What’s a raquette?With a unique size and shape of 4-inches wide, 3-inches high and lengths of 18-, 27- and 36-inches, raquettes make it easy to design for oval or rectangular centerpieces, mantlepieces, church altars, wide window sills and wedding arbors, to name a few. Raquettes are made of Deluxe OASIS® Floral Foam Maxlife backed with lightweight rigid and waterproof plastic. They are wrapped in the perforated green poly film to limit evaporation so flowers stay hydrated longer.
Holiday decorationsThis long-lasting holiday design can be created at the first of the season and continue throughout the holidays. Soak the raquette in water with flower food added following the soaking tips at the end of the article. Cut your foliage into small pieces and strip the greens from the last 1½ inches of the stem for easy insertion. If you have trouble penetrating the plastic wrap, simply insert the tip your knife first to create a small hole for the stem to enter. Cover the top of the raquette with sheet or mood moss. Insert candle stakes to hold the candles. The goal is to keep the candle separate from flammable materials. Using a flame retardant holder is advised. Add a note to candlelit arrangements reminding the customer not to leave burning candles unattended. To create a garland of wood sticks, drill a hole in the middle of each piece and stack them tightly onto a spool wire. Tie it off when you reach the desired length. Lay the stick garland in place across the design and secure it with greening pins. Insert Cowee wood picks into the base of the fruit on one end and into the foam form on the other. Wrap a wire around the pinecones and sweetgum balls or whatever natural materials you use. Attach to a wood pick and add into the arrangement. For additional wiring and taping tips check back to our previous blog Why and How to Wire and Tape Flowers.
Low and long centerpiecesSometimes a floral centerpiece can crowd a narrow table. The small width of a raquette can help to leave adequate space on either side of the flowers for the place settings. In the design above, the sides of the raquette are covered in aspidistra leaves to give it a more natural look. At the bottom edge of the raquette, a strip of UGLU can be applied to help hold the layer of leaves in place. Remove the top paper, revealing the UGLU, as you apply each leaf. Cut the stem of the first aspidistra leaf at a sharp angle, about a one-inch long. Laying the leaf alongside the foam horizontally, insert the stem end into the side of the foam. Continue around all four sides with a series of leaves. Pin the upper part of the leaf into place with a small piece of wire bent into the shape of a hairpin or use a greening pin. You can add small dashes of UGLU between the leaves to glue them together as they overlap. Insert branches to establish the design form. Add flowers and top off by massaging the stems of callas to make them soft enough to wind through the branches.
MantlepieceRaquettes fit well on most mantles. If the floral materials are wider than the mantle depth, you can leave the back of the form bare and press it against the back of the wall, then design forward to the front edge of the mantlepiece. If the design is covered with heavy materials that make it tip forward, you can tape a couple of bricks to the back of the raquette to keep the arrangement securely in place. Accessories such as coordinating tall vases of flowers, candleholders, nutcrackers, angels or Santas can be placed next to the raquette to compete the theme.
Wedding arbor decorFor a continuous span of flowers across the slender structure of an arbor, Todd Bussey AIFD of Bussey’s Florist & Gifts finds that raquettes can fit snugly on narrow edges, ledges or rails. They are easy to attach securely even on windy days and offer a stable foam foundation with plenty of room for stem placement. Just wire, tape, or cable tie the form into place.
Elevated designsRaquettes work well for elevated designs. Once your arrangement is complete, simply place it atop tall stands, candleholders or pilsner vases as in the photo above. Add cascading floral materials like amaranths, bear or lily grass, plumosa or sprengeri to visually cover the base of the design and create a draping effect. UGLU can be added to the top edge of the vase to help hold the design in place. To create an elaborate flowerscape, run a series of elevated floral designs end to end down an event table. Intersperse smaller raquette arrangements on the table at the base of the holders to complete the display. Chris Norwood AIFD, PFCI of Tipton & Hurst created this lovely tablescape in brick trays filled with wet floral foam, but it could easily be arranged in a lesser number of raquettes. When using the black brick trays, the new Midnight black foam offers an on-trend vibe. Allowing the black foam to show as a part of the design can require fewer flowers and create a stylish look. To use raquettes for this type of design, calculate the length needed and decide what combination of raquette lengths can best result in that footage.
Altar arrangementsAltar arrangements are easily designed in a raquette. The length of the mechanic provides ample design space for both vertical and draping materials, creating sizeable designs that are easy to deliver. Raquettes are disposable, an added bonus since you don’t have to return after the event to pick up a rental container.
Sympathy designsSympathy designs or simple arrangements for a memorial table are easily accomplished in a raquette. This narrow form keeps the design from taking up too much space amongst memorial items such as candles, photos and personal memorabilia.
Important raquette tipsDon’t peel back the poly! As mentioned earlier, raquettes are wrapped in the perforated green poly film to limit evaporation. The plastic should not be removed! The poly film and plastic back reduce leakage, but I still like to use a narrow length of plastic beneath the raquette to protect the surface below. How to soak a raquette is determined by the container available. In my workroom, I have a bathtub elevated to waist height that I place even the long raquettes in to soak. When onsite prepping for a design presentation, I fill a flower bucket with fresh water and submerge one end of the raquette in the water to soak. Later, I flip the form over and submerge the other end for complete water saturation. Another solution is to use a rectangular plastic storage bin filled with water.
Are you using raquettes?If you aren’t currently using raquettes as one of your floral foam mechanics, the holiday season is a perfect time to try it. This all-inclusive foam makes it easy to design and deliver arrangements for narrow spaces. Share with us in the comment section some innovative ways you have used a raquette.
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There is a plastic bottom beneath the foam inside the poly wrapper that offers added strength. It can be a good idea to wrap a grid of waterproof tape around the form for extra strength if making a large and heavy design.
Do you fear that longer designs could break the raquette apart (especially since there’s no container)?