On Making Of the Tussie Mussies
My obsession with the Language of Flowers and Objects is a nightmare endeavor of my own making for these sweet, tussie mussie, speaking bouquets…. but I adore them. No artist really knows what will appeal until a spark of creativity with an idea comes along; so a floriographist I have become.
The tussie mussies seem like a simple, effortless, assortment of flowers quickly tied together however, they are not as easy as it sounds. There are always several components and mechanics of creative thinking in any genre besides flowers, and a puzzle to solve. These just have more steps.
The Victorians gave a meaning to 100’s of flowers, plants, colors, and objects to create secret messages. The practice went against the strict protocols of the day and was their way of circumventing it. They left no detail to chance or without significance; every single bit mattered.
Once….I have researched, gathered, dried, and wired it’s not your normal bouquet to put together.
How a Tussie Mussie Starts
It all begins with the chosen occasion I come up with whether birthday, recovery, or broken heart; researching several old books for just the right items to befit the sentiment and prose. I then try to mix varieties to meanings that are pleasing to the eye design wise. This brings about the knowledge of what is available to me when and preserving them at their season to have on hand when they aren’t; like daffodils in July.
The Tussie Mussie Prose
Since most meanings are 1 to 3 word phrases in old English prose, I am thankful I took (and love) English Literature in school. By combining the meanings in various phrases I finally author a coherent, sentiment and, in the style of 1850. To keep it even more of the era; I have copied some of my original, Victorian calling cards to use for adding the sentiments. One side has the sentiment while the back side lists all the components and their meaning. Such fussiness these sweet things are.
Many of the flowers, nuts, leaves, and objects are not available from my industry sources so I have to gather them. Some are only here in certain months so I physically must go out and gather them. From Queen Anne’s Lace to plantain leaves to acorns; I’m outside walking. Other objects like the miniature compass or key charms are found wherever I can find them.
The Drying and Preserving
With my components gathered I now have to preserve them. Most leaves are pressed or hung, while the flowers are either freeze-dried or sand preserved. Tedious-you bet; but the only way to have them. Some I can keep a few days but the delicates and most leaves need to be saved as soon as possible.
So I have the” lovely’s” gathered and dried then the stemming begins. Every component of each bouquet needs a wired stem. This is the second tedium that requires patience so few possess as some can be rice paper fragile. Again, I love doing it though.
The Tussie Mussie Making
Once….I have researched, gathered, dried, and wired it’s not your normal bouquet to put together. So after all this I finally get to the fun stage of putting it all together. I never know how the first one will turn out until I see everything in front of me. Dried flowers (and especially those pressed) must go the way they want to go as there is no pliability which of course, brings about some rearranging until they are all in sync and….pleasing to the eye.
The Finishing of the Tussie Mussie
Once my bouquet is made it is now time to cover all the mechanics. The stems must be taped then leaf wrapped into a pseudo holder and the backing of the bouquet needs neat finishing. Lastly, specific color ribbons also according to their meaning are then added. A drop of essential oils and it is finished at last.
The tussie mussies are not large at 7-8” nor are they supposed to be as they were meant to carry delicately in one hand, but their intricacy of components and novelty of speaking a secret message is huge. There is nothing like them. From start to finish in creating a first prototype or custom message I’d approximate 48 hours at least. If I am caught up on the gathering and drying of the various components then it’s a 2 hour affair of prepping and arranging. So when I am asked about their cost I shudder. In reality they are worth five times more with all that’s done before I even get in the door of arranging one. But still….I love them. You haven’t been charmed until you’ve received one.
I have a list of sentiments I have created so far in my Tussie Mussie section with so many more in the making. Being of dried and preserved flowers I ship them everywhere to that someone who needs a certain message. Of course I can make them in fresh flowers, or create your own message if you have one, and for sure can be made larger for a wedding or any occasion.
I always recall the quote that “nothing worth anything is ever easy” (I think it went further to inexpensive, legal, or nonfat too). :0 A perfect analogy for these charmers as all in all there is nothing like them and they are so worth it.