A while back I saw three images of a swag design in progress posted by Beth at Forbesfield. When I asked her if I could share the images with the BB community, she came back to me with something even better…a step-by-step guide to recreating the mechanics she uses at Forbesfield when designing a swag! As usual, I’m amazed at the generosity of my flower friends. Thank you, Beth! xx
Here’s what Beth had to say about her technique:
You will need….
A roll of chicken wire in a 1mm gauge and a 2.5 cm gap diameter. (we use metal finish although you can use the green PVC coated variety)
A number of oasis bricks (dependent on length of design)
Mossing/German pins (ideally with a 10/70 length as this gives you more anchorage)
• Measure the length that you need the swag to be, roll out your chicken wire to this length and weight down each end to make it easier to work with.
• Next you will need to work out your oasis placement along the chicken wire. As this swag was such a large statement piece to sit above the top table by hanging over the mezzanine level, we used complete bricks per placement. If your design is smaller then you can cut these into halves or thirds as appropriate.
• For this design we placed each brick central to an approximate 60cm reach which means that the flowers and foliage have a 20cm reach either side of. This is a reasonable size gap to cover with your flower and foliage content and it also means that you reduce the design weight by not going brick to brick.
• Next you will need to enroll the help of one or two of your team depending on the swag length. Each person takes an end and if the swag is super long then one person covers the mid section. Now roll the oasis bricks in the wire so that you end with a long ‘sausage’ of oasis in chicken wire.
• To secure the wire into the oasis use your mossing/German pins using 3-4 per brick for extra security.
• At the interval points where you have the gaps between oasis use your cable ties to pull in the wire tight and do the same at the ends so that you now have something that looks like a string of butcher’s sausages.
• You now have a structure in which to build your design so go have fun and be creative!
Additional Points to consider…. Always think about the weight of this type of design and consider how and where it will be suspended or hung and ensure your mechanics are secure. This is a sizeable design which you do not want falling!
We always soak the oasis through and then let it drain off for a good few hours to lessen the weight and also to stop any dripping. If you don’t have time to let the excess water drain off enough then you can prevent dripping and retain the moisture by wrapping each oasis piece in cling film/saran wrap. The additional bonus of this is the wrap will prevent water damage or staining on any surface that the design touches.
If you are oasis-free and going green then you can replace the oasis with bundles of moss and this will do the job equally well.
To hang the design, in this case, we used ’S’ hooks which were cable tied to a hand-rail that ran at the top of the mezzanine. We wouldn’t usually use anything that has to be tied as knots can slip although you can prevent this by cable tying over the top. We do however, always like the finish on the mechanics to be as refined as possible so try to keep it simple and not too messy. The devil is in the detail!
Check out more of Beth’s work at Forbesfield:
We hear it called by so many names…Ammi majus, bishop’s weed, false bishop’s weed, bullwort, greater ammi, Queen Anne’s lace, laceflower. Beautiful by any name.