Back in my
failed former days as a window dresser, I got some good advice from Tanja, the Grand Dame of the cosmetics department. Originally from Romania, Tanja was widely renowned for her eyebrow waxing skills and had arrived at a point in her career when she only had to take one appointment a day, then happily dragged it out all afternoon. Most of the time was spent smoking and laughing and singing gypsy folk songs about beet salad, then more smoking and dispensing advice about important things like men, business, and unwanted hair. Of the many things I learned from Tanja, there are three golden nuggets that stand out;
- Never brush your teeth with blue toothpaste.
- Men with excessively bushy eyebrows are likely to cheat on their wives.
- Women will buy anything wrapped in roses.*
*Women married to men with excessively bushy eyebrows should expect a lot of roses.
A week after Tanja dropped that old chestnut, my new boss gave me the task of revamping a central display table. Huzzah! This was a big deal for me, as all my previous tasks had been corner shelves and side boards in the men’s underwear section. After weeks and weeks of fanning out acrylic trouser socks, this was my big break. Mr. Ross walked me over to the table in question.
Good news: it was premium real estate.
Bad news: the product was rubber boobs.
Technically speaking, they were silicone brassiere inserts (you know the ones that look like chicken cutlets)…back then they were new to the people and no one knew what to think of them. They were universally unfamiliar, unattractive, and not the type of thing customers wanted to be seen ogling in public. The buyer had overstocked and they needed to clear inventory, but who was going to buy these things?
No one wants to buy ugly rubber boobs in public, especially at a high end department store. No wonder they slated this project for the new kid. Disappointed and bewildered, I remembered Tanja’s advice: Women will buy anything wrapped in roses.
SHAZAM! Faster than you can yank a unibrow, three of us grabbed some scissors and stayed up half the night making paper roses out of lingerie packaging tissue (thank you again Jeanie and Shayna!)…we swapped in a black and white striped table cloth and wedged the roses in between the boxes. The end result resembled a car sized wedding cake dimpled with chicken cutlets and the inventory cleared in less than a week. LESS THAN A WEEK. It had stood there for over a month and hardly anyone ever peeped, and now they sold out in LESS THAN A WEEK.
Roses, y’all. Don’t underestimate them.
All flowers have the ability to highlight their surroundings, but there is something about roses. We are attracted to them like no other. It’s distinct and special and makes no sense whatsoever. I’m not sure if it’s genetic or cultural, but it is ingrained in us women folk something fierce.
I know a lot of brides will look at these roses as potential centerpieces, but ya’ll have to think bigger! These roses are for YOU.
Do you sell stuff at art and craft shows? Consider making them to tuck in the corner of your display unit, or cluster around the base of a pedestal.
Do you design clothes, run a boutique, or sell vintage apparel online? Pin a few roses at the neck of your mannequin or model. Those items will get attention like you have never seen before!
Do you sell jewelry on Etsy? Poke earnings through the petals, or, weave a necklace around the stem before you take the photo. If you are afraid it will distract, keep the rose and background the same color.
Do you need to sell your house? Once your house is thoroughly “décor neutralized” make 3 dozen of these in yellow and put them in a vase located within eye-sight of the front door. Even people who hate flowers will get the distinct impression happy things happen in this place, I want to be happy, I want to live here…and suddenly BOO YOW, your butt is moving in no time!
*Acrylic or Latex craft paint
*Masking tape (mine is green, but any color will do fine)
- Take 3 tablespoons of pink latex craft paint and mix with a smidge of yellow. Note: the yellow is not necessary, but I find mixing a dab of an earthy/neutral tone in any color paint always helps the end results look more organic.
- Mix in half a cup of water and stir with a fork until lumps disappear. Add more paint or water until it’s the consistency of milk.
- Add 2 cups of water and mix again
- Submerge your filters, up to 20 at a time. Squish until paint is well distributed.
- Wring out excess paint, and if color is too bold, rinse with cold running water until you achieve the desired tone. Dry thoroughly.
Level 1: Simple Spiral Rose
1. Take one previously dyed filter and cut a spiral shape, roughly 1” from the outer edge. The result will be a long strip, roughly 1” wide by 36” in length (don’t worry if it’s longer or shorter, just know you’re going for a long skinny strip).
2. Think of the strip as a piece of ribbon. Starting at the center point of the filter, stick it to the edge of 12” piece of masking tape, leaving 1” of tape available at the end. Continue down the strip, pleating/gathering as you go. Pleating/gathering, pleating/gathering, pleating/gathering….
3. Continue to pleat/gather down the strip. Just squish it, no big deal. There is no math involved here. It will take you a while to get a rhythm going, but you will get there I promise! Note: If you reallllllly struggle to get the hang of the pleating/gathering, you can also sew a running stitch down the edge of the filter and pleat that way, but personally, I like the inconsistent results from pleating by hand.
4. Once the strip is finished, take that first empty inch of tape and wind it around the tip of a drinking straw. Continue to wind the tape around the end of the straw.
5. Add another 12” piece of tape to the base, on the diagonal.
6. Wrap the tape around the straw to make a stem.
7. Ta Da!
Level 2: Happy Ruffled Rose
1. Fold three filters in quarters, then trim scalloped edges along the edge and through the center.
2. Results will be three scalloped circles and three scalloped doughnuts. Cut across the doughnuts to open them up (see, your making strips, just like the Simple Spiral Rose)
3. Twist one scalloped circle and attach to the end of the tape, leaving one inch open. Take the other two scalloped circled, twist, attach, repeat.
4. Think of your doughnut shape as a long strip of ribbon. Stick it to the tape, finger pleating as you go. The points of the scallops will help you to develop a rhythm as you move down the tape.
6. Starting from the inside, stick the tape to the end of the straw and roll your way up.
7. Ta Da!
Level 3: Giant Ruffled Rose
1. Get your cat to model some giant coffee filters. Isn’t she cute? She has been brushing up on her Vanna White skills. I know, I know, she is so talented! Lola also wanted to show you the scale of these babies –they are HUGE. You can get them online, or at your local coffee shop, pancake house, or even your Church basement. Anywhere that serves large quantities of coffee. Ask nicely, then promise to return with a finished flower, and I bet they will give you a few.
2. Tip: when you dye the extra large filters, rinse the edges out so the center is a slightly deeper color. This will really help to give the impression of a realistic blossom.
3. Similar to the Happy Ruffled rose, fold in quarters and cut scalloped shapes (this time there are three levels instead of two)
4. Because one filter will generate a large flower, you only need one twisted piece in the center. Follow with the inside scallop doughnut strip.
5. Follow with the outer scallop doughnut.
6. Attach to the tip of a straw and roll.
7. Keep rolling. This will quickly thicken up –try to keep your tape in line as much as possible.
8. Ta Da! One filter will generate a rose as big as your hand, but keep going and three filters will make rose as big as your face. Try it!
Tips and Tricks
- When you dry your flowers, dry them upside down, clipped to a string or laundry line. This will encourage the dye pigments to settle toward the center of the spiral, same as in nature. It’s a subtle difference, but it really enhances the end result. You can also get this result by rinsing the edges of your flowers with water before they dry.
- Instead of cutting scallops, cut skinny jagged edges to get a spider mum (more on this next Friday!)
- To get a two-tone rose, paint the edges a deeper color.
- Have fun!