo [top] showed a trio of faux pumpkins made entirely of different colored mums. Chrysanthemums are on every doorstep this year and their bright hues accent the autumn leaves that have been falling for the past few weeks. I saw this as my chance to bring them indoors — especially since the designer was generous enough to send me a step-by-step tutorial for making them.
Longtime Atticmag readers may have surmised by now that I don’t do much holiday “decorating.” My Mom always did it, transforming the house. But, truth be told, I don’t have the patience. I don’t much care for the usual Halloween images or the work of putting up and taking down. However, one of my passions is arranging flowers and, while there were several new techniques in this tutorial, it was so easy to do. And, as you will see, the results were worth the work. But that’s always the way with experts like Alix Astir, isn’t it? As a floral designer who studied at L’Ecole des Fleurs in Paris’ Hôtel de Crillon, and at the New York Botanical Gardens, she made this easy. Very few things are needed for the project. It doesn’t take very long to complete and, Alix says the pumpkins “will be fresh for 3-4 days.” Her directions are in bold, with my notes following.
1. Small, medium or large oasis spheres (from the local craft store)
2. Clippers or scissors
3. Tub of cool water
4. Small brown paper bag
5. 1 bunch yellow chrysanthemums
6. 1 bunch rust chrysanthemums
7. 1 bunch burgundy chrysanthemums
8. 4-5 straight pins
9. 1 toothpick (optional)
Let me add that a platter or tray is needed for displaying the flower pumpkins and that it should be waterproof or have a waterproof liner.
When I went to Michael’s for the oasis spheres, they only had 6-inch size. Since I couldn’t get more variation, I decided that two would be enough for my step-by-step photos. I would have preferred three — as Alix suggests — because an odd number and at least two difference sizes would make a bigger splash on the table or the sideboard.
Here are the oasis spheres I used. Note that two sides of the sphere are flat — those flat spots are important to find because one can be used for the bottom and the other to anchor the pumpkin “stem.” To create a slightly less round pumpkin, more of the top and bottom could be shaved off the oasis.
Soak oasis spheres in cool water for 15-20 minutes. I used abundant water in a deep pail and that was a good thing because the oasis immediately begin to absorb water and they absorb a lot.
Snip off the blooms leaving each with 1/2-inch of stem. I did this as I worked, which was a good thing and I found I snipped just above the first tiny row of leaves below each blossom.
Plunge the stem into the sphere and work your way around the ball. The first few stems I tried to insert folded up on me and wouldn’t go in. So I reached for a toothpick and used that to make pilot holes. It went much faster after that.
To create a pumpkin stem take a bit of brown paper bag and twist it into a tight cylinder working one end quite tightly. Pin it to the top. I cut about a 1-1/2 inch piece out of a small paper bag, turned the long cut edges in and twisted. Then I twisted the bottom to give me a good pinning surface. This step presumes you begin adding flowers to the bottom and work your way up, adding the stem last. That’s what I did with the burgundy pumpkin. With the orange pumpkin I added the step first and worked down. Both were easy — it’s a matter of preference.
Place your “pumpkins” on a dish and they will be fresh for 3-4 days. Here are my finished flower pumpkins. Since they are spherical, I thought they would show nicely on a long narrow square blue plate I own. Thanks to the expertise of Alix Astir, these could not have been easier to make. If you decide to do them, please do show them off with pictures in the comments section.
And thank you to Alix for sharing her technique! Here are the pumpkins, again, on the side table just below my Dining Room Fish Plate Wall.
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