Saturday, July 23, 2011

Flowers From Nylon Hose

This has been a week of nostalgia. While researching for a craft how-to article, I came across flowers from nylons. I remembered some corsages my Grandmother had made way back in the late 1940's and early 1950's, so I looked into that subject a little more. I had most of the materials on hand (with some improvising) and here's the result of my second try at a tulip.  Let's just say pliers and I form an alliance for necessary household repairs, but when it comes to crafts, they are not my friends, so this was a struggle. It might have been easier if I'd had forms to shape the petals over.

I have a big bag of old pantyhose with runs in them.  I kept them when I was working in an office because they're usable for a lot of different things.  I knew my Grandmother had died her old nylons, but I didn't know what she used.  I found some red food dye in my cabinet and decided to try that.  I wanted two different colors of petals, but having only one color dye, I chose a pair of coffee colored hose and a pair of nude ones. I brought some water to a boil and put the coffee ones in it to soak some of the color out so it wouldn't run when I tried to dye them.  The water turned very dark, but the hose didn't seem to loose any of their color.

I refilled the pan with clear water and added 1/2 cup vinegar and about half of the bottle of food dye.  Brought that to a boil, wet the nude hose and put both pair into the dye bath.  I let them set in the dye bath about 15 minutes then rinsed until the water ran clear.  I blotted them with an old towel and let them air dry.

Here's a picture of my first six petals. Three burgundy ones and three red ones. You can see the hose on the right. I was a little surprised at how much red the coffee colored hose soaked up, but very pleased.

When I got these all put together, the result did somewhat resemble a tulip. . .badly beaten by the West Texas wind. It stayed together long enough to get a picture, but fell apart when I laid it down.

I tried again with bigger petals.  Making the petals isn't too hard, but putting them around the stem seems to me like a three hand job.  The first picture in this blog is of the second tulip.

The instructions say to arrange the large petals around the stem wire and wrap tightly with thread, then arrange the small petals and fasten them with floral tape.  My track record with floral tape isn't good.  I either pull it so tight it breaks or don't get it tight enough to hold, so I wrapped the smaller petals with thread before I taped them.

Well that all took the better part of a day, but gave me much greater respect for my Grandmother's talents. It will take a lot of practice for me to make beautiful flowers from nylons, but I'm glad to see the craft revived.

It has gained so much popularity that you can now buy everything you need including nylon tubing in a wide variety of colors. New Sheer has everything from the stems and stamens to the colored nylon, petal forms,  wire for the petals, petal forms, tools and free tutorials all in one place.

I think I'll stick to beads for my main craft, but learning something about this retro craft was fun.


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