Careful consideration of line and depth is the key to winning designs in the flowers-to-wear category.

Anyone who has entered a floral design competition or taken part in an in-person evaluation for a floral design credential knows that “flowers to wear” is a commonly tested category. Of course, it’s also true that when you create flowers-to-wear designs for weddings or proms, this is design work that really gets noticed! So, you always want it to be the best work you can do.

Because the designs are small, you might be tempted to spend less time preparing your designs in the flowers-to-wear category. Remember, though, in the judging, these designs typically carry the same value as other larger designs. By putting effort into one small design, you can score big!

Whenever anyone evaluates your design work, the same criteria come into play. Consumers might not use these criteria consciously, but in their assessment of your work, they will be influenced—just like professional judges—by such things as whether your design has a strong and creative focal point and whether it shows good use of color, along with good mechanics.

Line and depth are also important to the effect of any floral design—and these elements can be especially difficult to achieve in corsage work. Here are three wrist corsages, all very different but based on the same template, using wide flat decorative wire as a foundation. They were created using the “Sketch and Score Method” that we are teaching in this Florists’ Review series.

Remember that your template sketch serves as a springboard for your creativity. You create the sketch using materials you have on hand. Later, if you need to make substitutions, the sketch serves as a reminder of the most important elements. Here, layering of materials in the focal area adds depth to the design while the addition of materials that extend beyond the focal area create line movement that leads the eyes out of and back into the focal area.

For color harmony, this design combines a ‘Yellow Babe’ spray rose and rosebud with 1-inch-wide gold flat wire and gold etched wire. The etched wire is fashioned into swirled medallions that imitate the round shape of the rose. Placed just underneath the rose, they provide a decorative background that lends depth to the design. Twin loops of lily grass add to the layered effect and to the visual rhythm that is created through repetition of a pattern. Meanwhile, snipped blades and long tips of lily grass provide flowing line.


Rosa spp. ‘Yellow Babe’ (spray rose); Hypericum androsaemum (tutsan, sweet amber, St. John’s wort); Chrysanthemum morifolium (cushion spray mum buds); Liriope muscari (lily grass)


OASISTM 1” Flat Wire (Gold) and OASISTM Etched Wire (Gold Matte) from Smithers-Oasis North America.

The petals of the Dendrobium orchid could suggest a different way of adding line to your wrist corsage, along with a more extended effect of layering for added depth. Here, diamond-cut faceted wire is shaped into the outline of petals. Some of these outlines are filled with dusty miller foliage, cut to fit each leaf shape. The dusty miller adds an element of texture and artistry without taking away from the strong lines created by the wire shapes. The leaf shapes, along with pointy rosebuds, Ruscus and Equisetum, all add layered depth to the design as well as gently curving extended radial lines.


Dendrobium spp.; Rosa spp. (spray rose); Chrysanthemum morifolium (cushion spray mum bud); Jacobaea maritima, formerly Senecio cineraria (dusty miller); Ruscus aculeatus (butcher’s broom, Italian Ruscus); Equisetum hyemale (horsetail, scouring rush)


OASISTM 1” Flat Wire (Gold) and OASISTM Etched Wire (Gold Matte) from Smithers- Oasis North America.

This design uses different materials in a different color scheme and achieves a very different style, but the basic elements from the sketch template remain the same: a flat-wire foundation, a focal area with elements that are layered for depth, and lines that lead the eyes into and out of the design. This time, the lines, created with 3/16-inch-wide silver flat wire and silver aluminum wire banded with silver bullion wire, are straight and, therefore, static, but their placement on a diagonal gives them a dynamic edge. Dendrobium orchids are flowers that bring quite a bit of natural depth to design, but they are also backed with a white button spray mum, rolled flat wire and Ruscus leaves for additional layering.

Dendrobium spp.; Chrysanthemum morifolium (button spray mum); Ruscus aculeatus (butcher’s broom, Italian Ruscus)

OASISTM 1” Flat Wire (Silver Matte), OASISTM 3/16” Flat Wire (Silver), OASISTM Aluminum Wire (Silver) and OASISTM Bullion Wire (Silver) from Smithers-Oasis North America.