Bead flowers should hold their original shape, whether that shape is vertical, curved, standing out horizontally, or draped artfully downward. Make sure that your bead flower treasures retain their shape for the future by using stem stiffening and reinforcement techniques. These techniques are not only for brand-new pieces; you can easily “retro-fit” a finished or vintage bead flower piece.
If your flower is already assembled or it’s a delicate vintage piece, the great news is that the stemwire can be reinforced to regain or retain the flower’s beauty. This technique works best if your flower has a separate center unit; this will hide the new wire. If done well, the reinforcement will be almost invisible in any flower, and will greatly add to its beauty.
If the flower is a vintage piece, inspect its stem carefully. If the tape is dried out or loose, remove it. If the main stemwire is at all weakened or rusted, remove and discard it. Yes, you want to keep as much of the original piece as possible, but not at the cost of the strength of the restored flower. Keep all petal, center and sepal wires intact.
For smaller flowers: tape a length of 18-gauge stemwire and make a narrow hook two inches from one end. For larger flowers: Fully tape three separate lengths of 18-gauge stemwire. Keeping two to three inches of one length of stemwire extended, tape the three lengths together tightly. If necessary, wrap lacing wire around the three wires first to prevent slipping during taping. Make a hook of the protruding end of the wire. Keep the hook shape within a half-inch of the other two stemwires.
Carefully thread this hook through the bottom of the finished flower between opposite petals and beneath the center unit, if the flower has one.
Straighten the stemwires. “Set” the flower head snugly so it doesn’t slip around by pulling down and pinching the hook with a plier so that the flower head is held steady. Add the flower’s original stemwires to the new one and snugly reinforce with several wraps of green paddle wire or lacing wire. Tape all stemwires together.
For extra security for a large or heavy flower, start with a hook of approximately four inches. Thread it through the flower, wrap the hook around the stem once, then pass the hooked wire through the flower a second time, coming from a different angle between petals.