Be Mine, Valentine

 Valentine's Day Wishes

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Bitter cold in New England means it is a good time to snuggle up with loved ones.

Hitomi Gilliam structureFor the holiday, I finally got my act together to work on a design inspired by the work of Hitomi Gilliam, seen in Tacoma WA last September.  Her structure was much larger and more neutral.  This whole magnificent design went beyond the 6′ of the table.

 Board tubes and skewers

My design is a much more domestic affair.  Using a solid board found in the milk house  for the base, I also collected some plastic floral tubes and bamboo skewers from the grocery store.  Hitomi used a second board underneath to raise the base up some.  See how it improved the whole thing.

Board Drilling holesThe board was trimmed with a jigsaw to a 22″ length.  Holes were drilled at random for the bamboo skewers.  Thin dowels could also be used or sturdy heavy gauge wires.


Raffia comes in many colcors.  The red and olive green were bought from Michael’s Crafts and the purple in the center from Paper Trail in Rhinebeck NY.  Rust-oleum 2X spray paint is nice and dense for one coat action and comes in a great variety of colors.  I had on hand claret red which is a deep rich color, so I chose the purple raffia.

 Claret Board and skewers

I sprayed the board and the skewers in one swoop.  Not the brightest idea I’ve had as some of them were loathe to come out of their holes to be attached to the tubes.  Better to put the skewers in old Oasis or styrofoam to stand up for spray painting.

 Wrapping tubes

The next step is to wrap the tubes and skewers together.  I used glue dots to hold the skewer as well as an anchor for the wrapped raffia which can be slippery on the tubes without the glue dots.  Elmer’s Glue could be used too but it takes time to dry.  Make a small coil at the end of the tube to hide it.

 Board and tubes

I chose different lengths for the tubes to give some variety.  The glossy paint gives a lovely smooth appearance and won’t spot if water drops on it.

 Water for tubes

A squeeze water bottle is the best way to fill the tubes.  I fill the tubes about half way before the stems go in, and then top it off after.  Designs with tubes are high maintenance as they have to be filled every day.

 Raffia tubes and ivyFirst insertions are cuttings from a really tough surviving ivy plant.  Like Hitomi’s branches, this sets up a link between the tubes.

Susan Detjens

Gloriosa lillies are expensive and delightful.  In a design like this, it is easy to see their distinctive coloring and silhouette.  Also known as Rothschild lilies, they are climbers in tropical and southern Asia and Africa.


Susan DetjensScarlet Ranunclulus can also steal the show in the tubes.  These are big drinkers so watch the water level.  Stems of blackberries add a dark form and wonderful texture.

Susan Detjens

Susan Detjens

Be Mine, Valentine!





About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
This entry was posted in floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, flower vases, Hitomi Gilliam, holiday design ideas, Making containers, Making floral containers, Party flowers, Valentine's Day Flowers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Be Mine, Valentine

  1. Kim Devlin-Brytz says:

    Just lovely Susan! Love how you teach us new techniques! Thank you!

  2. Amy NOwell says:

    One of my favorites Susan!

  3. Nikki Whittle says:

    What is your source for test tubes and what size?

    • Susan says:

      Hi Nikki These days you can get glass and plastic test tubes by shopping on AMazon. has florist ones but they are smaller and often colored green. And ages ago when we needed a lot of them, we used Lake Charles Mfg. You want to have a small lip at the top so that if you wire around the tube something holds it on. Cheers, Susan

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