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Freshly Cut Floral Still Life // How to Avoid Having Faux Become Phony

03.04.16 By //
The Design Confidential Freshly Cut Floral Still Life // How to Avoid Having Faux Become Phony

There is nothing quite like bringing a little life into your home, after a long winter filled with anything but. If you are like me, then a busy schedule and an overactive allergy season don’t always allow for fresh flowers and freshly cut stems to grace my surfaces without major repercussions. But that isn’t too say that you shouldn’t try – I adore fresh flowers and plants even more so, but I always know going into it that more often than not, they are quickly forgotten, left to wither and turn into more allergies, and this brings a fairly decent mess to deal with. Does this happen to you too? Pretty sure I still have Valentine’s Day flowers on my counter – yep just keeping it real folks.

Speaking of real… you may remember back in July when I attended the Michael’s Maker Summit with 49 other insanely talented folks from around the country? Well if you make it through to the end of this article there are details about how you might win a chance to attend the Summit this year, right along side us! It was so crazy fun and we spent the entire time in the most beautiful setting (Sonoma) learning how to paint with watercolor and weave and other crafty things from some of the most talented artists in the world! It was amaze!

This year we have had weird weather and many of the plants and trees in my yard have had multiple blooming periods, being that they are so confused an all, so I took the opportunity to trim some of the branches from my tulip tree just as they were about to put on a good show. You can see them above. Aren’t they glorious? They are so good they look fake. And also like a floral still life painting. So I will hang on for dear life, since I may not see the sunshine for a while with all of the projects happening behind the scenes here at TDC.

Michael’s has a crazy good selection of vases and vessels and I managed to grab up a few beauties with a 40% off coupon. Yahoo. Remembering to use a coupon is a bit like spotting a unicorn around these parts, so I figure I should put it out there to the universe and pay it forward. If you are looking to spruce things up for spring, run, don’t walk, and snatch things up like it’s a sample sale for bridal gowns during wedding season. Just don’t forget to check your email and bring those coupons – they are also on their website and you can use them from your phone!

The Design Confidential Freshly Cut Floral Still Life // How to Avoid Having Faux Become Phony

The last decade or so have really done a number on our impression of faux florals, don’t you think? Silk ficus trees graced many an entryway in the area I grew up, and aside from collecting dust in a way I never knew was possible, there isn’t much that sort of faux really brings to the table – other than a good sprinkling of that dust. But faux florals have come a long way since then and when you can’t have real, freshly cut flower arrangements arrive at your doorstep every week, there is indeed a place for faux to shine. It’s likely in a shiny new vase you found for under $10.

If you don’t have access to glorious blooms and blossoming branches, fear not… you can rock a bit of faux and keep it from looking phony with a few simple tricks. Promise.

Keep it simple

By sticking to stems that replicate plants that already tend to look fake in real life, I run far less risk of having my arrangement look more phony than not. Succulents are a great example of this and anything in that family will be easy to pull off. Tropicals like Monstera leaves and palm fronds are a good choice if they are made of a thick plastic type material and not silk. Anything in the Lamb’s Ear or Dusty Miller family, with that fuzzy layer and silvery sage color also look incredibly real, as you can see in the image below.

  • If you don’t come from a family of florists, and you aren’t sure which stems look real and which might be a bit of a stretch, it’s best you just steer clear of big bold colorful stems that imitate flowers that most of us wouldn’t be able to keep alive if our lives depended on it. Orchids and hydrangea are occasionally on point and as long as you aren’t choosing something that runs more toward a decorative color than a realistic one, you can likely pull these off.
  • Branches are realistic all year long and flowering or ornate stems like forsythia and pussy willow (no one can say that with a straight face – amiright?) are difficult to tell apart from their real life counterparts.
  • Fight the urge to mix and mingle. You may just find yourself marching to the beat of that age old adage and planter technique of needing a ‘thriller, a filler and a spiller’ – but fight the feeling my friends and stick with one thing. If you want your arrangement to look realistic, think about your story… is it likely you are going to waltz out to your garden of glory and cut a variety of glorious specimens to artfully arrange in a vase? Not likely at all. Besides, how often do you find those glorious things all in full bloom at the same time? Pretty much never. You may, on the other hand, saunter out and cut a few unnecessary branches from your flowering cherry tree and place them proudly on their own in an over sized vase on your table.
The Design Confidential Freshly Cut Floral Still Life // How to Avoid Having Faux Become Phony

Know when to fold ’em

  • Stems are often jointed near the end so that you can conceivably cut them to size without having to whip out the chain saw. Use this to your advantage if you simply need to shorten your stem. A heavy duty pair of scissors will often do the trick, but if you struggle, a few bends back and forth will help get the job done.
  • Sometimes you need to shorten the length of your stem, but you also need it to stand or sit differently than it is. Folding the base of the stem rather than cutting it will help you build volume at the base of your vase and will have your beauties standing tall or at an angle if you prefer, and you won’t need to buy as many stems to fill your space.

Choose the right vessel

  • Speaking of vases – If your vessel is too tall, too short, has a narrow opening or perhaps even a rather large one, you will need to choose a stem that will not look out of place or just plain wrong and you will take your secret to the grave and the true nature of your faux florals will be far less obvious. It’s like when you see a large person with an itty bitty hairdo, or a skinny little thing with more hair than their tiny face can handle. It’s weird, so don’t do it. Always make sure you have enough of the stems to fit the vase so that everything is in proportion to the opening and height.
  • If you are working with stems that have that crazy looking plastic section at the base, don’t use a vase that you can see into.

Think outside the box

  • The flower box that is… if you just can’t quite bring yourself to go with the faux in a traditional sense, try adding faux greenery to a set of string lights or bright blossoms to a portrait for an artsy take on spring decor. Faux is expected in this type of medium and choosing well-made floral stems will simply elevate your project rather than bring it down a notch.

How do you dress things up for Spring? Or maybe after months of holidays you prefer to dress things down? I know I do!

So if you think it would suit you quite well to join us at the Maker’s Summit, we completely agree  and here is your chance! Win a Trip to the Makers Summit by visiting and upload a photo of your personalized project. If you can instagram, or FB, you can do this! Just to get you excited… check out this video from last year’s Summit!

  • Michaels new Floral Market has over 500 new blooms and freshly picked projects make this the prettiest spring ever.
  • Just by swapping out a few décor pieces or adding a lovely floral arrangement can completely transform your home for the fresh, new season.
  • If you don’t know where to begin, you can always take a look at some of the fun projects on or the other 49 Makers’ ideas on The Glue String for to see how they personalized their crafts!

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