mantel arrangement, johnathan andrew sage

Houston designer Johnathan Andrew Sage shares how he made this extraordinary mantel arrangement, step-by-step.

My inspiration for this arrangement comes from the fall materials I chose to incorporate. I enjoy using natural materials that have a wild or organic look, which give a finished arrangement its own individual character and style. Perfect for celebrating a holiday or special event at home, this mantelpiece installation is a great way to spruce up your fireplace.

Mantel Arrangement Materials

mantel arrangement, johnathan andrew sage

winged elm branches | maple foliage | purple leaf plum foliage | huckleberries

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage

sunflower pods | golden amaranthus | green bittersweet

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage

orange calla lilies | ‘Red Charm’ peonies | assorted roses

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage

artichokes | enoki mushrooms | grapes | pears

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage

pokeberries

Mantel Arrangement Step-by-Step

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage1| Start by attaching a plywood base to an elm stump, which will allow you to have a sturdy base for the installation. This can be done with an electric screwdriver and deck screws.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage2| Next, stand the elm stump upright and use wire to attach sturdy branches to it. This will be the structure for attaching flowers. I chose winged elm branches, but any type of sturdy branch would be fine.

mantel arrangement, johnathan andrew sage3 | To create the first design element and build form, attach branches of maple foliage to the structure.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage4| Take some pre-soaked Oasis and place it into a crevice of the elm stump. The Oasis is good for holding some tall branches in place at the bottom of the installation.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage5| Next, wire some of the purple leaf plum foliage to the branches by following their natural curves. It’s important to incorporate the sturdy materials first, leaving the flowers for last.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage6| When adding foliage to the arrangement, prune away any undesirable leaves or stray bracts.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage7| After attaching the foliage, add the other sturdy materials (like the pokeberry stems shown here) before incorporating the flowers.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage8| Then add the golden amaranthus. Be sure to allow it to hang organically as to not fight with the natural character of each material. Follow by adding in the green bittersweet and sunflower pods.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage9| Next, firmly place an artichoke into the Oasis. I always use heavier vegetables and foliage at the base so the weight of the installation stays at the bottom.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage10a| Use wire to add the rest of the fruit and vegetables into the arrangement. Insert a strand of wire from the bottom of the pears through the top. Then “horseshoe” the wire and pull it back around the stem, which will lock the wire into the fruit.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage10b| Next, repeat the “horseshoe” step on the opposite end of the wire, attaching the two pears together. (This trick works with most types of fruit.)

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage10c| Once the pears are wired together, hang them over a branch and twist them around each other, which will secure the fruit in place.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage11| Loop a strand of wire through the clusters of grapes. Then pull the wire down and wrap it around the stem. You will then wire it to another cluster of grapes, similar to the pears in step 10b.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage12| After wiring the fruit and placing it into the arrangement, add the larger flowers (like the peonies shown here). Tuck some inside the branches and some out front to build depth.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage13| Next, in order to accent the larger flowers, add the smaller flowers in grouping of twos, threes, or more.

mantel flower arrangement, johnathan andrew sage14| Finally, finish the design with clusters of flowers, foliage, fruit, or vegetables to cover the Oasis and any other mechanics.

mantel arrangement, johnathan andrew sage

Johnathan Andrew Sage designed and built a magnificent, monumental, mantel arrangement that completely transforms its environment.

“I love the variance of colors, movement, and textures of the finished mantelpiece arrangement. Working on such a large scale really allows the use of the materials to make a unique statement.”—Johnathan Andrew Sage


By Johnathan Andrew Sage

Photography by Julie Soefer

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