You will find it easier to create successful displays with dried materials if you use the appropriate equipment. You should he able to obtain the following basic items from a good florist shop or suppliers.
Adhesive clay: this may be used to set trunks in pots for topiary displays or to hold down baskets so that they do not over balance under the weight of a large display.
Candleholders: these plastic fittings are available in a range of sizes. They have a star shaped base, which is easily pushed into dry foam to hold a candle.
Canes: if you are creating a very large display, you need to extend the length of a stem by taping it to a cane. Canes can also be used to create a square or triangular frame for a garland, or to fix terracotta pots in a display.
Chicken wire: this is a useful base for some displays (moss balls, for instance) and can also be used to hold flowers in large containers.
Copper or steel rings: these in fact comprise two thin wire rings, which are used as the base for garlands. They are particularly useful if you plan to build a garland with heavy items.
Florist’s adhesive tape: this is excellent for binding blocks of dry florist’s foam together. It can also be used to hold foam firmly in a container.
Florist’s clear sealer: a type of fixative, like a clear lacquer or very light varnish, which is specifically used on dried materials. When sprayed on to a display, it holds loose material in place and will also help to keep it clean.
Florist’s foam: this is usually grey or brown and available in rectangular blocks, spheres and cones. It is best to avoid foam that is intended for fresh flowers, because it tends to crumble if it is used with dried materials.
Florist’s wire: these are available indifferent lengths and gauges; it is best to use wires that are as thick as you can comfortably work with and to buy long wire which you can cut to length. Whenever possible, use the specified tools and materials, it always makes a display much easier to create. The heavier the material, the thicker the wire you will need to hold it in place.
Glue gun: this is extremely useful as it dramatically reduces the time needed to make a display (it is much faster to use glue than to wire materials). As with many things, better quality guns are more expensive. A gun with a trigger feed for the glue is easiest to use. Take care not to burn yourself.
Gutta percha tape: this is used for wrapping around false wire stems.
Mossing (floral) pins: these are readymade pins that are used to hold materials in place.
Pliers: use these to secure and twist florist’s wire, chicken wire and so on.
Raffia: is traditionally used by gardeners, this makes an attractive binding material, particularly if you want to achieve a rustic look.
Reel (spool) wire: this comes in a range of gauges and is essential for making swags and garlands. Experiment with different thicknesses until you find one with which you like working.
Sharp knife: this is invaluable for cutting dried florist’s foam to size as well as for cutting woody stems of natural materials. Keep knives in good condition and cut away from yourself to avoid injury.
String: if you prefer, you can often substitute reel (spool) wire with string. The type used for gardening tends to be most suitable and comes in a range of brown and green colors that blend well with dried materials.
Twine: Strong sting or twine is essential when tying spiraled bunches, making garlands or attaching foliage to gates and posts.
Wire cutters: used to cut medium and heavy gauge wire.
Wire mesh: used to strengthen plastic foam and stop it crumbling when large numbers of stems are pushed into it.
Scissors: sharp dressmaker’s scissors are best for cutting fabric and ribbons. Resist using scissors to cut stems or the blades will quickly become blunt.
Secateurs (pruners): a strong pair of these will cope with most material. Always use a pair that feels comfortable to work with.
The advantage with ready made cane rings is that they are fairly inexpensive, readily available and simple to use. Any type of container can be used to hold a display. However, if you plan to use something made of glass, place a piece of dry foam in the centre of the container, and then pack potpourri, quantities of moss or even colored glass stones, around the foam so that none of the working will be visible.