Floral anchors: pin frog
When it comes to anchoring my arrangements, I prefer chicken wire out of all the options out there. It’s my go-to. But it’s good to mix things up once in a while, so last weekend I thought I’d give flower frogs a new chance to become part of my regular repertoire (and practice while I’m at it – using one does take a while to get used to, if you ask me).
My frog du jour was a japanese kenzan pin frog – these appear to be fairly uncommon in Finland. Pin frogs in general aren’t available through my wholesaler, which I was surprised by when I first started flowering here. I got mine from Tokyokan here in Helsinki, and the first thing to know about frogs is that they don’t come cheap: mine was around 25 euro. The frog is completely re-usable though, so after you invest in a couple of preferred sizes you’re good to go for arranging at home.
Pin frogs are made of metal (often lead, if this concerns you) and have base plates full of sharp spikes to spear your flower stems onto. They come in a variety of sizes as well as round and rectangular shapes to fit your different vessels. They’re traditionally used in ikebana, the japanese art of flower arranging, but Western floral designers have embraced them as well – especially for the more minimalist, airy design that frogs are ideal for. They are also especially useful when you want to arrange into shallow vessels that don’t allow other floral anchors.
Minimalism isn’t really my MO, so I’m looking forward to more experiments with frogs to broaden my range a little bit (spoiler alert: I didn’t go minimalist this time either – whoops). But first, here’s my good, bad and basics of working with a frog.
Using the frog is really as simple as placing it into the bottom your vessel, filling up with water and arranging away by pushing your stems into the pins. You want to press firmly enough to really secure the stems, which may feel new at first if you’ve been down the chicken wire road before. Going in at a heavy slant can be tricky: cutting your stem to a sharp angle helps. Metal pin frogs are heavy, so for light materials and minimalist arrangements it may be sturdy enough on its own to support your work – however, keep balance in mind. I tend to build just one side of an arrangement for a while before rotating and love using a lot of / heavy materials, so I need to secure my frog to the vessel with floral putty (Oasis Fix) to make sure it doesn’t tip over when I’m arranging. I recommend doing this in any case, because there’s nothing more irritating than watching your carefully crafted arrangement fall over and/or apart in seconds.
What I love about the frog is that you can place flowers very specifically to face a certain way, while still allowing their natural shape within the arrangement. This is especially a delight with thinner stemmed dahlias such as the one in my pictures, which can take a bit of manouvering in wire! You also don’t need to worry about unsightly mechanics showing, so you can really go in the airy, floaty, ethereal direction with lots of breathing room between materials. What I dislike is the discipline needed: you can’t just pop your flowers wherever, whenever without restricting access to the rest of your pins, as opposed to the glorious mess you’re allowed to make in your ball of chicken wire. Also, I find the frog tricky to use with woody and hardy stems.
In conclusion: I’m definitely still playing favorites with chicken wire. But I’m digging the idea of using a floral frog under a lighter structure of wire as many do, combining the best of both worlds (forwards facing dahlias, yasss!). And I’m definitely looking forward to more practice with the kenzan (and self-restraint) once soft-stemmed ranunculus and bulb season gets rolling. Maybe I’ll finally go minimalist then?
P.S. I found some special treats at my wholesaler and made a new (although expensive) rose friend – I’ll post what I made with a flower recipe next week.