In making flower stems, I use several gauges of galvanized wire, ranging from 14 GA to 30 GA as well as single strands from picture wire. Although some people use thin brass tubing (available from hobby shops), I have found that wires of varying gauges are sufficient to create a pleasing result for this project. I use two gauges of wire for each flower. The thicknesses will depend on the size of your flower – bigger flower, thicker wire. The heaviest gauge will form the flower stem and the lighter gauge provides stems for the leaves.
Notes on Soldering
The wires which form the stems are joined together using solder. I use a pencil-type soldering iron with an adjustable temperature control. Any pencil-type soldering iron will work. These tools are normally used in soldering electronic components. I would not advise the use of an open flame (e.g. propane or butane torch) for this work. The chance of setting your flower on fire at some point is too great.
Any type of solder will do. The key is getting your target joint hot enough so that it – not the soldering iron – melts the solder. I like to use thin (20 gauge) rosin or acid core soldering wire. The rosin core is generally used in electronics and the acid core is primarily used in plumbing. Regardless of the type of solder you use, it is important to prep each joint by coating it with soldering past or “flux” (founding in your local hardware plumbing department). When the wire is sufficiently heated, the flux will draw the melting solder onto the joint, giving it strength.
The stem assembly for the leaves consists of two wires soldered together in the shape shown below.
This assembly will, in turn be soldered to the main stem. The three stem components are shown below. Note that the “V”-shaped component has a small notch bent into it at the base of the “V”. This small detail is the key to joining the two wires of the leaf assembly.
You will find that a small hobby vise very useful during the following procedure.
I join the two wires using the following technique:
- 1. Take a single strand of light weight braided picture wire. Thinner is better since its use is to provide a means of creating a temporary joint for the stem wires.
- 2. Slide one end of the picture wire strand into the notch in the “V”-shaped wire. Bend the end back along the length of the wire.
- 3. Coat the two wires with flux and then solder together
- 4. Take the second stem wire and place it along the vertical axis as shown in FIGURE 1 above.
- 5. Wind the strand of picture wire around the joint as shown below. It’s not necessary to wind the entire length of picture wire. You just need enough to hold the joint together.
- 6. Apply flux and solder.
- 7. The joint will probably look pretty ugly at this stage (photo above) so it will require some grinding to define the shape and clean up the rough edges. I like to use a micro motor for this job. I start with a 1/4 in sanding sleeve and finish finer details with a diamond bur.
You can see the final result below.
In the next part we will add the rose and leaves.
-- Ron Tourangeau, Ottawa, ON – www.generationstudios.com