In November, the blossoms of summertime are little more than a distant memory. But you can bring some of their delicate beauty to your fall decorating by fashioning flowers from the husks of dried Indian corn -- a farm-stand staple at this time of year. Inspired by the early American craft tradition of making dolls from cornhusks, our cornhusk flowers -- mimicking cosmos, daisies, and sunflowers -- are both elegant and simple to create.
For Cosmos and Daisies:
For all flowers, soak cornhusks in water for 2 to 3 minutes; blot dry with paper towels. For petals and other shapes, copy template onto card stock. Cut out and place template on slightly damp husk, and then cut shapes. Using your fingers, cup and shape petals while they dry. To make pink husks, soak purple and off-white cornhusks together in a bowl of water overnight. Blot dry with paper towels before using.
These delicate blossoms can be any color and can have either fringed or corn-kernel centers. To make multiple petals, fold a still-damp cornhusk accordion-style, place petal template on top, and cut out, making sure the grain runs vertically. Edge the top of each cosmos petal individually with pinking shears (see finished cosmos petals in step 4). Form stamen by rolling inner strip tightly, and wrap twice with end of wire; roll outer strip around that, and wrap wire again. Make a single center for cosmos, a double for daisies. Fasten with 3-foot length of 32-gauge wire. Attach petals to stamen, wrapping twice with wire each time.
For corn-kernel flower centers, pry kernels from the cob with a butter knife. Seal kernels with clear varnish spray before using to discourage weevils. Make an unfringed stamen, folding center rectangle in half lengthwise (for daisies, use only inner center), rolling tightly, and fastening with wire. Using white glue, affix several kernels to center after attaching petals (a pair of tweezers is helpful for handling kernels). Insert a length of 18-gauge wire into base of stamen; trim to desired stem length, and finish by wrapping with floral tape.
For each sunflower, cut a 4-inch square of heavy red or orange card stock. Use tweezers to pick up a kernel of corn, dab with hot glue, and attach to center of card stock. Repeat, arranging glued kernels in pattern indicated in photo. Continue to add rows of kernels until the flower center is desired size, between 2 and 3 inches across; cut out. Next, cut out 45 to 50 petals in desired size (use small-petal template for 2-inch center; use large petal for 3-inch center), using accordion-fold technique. Hot-glue the petals, one at a time, onto the back of the center disk, making 3 staggered rows so petals overlap.
Cut a 10-inch length of 18-gauge wire and bend in half, forming a 1-inch loop at top. Bend wire gently just below loop to make flower's neck. Attach the wire to the end of a 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowel, about 3 inches from the loop, and secure with white floral tape. Hot-glue the loop to back of flower disk. Cut out 15 to 20 calyx petals, using accordion-fold technique.
Hot-glue calyx petals to back of disk, one at a time, in staggered rows, covering entire back from edge of flower to top of dowel. Trim dowel to desired stem length. Cut 1-inch-wide strips of cornhusk. Wrap stem with strips: Hot-glue one end to top of dowel, where calyx petals end, wrap, and hot-glue at other end. Repeat until stem is covered.