Balloon Flower Tutorial

These delightful Perennials come in pink, lilac/purple, cream, and white, so you can take your choice from those or I'm sure they would look lovely in a display should you choose something other than is considered normal.
What you will need:
Dusky Rose Platycodon(Balloon flower) veiner
Rolling board
Orchard pad or similar
Paste: Colour of choice for the flower and pale green for the calyx
White fat or Petal Base
Glue of choice & fine brush
Small rolling pin and Orchard pin or similar
Ball tool
Craft knife
Cutting wheel
Cocktail stick
Small scissors (embroidery)
Calyx cutter
White wires: 24 & 28g
White & green stem tape (half width)
Darning needle or similar
Apple cups
Polenta grains or ground rice
Dusting brush & dusting colours of choice
To make the Pistil
Take a very small pea sized piece of paste and working the paste well shape it into a very slim teardrop.  Take the sharp end of a cocktail stick and push it into the widest end of the paste, wiggling it about a bit so that you get a hole large enough to insert your scissor blades. (You may need to dip the end of the cocktail stick in cornflour if you are using a sticky paste)
 Make 5 equal cuts around half a centimetre deep into the piece of paste. Open out so that you have the tiny flower shape as shown. With your finger and thumb, gently pinch and pull the little segments and push the ends over to a curve.  Moisten the hooked end of a 1/4 length piece of 28g wire and thread the hook down into the centre, making sure it is well bedded into the paste.
Roll the paste down the wire to neaten.  Leave aside to dry off.
Once the pistil is dry, you should tape an extra 24g wire to it, using half width white stem tape. This is to strengthen the wire, as this flower will not hold up otherwise. 
The Flower Petals
You need quite a large ball of paste, hopefully the photograph will act as a guide.
Your rolling board should be prepared with a wipe on wipe off covering of white fat or petal base.
Between your finger and thumbs on both hands, shape into a flattish cone. Roll from just off centre all around the paste, but making sure you keep the bump in the centre.
 If using a sticky paste, you may wish to smear the veiner with a very fine film of white fat or petal base at this stage.
The "bump" needs to be lined up with the centre of the flower veiner as shown, and press the paste into the veiner with the flat of your fingers or a piece of foam(cosmetic pad used here)
Lift the paste off the veiner and turn over. Cut out the impression left in the paste using your cutting wheel. You could also use your scissors if you wish.  While the paste is still soft, poke a hole through the centre with your darning needle.



The apple cup shown here has just been cut from an apple tray and is balancing on top of a small jug, you should look for something similar, or you may have a set of purpose made formers.  This flower has not been worked in any way, but you may wish to curve the petals backwards to give more of a bell shape. (You need to consider the type of former you will use if you want to do this) Take the pistil you prepared first and put a very tiny bit of glue into the hole you made with the darning needle. (Too much glue will melt the sugar, so please use sparingly) Insert the pistil and leave till completely dry before you do anything else.

The Stamens
The stamen heads on this flower in nature are attached by very fine threads, but  here we will make it easier!
Make 5 very fine slivers of paste and flatten them. Using the cocktail stick, shape them to very slight curve, and attach them around the base of the pistil as shown with the minutest amount of glue. (you will need to pick these up with a craft knife or the cocktail stick to position them)
You may prefer to add the stamen heads before you add the pistil if you find that easier.
Once they are dry you can very lightly dust the petals with the colour of your choice. Here I have used a rose dusting colour mixed with white and have picked out the veining on the petals with a slightly stronger mix of the two colours.

Slightly dampen a fine paintbrush with your chosen glue and paint over the stamen heads. Sprinkle with polenta grains or ground rice, and tip off the excess.  Leave to dry.

The Calyx
Roll out a small piece of pale green paste as shown and cut out a calyx.  On the edge of your softening pad, slightly widen and cup each section.

Turn the calyx over, and draw the ball tool from each point towards the bulbous centre. This will make the segments curl back. Moisten the calyx with your chosen glue and thread the wire through the centre as shown.

A large bud
Take a large pea sized piece of paste and insert the end of a hooked piece of dampened 24g wire. Leave to dry thoroughly.
Cut out another flower shape and turn it over so that the raised bit in the middle is underneath. Moisten the centre of the flower and insert the wire. Tip the flower downwards.

Catch the petals in your hand as shown, but gently. You now need to hang this wire onto a drying rack (or you can bend the wire and place in a block of oasis) for about 10 minutes or until the paste begins to firm up.  Catch the very edges of the petals with a little of your chosen glue and bring the edges together. The petals will want to spring apart so you may need to keep going back to this bud to make sure it is doing what you want it to do!

Once you are sure the petals will stay in place, put the bud into a holed apple tray to dry.  Once dry you can add a calyx as with the flower and dust as you choose. Steam to set the colour.
A smaller bud

These buds can be quite tiny and green, through to various stages of development so you can make several sizes in several shades.  You should start with a round ball of paste on a 24g hooked wire, and the top of the paste should be flattened lightly.  Using your craft knife, make 5 equal segments around the bud. You can leave it for a few minutes to firm up a little and then you should use your Orchard pin vertically to make an indent in the centre of each of the segments.  When dry, add a calyx as before and dust as required. Wrap the wire with green stem tape.  They end up looking rather like little pumpkins!

BF43 Balloon flower spray

The finished flower and buds on the left, and made up into a spray on the right.

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