Create a Large Altar Arrangement
Edited by Jen M, Eng, Fleurista, Donna and 1 other
- 1 How To Make A Wildflower Altar Arrangement
- 2 Prepare the Container
- 3 Steps
- 4 Use Foliage to Define the Framework
- 5 Steps
- 6 Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Use Foliage to Define the Framework
- 7 Add Line Flowers
- 8 Steps
- 9 Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Add Line Flowers
- 10 Add More Flowers
- 11 Steps
- 12 Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Add More Flowers
- 13 Add Remaining Line Flowers
- 14 Steps
- 15 Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Add Remaining Line Flowers
- 16 Add Accent Flowers and Foliage
- 17 Steps
- 18 Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Add Accent Flowers and Foliage
- 19 Add the Final Touches
- 20 Steps
- 21 More Info On Designing With Wildflowers
- 22 Similar Professional Florist Altar Arrangements
- 23 Questions and Answers
- 24 Comments
- 25 User Reviews
How To Make A Wildflower Altar Arrangement
Hello, and welcome to VisiHow. If you are here because you want to learn about flowers, you're a bride who is seeking more ways to make your wedding more meaningful and personal, or you just like floral crafts, this video and article was made for you!
Today, I'd like to show you how to make one of my favorite arrangements. It's an altar-style arrangement. It's useful for any time where there's an altar that needs an arrangement, such as a church or a wedding, any kind of memorial, a baby christening, a funeral, and so on.
It's great anytime you need something tall and commanding. This is a really popular style that we do in floral design as well. We use mainly what we call line flowers. For this, we are using lupins, but you could use a lot of other things.
Prepare the Container
- 6Place the insert container with the soaked floral foam into the display container. Ideally, the floral foam should sit a few inches above the display container, but we should not be able to see any of the insert container. Using clear floral tape, tape from one side of the display container to the other. Be careful with the tape. Sometimes, containers are painted and can be ruined by the tape. We don't want to find out that we ruined a container that we like. This can happen if there's gold leaf as well. The container we're using today is really sturdy and we've made many designs in this particular container, so we're not worried about the tape.
- 7Keep taping until everything is secure. The reason we have the floral foam sticking slightly out of the top is that we're going to have some of the flowers cascading down. This is easier to do when the foam sticks up. We're putting lots of tape just to be sure. We're also taping around the edge of the container over the tape ends. It's really important to make sure that whatever we make is really sturdy and it's going to stay in its container and not fall out or hit somebody in the eye accidentally, or any of those crazy mishaps.
- 8Gather the foliage. We are going to begin with our foliage. We have some apple branches. We're going to place our very first one right in the very middle towards the back of the floral foam. This is so that we have lots of room to create our design work in the floral foam that's in front of this branch.
Use Foliage to Define the Framework
- 1Place the first branch. We started to work on the first branch in part one of this tutorial. When placing a branch, hold the bottom and the middle of the stem. This helps ensure that when we place it, it is nice and sturdy. This branch is the beginning of the framework of everything. We are defining the space that we're going to be using.
- 4Place the second branch. We've already decided where we want it, so we can just insert it. Make sure it is nice and sturdy and not about to fall out. We usually put the stems in, depending on how long the branch is, at least a few inches. In the beginning, this is difficult. We want to make sure that everything is in there nice and firmly, but we don't want to hurt anything while putting it in. We learn how to deal with it after a while.
- 7Gather a second type of foliage. We don't know what our next one is. It's a branch foliage. We want to say it's a kind of alder or a kind of birch, but we're not sure, and we want to be honest. It has a nice fan shape, so it covers a lot of area. If we were doing this in a flower shop, we would probably use something like leatherleaf fern to achieve this effect. Instead of the taller ones that we put in earlier, the apple branches, we'd probably use a tall palm or some tall ruskus or some tall myrtle.
- 10Look for asymmetries and fill them out. In our case, one side is a bit fuller and comes out a bit farther than the other, so we will add more branches to the other side. We want to keep to our basic shape. We also want to keep inserting branches towards the back of the floral foam. Insert into the back third of the floral foam.
- 11Keep checking to see how the framework is looking. We want to make sure that everything is the way that we like it before proceeding. We wouldn't recommend taking things out and putting them back in a whole lot. We want the stems to be able to drink. If we remove them, we might create air pockets, and the stem won't be able to reach the water. This is one reason we don't recommend reusing floral foam.
- 12Gather some flowers. We are using lupins. We have purple lupins, white lupins, and some lupins that are purple and white. We don't have even numbers of those colors, so we've got to be crafty with the way we decide to use these. We will define the whole thing with purple. That will be the main theme.
- 13Start assessing how the flowers will be placed. Take a look at the flower up against the container and the foliage, and begin to see how everything is going to look together. Start thinking about where our first lupin will go. Consider not only how high the flower will sit, but also how far in the stem is going to be placed. It has to be in far enough for the tall one to be nice and sturdy.
Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Use Foliage to Define the Framework
Add Line Flowers
- 5Assess the placement for more lupins. We're doing the same thing we did with the branches. These are line flowers, which help us define the space we're using. We want to define that triangular framework using the lupins now. We want them to be about even on all sides in this case. We want the overall shape of the arrangement to be like a triangle sitting on top of the silver container. Keep in mind that whatever container is used, make it something that is harmonious with the floral colors being used.
- 7Give the stem a fresh cut right before placing it. We also took some of the leaves off this lupin, but we're going to use them again. Try not to throw anything away in floral design. When we're doing floral design in a shop, we cut everything and it all goes on the floor so that we can be free to design and not feel like we're a slave to the trash on the floor. Just like any other artwork, we wouldn't expect someone to stand there and do metal cuttings and expect someone to put everything neatly in the trash as they go. No, there's going to be paint and metal and things all over the floor when we're doing large scale artwork. It's the same thing with floral design. Don't worry about letting clippings fall.
- 11Clip the stems of any clippings that are being saved and place them in water. This saves them for later. The lupin leaves are very happy and beautiful. When working in a floral shop, if we don't throw away a lot and use our greens and things, we are actually making more money for the flower shop. The less we waste, the more money we are saving. That makes us look good.
- 13Add another lupin diagonally in the other direction. We want to keep our triangle shape. In a flower shop, we'd probably use snapdragons, monkshood delphinium, or larkspur delphinium for line flowers. We might use gladiolas, which are also nice and tall. We'd use a tall, long flower to define it. Alternatively, it might be defined mainly using greens.
Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Add Line Flowers
Add More Flowers
- 1Hold up more lupins. We are going to add the white ones. We only have three, so we have to make sure that we place them where it makes sense in the design. We will place ours in the middle top front, between the vertical lupin and each diagonal lupin. White is such a great color for expansion. It brings things forward. The dark colors recede, and light colors expand.
- 2Give the stems a fresh cut and place them in the floral foam. We want these ones to come a little bit more forward to the eye, and literally in the design. We are placing them a little bit more forward in the floral foam. We're starting to use the middle space in the floral foam. This gives these next stems room to drink as well. We've occupied a lot of the space in the back of the floral foam. Although it can be surprising how much floral foam can hold. It's even surprising that this little bit of floral foam can hold this many flowers.We could make an arrangement without floral foam. We could use tape and wiring, things like chicken wire or flower frogs. That does take a different kind of effort. The floral foam is so great.
- 5Gather accent flowers. We are using these really neat flowers called columbine. They will help define the overall fan look. They will go up at the top, between the vertical lupin and the diagonal white lupins. When working with wildflowers or garden flowers, it's good to bring them inside. If we've never worked with a flower before, we bring only one in. We give it a fresh cut and put it in some water. We wait to see if it'll perform and still be okay for us the next day. Some wildflowers prefer to be free. They do not want to come in and be put in a floral design. We have to make sure that the flowers we use in an arrangement are going to still perform for us.
- 7Give the stem of the second columbine a fresh cut and place it. Our second one is slightly longer. In the overall final design, it's going to look more natural because of the little bit of unevenness. Right now, we have three columbines and eight lupins placed. We will place the third columbine with the third white lupin.
Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Add More Flowers
Add Remaining Line Flowers
- 1Place the third columbine. Make sure to give the stem a fresh cut right before placing. We will add it into the middle front area with the third white lupin. Push it down towards the bottom but always watch the top. This helps make sure that things are ending up where we want them to go. At this stage, we can still make easy adjustments.
- 3Take stock of leftover wildflowers. We have three more lupins. These are our nice dark purple lupins. Since we have the most of these, we saved them and waited to see where it was that we could put them so that they would most contribute to the overall harmony. We didn't want it to be out of balance with too many purple or white lupins in one spot. When working in a flower shop, we have a choice. We can make this with any color. We can use anything we want, depending on the budget involved. But in this case, we only have a certain number of flowers that we have collected from our garden and the surrounding area. It's a little bit trickier when working only with what we have and we still want to make it look like a floral shop design. That isn't necessarily important, but it is something that we think is worthwhile. Make sure when going out to pick flowers that our pets are not going to eat them. Some of these are poisonous to animals, and people as well. It doesn't happen too often, but these flowers can be poisonous.
- 4Add the remaining line flowers. We will put ours in the top center of the floral foam. We will start to use the front area of the floral foam. For our third and last lupin, we will place it near the front white lupin, angling a bit to one side. If we were going to create this in a flower shop, something really large scale like this would cost probably around $100. This would depend on the flowers used, how many were used, and how much foliage we used. Foliage can be really expensive in floral design. We try to appreciate every green.
- 5Gather the accent flowers. We are using a true wildflower. It is called dame's rocket. It smells wonderful. In this case, we're using it sort of like we would if we were going to come in now and use a stem of daisy mums or mini carnations or sweetheart roses. Dame's rockets smell fantastic. They smell like carnations, but we couldn't find out if they're related to carnations. They remind us of dianthus.
Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Add Remaining Line Flowers
Add Accent Flowers and Foliage
- 3Place another dame's rocket. We will place ours on the other side in the same way for symmetry. Dame's rockets smell like carnations. A lot of flower shops don't like carnations, but we love them. They smell so good. We are holding the arrangement sideways while we're working on it, so that it is visible and not hidden behind us.
- 5Hold up more dame's rocket to see where it would look best. We're sticking with a few harmonious tones. This dame's rocket adds just a little bit of pink. We almost didn't add the pink but we thought it would make it just a little bit more cheerful and more like a garden. Just the purple and the white was really pretty too.
Video: Create a Large Altar Arrangement Add Accent Flowers and Foliage
Add the Final Touches
- 3Add more foliage. All florists are different. Some will add all the foliage at the beginning or the end. We like to add most of it in the beginning to get an idea of the framework. After the flowers are placed, we go in and cover up anything that needs to be covered and add more fullness. This way, we find we waste a lot less. We're always on the lookout for waste because it isn't necessary.
- 7Add more greens. We have some hostas leaves. We love these leaves. They're fantastic for use in floral design. They look a little bit like aspidistra leaf or some kinds of palm leaves. Because it's such a big flat leaf, it's going to make an impact. We can't see through it like the other leaves. We've only got a few, so we're putting it where it will add to the overall triangular look. It will help it look more sturdy and give the floral design some visual backbone and fullness.
- 12Enjoy the finished arrangement!
More Info On Designing With Wildflowers
As a former pro florist I've had occasion to create many altar style arrangements, for sympathy, memorial, weddings, and special functions of all kinds. After leaving the floral industry I really missed the flowers. Where I live, there is an abundance of beautiful, seasonal wildflowers which are similar to some of the commercially available flowers you might find in a flower shop. I live in a climate similar to New York and so I am somewhat limited as far as the months in which anything will grow. However, you may be in an area where flowers and foliage grow more months of the year, and then you're very lucky indeed! One word of caution: always check the wildflowers you are working with to be sure they're not poisonous. Some, like Lupin flowers are fine to handle but can be poisonous to animals and people when ingested, so it's just good to know about the plants you're handling if possible, beforehand. Here's a reference for some, but not all toxic flowers. [List of Poisonous Flowers]
Through experimentation I have discovered that it is possible to create floral designs using Garden and Wildflowers, which look and behave very similarly to store bought floral arrangements created by a floral designer. I decided that it would be fun to show others how to design flowers in a way that a pro florist would, but using flowers that they could find or grow in their own garden.
So that is how this Tutorial about how to create an Altar Style Arrangement from Garden and Wildflowers came to be.
Similar Professional Florist Altar Arrangements
I thought you might like to see some of the instances where I created Altar Style designs professionally in some of my former design work and see how similar the overall look can be, even just using wildflowers.
Wedding Altar Arrangement.
Here are a couple of pictures of a Wedding Altar Arrangement I designed professionally.
Here is the list of flowers used:
- White Larkspur,
- White Gladiolus,
- White Snapdragons,
- Gerbera Daisies,
- Casablanca Lilies,
- Seeded and Regular Eucalyptus,
- Leather Fern,
- and Salal, AKA Lemonleaf!
I also added birch leaves which I spray-painted gold, with a great floral item called Color Tool. This carries the Gold from the ribbon throughout the arrangement. Gold and White were the wedding colors here, so it was great to have Color Tool available! It allows you to work with fresh materials and create another unexpected element, or to unify colors. Florists almost always have at least Baby Blue on hand, for when they get an "It's A Boy" order! Unless, of course, they happen to have a Blue Hydrangea on hand because blue is hard to find in natural flowers! Of course, we can't forget the beautiful blue wildflower Forget-Me-Not, but it's not normally used in cut flower arrangements in flower shops.
Holiday Altar-Style Arrangement
Here is another similar example of an Altar Style Arrangement, but on a much larger scale.
This was a Holiday Theme in which I only used silver and white flowers, foliage and fruit. Of course, I used my handy dandy Color Tool! You can see that except that the flowers and other ingredients in my design are different from my Wildflower Altar Design Tutorial, the overall shape and effect is very similar in all of the arrangements here. You can achieve this effect with many different kinds of flowers.
In this design I've used the following flowers:
- White Snap Dragons,
- White Calla Lilies,
- White Dendrobium Orchids,
- Silver Spray-Painted Bird of Paradise,
- Silver Spray-Painted Amaranthus,
- Silver Spray-Painted Grapevine Wreath which I opened and wound into the front area of the design,
- and my favorite, Silver Spray-Painted Pineapples, which add so much structural interest!
- In addition I used Palm Leaves, Painted Twigs and Pine Boughs for this Holiday inspired design work.
It's also important to take into consideration the container you plan to use. Ask yourself if it harmonizes with the overall look of the flowers you're using.
Here is some basic color wheel information, great for designers and artists of any kind! Of course flowers on their own are fabulous in any color and any combination of colours, but it's worth learning about color harmony for some of the more high end design work. [Color Design Theory]
Lupins As Line Flowers
One of the most important ingredients in a typical Altar Style Arrangement is what we call a Line Flower. These flowers are tall and usually at least somewhat straight. In my Wildflower Altar Arrangement, I used Lupines for my Line Flowers. If I had been creating a similar arrangement in a flower shop, I might have used Purple Monks Head Delphinium and white snapdragons to achieve a similar effect. Here are pictures of many colors of wild Lupines.
I hope that this information has been useful or interesting to you today and if so, please share this article with your social media and flower-loving friends! Please follow me at [FleuristaDesign on Twitter] to be notified of all my VisiHow Floral Tutorials! Additionally, please check out my other floral tutorials here at VisiHow:
- Make a Lily of the Valley Floral Headpiece for a Wedding, Bride or Flower Girl
- Create a Florist Style Arrangement Using Garden Flowers and Wildflowers
- Make a Corsage Using Lily of the Valley
Thank you very much for joining me on this floral journey. I hope that you have enjoyed it, because I have enjoyed making it and sharing it with you. I love the fact that you can just go and get flowers that are growing in nature and make a beautiful floral design out of them. A lot of times, there are really fantastic flowers sitting around that are great to use. We don't necessarily have to go and buy them. We can DIY. If you have any questions or suggestions, or would like to comment on the arrangement, use the comments section below.
Questions and Answers
Do you have wedding altar ideas for an outdoor wedding?
What kind of flowers would I use for an outdoor wedding, and should the altar be big or small? I have tried: I have only made indoor flower wedding altars in the past but this wedding is outdoors. I think it was caused by: What kind of flowers do best and look best on a wedding altar?
Outdoor weddings are lovely when you tie the natural surroundings to the arrangements. Usually, there is some sort of altar arrangement either on a makeshift arbor or the ground. You do want to avoid certain flowers, like lilacs, due to wilting. Flowers to consider for outdoors:
- Tiger Lilies
Ivy works excellently in high heat and ties in with the surroundings. If the ceremony is on the beach, consider using sand and shells in altar arrangements.
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Categories : Interior Decorating
Recent edits by: Donna, Fleurista, Eng