DIY: Make a Day of the Dead–Inspired Flower Crown
Flower crowns are strongly associated with summer music festivals and brides at outdoor weddings, but they have extended uses into the cooler months. One such occasion is the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that's observed on Oct. 31. Skeleton, or “sugar skull,” makeup, is a way that those celebrating the holiday pay tribute to the dead and the look is often paired with big, bold flower crowns. (It's also one of the biggest Halloween trends this year.) We traveled to Sprout Home in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Floral Designer Kalena Patton provided us with step-by-step instructions for replicating the look. Follow along with her surprisingly easy tips to make your own flower crown!
Materials needed: • Floral wire • Floral tape • Wire cutter • Base greens (jasmine, lepto, and ivy work well) • Flowers-both large, statement varieties as well as smaller varieties for added dimension
Choose flowers that have staying power: Hearty roses, lisianthus, and orchids will provide for a longer-lasting crown. Patton says, “Anything that people would use in boutineers and corsages are similar flowers for flower crowns because they won’t wilt right away.” Prep blooms by giving them a fresh cut, snipping ends under water then immediately transferring to a clean, water-filed vase. Cut greenery and smaller varieties of flowers (wax flowers, baby's breath, and tips of mimosa) into smaller, manageable bits so that they’re easier to work with, and can thread through larger flowers.
Pick your base: Sprout favors greenery like jasmine, or lepto (used in this tutorial), for the crown’s foundation. “The material for the base is pretty important to get something that’s malleable but kind of sturdy. The cool thing with jasmine is you can twist it around. I made this one with heartier greens because it will have more flowers. The crown itself, if the base is weak, will sag and sit weird,” says Patton. If you don’t have jasmine on hand however, coiled wire is a great substitute.
Construct the foundation: Measure your head, keeping into account how you’d like to style the crown. Crowns typically rest almost diagonally across the crown of the head (like a headband), or straight across the forehead. When creating the base, Patton combines several bits of the base material. “Usually I’ll twist it and then cut it at the part where it’s looking like it might snap or it’s getting too thick, and then I add more bits. I use a lot of the tips of things because they’re more malleable, and then connect them, using just little bits of wire.”
Add flowers: Cut flower stems to 2 inches and weave into the base, securing with bits of wire as you go along. To ensure a crown-like appearance, intersperse the crown with flowers that are front-facing where you’d like the front of the crown to be. Cut those stems nearly to the flower’s base (as seen below), thread a small piece of wire through its stem, and attach to the crown.
Patton takes added measures for more fragile-stemmed flowers, like ranunculus. “They’re kind of tricky because their stems are really easy to break, so when you start trying to wire it on, a lot of times it will just cut through it, so for ones that have mushy stems, I’ll attach floral tape on the bottom to reinforce it a little bit, cut it shorter, and stab wire through.”
Continue adding flowers and securing with wire until you are satisfied with the finished look. Some crowns are entirely covered with flowers, whereas others are covered only about a third of the base. Once all flowers are in place, Patton snips and secures outlying stems to the base. "I like to stagger them so there’s not a huge chunk of thickness in one spot, and just cut them down at different lengths and secure."
Prolong the lifespan of your flower crown: Sprout’s team typically makes the crowns the day before an event. To keep blooms looking fresh and to extend their life up to three days, spray them with water and place the crown in about an inch of water. Before wearing the crown, place it out of water and let dry for 30 minutes to ensure that all water has evaporated.
Particularly when handling soft blooms or those that are lightly colored, Patton says, “Try to limit how much you touch the faces of the flowers. When we touch the faces, oils from our skin may cause petals to wilt and turn brown and black, and also makes the flowers more weak and less sturdy.”