Happy Cinco de Mayo! Mexico taught me this…
The central highlands of Mexico are some of my favorite places to be on Earth. (I haven’t been to ALL the places on Earth, but I’m pretty sure it would still be on top). The combinations of weathered raw materials, handcrafted everything, and bold colors and textures still inspire many of my designs. Stories are everywhere. In fact, one of them is story I tell as a pivotal moment in my early twenty-something life that rocked what I knew to be true about achievement, community, and self-sufficiency. Read it below amid a peppering of our Cinco de Mayo lunch table setting. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
I spent a quarter of my last year in college in Cuernavaca to assist our architecture department in building a kitchen for an elementary school in an ‘underprivileged’ community outside of town. As we worked with and spent time in the homes of this community, it became obvious that this town was rich in ways that were unfamiliar to me.
My American upbringing and education seemed to be one giant helping of the following message repeated over and over in different ways:
- You are here to express yourself as a unique individual.
- You are special and above average.
- You can be anything you want.
- You can and should achieve as much success as possible.
In this community, we are irritated with stagnant growth, frustrated that we are not receiving the support or resources we need due to our circumstances, or the government. Frustrated that we are not recognized for our obvious above average-ness. This community can be lonely and endlessly interested in what happens next. We are obsessed with our wins and others failures.
Contrast this with what I perceive as the Mexican message to their kids:
- You are an important and useful member of this community.
- You are, and always will be a loved and involved member of this family.
- You can and should learn lots of varied things that will bring you joy, and support your family and community.
In this community, the people make and do the things that their community needs. If there’s a gap, they fill it. For the most part, they don’t rely on anyone outside of their own community. This community is vibrant, connected, and really, really happy because their measure of success can be achieved now and for the rest of their lives.
One message prizes individuality, connects happiness with future success, and assumes that if you haven’t achieved what you want, you are not doing it right. The other message prizes connections and supports the idea that things are great now, if things get bad, we can figure it out together, and please pass the mole.
So, every Mexican celebration, I give thanks to one of the happiest, supportive, and inventive communities I know. Whenever I get frantic in pursuit of a dream, I am reminded that things are pretty great now. Ultimately, there is no need to push. There are people to be loved, and connections to be made and cherished, for a life of daily success. This week, success included lunch on my sister’s patio with some old and bold table decor.
Lola Floral Design Workshops!
When I began floral design back in 2008, I looked around for workshops and training sessions for the kind of style I was into; Naturalistic and a bit wild with a little bit of sculptural interest. Always with unique flowers that looked like they were clipped out of a plant collectors garden. There weren’t any. The workshops that did exist looked as if they’d been running for half a century with mass produced South American flowers.
Now, I’m happy to say I can give you, growing floral designer, the workshop I wished I had. Whether you are just starting out, are in the wedding industry and want to expand your offerings into floral, or have been traditionally trained and are looking for a fresher look, you’ll want to sign up for this class!. I would be so excited to have you.
We will build one large, lush arrangement in a footed compote that you can keep. Each person will have over $100 in the most beautiful and unique local and sustainably grown flowers available. We’ll be using sustainable methods for building structure and will cover cost data (!!!) and transportation issues. Did I mention you will be overflowing with flowers?
This arrangement will be challenging to build, but I always learned best by jumping into something challenging. Then all the easy stuff is… well, easy.
Here are some images from our last workshop- floral design. And I must say, it is an honor to be able to see so many great people walk out of the class with arms full of fantastic floral designs. Teaching all of you reminded me of my own journey from desk job to dream job. I remember worrying, ” What if I am giving up a career I’ve worked so hard for – for another career I know little about but I think I’ll be happier with…. What if I’m still not happy?” It was the right move for me and I love my life. I’m so happy to share with you some hard earned knowledge about how to create beauty for your events and life with a focus on building this into a career.
Sign up for our May 7th floral class in Woodinville here! (there are discounts for multiple tix!) For more photos, follow us on instagram for some behind the scenes shots and a preview of your floral goodies!
All photos in this post were shot by Krista Welch with Love Song Photo! You should go check her out and give her all sorts of love.
And if you’re on the fence about the floral design workshop, let me just tell you that there are adorable sheep on view from our window. Nuff said.
Five Sustainable Floral Products to Green Your Designs
Let’s face it, weddings and corporate events can be massively wasteful. But your floral shop doesn’t have to be. In fact, in the upper left corner of this country, it’s a selling point to operate a greener floral studio with sustainable products and techniques. Our clients seek out ways to live more responsibly and love knowing that their decor isn’t unnecessarily wasteful.
We gauge wastefulness by weighing the material’s life cycle. Start of life, during life, and after life. So with this in mind, something like bioboard is less wasteful than styrofoam or foamcore. Floral Soil is less wasteful (if at all) than floral foam.
At the start of life, how was the material created and what pollutants and general yuckies were created by its production? Was it grown? Super. Was it grown locally without chemicals and practices that might pollute waterways and harm insects? Super Duper!!! Was it made from previously recycled content? Love that. How was it shipped?
During it’s life in our studio, how many times can we reuse it? Can we make it into a quality, long-lived piece that our clients will want to keep? Does it give me a mysterious rash? Can my dog eat it?
When we are done with it, where does it go? Can it be recycled? Can it be composted? Can we rent it out again?
Now I’ll admit there is a stockpile of adhesives and paints in our studio that are nowhere near Super Duper, Gold Star Life Cycle Rating, but we do what we can where we can and are always on the lookout for materials that better fit our goals.
Here are a few materials you can be confident in and start using immediately that won’t raise eyebrows.
1. Bioboard: Made originally for printing, this stuff comes in 1/4 inch to 1″ thicknesses and 4X8 foot sheets. It’s extremely light and strong. We use this in place of foam-core, styro sheets, masonite, and even sometimes wood. Don’t get water on it though, because it will dissolve fast. We use this to build scenes, 3D shapes, and support for flower walls. Photo is provided by Laird Plastics, our Seattle source for BioBoard.
2. Floral Soil: currently ramping up production is floral soil solutions, a water- holding, bio=based compound that will replace toxic floral foam. Get on the list to get your own stash and experiment with how it works, including tall arrangements that were once so improbable in a studio without foam. It can be reused for a time, and then tossed into your compost nary a concern. Photo sourced from the Floral Soil Website .
3. Sticks: So versatile, seriously. ‘Le Stick’ is practically used everyday in our studio to create volume and a transport- proof armature in which to stick our stems. Even in low, wide arrangements, a tape grid and a stick armature is all you need to create a secure centerpiece with volume. Haven’t mastered ‘Le Stick’? Try it out in our centerpiece workshop Coming up May 7th! Click Here.
4. Moss: Nature’s natural sponge that holds moisture for days. Use as a matrix for holding stems in place over an opaque container or mass into a ball for a natural sculpture. Both uses eliminate the need for floral foam.
5. Local Flowers: They’re not just prettier but they haven’t traveled long distances. Local allows you to have greater knowledge of how your flowers were raised and supports local business. With the right growers, you can work together to ensure you are getting all those great, strange flowers that are extra special. Nothing conveys specialness than pointing out a flower and telling them about the person who grew it for them. That’s just love and specialness all over the place.
Again, if you’d like to learn more about sustainable floral design practices and all sorts of behind the scenes fun, join our community by subscribing to our email list. Also, if you know of someone else who may think this is helpful, please send it to them!
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.