Introduction: Building Audrey II Flowers and Buds

About: I am a theater artist with a taste for the unusual. Bones and metal, iconography and the media, rough textures, blatant symbolism, and a slant towards the surreal, I limit myself to no media or style. I'll try…
For the final number of the show, the four actors who have been eaten by Audrey II reappear with their faces in her blooming flowers. Various productions achieve this look in different ways, but for ours, we wanted to leave them free of being heavily tethered to the plant so they could dance more freely. The final solution was balaclavas dressed with flower petals, leaves and vines which go quickly and easily over the actors heads.

Slightly prior to this, we see Audrey has budded, and these buds have been clipped to be sold. In order to keep the style consistent throughout the show, I made a set of six transplanted Audrey II buds to appear on stage.

Per the directors choice, the ensemble for this production also appears for the final number, and it was asked that they be dressed in some manner as well to show Audrey's takeover. I did not want them to compete with the larger flower heads, but given that we do briefly see some of Audrey II's small buds before this point, I went with a design in which buds could be clipped to the actor's costumes, as well as giving them headbands and vines to drape on themselves. These all match the small buds, and because of our number of ensemble at the time of casting, there are enough items for an ensemble of twenty-one.

Step 1: Materials

As with the phases of Audrey II, her buds and flowers are done to match. They are made out of:

  • Milliskin Matte Spandex in Magenta, Apple/Kelly Green, Yellow, and some Assorted Greens

  • 1” Upholstery Foam

  • Aluminum Wire

  • Thread

  • Hot Melt Glue

  • Plastic Drinking Cups

  • Acrylic Paint in Black, Brown, Yellow, White, Red, Purple, Blue, Dark Green, and Apple Green

  • Headbands

  • Roller Clips

Because the construction of all of these are quite soft, there is no major armature to speak of, and most everything comes together with thread and glue.

Step 2: Part 1: Principle Flower Construction

For each flower, first a simple open-faced balaclava was sewn out of spandex. Balaclavas are simple to make and very versatile for theatrical needs when building unusual or mascot-style costumes. Here is no different. Because of the stretch material, each balaclava consists of only two pieces, cut, sewn together along the back and front, and edge-finished around the face and neck (Balaclavas come in more complicated patterns for specific needs, but here with the entire face showing, this simple pattern works). All of this is done with a zig-zag stitch to clean up the raw edge, though spandex is not prone to fray.

The actual flower part of each piece consists of four large petals and four small petals, as well as an assortment of leaves and vines. Each of the petals is cut out of 1' upholstery foam the same as leaves previous, but because of the shape of the petals they can be cut out in an interlocking fashion to prevent waste.

Step 3: Part 2: Flower Base Assembly

Before painting, the base form of the flower was assembled. Each of the four large petals were added first (one on top, one on bottom, one on the right and one on the left) and then the smaller petals placed between them. With fabric hot melt glue the attachment is easy, and simply requires being careful not to allow much of the glue to show through. Enough stretch is retained in the Balaclava for a good fit.

The flowers also include thin stamens or pistols, and these are constructed of an aluminum wire cut to length, covered in a thin casing of fabric, and bent in half.

The leaves and vines were not added until after painting.

Step 4: Part 3: Ensemble Bud Assembly

Because of the sheer volume of buds needed, I production lined this portion of assembly, cutting everything out of foam, then cutting fabric, sewing fabric, and stuffing things before painting. The buds consist of:

  • Foam spheres cut and shaped from circles cut out of 2” upholstery foam

  • Dual leaves cut from 1” upholstery foam and shaped as two merged ovals

  • Fabric cut to cover both, stitched, and stuffed with the foam

Single leaves and vines with no stuffing were also cut out of foam and fabric to add to the final dressing.

The assembly of the leaves and buds follows the same as the skinning for all of the other phases.

Step 5: Part 4: Ensemble Headband Assembly

I ended up making three different styles of headbands, one type with a metal rod attached to dangle a bud above the actor's head, one type with two buds on the sides of the head much like earmuffs, and one soft band type with a single bud in the middle of the top of the head.

The first two of these are constructed on a plastic headband base which is simply covered in a casing (a thin sewn tube) of fabric. The last type is made from a tube of fabric sewn into a ring. My stitching is a little sloppy and I do not worry heavily on coordinating threads, as from a few feet away it is not a noticeable distinction.

The first type of headband also requires a wire in casing for completion, and these were sewn at the same time to be assembled after painting.

Step 6: Part 5: Painting

The painting for these extras is mostly the same as the previous phases.

The buds are painted in this order:

  • Orange spray

  • Red Spray

  • White highlights and spots

The leaves are painted in this order:

  • Green spray or brush (depending on base color)

  • Green splatter

  • Purple brushed veins

  • Red and white brushed highlights

The Flower Heads are painted in this order (waiting for the front and back to dry between flipping):

  • Yellow brushed and splattered front

  • White brushed highlights (Front)

  • Blue brushed back

  • White brushed highlights (Back)

The stamens are painted in a purple, blue, and white gradient.

The plastic glasses used for pots for the six small cuttings are painted in the same manner as the large pots.

Step 7: Part 6: Final Assembly

Each of these various pieces require a little bit different final assembly, but the principle is the same for all. Using fabric hot melt, leaves are added to buds, the vines and leaves are added to the flower heads.

Buds are added to clips and headbands and pots, and everything comes together into a cohesive whole. While production-lining things like this, I use clamps to help hold the glue until cool so I can assemble as much as possible at once (as well as holding clasps open in order to glue buds to them).

Step 8: Conclusion

With everything assembled the finale pieces are ready to go. This last dressing includes all the small final items for a smooth production. Audrey II is ready to hit the stage! I hope you have enjoyed this look into my work on this show, and I will be having one small bonus tutorial forthcoming. Thank you for reading!

Step 9: Bonus: Production Photos

Here are some photos of these items in action during the production!