Magic Flowers

Introduction: Magic Flowers

This is an effect I created for Queensland Ballets production of sleeping beauty. In the scene when sleeping beauty awakes after 100 years, the prince lifts up a vase of dead flowers and they magically come back to life.

This instructable details how I did this.

The tools I used were a leatherman, a jigsaw and a drill, (and a ruler and marker), and a hot glue gun.

You will need....
-Black wrap (black foil)
-Black Tack (black foil tape)
-25mm PVC pipe - about a meter
-silk flowers - 6 of
-plastic vase/urn thingy.
-1mm garden wire
-6 sprinkler head tubes (or other thin rigid but bendy tube)
-Polystyrene sheet
-spray paint in brown, black and dark green.

Step 1: What We Want to Make...

the dead flowers go bloom into live ones... see pictures

Step 2:

So first up.... find some silk flowers that will squish/fold down enough to fit into the pvc tubing, once you've got theses you're ready to start,
Measure the squished flowers, add 10mm and this is the length of your pipe sections...
Cut the pipe into 6 lengths of this (this will make 6 flower heads)

Cut the ends of the sprinkler extender pipes if they have any, ensure there is nothing blocking them.

Step 3:

Cut up some squares of the black wrap, these should be wide enough to go around the pvc pipe and twice the length of the pipe. Once you have cut these wrap them round the pipe and secure with a band of black tack tape. There should be a good 10mm of PVC pipe at the top for the black tack to stick to, don't stick over the rim of the pipe or the flowers will foul.

Step 4:

Now insert the rigid tubing and wrap/scrunch the black wrap around it. the distances should be similar to those shown in the images. My pipes are 80mm long and I used a 25mm gap between pipe and tube.

Once scrunched around the pipe and it's all nice and straight, black tack/tape the foil to the tube in an overlapping spiral. Once it's all secure, tape up the crease down the side.

Step 5: Flower Fun

Grab the flowers and remove carefully from their pastic stems, they should just slide off the little prong that the slip over.

Pull the leaves off the bottom carefully (pic 3+4) to reveal the plastic fastener. pull it off (5) and then cut it down into a circle (6).

put the leaves back on the stalky bit and then the fastener (7) to make a whole flower again, but with the fastener and leaves in swapped positions.

Step 6:

Now measure the wires out and keep them nice and long, we'll cut them down later.
fold the top 3-4mm over, squeeze tight with pliers and then fold over again. This acts as a kind of wedge/hook inside the flower stem.

cover this end in glue/hot glue and stick it in the whole, add more glue if needed.

Step 7: Urn Your Stripes....

Take your urn / vase/ whatever and have a look at how to make a hole through it. This type of cheap plastic faux grecian urn is made in two parts and so seperates easily.

Make a hole that will accept your 25mm pvc pipe width, ensuring it is nice and snug.
The hole should pass from the bowl to the base. This is where the mechanism will live and where the flowers will be operated from.

Step 8: Mechanism Housing

Cut two pieces of wood into circles the same diameter as the inside of the tube.
Grab a piece of dowel and then drill a hole in one of the circles of wood the same diameter as the dowel. Slide on and glue in place. Drill a series of holes in a circle on the the other one, screw on the top. you may need to drill pilot holes for screws or the dowel will split. It should look as below in the picture. The two discs give the push rod stability in the tube and hole the wires in place.

Now we need to measure the travel of the flowers from the 'all in' position to the 'all out' position, my measurement is 60mm.
I made 2 marks on my pipe, the first is where the flower stems will go to(i.e. where the cables come out) and the second is 60mm down from that.
The pipe length is determined by these two measurements and the length of the two baffles distance apart.

Step 9: Glue 'em and Tie 'em

Take all the flower stems and make a bunch that fits the tube snuggly. You may need to cut more tube to pad out the stems.

Push the wires through the neares holes, ensuring there are no twists that will cause the wire to buckle when pushed.
Bend the ends of the wire into a little hook and then tie more wire round them. Fold the hooks over, add more wire around them to keep it tight if needed/

Step 10: Put It Together

Now slide the tube up over the whole thing and fit stems in. I kept mine tight in the tube as the need to withstand the pushing of the cable.

Test your mechanism. The flowers should pop out when pushed and disappear when pulled!

you may need to ease in the flowers for the first few times...

Step 11: Assemble...

Cut out a big polystyrene disc the same size as the inside of the urn/vase. Allow for the disc to sit 50mm beneath the rim.
Cut a hole in the centre to accomodate the mechanism tube.

Slide the disc on the mechanism tube, slide the mechanism tube into the holes you cut in the urn. It should all be friction fit if your lucky, else add PVC tape make it so. This lets you access the mechanism if needing repair.

Cut the dowel push rod down if it sticks below the bottom of the urn when the flowers are in.

Step 12: Finish It Up

By now the entire thing should be working. At this point its all art... Grab the sticks, leaves and othe flowers left over and hot glue them on to hide the stems and flower pods....

Then using black, dark green and brown spray paint, artfully spray a mottled 'dead vegetation look' over the whole thing. look at some real dead flowers to get some ideas.

Now it's ready for your performance!!!

I'll post some action footage of the ballet flower scene when the production is over!

Hope this all makes sense, if not, leave a message and I'll rectify any problems!

Thanks for reading,


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    4 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 9

    aye, it's blurry alright...can't see how it's attached.

    should have taken a better picture of it..