A lovely array of flowers covering a casket, called a casket spray, serves to soothe and soften the cold coffin contours. Professional florists provide casket sprays, but creating one as a gift for the family of the bereaved would be a thoughtful way to help them conserve expenses at a most difficult time. Special holders, called casket saddles, simplify constructing a large floral piece for the top of the casket. Once delivered, the funeral home staff sees that it's properly placed for the service.
Prepare Your Materials
Strip any foliage or thorns off of the portion of the flower stems that will be submerged. Slice 1 inch off of each stem end at a sharp angle, and place each type in a bucket of room-temperature water. Allow the greens and flowers to "drink" at room temperature for one to two hours.
Keep the flowers in water, refrigerated or in a cool, dark room for up to 24 hours. Keep flowers well away from ripening fruits, which release gasses that hasten floral decay.
Thoroughly soak a floral foam in fresh, room-temperature water. Spread a bath towel over your work surface; and place the casket saddle on it so that it will rest on the counter surface as it will on the casket with flowers draping over the front. Work with the saddle directly in front of you.
Create the Casket Spray
"Green in" the saddle by arranging leather leaf stems in the floral foam. Leave each stem long enough to pierce the foam 2 to 3 inches deep for adequate anchorage. Begin working low in the foam where it meets the plastic, placing a full stem to come out of each side and one coming toward you in front, then placing more stems between these. Place these stems with the "pretty" sides up so that they angle slightly toward the table. Drape the front fern over the table's edge. Turn the saddle and repeat. Strip foliage from the lower portion of the stems to shorten the ferns as you work upward toward the top of the foam. Fill in with more stems until the saddle and foam are disguised with a mound of leather leaf.
Select the fullest, most attractive of the lily stems. Eye its position in the center top of the arrangement so that it's 1 foot high. Cut the stem's end at a sharp angle, and place it in position. Place another lily stem in front of the first and slightly lower, then one to each side and at the back, each angled slightly outward and lower than the top stem. Walk around the saddle, rather than turning it, as your arrangement grows. Place the next four lily stems in the spaces between the first set of lilies. Place these to face outward and slightly lower still than the first set, forming an overall mounded shape.
Place a carnation or rose out of each side to the desired length of your arrangement, cutting each stem at a sharp angle and piercing the foam 2 to 3 inches deep. Drape one carnation or rose in front over the table atop the ferns. Follow the lines of the leather leaf base, placing carnations or roses among the foliage and working upwards, shortening the stems as you go and building a mound of flowers. Position the flowers so that each flower is visible nestled among the lilies and ferns. The stems of all the flowers should seem to converge at a center point in the midst of the foam.
Angle the last lily stem downward, draping it slightly over the work-surface edge, shorter than the longest carnations or roses.
Position the eucalyptus stems so that they stick up and out among the lilies and carnations. Drape the ivy stems in front and back so that they'll trail over the casket. Arrange the wax flower or statice stems in among the main flowers as decorative accents.
Cover the arrangement with a double layer of paper towels and spray water lightly over it.
- ['Full-size plastic casket saddle with floral foam', 'Florist knife', 'Florist shears', '30 to 40 fresh-cut stems of leather leaf fern', '10 fresh-cut stems of baby eucalyptus', '10 fresh-cut stems of long miniature ivy', '10 fresh-cut stems of Star Gazer lilies', '25 fresh-cut pink, long-stemmed carnations or burgundy-red roses', '8 to 10 fresh-cut stems of wax flower or statice', '6 clean plastic buckets', 'Absorbent bath towel', 'Spray bottle of fresh, clean water', 'Heavy-duty white paper towels']
Use flowers and colors of your choice, choosing main, secondary and accent flowers. Schedule flowers ordered online to be delivered the day before the funeral. Strip foliage or thorns from the portion of the stem that pierces the floral foam. Pierce the floral foam as few times as possible to keep the holes tight and the stems secure; inexperienced designers should purchase a back-up casket saddle or floral foam. Spread newspaper on the floor around your work table to simplify cleanup. Flower and foliage scraps make excellent compost additions.
Use clean, fresh regular tap water or filtered water. Do not use soft water for flowers or foliage. Transport the finished arrangement as soon as possible, keeping it out of direct sunlight. Coordinate delivery with the service site to ensure proper timing and delivery acceptance.
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