Paraffin preserves the wild, tangled look of air-dried sunflowers and keeps them from shattering.
You'll be amazed at how sturdy fragile dried flowers become when you dip them in melted paraffin. And fresh foliage actually holds its natural color with this treatment. The light coating of paraffin keeps fragile flowers from shattering so you can work with them easily.
1. To wax flowers, start with blossoms that have been either air-dried or dried in silica gel. Leave several inches of stem on each blossom so you can dip the flower into the wax without burning your fingers. Or, push floral wire through the flower head, and wrap it with floral tape to create a stem. The blossoms must be "cornflake dry" before you dip them into the wax or they'll wilt. To make sure they're thoroughly dry, place them in a 150 degree F oven just before waxing.
2. Melt paraffin in a tin can placed in a pan of simmering water, or use an old electric crockery cooker set at 200 degrees F. An old double boiler also works. (If you use a tin can in a saucepan of water, the water should be hot but not boiling. At a rolling boil, the water will cause the can to bounce slightly.) Never melt wax directly over heat, because it can catch fire. The wax must be hot, not just barely melted, so it will form a thin coat when you dip in the flower or foliage.
3. Holding the flower by the stem, dip it into the wax, submerging the entire flower head. Then shake the flower inside a cardboard box to remove excess wax.
4. Place the flowers on a piece of waxed paper. The wax cools quickly, so the blossoms won't crush when you lay them down. If they stick to the waxed paper, leave them in place until the wax cools completely.
5. Decorate the basket. Use hotmelt adhesive or thick white glue to attach sphagnum moss to the edges of the basket. Snip the flower stems to 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches, and glue the waxed flowers to the moss. Spray the finished arrangement with a protective coating of Design Master Super Sealer. This prevents the wax from becoming sticky in very hot weather.