Broke-Ass Tag: DIY


If you saw my last post, you know what I’m in the middle of packing and moving everything. I can’t find anything because most of it is already packed. A few days before I found out I was getting a new job and moving, I started doing trials on drying flowers. As a broke, DIY bride, I was hoping I could preserve my own wedding bouquet and use it as art in a shadow box after the wedding.

I scoured the Interwebs for tips and tricks and decided to do a dry run (pun intended) on some flowers I got for my birthday. In the chaos of moving, I didn’t take pictures of all of the steps, but some are self explanatory.

29 Cup Snapware Container from Amazon

I started with about 8 roses, a gerber daisy, and some random greenery. My bouquet will be sunflowers, but since they aren’t in season, the daisy had to do. I wandered over to amazon and picked up some Activa Silica Gel for Flower Drying. It comes in 5 pound boxes. I quickly realized one wasn’t enough and ended up with three. Depending on the size of your bouquet and the bin you put them in, you might need two or three. At first I tried using a Gladware container but quickly realized they weren’t deep enough so I also bought an 18.5 cup Snapware Container and a 29 cup Snapware Container since it was in the recommended with purchase section on Amazon. I really like these containers, but if you have a similarly sized one laying around, it should be fine. It does need to be air tight and deep enough to allow an inch of gel on the top and bottom of your flower. Roses have fairly tall blooms.

Insert wire into stem and fold it over for later

For the rose and gerber daisy, I trimmed the stem off right at the base and shoved about 3 inches of greenery wire into the stem. This will allow me to anchor it to the shadow box or back into a stem later on. Fold the wire over a few times and bend it up so it is out of the way.

Fill around base of flower first to avoid petals spreading too far

I 300% recommend laying out a towel or plastic drop cloth over your work area before you open the gel. Newspaper does not cut it and the gel gets everywhere and WILL scratch your furniture. Though it’s called gel, it has the consistency of fine sand. Pour about an inch of gel into the bottom of your chosen container. For tall blooms like roses you will want to cushion the sides of the bloom before adding any gel into the inside. Do this by placing the bloom down and pouring gel around it, slowly creating a little mountain. Do not fill the inside of the bloom until the mountain of gel reaches the top of the blooms. The gel is heavy and will crush, bruise, or bend the petals if you aren’t careful.

“Bible paper fragile” dried rose

I broke the lone gerber daisy removing it from the gel, so I do not have pictures of it. For flat petaled flowers like daisies and sunflowers, lay the flower petals down near the top of the container, on top of buried sturdier flowers like roses. Since these petals are flat, they are more likely to bruise and should only be covered with enough gel to cover it, not a drop more. I made the mistake of burying them deep in the gel and the extra weight bruised the petals and made it look gross. It’s OK if the stem and wire stick out a tiny bit from the gel — once the container is sealed, the gel pulls the moisture out of the air and will dry the stem as well.

Rose petals can be dried in stacked layers

There are detailed drying time charts included with the silica gel for each flower. Roses are densely petaled flowers and take a very long time to dry out. The instructions suggested four days but up to seven. I uncovered one at the four-day mark to find the interior still moist. There’s no such thing as over drying them apparently since they’ve been hanging out in the powdery gel now for about a month and are totally fine, some of these pictures were taken today. They seemed safer still in the gel for the move.

The resulting dried flowers are SUPER CRAZY fragile. It feels a little like Bible paper, super thin and a little brittle. Whatever you decide to do with your dried flowers, make sure they are in a setting that will keep them from being bumped around.

Rose petals, surprisingly, hold up to tons of weight unlike the daisy petals. I filled the 18.5 cup container full of layers of petals with the vague idea of saving them for my flower girl to throw. My venue requires real flower petals if they are to be thrown outside. I managed to get about one and a half roses’ worth of petals into the 18.5 cup container. The amount of space that the flowers take up is a bit staggering. The must be fully covered to dry properly.

Dried rose petal

After the allotted time passes, lay out your drop cloth again and grab a spare container. Gently pour the gel off until a bloom is visible. Dust it off with your fingers and make sure it’s fully visible before pulling it up (especially if its delicate like a daisy, roses are sturdier). Store the used gel in an airtight container. The box includes instructions for baking it once it has lost the blue, so don’t lose (or accidentally pack) the instructions, you’ll need them again.

So a quick recap if you decide to dry your own flowers:

  • Silica gel is a bit pricey, but can be used over and over again
  • Sturdy flowers like roses can be buried deep, flat-petaled flowers like daisies should only get a light dusting of gel
  • Shove some floral wire into the base so you can attach them afterwards
  • They take up way more room than you think they will, plan accordingly
  • Use plastic or fabric drop cloths, newspaper just makes a huge mess
  • Make sure your container is actually airtight
  • No peeking! Wait the number of days in the instructions and then add a few more just for good measure


Anyone have any other recommendations when drying your own flowers?

  • 3/15

    Sponsored Post DisclaimerThere’s long-held idea that a Broke-Ass wedding means a DIY, craft-filled fete. And sure, some of us are absolutely skilled at making the pretty from scratch, but others of us (like yours truly) don’t have a single crafty bone in their body (for serious: I consider taking a can of spray paint to something a major DIY accomplishment) and are still totes focused on making our weddings ours and doing so on the cheap.

    Zazzle Banner

    This, darlings, is where our homies Zazzle come in. We’ve crushed hard on them for a while because of the ability to customize, well, anything, but when it comes to weddings Zazzle has this ish on lock. They make it so you can have the custom feel of DIY with out all the glue, mess and headache, which is pretty rad if you ask us. Whether you’re looking for small custom touches like cookies or napkins or want to make a big splash with a monogrammed fabric backdrop for your ceremony or photo booth, you can find it all at Zazzle.

    Customizable invitations and wedding stationery is kind of a no-brainer, but what about the other ways you can add personal flair to your wedding day? Here are our favorite things from Zazzle that bring that one-of-a-kind feel without breaking the bank or causing a craft nightmare:

    Glitter Coasters from Zazzle

    Glitter coasters, y’all! These bad boys run about $5 for a sheet of 20

    Custom USB Flash Drive from Zazzle

    Have a killer playlist all set up for your crowd? Send ’em home with a pre-loaded, customized USB flash drive full of your favorite songs. $17.95 each.Customized Sunglasses from Zazzle
    Who wears their sunglasses at night? Anyone cool enough to score some custom ones from your wedding, that’s who! $11.95 per pairGold Trucker Hat from Zazzle
    One of my best gals and her hubs had trucker hats made for their wedding party that we all rocked at the rehearsal dinner. And guys? I love that hat. $14.95 each.Customized Bridesmaid Wristlet from Zazzle
    Don’t feel like loading up your crew with flowers? Customize cute wristlets for them to carry around their ish (because you know they’ll need to do touch-ups during the day) and use well beyond your nuptials. $35.95 each.
    Chocolate Dipped Oreo Pop from Zazzle
    Helloooo, sweet tooth! We’re huge proponents of favors being useful or edible, and these chocolate-dipped Oreos fall nicely into the latter category. $39.95 per dozen.Custom Paper Plates from Zazzle
    When you have plates that look this good, no one will give a hoot that they’re paper (and that you’re saving a headache by not worrying about rentals or breakage). $1.60 per plate.

    See? All sorts of customized goodness for your wedding day with nary a glue gun or craft instruction in sight! Now, doesn’t that make your non-DIY self feel way better?

    Oh, and we forgot to mention: Zazzle LOVES having a sale — which makes our Broke-Ass hearts flutter in some kind of way. Keep your eyes peeled, BABs, and happy planning!

    The Broke-Ass Bride
  • 3/8

    It’s been really nice to take a breather from wedding planning for a bit. I feel like we’ve really stayed ahead of the game by scheduling roughly a task a month or so. It has always been a goal to make planning as stress-free as possible. I never wanted to look back at this experience as a frustrating or stressful time. It helps that my…

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    If you caught my last post, life has been a little unpredictable lately, right in the midst of preparing for an industry talk at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and trying to DIY these Save the Dates. When I decided to make these myself, I knew that the industry talk was coming, but assumed I’d be able to manage both of those simultaneously. Our unexpected circumstances…

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    Here's a big HELLO to all my ladies out there bride'n on a budget! I will start this off by saying that I am super stoked to be here sharing my journey down the aisle with y'all! My name is Heather, and I am a lady who knows how to pinch a penny when it comes to weddings! I have always kind of been obsessed…

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  • 1/26

    Our first official wedding correspondence is going out in a week or two (as soon as I get around to DIY-ing them) -- our Save the Dates. Everyone we’re close to knows that we’re getting married. It shouldn’t be a secret or surprise to anyone when they arrive in the mail. It’s also not as if our wedding and getting married doesn’t already seem real;…

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    Name: Diana C. Vasquez and Tom McGovern Occupation: Renaissance Man Wedding Location: Ceremony: Central Park Conservancy Reception: Liederkranz Foundation Wedding Date: May 9, 2015 Budget: $14,000 Number of Guests: 80 How would you describe your wedding? Our wedding was a creative application of traditional concepts. What was your favorite part? My favorite part was having an unofficial first dance. I am an incredibly shy and…

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    I knew BAB and I were going to get along when I saw the tagline "Creativity is our Currency." Creativity is something I pride myself on, and when I can glean from the imagination of other awesome people, I'm usually set to create something truly impressive. The hand-craftedness of the majority of my decorations was something that began as a ploy to save some major…

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  • 10/14

    I have to say, I’m pretty proud of how my wedding invitations turned out. I didn’t realize invitations were even something I cared about ... until I did. Here I had come up with a whole big list of priorities and not-so-importants to try and be sure that I properly focused my efforts, limited funds, and time, and suddenly I realized super late in the…

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