Thursday, 19 March 2015

Spellbinders - Create a Daisy Die set TUTORIAL

I've been busy making cards this past couple of weeks, getting back into the swing of making paper flowers and putting my ever growing collection of dies to good use. As dies become bigger, better and more elaborate and intricate than ever, the choice of flower making is widening. It's bye bye bulky laborious hand hurting paper punching 'old school style' and hello slimline easy storage, multi cut systems!

Most of my flower dies are designed as layers of joined up petals which makes flower making quick and simple but I do have a couple where the petals are all separate and you glue them all onto a base in layers, individually. This can be time consuming but the effects and definition achieved is worth it and the flowers can look more lifelike. So, wanting to build on this collection, last week I took delivery of a Spellbinders 'Create a Daisy' die set which is all about paper piecing and building a flower from scratch. The Create a Flower range has about 20 or so different flower die sets from Roses and Orchids to Gerbera and Hydrangea and I chose the Daisy set because its size and petal shape is not something I have in my die stash...and I also see versatility in it and the possibility of creating different kinds of flowers with the components...not just daisies.

Learn how to make this Daisy in my tutorial below.
 

For those of you thinking of ordering one of these sets, a word of warning...and this is really what the basis of this blog post is all about....

These are small dies....not your big Tim Holtz Tattered Florals type things....but small...and come in small card packets (not a bad thing when it comes to waste...and oh so thank you very much Spellbinders for not using those awful plastic packets that are a nightmare to open!)...but here lies the crunch...

the photo instructions on the back, on how to construct the flower, ARE TINY! My eyesight is pretty good...but I found myself reaching for a magnifying glass to look at them.....


and to be honest...they're also a little vague...especially when it comes to how to make the centre piece. Now for those of us who have been making paper flowers for some years...we can kind of figure it out based on past experience. But I did want to just re-familiarise myself....I wasn't too sure how to put the centre parts together and I felt also for those new to the craft that this could make the set look a little intimidating...and off putting.

Ahahaaa!...I thought...they've probably got the full instructions on their website...and yes indeedy they do have a link on the product detail page....'For detailed instructions...click on...'

Only.....at the time I write this post...the link leads nowhere...nothing...page not found.... :(

Now, I don't want to knock Spellbinders...because I LOVE their dies...I have more of their dies than any other company...but this isn't very useful guys! I'm thinking (hoping) this is just a little glitch...

..but it's an unhelpful glitch non the less :(

Ahahaaa!...I thought (for a second time)...there's bound to be someone out there with their own blog, or Youtube tutorial...so off I went a Googling...and Pinterest searching...

Hours later and I found TWO...just two blog posts about this die set...and quite frankly, they were a bit better to view...but just as vague on how to construct the centre piece.

Sigh....not good!

Gleaning what info I could from the packet and the two blogs...and my past flower making attempts, I returned to my worktable and set about having a play with the pieces. It came together after a fashion and then I thought well, why not just do my own tutorial...and hopefully it'll shed some light on how the die set works....and hopefully help people who are thinking of buying it....

...and please DO buy this die set...because it really is lovely...it makes a beautiful daisy and as I said before...I think it has potential to be used to make other flower types (and maybe I'll do some tutorials on those at a later date too). It's a bit time consuming...it takes a bit of prep work and can be a bit fiddly...but be patient...it is worth the effort.

...and so on to my tutorial -

Please remember this is a combination of Spellbinder, OTHER peoples tutorials and MY own way of making this flower....I'm not saying this is the ONLY way to make it...but what I found to be the easiest. You might find an even better way.

CREATE A DAISY - Spellbinders Die Set TUTORIAL

I have made this flower with petals in similar colour as to what is shown on the packaging but have made the centre in green so it is easier to see the details. The flower is for a card I have designed and the centre will be black...but this doesn't show up too well for the tutorial so I have used a green cardstock.

This is what you get in your die set Daisy kit - 6 pieces - a set of 5 petals, 5 centre pieces, 2 separate leaves and 2 star shape bases. The photo instructions are on the back of the packaging which I have cut out to keep together with the dies in my storage files. As you can see the dies...and instructions are small.

The smallest petal component is just short of 2cm long...and barely 5mm wide.....so if you're like me...a bit clumsy on the fingers side...then tweezers are a must to help hold the individual pieces.  

Tools required - Tweezers, small scissors, various ball end embossing tools, your die cutting machine and plates, paper (I used plain lemon paper and plain green cardstock) plus inks (I used Distress Inks in Scattered Straw, and Black Soot) and blending pads to apply the inks, and glue. I use Anitas Tacky Glue because it has a fine precision point which is useful for applying the glue to such small paper pieces and it is thick low water pva glue so doesn't make the paper soggy and prone to tearing.

The packaging photo instructions indicate that you will need 10 sets of the petals to make a complete 5 layer flower (therefore you will have 10 of each petal size...total of 50 petals). You will need to run the die for the centre piece (florets) through your machine 4 times (so you get 4 of each 'floret' sizes). Your kit includes 2 star shapes, closer inspection reveals that they are roughly same size but one has slightly wider points. These are the bases onto which you build each layer of petals. I used the wider points one for the two largest sized petals and 3 of the smaller one for other petal layers....but to be honest it doesn't really matter. One more star is required for the base for the centre piece of florets.

For my flower I cut 2 of each of the leaf dies plus another base to attach them to (but ended up not using it).

All my components cut and ready for the next stage....which is inking up (optional)

Holding each individual petal and star shape in tweezers, I highlighted just the tips with Distress Inks...applied with blending pads.

Leave the inked pieces to dry thoroughly before you start shaping them...or they will be wet and too soft and might tear.

Use ball end embossing tools (or even the rounded end of a pen) to gently shape the petals and create a soft curve...be careful not to press down too hard or the paper will crease.

It's time consuming and fiddly...but worth it to get great dimension and definition to the overall flower shape...and makes the petals look more realistic. Slightly shape the leaves too (not pictures).

Construct the base layer of the flower first - using the 10 largest petals, take one star base and glue your first petal onto one of the points (there are 10 points...so you attach 10 petals). I found it easier to add a tiny dab of glue to the star rather than the petal. You can also see in the above photo that I've marked roughly the centre of the star....so I can judge where to line up the ends of each petal and get an even and equal spread.

I find it easier to work in a pattern - attach the second petal directly opposite the first one , and start adding the final 8 each side...gluing the opposites with each turn...again, this seems to help me get an even spread.

The completed layer will look like this...now to do the same for the other four layers.

All five layers now finished and ready to assemble together.

Starting from the base (largest petals) and working upwards, add a dab of glue to the centre and attach the next smallest layer...rotate the piece so that the petals underneath show in between the gaps.
 
All five layers now glued together....set this aside to dry and start working on the centre florets piece.
 
The centre piece, once assembled, will be round ball shaped with the florets all curling from the outside in towards the centre. To achieve this each floret is shaped in two stages - first take the end of the handle of a slim artists paint brush and use this to curl each floret......
 
...then use a ball tool to curl the base of each piece in the opposite direction....by pressing and running the tool along the width.
 
The three stages of shaping...the flat freshly die cut piece....the piece curled from top to bottom....then finally shaped from side to side.
 
Sort the floret pieces into two groups - those larger pieces with four 'prongs' will be used to form the outer ring. The remaining pieces with three and two 'prongs' will form the centre ring. 
 

Taking a star shape base piece (which you should have cut in the same card and colour as the floret parts) start forming an outer ring using the larger pieces. Apply glue to the end edge only of each piece of floret and attach to the base just in from the points. Alternate the shapes, overlapping and forming a ring. Make sure they are all curling inwards.
 
The completed outer ring should look like this. To start working on the inner ring, it is useful to just carefully flatten out the outer ring 'prongs' slightly..it will give you more room to work in and you can re-curl it all back again afterwards.
 
Start gluing and attaching in the smaller floret pieces, set them slightly in and fractionally away from the outer ring. Depending on how tightly you overlap the pieces, you might end up using all of them, or have some left over...you could even glue in a third central ring if you have space and left over florets. Use scissors to snip them in half if they are too big.
 
It is important to now leave this piece and allow the glue to totally set and dry...before you begin reshaping.
 
Once dry, begin re-curling the inner ring of floret pieces. use tweezers to grasp each prong end and curl tightly in towards the centre. then gently form the ball with your fingers.
 
Do the same to the outer ring of florets, curl the prongs in tightly and using fingers to close the prongs in to form the whole thing into a ball shape.
 
This centre daisy 'floret' now ready to glue into the middle of your petals, and you can tweak and shape the petals until you achieve a shape you're happy with...the whole flower will now be assembled and ready for use.
 
The completed Spellbinders Daisy! The leaves have just been tucked into the sides and can be positioned and glued in place according to your own design and liking.
 
And this is my completed flower used in a card. I changed the centre floret for a black one so that it co-ordinated with the rest of the card.
 
 
The card design has a round aperture to the front and the Spellbinders Daisy is attached to the inside of the card so that it pops through the aperture when the card is closed.
 
A closer look at the Daisy....the smaller flowers have been made using more Spellbinder Shapeabilities dies - Carnation Creations.
 
 
I hope you find this tutorial of interest and use. I'd love to know if any of you buys this die and what has been made with it.
 
xxx Ange xxx
 




Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tweaked English Scones - with Peanut Butter!

I have been having a bit of an experimenting day in the kitchen today...

I wanted to make scones, but not my usual plain sweet or cheesy ones, and so while having a bit of a google on the 'net for new and interesting ideas I kept coming across recipes for peanut butter scones...

hmmmmmm??!!!!....now there's something that I really like...PEANUT BUTTER oh my, oh yes, oh yum! the thought of PB scones rather set the taste buds going!

On closer inspection of a few sites (and dutifully saved to Pinterest of course) I noticed that they were all for American style scones...and required more ingredients, including using eggs....and more often than not, chocolate (match made in heaven...so pretty obvious I guess).

So, nothing wrong with that....American style scones are VERY tasty...but the lack of English style recipes for scones with peanut butter got me wondering if it was actually possible to make them the English way....

...and there was only one way to find out....

just try it and see!

I took my tried and trusted recipe for English Sweet Scones and tweaked it just a little bit by adding some wholemeal flour and rolled oats into the mix (just to take the edge off the white stuff and add a bit more texture), and reducing the sugar content (assuming the PB would add some but not all the sweetness) and I stuck to normal milk rather than yoghurt or buttermilk for the liquid part (purely due to the fact I had neither in stock...but they would work equally well) I also opted to leave out chocolate...just so I could get an idea of what the plain PB scone would taste like.

Making up the mix was pretty simple....I just made the standard dry crumb mix first before adding the peanut butter, which I warmed slightly in the microwave to loosen it up a bit, then re-crumbed it again and then stirred in the milk to get the final dough. My ingredients list calls for approx. 1/4 pint of milk and I advise you add it slowly and gradually - depending on how much PB you use, and the flour type (not all flour is equal and has different absorption rates), so you may not need it all...or you may need more.  Mix it all gently and stop working it the moment it has all come together and formed a soft dough. It's crucial not to over knead scone dough...it's not like making bread and you do not want to activate too much gluten in the flour by kneading or you'll end up with dense heavy scones. Sometimes I form my dough into one large round and then cut into triangular segments, sometimes I use a round cutter...in this instance I went for a round 2&5/8ths inch plain round cutter and it yielded eight scones...oh, and one thing that I NEVER do, is to roll out the dough with a pin...I gently form and pat out with my hands because again, going back to what I said about mixing it, you don't want to over work it or it will become heavy...and I feel a rolling pin can often do that. I like a hands on approach so I can feel the texture and know when it's right. I pat it out to approx. 2 inch thickness...purely because that's how we like our scones - deep (after the added rising during cooking) with a good balance of soft fluffy inner and crispy crust outer.

So, a quick brush with a milk glaze over the top and they went in the oven and I sat in anticipation, watching as they slowly rose and lightly browned.

and the verdict?

Well, I have to say I was very please with the outcome.

The combination of the wholemeal flour and the oats gave a slightly nutty background to the scone.... and the peanut butter was there but not overpoweringly so. In all, the scone seemed more malty flavoured than anything and not overly sweet, which seemed quite strange...but pleasant....and as my 'NON peanut butter loving' other half scoffed back a couple and said they were very tasty and a success, I guess that was fine...in fact I think they make a perfect base for splitting and slathering with a spread such as chocolate. I tried one with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey and can happily give this combo a big thumbs up.

I also think this recipe could be tweaked to suit tastes....maybe add more wholemeal flour for a denser dough, maybe add more peanut butter for a real nutty kick...or even try crunchy version for real texture and bite...and don't forget to try chucking in some dark chocolate chips for a classic combo.

So here's the recipe I went for....give it a whirl...see what you think...tweak it if you think it needs it!

ENGLISH SCONES WITH A PEANUT BUTTER OATY TWIST - ingredients
  • 5oz Plain white flour
  • 3oz Wholemeal flour
  • 1oz rolled oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2oz cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 generous dessert spoons of smooth peanut butter
  • approx 1/4 pint milk you may need more/or less, plus some required for glazing.
Preheat oven to 220oC (200oC if using fan oven)

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, add the butter and rub in with the fingers to form a rough crumb, stir in the sugar. Slightly warm the peanut butter in a microwave to loosen the texture a little and pour into the crumb mix, stir in. You'll probably find it will clump together so then use fingers to break it up and re-crumb the mix gently again. Start adding the milk, a bit at a time, stirring in until it all comes together, is combined and formed a soft dough. Tip out onto a work surface and gently shape with the hands. patting out to approx. 2 inch thickness. Shape as a round pattie and cut into 8 triangular wedges, or use a round cookie cutter to make the more traditional looking individual scones (makes approx. 8). Brush the tops with milk glaze and bake in oven for 12-15minutes until cooked through and lightly golden on top.

Serve warmed, split and spread with chocolate spread or sliced bananas and a dash of honey.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Rhubard Curd Tart...that wasn't tart at all!

I'm a few years in to growing rhubarb in one of my raised veg patches...to the point where things are growing so well my freezer is stuffed to the rafters with rhubarb and I'm basically giving it away left right and centre to any neighbour, relative and friend who'll eat it. I'm also becoming obsessed with finding new and different ways to cook and eat it...from savoury to sweet you name it, I'm googling for it and slowly working my way through a list....with the help of Pinterest of course, and my vast collection of cookery books.

We English are rather fond of our puddings...and a rhubarb crumble is a staple in our house...but there's only so much crumble a gal can eat...and where as it makes a welcome comforting dish during cold winter days (and where the pieces carefully frozen and stored in the freezer come into play)...during the early summer, when it's warm and the rhubarb is fresh and tender you find yourself wanting to make the most of it at it's best and freshest...but need something summery and lighter perhaps...

(although not necessarily lighter calorie wise...sigh)

After previous years experimenting in various preserving recipes for chutneys (photo above), I was looking at perhaps making a jam....(any way to store and preserve it is good by me) but most websites and my books suggest that this really only works well when using early tender and forced rhubarb stems...so this being the beginning of August with my plants mature, fat and ready to start wilting back, that didn't bode well on the jam front...

...and then, during a evening 'Pinteresting' I came across Rhubarb curd!

Hmmmm? Rhubarb Curd? Now that was something new for me. I was keen to give it a go.

The problem however, when searching for recipes on places like Pinterest, is that you can quite literally get bogged down with so many variations you aren't sure which way to turn and which one to try out so I pinned a few and took a closer look into them at what to do. I'm quite familiar with making lemon and lime curds...but wasn't sure how to prep the rhubarb (turns out there is more than one way). Firstly I settled on using a recipe from the good old tried and tested website BBCGoodFood, with a nice easy safe recipe to follow with little outlay and effort and a small yield of just two jars (so no mass of stuff to dispose of if all goes horribly wrong...oh me of little faith lol!) here's the link -

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2955676/rhubarb-curd

but one thing however did bother me. Their instructions called for the raw rhubarb to be run in a blender to create a pulp/juice...and I was not willing to do this and then have to deal with cleaning my blender (yes I was being a tad lazy that day) PLUS my rhubarb was mature and probably tougher than the usual forced stems (that they use) so I wasn't sure my blender was up to the task. So another scan of the pin board and I noticed another recipe by American food page The Kitchn -

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-rhubarb-curdrecipes-from-the-kitchn-172075

Here, the instructions said to stew the rhubarb in a little water...and suggested this makes it sweeter...so that got me thinking....

Stew the rhubarb, but keep to the BBCGF recipe ingredients....and despite the fact the stewing would in effect have extra water in it, this would be counterbalanced by the added cornflour (in fact if you read the comments and ratings below, someone even advises adding extra cornflour to make the curd even thicker).

(As it turned out, I think stewing the rhubarb then giving it a further going over with my Bamix hand blender, pulverised the rhubarb very well and I extracted far more juice than was needed. I'm not convinced my food Blender would have done the job as well).

So, that was sorted and I set about my curd making. Here's the combo of the two above recipes -

RHUBARB CURD - (makes two jars)

  • 600g forced rhubarb, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped (yes it does call for forced rhubarb....but as it turned out my more mature stems were perfectly fine and I just chopped them up smaller so they'd break down quicker)
  •  a little water for stewing
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g butter, diced
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 175g caster sugar (I used vanilla pod infused unrefined golden castor sugar
  •  
    First prep/sterilise two regular sized jam jars.
     
    Place the rhubarb in a pan, barely cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer until the stems become soft and pulpy. This might take approx. 20mins but depends on the size and thickness of the pieces. Remove from heat. If possible, use a hand blender to break the rhubarb down further (to enable you to extract as much juice as possible...then strain through a sieve, keeping the juice to make the curd. I use a plastic fine sieve over a bowl for sieving fruits, and push it through with a wooden spoon....I think using a metal sieve and utensils can often taint the fruit with a metallic taste. Set juice aside to cool.
     
    You can use the left over pulp for something else (it's great stirred into some yoghurt). After hitting my stewed rhubarb with my Bamix hand blender I managed to sieve out much more juice than is probably usually expected and only had 2 tablespoons of pulp left.
     
    Place the eggs, butter, cornflour, sugar, and 250ml of the rhubarb juice into a pan over a very low heat and whisk continuously until the butter has all melted and the ingredients have all incorporated. Then switch to using a wooden spoon and stir, again continuously over the very low heat until the curd thickens to about the consistency of custard. This may take some time....do not be tempted to turn up the heat, this will only curdle the eggs and turn it into a scrambled mess. Also keep an eye out to prevent it catching on the bottom and sides of the pan. Remove from the heat.
     
    Sieve a second time, into a clean bowl, to remove any lumps, stir in a further 100ml more of the reserved juice (optional)...and fill your prepped jam jars. Seal, cool and store in the fridge (for up to one week)
    So, here's my effort! Firstly, you can see the jug of left over juice in the background, over 100ml so that was jarred up to be used for a lemonade spritzer drink. But back to the curd...as you can see, the colour changed rather dramatically (and disappointingly) which I think is due to the lovely deep yellow free range eggs I used. So the deep salmon pink of the pulp dissipated into the egg sugar mix to became a rather insipid flesh colour...but hey ho...
     
    It was the taste that was important to me...
     
    Had to be good and patient to allow it to cool and with an overnighter in the fridge to thicken it up some more....then it was dive in with a spoon and give a verdict...
    ...and boy did it taste good!
     
    Not what I expected at all, the curd was creamy, smooth, velvety...not tart at all (real surprise considering it is rhubarb!) but not too sweet either and with a subtle buttery vanilla background. The consistency was soft, unlike the curds I'm used to making...and certainly no where near the gelatinous stuff they sell in the supermarkets. In my opinion, it's was very close to that of crème pat (only obviously rhubarb tasting)....
     
    divine...totally divine!
     
    If you like rhubarb, and you like making preserves and curds etc, then you really need to make some. Yes it has a short shelf life...but to be honest, once you taste it, that jar will empty quicker than you think lol!
     
    So, asides from just diving in and eating it straight of the spoon....I started to ponder over ways in which to use it. BBCGF page suggests slathering it on toast and crumpets...which I'm rather partial too with my lemon curds...
     
    ...but there was something about this one that seemed far too creamy and decadent to be partnered up with bread.
     
    It was crying out to be used in a dessert.
     
    So I thought, lets try a little pastry tart, filled with the curd, topped with some more rhubarb (roasted pieces this time) to put some of the bite and tang back in...
    First things - I made a shortcrust pastry. Very easy and quick to do...just a plain one. I don't bother with making sweet enriched pastry for sweet tarts because I like to balance the sweeter contents with a plain base. I use a good old tried and trusted recipe from BBC Food site -
     
     
    Just click on the link and follow their instructions...I'm not going to type it all out again because it's just straight up as it is written, no tweaking or alterations by me.
     
    I rolled out very thin (I like really thin crispy delicate bases to my dessert tarts) and blind baked in a small loose bottomed tartlet pan.
    Look...no soggy bottoms!
     
    While this was set aside to cool, I then went and got myself a nice young tender stem of rhubarb, fresh from the garden.
    Washed and trimmed into small pieces, I places the rhubarb onto a baking tray and roasted in the oven for a couple of minutes...a couple was all it took as it was quite a thin stem.
     
    Now roasting is an ideal way to cook rhubarb if you want to soften but retain it's shape (stewing obviously breaks down the fibres). Some cooks suggest you sprinkle with sugar and a spoonful of water, but I didn't bother...I wanted a bit of bite and to keep the rhubarb as tangy as possible.
    While the roasted rhubarb pieces cooled, I set about filling the tart pastry case with my rhubarb curd. Because I intended on eating straight away, I didn't bother with sealing the pastry case with an egg wash (and some people brush melted chocolate in) but if the tart had to sit around for awhile (say if I was making for a party or dinner) then I probably would because the liquid in the curd will probably soften and seep into the pastry...so after all that hard work cooking to ensure no soggy bottoms...you don't want to go ruining it with the filling putting one right back in there do you!
    The tart got decorated with the roasted rhubarb....which I had a dilemma over - go all rustic and scatter or be more civilised and posh and make a symmetrical pattern....
     
    civilised and posh won!
    ...and then a dusting of icing sugar....awe...look...it's all pretty!
     
    Done!
    Crispy pastry, soft creamy filling, tangy bites of rhubarb...
     
    Oh my did THAT taste good!
     
    I think we can safely say this curd recipe and tart will be made quite a few more times in this kitchen :)
     
    Hope you enjoyed reading this....and that it inspires you to have a go at making your own curd.
     
    xxx Ange xxx

    Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    Paper 'Faux FlowerSoft' Floral Embellishments

    Hi guys! remember me? ;) !!!!

    It's been a while since my last blog post and I apologise, again! BUT I do seem to have more people following me on Facebook and reading my posts on there, than on here :( so I tend to post more there nowadays.....if you want to keep up to date with what I'm up to, then I do suggest you join me on Facebook.

    I've been very busy painting and doing commission work that I have not been able to post info about but yesterday I took a day out of that schedule to do some papercrafting....namely making some cards for an upcoming MIL birthday, plus we celebrate Mothers Day here in the UK on Sunday 30th March so I have made my mom a card, plus another one for  my other half's mom.

    I've decided to blog a little tutorial that came about while creating the above mentioned birthday card. I posted on facebook about it this morning and mentioned I'd made my own flower embellishments....and people have asked how I did it....

    so here it is -

    Paper Faux 'Flower Soft' inspired embellishments

    This tutorial makes a cluster like a stylised lavender or buddleija head.

    Firstly I'd like to point out that I don't think I can claim this technique to be totally my own and unique...I'm sure there's probably someone else out there who's already done this....I just think it is fun and wanted to share with you how I do it.

    Now, if you know me well, you'll know I'm not the greatest fan of Flower Soft...I do not have any in my studio because I generally do not make cards in a way that requires it. I think it probably does have a good place in cardmaking...but just not in my style of cardmaking,

    (if you have no idea what I'm on about...google flowersoft and you'll find out)

    Yesterday, however, I was asked to make a specific style card...pretty and floral, lavender flower themed and in this case I really did feel it needed a floral embellishment of some sort. Die cut shapes didn't work, it needed something much more dimensional and even if I did have flowersoft, it wouldn't have been 'chunky' enough. I wanted something a bit bigger and more stylised so decided to create my own version...a faux flowersoft technique, but using cardstock, cut into micro sized bits so I could have more control over size...and perfectly co-ordinate the colour and card with the rest of the card.

    TOOLS REQUIRED -
    Scissors use good sharp quality ones, I use small Friskers variety which cut right to the point and are nice and small which is good for fine work and snipping little bits.
    Card stock in colour of your choice...a great way to use up the offcut and remnants from the card making.
    Pinflair Glue Gel adhesive This is clear, thick, gloppy and perfect for this job. It is slow drying so you have a lovely amount of time to fiddle about shaping your flower cluster.
    Paper wrapped floral wire stems most craft shops and flower shops will have this and I always have some in my stash that gets used for all manner of craft and art projects. In this project I'm using 'Hamilworth' # 22 which are 36cm in total length and come in packs of 25. I deliberately stock white paper ones so that I can colour them to perfectly match any projects, but you can get a nice green one if you're only ever going to use it to make floral embellishments. Paper wrapped wire is important because you need a paper base for the glue to key/hold onto....I've tried using just plain wire and the glue can slide and move out of shape.
    Cocktail Sticks or similar for moving the glue into shape.
    Small container for keeping your paper cuttings in place....like flower soft, this stuff can flick everywhere.
    Wire Cutters/ tin snips (not pictured) for cutting your floral wire....do not use scissors or the blades will get nicked and ruined....use the right tools for the purpose!
    Square of polystyrene or sponge (not pictured) for sticking your wire stems into to allow the glue to dry.
    1)Cut your card - Cutting tiny micro snips of paper is tedious and boring...the only way I can think of making the process faster is to take a small section of card remnant and snip lengthwise like this....not completely going to the end...
    ...and then snipping crossways to get lots of little bits, or 'cuttings'. I snip at an angle to create rough diamond shapes...the pointy ends seem to stick into the glue better. The bits are around a couple of millimetres long...but I'm not too fussy about perfect regular size and shapes...infact the more uneven the better and you get a nice dimensional and texturised flower head.
    you will end up will a nice little pile like this. This is enough to make one small cluster...so if you need to make more...you'll need to cut more card.
    Keep these cuttings in a container, with a lid if you're storing it for future use. This stuff, like Flower Soft, flicks and flies everywhere so try to keep it in check! You'll need a container large enough to fit fingers into...you'll need to be able to pick out pinchfulls of the cuttings when covering your glued wire stems.
    2)Prepare your wire I use white paper covered stems so that I can colour them exactly to match my project...Ink pads are good to use, paint is a bit fiddly to apply with a brush...and I find a good old colour Sharpie felt tip pen much easier to use to apply the colour. In this project I am keeping the stems white.
    3)Cut the wire but keep it a little longer in length than you'll eventually need...so you've got something decent to hold onto while applying the glue and cuttings....and something to poke into the polystyrene while it dries. You can trim to the proper size after the glue has dried. Please use proper wire cutters to trim....use scissors and the wire will blunt the blade, make nicks in them...and ruin them.
    3)Apply glue Holding one end of the wire securely, apply blobs of glue until you get the size blob you need. I do not advise you make too big a flower cluster or the glue will take forever to dry and it might also distort under the weight of the glue...and fall off the wire. I swear by using Pinflair Glue Gel...nearly everything and anything can be adhered with this....it's a nice thick gel so holds shape well, is clear so does not interfere with the card colour, plus it's quite slow drying so you even have a little time to play around and ease the final covered piece into shape, gently with your fingers.
    use a cocktail stick or similar to gently manoeuvre the glue blob all around the tip of the wire and into roughly the shape you need.
    4)Apply the cuttings - hold the glue blobbed wire over the container, take pinchfulls of the cuttings and scatter over the glue, turning the piece and dropping over more and more cuttings until you get a nice even coverage all over. Do not be tempted to dunk the glue into the container of cuttings or the glue blob will get squashed out of shape. You can, at this point then use your fingers to gently press the cuttings into the glue and reshaping the piece. Keep scattering over and pressing in more cuttings until you've achieved the shape and coverage you desire.
    5)Leave to dry poke the end of the wire into something like a block of polystyrene or floral sponge and allow to dry. The gel glue is slow drying so it will allow you to go back to it after an hour or so of curing, and be able to press and squeeze the shape further with your fingers. Depending on how thick the layer of glue it, it will take 24 hours to totally cure and set, but won't set entirely hard. Sorry but this isn't an instant make...it will need some time to dry so be patient, and try to plan making these in advance.
    
    

    6)Your floral clusters are now ready to use - trim wire to size, and add to your card/papercrafting projects as required. You can gently brush over ink or glitters to add more depth in colour and dimension and sparkle, they look lovely set into bunches and tied with ribbon.
    I'm in the middle of making this Birthday card, haven't quite decided on the layout yet but as you can see, these stylised lavender clusters look lovely teamed up with the lavender print paper.

    Hope you find this tutorial fun and helpful....now go make your own clusters!