A Victorian Water Bouquet
Make One for Yourself!
This wonderful Victorian Water Bouquet project is so versatile. With little effort, you can have a truly Victorian piece that can be enjoyed in any room.
The Water Bouquet Published 1869. Edited for site publication. Some items may no longer be available and must be substituted with today’s materials.
Under the above name an extremely pretty and novel variation from ordinary flower-pots has been introduced, which may well be made to take its place in the drawing room or boudoir; for the decoration of the dinner-table, or to place in the sick-room. It consists of flowers, leaves, &c., immersed in water beneath a glass basin turned bottom upwards, and owes its peculiar beauty to the sparkling and frost-like appearance which vegetable forms assume under such circumstances, and to the illusive and fairy-like effect caused by the refraction of light, and the magnifying power of the combined glass and water.
Glass shades of any size or shape, which may suit the fancy or requirements of the maker are among the best receptacles in which to make the water bouquet, the thin quality of the glass in such articles, and the roundness of their forms, being good to show the flowers or leaves within to advantage; but for making one on a large scale a common garden hand-glass may be made to serve, and finger-glasses, when plain, answer the purpose admirably for small ones. In addition, a plate or dish has to be provided sufficiently large to admit of the edge of the glass shade or basin resting smoothly on its flat inner surface.
In the centre of the plate or dish the flowers, leaves, &c., are arranged, and the better plan is to tie them with German wool to a stone. This, or some similarly heavy substance is necessary to prevent the bouquet from floating in the water and rising to the top of the glass, as it would otherwise do; and care must be taken that no loose leaf or other fragment is left, as this by floating would spoil the general effect. Some care and taste will of course be necessary in fixing the materials which compose the bouquet in their places; the stone must be wholly concealed, as must also be the ends of the stems, by leaves, &c., so that everything may appear as though growing naturally beneath the water.
When the general arrangement is completed, a tub or other vessel full of water must be prepared, sufficiently large to admit of both plate and glass being submerged in it. In the bottom of this vessel the plate with the bouquet must be placed, and some little further arrangement of the latter will now in most cases be necessary, to restore any leaves or petals which may have been displaced by the action of the water, and to make such slight alterations as will be suggested by their effect when seen through the new element, and care must be taken that nothing projects so far towards the edges of the plate as to touch those parts on which the edge of the glass will have to rest.
When everything is satisfactorily arranged, take the glass shade, and put it into the water sideways, so as to leave no air within it, and then put it in its position upon the plate. The whole may then be lifted from the tub, and the shade will remain full of water, which, as there will be no atmospheric pressure from within, will not flow out, though it will be well to leave a little water in the bottom of the plate round the edge of the glass, to keep it thoroughly air-tight.
Any person who makes a water bouquet for the first time, will be surprised to find how small a number of flowers or other objects are necessary, apparently, to fill the glass.This is owing to the magnifying power of the convex glass filled with water, which increases their apparent size.
In summer, flowers will of course be the materials used inmaking these decorations, and those will be found best suited which are small in size and compact in shape, such as the carnation or verbena. The common blue single clematis always looks well, and such leaves as those of the variegated geranium are good to hide the stone and the bottoms of the stalks. In winter the leaves and berries of the holly, arbutus, &c., look exceedingly pretty; and by those staying at the sea-side a charming water bouquet may be made with sea-weeds and shells.
Unfortunately, these things possess the disadvantage of retaining their beauty for a short time only. About four days in the summer and eight in the winter, is as long as they can be kept in perfection, for vegetation is found to decompose more rapidly when wholly exposed to the action of water than it does when partially in the air.
They are not, however, in their greatest perfection immediately after they are made. On the second day, owing to the gas which they throw off, the flowers and leaves become covered, especially at their edges, with minute air bubbles, which impart to them a beautifully frosted appearance; consequently, when required for special occasions, they should be made up on the previous day.
As a decoration for the dinner-table, it is difficult to make the water bouquet sufficiently high and imposing-looking for the centre; but for corner ornaments nothing can be prettier. In the sick-room it has an especial use. Flowers are always pleasant for the sufferer to look upon, but the scent of them is frequently too much for his weak nerves, and the water-bouquet can in that case be employed, as no effluvia whatever can escape from it.Return to top of Make Your Own Victorian Water Bouquet page.Return to Victorian Crafts page.Return to Home page.