Artistic Adventure- Exploring a new Structure


Floral Art structures, constructions and armatures

In addition to containers (vases) and stands, in Floral Art we are able to make many different supports for our flowers and plant material.  These are known as Structures, Constructions or Armatures and the way they work as part of the design should be artistically integral to the whole, as well as mechanically useful.

Constructions/Structures Definition:

  • Should be composed mainly of natural plant material
  • May be decorative forms in their own right
  • May be used as a form of mechanic
  • May be formed into any shape or size

In order to push the boundaries and grow and develop it is great to challenge yourself by exploring a new construction technique once in a while.

artistic adventure

In early April a friend and I worked together on a  floral art group exhibit for an education day aimed at giving us experience towards competing on an interclub level later in the year.  We were given the title ‘Artistic Adventure’ and as usual my mind wildly flew off into interpretation and into pinterest for inspirational images.  I soon found myself looking at globes, artist’s tools, a quote from Henri Matisse and of all adventurous things Hot Air Balloons!  This also led on to my thinking about what kind of structure I might need to make and then what construction technique I could attempt in this exhibit.

We captioned our exhibit with the quote from Henri Matisse and sat it on a collaged paper palette made out of paint washed images of world travel destinations.

design inspiration process

I liked the idea of incorporating a basket of  seasonal spring blooms in the exhibit and a hot air balloon has a basket so that was great!  But what about the balloon part and how could I use plant materials to achieve this structure?

I studied globes and spheres and found this open lamp construction which led me to thinking about using a structure constructed perhaps from flexible willow (Salix) canes or similar.  I hoped to construct an open and light structure since the balloon would be at the top of the exhibit.  I also liked the idea of using blossoms or flowers to decorate the balloon structure.

construction technique

I failed to find sufficient flexible willow canes so initially planned to create an open woven sphere by glueing wide Midelino canes together.  You can see how Christine De Beer makes an amazing construction using this technique here.

I would have liked to have used the principle of creating a globe with wide midelino canes like in the image above .

Instead I was only able to source thin canes so had to work with what I had.

I used 3 thin round canes and bound them together Using Oasis BindWire
Oasis BindWire
I used this wrapping method to shape the sphere, wrapping my bound cane length around a 20″ Inflated beach ball.

The above image is from a brilliant DIY ‘How To’ by Lynne Knowlton. This would be a great use for Grapevine or Kiwifruit vine (or any other vines for that matter!)   Check out how Lynne made some amazing garden light balls here:

Sphere almost complete
MY Sphere almost complete

How I did it –

  1. I bound 3 thin round midellino canes together with paper covered bindwire joining lengths by inserting the canes into short pieces of drinking straw before covering with the wire binding.
  2. Once I had a long length (maybe about 3-4 metres? I didn’t measure it) I then wrapped it around a 20″ Inflated beach ball securing it at the joints with cable ties.
  3. Then I deflated the beach ball and wired the joints removing the cable ties as I went to achieve a consistent looking sphere.


Four dried pampas grass sticks were inserted between the floral foam and the basket.   These formed the supports to which the cane ball ‘balloon’ was tied.  We used some wood stain to colour both the pampas grass sticks and the papercovered wire on the sphere. This helped it to match the wooden easel that also featured in our exhibit.

Individual hyacinth blossoms were threaded onto bullion wire. Lengths of these were draped over the balloon globe.

‘Artistic Adventure’ A group exhibit by Melanie Harris and Eileen O’Riordan at the AOIFA Education Day hosted by Cork Flower Club on Sat 9th April 2016


Our base also featured a collaged paper artist’s palette. Made using decopage techniques and paint-washing to make it less visually dominant.



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