How to Make a Glorious Springtime Bouquet
“Don’t make things ugly.” This is really the only rule we have at Lola Creative, unless we’re going for ugly-pretty or ugly-scary/cool. But when it comes to bouquets for weddings, pretty-pretty is the minimum. What we really try for is more like, “HOLY HANDFUL OF DRIPPING EARTHLY MAGNIFICENCE!” – or something of that nature.
My first bouquets were barely pushing pretty-pretty. Mainly because I learned from the You Tube. My roses weren’t fully open, flower diversity was so-so, and the shape looked like my bouquet had been squeezed through my sweater sleeve. This changed while on a business trip to New York. I snuck out of my then ‘real’ job to take an intro bouquet class at the New York Botanical Garden. I learned a couple of simple tricks to get a full bouquet that looks like each flower could just continue on growing. We’ll go over that at our GARDENESQUE BOUQUET WORKSHOP. Register here.
But today we’ll just breeze over some terms for different types of flowers and how they are working in this bouquet, inspired by St. Patty’s Day.
And here are the yummy, American and Lower Left Canadian flowers.
Base: These are flowers we start out with, I typically start with three. Their main purpose is to support the other flowers ON TOP OF THEM and be a barrier for flowers around them that want to squeeze into the center. So don’t get too attached to them because you aren’t going to see very much of them. They are back up dancers. Now you could use them also as secondary, but I did not.
Focal: This is the one or two flowers to drool over and often the most expensive. We don’t want too many. These are typically near the middle and typically one is smack on top of my base flower so it has maximum room to stretch out and be fantastic.
Secondary: These are flowers to add color and build your bouquet out. They go all over the dang place. I typically choose one or two types.
Sprouties: These are flowers that are smaller and hover over the other flowers giving it some movement and lightness. For gardeney bouquets I use a lot of these and place them throughout. The stems need to be longer than your base and focal flowers. Sprouties can be flowers, pods, or small, delicate foliage.
Foliage: Here I use a few foliage to get a good garden variety. the rigidity and loveliness varies. For example, the box, which goes a bit unnoticed is rigid and will help keep flowers from squishing in and can help in supporting big floppy flowers. The delicate geranium is used a bit more like a feature because of its graceful arch.
Drapey bits: Not shown in the image above is drapey bits like the pieris, Placed near the outer ring or along the outside, they will make the profile of your bouquet look fab, add grace, and an elegant drippy quality.
Special bits: These are the pieces that I add last, after most everything is secured and I’ve had a chance to inspect the bouquet in a full length mirror. I then decide where these go to bring focus and character to where it needs it.
And THAT, flower friends, is the anatomy of a gardenesque bouquet. sign_up. for our bouquet workshop on March 28th to put all this good stuff to use and play with some of the lushest flowers and foliage our local farmers have to offer.
THIS could be what makes or breaks your event design.
When I was five, my friend, Angelina, pushed me into an apple tree during an after-school game of tag. The resulting branch in the eye shattered the lens in my eye. I was a patch-wearing kindergarten pirate for a little while, and sight altered for always. At any moment I can transform my world by closing my right eye and see the world as a series of enhanced reflected light and de-saturated color. This led me to the believe that I had superpowers (like being able to make animals do what I want by staring at them) but also sparked a lifelong fascination with eyes and how we see.
Fast forward to now, I’m an event designer and our team produces everything in an event from a very small to a grand scale. The most critical issue we deal with on a daily basis is what to include in our designs and what not to. Editing. It can mean the difference between an irrelevant event that is quickly forgotten, and an event that wraps up an audience in time and space and gives them a life altering communal experience. While critical, editing is also the most difficult since there are so many options.
One tool I use right away is to think about the event and view the space in terms of light alone; in grayscale. It reduces what you have to work with to a series of shapes and contrasts.Your design then is to add shapes and contrasts, or take them away in order to focus on whatever you want to focus on. it turns out there is some good science behind this, and my amateur forays into observing and studying how eyes and brains understand what we see have led me to include it as a critical step in our editing/ design process. In fact, this concept is included in our upcoming workshops on March 7th and 10th on Design Principles. It will be rad and the venue is gorge.
This concept of our world as measures of light is called luminance and the information is processed in a completely different part of the brain than where color information is processed. This information is responsible for making us understand shape, location, dimensionality, movement, and important questions like “is this place/thing likely to kill me?” It’s understood first before any willy-nilly cultural perceptions like color can be applied to our visual understanding. This is what gives you the gestalt feeling of place. It organizes space and determines largely whether or not you feel comfortable. It also determines what you are likely to look at and what you are likely to ignore. The quick and dirty is that people see contrast in luminance first and clearer, even if the colors are contrasting but ultimately equi-luminant. People are less likely to focus closely on predictable repetition, or contiguous areas of equi-luminance. This is why the back wall with the screen and the neuron on the wall in the photos above sing while the table, items on the table, chairs, and ceiling do not. See for yourself how you can use this powerful tool to draw attention to different areas of your work on both a small and large-scale.
Design Secrets Revealed! Lola Workshops
Need to refresh your design approach or looking to learn the floral design methods that have made Lola Creative stand out? Come jam with us at one of this spring’s Design + Floral Workshops! Registration is ON by clicking on the workshop you would like to attend. You will be able to order them individually or as a package for more cost savings.
Bold Design Principles for Stand Out Events- Saturday March 7th 2pm to 4:15or Tuesday 10th 3:30 to 5:45pm
This is the core of how we see and our ongoing obsession. The Bold Design Principles Workshop is not your typical floral design theory class. It blends our knowledge of painting approach, sculpture, and landscape design, and melds it with some fascinating science about how the eye makes sense of information. You will leave knowing how to conceptualize any piece, what to focus on for various effects for different situations, and what not to (spoiler alert: IT’S NOT COLOR!!!). You will also get the chance to experiment making floral designs with these new principles in mind. (and you get to take them home). Feel like you never know where to start with your designs. Consider that done! This class is open to students of all experience levels. Click the main image to be transferred to the registration page.
The Gardenesque Bouquet- Saturday March 28th 10am-12:30pm
Lush, textured, and arranged like it was gathered from the side of a sun-swept mountain by a maiden in a flowey skirt; her unicorn’s mane floating with the wind….. sigh. Really though, if you are of the Northwest in reality or in spirit, you will want to know how to make this bouquet. In this hands-on class, we will use 100% local and responsibly grown flowers and foliage for a diverse, lush look. You will learn techniques to make a full look, how to choose plant material, design principles for bouquets, and tips to ensure your bouquet looks as great in photos as in person. This class is open to students of all experience levels. Click the main image to be transferred to the registration page.
The Romantic Compote Centerpiece- Thursday May 7th 2pm-4:30pm
Nothing exudes romance and luxury like an overflowing bowl of fresh flowers and trailing foliage. It’s also one of the most photographed look on wedding and floral blogs. Learn to make this essential piece with sustainable design methods and local, responsibly grown flowers and foliage. Learn techniques to include unexpected elements and live plants. You will take home your own creation. This class is open to students of all experience levels. Click the main image to be transferred to the registration page.
Advanced Designs with Sustainable Methods- Thursday, April 9th 10am-4pm
Thinking about marketing your floral endeavor as a green business but hesitant to make the leap? This advanced class will give you the know-how and confidence to build sculptural pieces without the use of flower foam and source responsibly without sacrificing wow-factor. This is a full day course and includes a local, organic lunch served by the chefs at 21 acres. The hands-on projects include flower walls, tall no-foam centerpieces, cascading bouquets with armatures, moss infrastructures, and a slew of methods and techniques to get your creative juices going. We will also go over green business topics that will include information about materials costs, sample markups, educating your clients, and transporting finished work. Students take home at least a bouquet.
This class is open to advanced students who either have experience in the floral trade or new students who have taken our Design Principles course. Click the main image to be transferred to the registration page.
All classes will take place at 21 Acres in Woodinville Wine Country, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and building techniques. All class materials and tools are provided including 100% responsibly grown flowers and foliage. Students MUST pre-register for these workshops. Carpooling is encouraged.
I simply cannot WAIT to meet you,
The Pursuit of Ease… (and pruning)
Ease. Just the word alone lengthens in your mouth and softens posture. It’s the word 97% of my clients use to describe their perfect social party. It’s also the word I use to lure my business and personal life along toward success.
Ease is not lazy. It describes calmness and stillness but also connection and alertness. Ease accepts what is happening now and observes, taking on new obstacles as they come up. This is especially important to me in a business that has a lot of ambiguity. Sanity and resourcefulness comes from being able to ease the mind, observe, stay connected, and adjust as necessary.
As I write, I’m wearing a flowey tunic from Free People (clothing to promote ease), and thinking about other ways ease is working (or trying to work) in my life and biz.
Maybe it’s because late winter/ early spring is the perfect time for tree pruning, but I can’t help but think about pruning and its metaphoric application in other areas of life. When you prune a tree, you keep the big picture in mind. What is the natural shape of this tree, where does it want to go? Then you select a few branches as the structural elements that will get your tree to its balanced shape. Remove branches surrounding these branches that are not structurally sound, unhealthy, or even healthy branches that rub (or will rub) against your selected branches. This way, your selected branches will have space, more light, more air circulation, and all the tree’s resources can be redirected to the strong parts. New branches will form on these strong parts and fill out your tree. Finally, don’t remove too much at once or your tree may not be able to adjust in time.
Ease in event design first has a lot to do with movement and space, clarity, and editing. Before guests can be wowed, they must be at ease. Guests can move their bodies and ease easily throughout the space. It’s not cluttered, there is a hierarchy of attention grabbers, and physical and sensory obstacles are minimized. The message is clear and your guests are comfortable.
Ease in flowers comes naturally in the garden. Ease in floral design comes from observing nature and mimicking shape. Floral designs with ease have an air of natural form. There’s also a curvature and sort of supported heaviness that comes from a thin stem working against gravity to hold up a big, fat bloom. It’s appropriately scaled and like event design, ease in floral design limits visual obstacles to a few attention seeking contrasts.
This bouquet for Adrianne and Michael was one of my favorite bouquets. It’s whole air of the day was full of ease. Oh, and it was definitely NOT easy to make. It’s a good reminder that the pursuit of ease takes a lot of refocus.
How to Make a Wintery Holiday Centerpiece with Easy-to-Find Evergreens.
Short on holiday decor but have a lots of greenery?
For a lot of the materials here, you won’t need to look much further than your backyard. Follow these steps to turn your in season greenery into a holiday crowd pleaser. For more of these sort of tutorials and info on local workshops make sure you subscribe in the top right of the page!
I picked up my greens from the Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market- which to Seattleites, may as well be their backyard. They’ve got a wide variety of greens available that have all been grown locally. AND you don’t need a wholesale account to purchase on Fridays. It’s not important that you have the same greens, so long as you’ve got something in the same categories. Categories that I, ehem, have concocted after much experience, observation, and research….
- Fluffy stuff: any foliage with a full, voluminous look, really a space filler but I don’t want to hurt its feelings. You’ll need 3-5 stems depending on the size of your dish. I am using an 8″ wide gold compote with elk heads (!!!:) !!!:)!!!) You can use all the same variety or multiple but I wouldn’t go more than 2. Here, I’m using some sort of Korean fir (or something), and Bay Leaf.
- Armature Stuff: This can or doesn’t have to be pretty, since we don’t use foam, it’s a functional component to ensure all this heavy foliage has a nice tight structure to keep it in place. An armature is a term used in sculpture to give shape and support to a piece. You can think of them as bones. For my armature I’m using about 3 twigs cut down into smaller twigs of red huckleberry. You could use any small branch or even cut offs ends of the rest of the foliage.
- Sprouty things: These can be graceful or spiky and are used in small quantities to give the arrangement a punch. It’s like a cherry on top. Too many sprouties and your arrangement can look muppet-like which is totally good in many instances but we’re going for something a little more traditional here. Here I’m using just one lovely ivy vine with a nice curvy shape to it, and one curvey branch of Pine. The ilex is the red berry, and while it is spikey, it’s acting more as an eye catcher.
- Eye-catchers: These are bold elements that stand contrast more than anything else. You will want to severely limit these. I’ve used Ilex berry for my eye-catchers and though one branch has several twiggies, they are clumped in the same spot so the eye-catching is still only happening in one place. Just one ilex shown here.
- Drapey stuff: Not always necessary but nice in this instance to cover the edge of the bowl. This is helpful especially to help camouflage my chicken wire cage. Drapey stuff is just that, something that is heavy enough to hang down or something with a graceful bend. I am using about 5 sprigs of cedar.
- Other ingredients:
- wide mouth container
- chicken wire: approximately 10″X5″
- wire cutters or tin snips
- pruners or floral scissors
- floral tape, waterproof tape, or if your container has heads, you can use twine like me.
- Time: I’d give it 45 minutes once you’ve got all your materials if this is new to you.
First make a chicken wire cage, or floral frog by bending your chicken wire into a bubble. Loop the sharp ends over the connection points so the wire doesn’t slip. Shape cage into container.
Since this is a low dish, you will want to secure the cage in place from above. Typically I would use tape but since it can remove finishes, and I’ve got these great heads, I’m going to use twine. It’s not so important that the tape holds up during the entire process. It’s only there to get you started. As you go on, the stems themselves will hold everything up.
Next it’s time to make an armature. As mentioned before, this is a crucial step to ensure your heavy arrangement is supported. Don’t think too much about what the arrangement will look like at this point. This part will likely disappear into the arrangement. It’s got more functional value than aesthetic. Clip or pull off any little twiglets that will interfere with inserting your twig into the cage. Remove twiglets and cut the bottom so that the stem end touches the bottom of the container, and the first twiglet ‘Y’ rests right inside the opening for the chicken wire.
Remember, the point is to get a bunch of stems in place so your next step has a more secure support cage to be inserted into. More stems with less top growth are better than less stems with bushier top growth. So goodbye twiglets. We’re trying to jam up that base.
Go nuts with twigs. The friction of stem on container, and twig on twig will make your arrangement secure.
Next is the drapey stuff to cover the rim. Remove all the excess twiglets so what you are left with is clean and has its own clear shape. Cut the end and insert so the stem touches the bottom of the container.
This is the part when I got really into singing Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ and forgot that I was supposed to photograph the steps. Basically I am adding the fluffy stuff and playing with placement on the sprouty bits. I know where I want my eyecatcher to sit so I’m leaving that open.
Tuck in the eye- catcher. I left a spot for a fluffy piece of bay branch, too.
And finally my sprouty ivy is the cherry o top of this pile of twiggy goodness.
This bay is super yummy.
Stay tuned for upcoming how to’s. Be sure to subscribe to learn about upcoming events and workshops around the Seattle, Eastside, and Puget Sound. And do comment if there is something in particular you’d like to know more about. And have a very happy happy holiday.