day 2a – advanced floral design I – longwood at home

A nasty stomach bug prevented me from attending a day of classes, so I attempted to do the first design we learned this day at home, following directions from the book The Art of Floral Design by Norah Hunter (with Jane’s blessing, of course.) My teacher was very understanding about me missing the class, and I’ll be able to attend at least the lecture portions during the class held this fall.

First stop - PRODUCE JUNCTION - I wanted it all!

Here’s what I’m making: the New Convention design, which is a structured, linear-style design. It’s like the parallel design on steroids – with the addition of horizontal materials. Vertical lines are reflected at sharp right angles forward, backward and to the side using identical materials. Contrasting textures are used at the design’s base where all the lines converge. The book gives you a pretty good how-to diagram.

new convention diagram from book

To begin, select a low rectangular container. Cut floral foam to extend above the rim of the container (to allow the horizontal placement of materials) and secure with tape. Plan your design by placing stakes in areas where flowers will be grouped. I wanted my end geometric form to be triangular, with the top point in the center.

foam, in retrospect, perhaps a little too high above edge.

What’s really exciting is that I bought a cake decorating spinny thing which makes floral design so much easier.! (Purchased on Amazon for $18) Maybe that’s only exciting to me. Anyway – next, add your vertical materials. I chose snapdragons, agapanthus, and tulips which I bound together with a little wire. I thought it might be neat to see how the tulips keep growing while confined in a bunch.

add vertical materials

Part of this assignment was learning to unite materials, something our class handout talked about. But the book didn’t really mention these techniques as part of the New Convention design, so I didn’t go overboard on it. However, I think I probably should have done a little more of the following:

methods for uniting materials

Banding: Tying materials for purely decorative purposes.

Binding: Tying materials for functional purposes, physically joining the materials together.

Bundling: Tying or wrapping similar materials together into one unit, such as sheaves of wheat or a bundle of sticks. The bundle may then be placed in the floral design.

Wrapping: A technique in which fabric, ribbon, raffia, cord or wire are used to cover, coil, or twine a single stem or group of stems to achieve a decorative look.

Add horizontal groupings that reflect vertical ones

Next, insert stems into sides of foam at right angles to the vertical groups. Horizontal lines are shorter than vertical groups. I used the exact same material to reflect the vertical groupings. Then, complete the base of the design with short flower heads, mosses and leaves using basing techniques (remember pave, clustering, tufting, terracing, etc from the parallel design?) I went totally crazy here, but I wanted it to look full and I had tons of material to work with. I wasn’t sure about ‘point of emergence’ for this one, so I just did my best. I think my foam was too high and we have a lot of competing elements here because I needed to fill up the space…

after basing added - in basement - hours have transpired - i'm in trance

from a carpet of gerber daisies springs white ornithogalum, eryngium, and some euphorbia x martinii 'ascot rainbow' (euphorbia from my cutting garden, yew foliage from parent's yard)

new convention design in a diningroom

Our handout talked about dominance – which is the greater effect of an element – it must be clear in a design and imply subordination.

Linear Dominance – a certain type of lines take the role of importance by either quantity or size (for my design, I think the agapanthus wins because of size and rhythm of lines)

Color Dominance – one hue or strong colors (the purple of the agapanthus draws your eye, but the orange gerber daisy is a dominant focal point I think)

Form Dominance – clearly developed

Textural Dominance – one type of texture (my design has lots of textures and I don’t think one dominates – do you?)

Space dominance – either very full or very open space (it’s pretty full eh?)

And as far as the focal area goes – the dominant place within a design which has the strongest visual impact – I think there are multiple focal areas in this one.

why is this one so hard to photograph?

other side - roses are pave-d

An accent is a subordinate element that contrasts or complements the dominant element – the accent is often connected to the focal area of a design. Here, the ivy is the accent to the roses.

from above

I sent some pics to my teacher Jane and I’m waiting to hear back on whether I’m anywhere in the ballpark here. (Maybe she’ll comment right here on my blog! Wouldn’t that be something?) I welcome any comments and criticism on this design – advanced Longwood students, I would really like to know what you thought of this assignment.

Stay tuned for more adventures in floral design!

ADDENDUM: I talked to Jane over the phone and she gave me a thumbs up on my design. We got to talking about all the foam used for this particular bad boy, and she’s thinking the New Convention won’t be taught in next year’s Advanced I class in order to conserve the use of Oasis to a minimum. I really enjoyed making this design, but I can see how 24 students x 2 blocks of foam starts to add up!

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day four – basic floral design I at longwood

My parallel design (photo courtesy of hugh and juliet)

Today’s lesson was to create a Parallel Design, a design that’s meant to have a calming effect.  In a regular decorative design, like the Roundy Moundy, the overall shape is dominant. But in a formal linear design, the forms and lines are dominant.  The lines in this design are created by grouped plant material set in a vertical pattern with negative space between each section.  The negative or empty spaces allow the eye to travel through the arrangements.  We talked about parallel designs with Landscape Designs, but this one is different because we are not mimicking how you’d see plants in nature, and we’re not necessarily combining plants that are seasonally compatible.  In other words, let her rip!

Oasis fit to edge of container, covered by Apidistra leaf and "terracing" with Galax leaves

We started by filling a low container with Oasis floral foam, shaved to the lip of the container (important for a clean line, clean look.)  Nothing much should be hanging over the edges in the parallel design.   Jane recommends attaching an Apidistra leaf with greening pins to cover up the foam at this stage, rather than going back and filling in with moss at the end.  (Some stems will poke right through the leaf, whereas a hole will have to be made for other, more tender ones.)  We’ll be using a lot of basing techniques at the end to conceal the mechanics, but the terracing using Galax leaves is easier to do at the beginning.  Terracing is simply placing materials on top of one another, divided by space, like a staircase.

We get our materials for class from Delaware Valley Wholesale. Doesn't Jane look nice today?

Linear plant material is a must for this design, and we had lots to choose from, like gladiola, liatris, and equisetum.  Hold the line flowers/foliage up over the design to see where it looks best, and vary the heights.  The idea is to keep the same plant material grouped together for a bigger impact and to keep the lines stronger. They should all be placed in as straight as possible!  With lilies in the mix, the only way to go was to keep them low or they took up too much of the space at the top of the design – reserved for negative space.

Design in yellows and whites - very restful

Depth is created by angling stems, overlapping materials, and the use of color (light colors pop out while darker ones recede.)  The lines create negative and positive space.

Afeefa's Design - powerful color choices

Notice how Pat trimmed her Equisetum on a diagonal cut for effect (sorry Pat I didn't get the bottom of your design!)

Next, we did our basing techniques to cover the mechanics and to create color and texture.   Pillowing is creating a tight, round pillow out of a few stems placed radially.  Tufting uses bunches of short stems to create an airy look.   Pavé-ing is a tight clustering technique where the surface of the bunches remains totally flat, creating a cobblestone effect. (Pavé as in the jewelry technique, too.)

Jeny's Design to show basing techniques

class critique - don't worry, we all get As here (Melissa's design up close, I think)

This design really opened my eyes to the possibilities of parallelism.  I think these would make great table centerpieces because you can see through them easily and they look good from all sides.  You create a little mini world in a box that has nothing to do with the way plants would really be growing and it’s kind of liberating.  Also, it’s been said that men prefer these vertical designs.

my design in home environment (photo courtesy of hugh and juliet)

(photo courtesy of hugh and juliet)