In art school I realized that I was “process driven”. Which basically means I don’t really know exactly what something is going to end up looking like until I just start making it and let the experience of working with the materials guide me. I think this makes sense if you work with flowers. You have to be flexible with flowers. For one, it’s live product so you never exactly know how the flowers you order are going to look until they arrive. Two, the flowers always interact with each other in unique ways that you just can’t predict until you have them in your hands. I’m always surprised by what ends up being the key element that ties a look together and I love that it’s often something that I didn’t plan.
You have to plan a lot in this business. I guess you could call it “creative planning”. (Sorry, I’ve been in a quotations mood all week.) You have to design a look in your mind very far in advance and then make a set of predictions about what all you will need to make it months later. I do a lot of it on a spreadsheet which is a little something my younger process driven art student self would not have believed. I mean I waited until my last semester of college to take math – where I remember learning how to do a spreadsheet and feeling SO confident that I would NEVER need to use one in my lifetime. I was however completely confident that threading a loom would prove to be a key life skill. Art school…
Sometimes I can see why my parents were less than thrilled that I was a fiber art major (and French minor – mais oui). But the reality is that I learned a lot studying art that I use constantly. Have I ever threaded a loom again? Lord, no. Do I consider color, texture, line, shape and form on a daily basis? Hell yes. It’s key to my “process”. (That and spreadsheet wizardry.)
Photos: Rylee Hitchner
Styling: Ginny Au
So I keep writing about what I’ve learned this season and then deleting it because it sounds too snarky which isn’t really a vibe I want to put out there today. (I’m trying to be positive.) Really I just want to give all of my florist friends a giant hug. It’s been a busy summer and I know how we can get a little worn thin. I learned something in an Ikebana class the other day I’d like to share. There is an element to the practice of Ikebana called fruition. It is a kind of relaxation rooted in realizing that you cannot control all the aspects of a piece. An appreciation for the beauty and magic of nature. An understanding of the natural order and state of all life. And a knowledge that everything changes.
I think there is some kind of freedom in this. Letting go of some of the control. Letting the piece direct itself a little bit. Let it be a work in progress. Walk away if you’re not connecting to it. Come back and see what it says to you. Don’t force it. Be changeable.
This wedding took place at the Blount Conservatory in Montgomery, Alabama. Did you know that Alabama’s state motto is “Alabama the Beautiful”? It would be kind of braggy sounding if it wasn’t so true. This really is a lovely state full of green and trees and old southern ruins. It has a natural beauty that’s hard to describe until you’ve been here which many people haven’t. I guess it is a little out of the way. I was up in New York recently working on a wedding for another florist and several people sounded amazed that I had managed to get all the way from Alabama to The Big City. “You came all the way from Alabama?” Lord, I thought, it’s only an hour and a half direct flight, not a 19 day trip on the back of a mule drawn turnip truck. But I think people still think of The South as being a little frozen in time, immune to progress and change. I mean honestly, there is some truth to that but in general I think we have a lot to offer. Alabama grows a lot of talented people. I mean just look at these photos by Leslie Hollingsworth. And the styling of this wedding by Ginny Au. I was proud to be a part of this homegrown affair. Roll Tide, ya’ll.
See more of this wedding in the Summer 2014 issue of Weddings Unveiled.
Photography: Leslie Hollingsworth
Styling: Ginny Au
It’s very common for brides to feel a lot of pressure to abide by a lot of rules. If you get married in Spring your flowers need to be pastel. In the Fall, warm tones. Etc, etc. It reminds me of the 80’s when makeup sales people, after draping a series of poly-blend swatches across your chest and shoulders in order to evaluate your skin tone, declared you to be one of the four seasons and then informed you that you could only use a particular set of eyeshadow colors and lipsticks. I remember being immediately drawn to all of the colors I wasn’t supposed to wear. I mean how dare that lady label me! I can pick out my own damn lipstick, thank you very much.
But not everyone is this way. Some people just buy the bossy lady’s lipstick and never look back. A lot of people feel compelled to accept rules like these and feel very bound by them. And it’s just really limiting and oppressive. And I’m not having it. Especially when it comes to wedding flowers. Is it grandiose for me to see myself as not just a florist but a liberator? A floral Moses? Ok, yes, but hear me out. I’m just saying that we should all be free to express ourselves, to like what we like, wear what we want to wear, say what we want to say, etc. Maybe I’m more like a floral Madonna…Ok, I’ll stop, I’ll stop. Now I’m labeling myself for god’s sake.
Bottom line is this. I’m here to get to know my clients and to create for them wedding flowers that are unique to them. I think that is one of my favorite parts of my job really. Discovering what my brides are really inspired by and encouraging them to move in that direction despite any and all outside pressures/rules/labels. So you’re a Fall trapped in a Spring’s body? No problem. Inspired by Beauty and the Beast and Dutch flower paintings? Whatever! It’s your wedding and I’m here to remind you that you can wear whatever lipstick you want.
I am a total perfectionist.
And today I feel like talking about it. I just feel like being honest about it because I think it’s a common struggle for people. It comes and goes for me but lately it’s got me feeling a little worn down. I mean, I KNOW that nothing in this world is perfect. I KNOW that striving for perfection is crippling. I KNOW all sorts of things about the pitfalls being a perfectionist but I can’t seem to absorb what I know in a way that helps me to let go of the drive for perfection. It’s just such a harsh and critical state of mind. Believing that something could always have been better is totally exhausting.
Here’s an example. I made this bouquet this weekend. Here is one of about 400 photos that I took of it. I just kept trying to get the perfect shot and when I couldn’t I became more and more frustrated and critical of what I had made. And I realized all of the sudden how sad this was. I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the flowers because I was too busy criticizing them. The truth is that I was letting perfectionism rob me of joy. The joy I get from working with flowers. The joy I get from taking photos. I have to find a way out of this mental trap.
I wonder what it’s like to not be a perfectionist. I hear you do a lot of being in the moment. I’m like what does that even mean? The moment. THE MOMENT. I think it has something to do with your mind relaxing. My mind, on the other hand, is relentless. I don’t ever stop thinking of what I should be doing or what I could have done better. It’s ridiculous. In college I had this friend Ainoah. She was a total hippy. I loved being around her. She used to take me on long walks into the woods and she would play her flute and I would hum along. We would pick wild flowers. I would forget about my worries. I think looking back on it, we were being in the moment. It was nice.
Basically, I’ve got to find my inner hippy. Wish me luck.
February 22, 2014 -Little Flower School – Long Island City Queens, NY
Despite it being the dead of winter, my month of February was all about growth. I met two of my biggest inspirations in this business. I worked for one and studied with the other at Little Flower School. As you can see from my photos, it was a gorgeous experience. I mean, can you believe these flowers? And all that stunning light streaming through the windows of The Metropolitan Building? I could barely focus on building my arrangement as I was so busy taking photos of all the flowers we had to choose from. Somehow I managed…
My arrangement is the last on in the set. I feel like I learned a lot. I had a successful “blue moment”. I learned to love tulips. I loosened up some. I think that last one was key. I had a mini tragedy occur towards the end of the class when my grapes fell out of the chicken wire and pulled out half of the surrounding flowers. But it was ok because it gave me an opportunity to try not to be a massive perfectionist and just go with it, be in the moment, rework it and move on. Sometimes I need that. A little upset to get me out of my head and into the moment. That’s my new thing.
Sometimes I wonder what to make of dreams. Some we experience while sleeping and others while we are very much awake. We dream of who we would like to become, places we want to go, beautiful things we’d like to see or make or do. Sometimes we run from our dreams and sometimes we go after them. The whole thing can be scary because what if we go after one and it doesn’t work the way we had dreamed it would? I guess that’s the hard part. But I’ve decided that dreams are not to be feared but rather embraced. Fodder for our creative growth. I’ve also decided that things hardly ever work out the way we think they will so why worry about that part? Sometimes you just have to go with it. Be a part of the process. Let it wash over you and change you. Collaborate with life. Let your dreams inspire you, not frighten you.
I don’t really remember my sleeping dreams so I tend to focus on my waking ones. Being a part of this shoot was a bit on the dreamy side actually. Allow me to elaborate. My friend Caitlin asked me to collaborate with her on a shoot for her gorgeous blog, Roost. Many of you are familiar with her work I am sure and if not, now is the time to enter into her beautiful world. She asked if I could do hair, makeup and flowers for a video she wanted to make about a dream. I was beside myself as I am a huge admirer of her work and have always wanted to see her in creative action. I always learn so much from watching people work and was thrilled to be able to be part of Caitlin’s process. Being a kind and generous friend, she allowed me to tag along with my camera and take photos throughout the day. It was such an honor to be able to capture bits of this dream world she created on film. I hope you will enjoy her video. I hope it encourages you to run toward your next dream. Our lives are always changing and sometimes our dreams really do become a part of our reality. Here’s to the dreamers…
So lately I’ve found myself taking the Rosegolden show on the road more and more. It’s an interesting process. Challenging. The logistics are much more complex than working in my city and out of my studio both of which I know so well. I can’t say that logistical planning and organization are qualities that come naturally to me – I’ve had to train myself to think that way. As a kid I was often labeled “artsy” or “out to lunch”. In fact my parents (in a very Royal Tenenbaums fashion) had me “evaluated” by a team of psychiatrists at a young age because they thought something was wrong with me. As it turns out, I was just a typical creative, a day dreaming middle child with an active imagination. You see, my grandfather was a general in the U.S Army. He was the most strategic thinker I’ve ever met. As a person who could rarely find my homework I often wondered how we were related. As odd as it may sound, it took doing flowers for me to discover that I had an inner general.
I think most good florists have a bit of a split personality – both an artist and a strategist. So much of the job is laying the logistical groundwork that allows you to create the end product. All I can say is that when I got into flowers I had no idea how good I would become at making spreadsheets. It’s been a such an interesting journey. I spent years of my life as a creative person avoiding being organized because I believed it was antithetical to being artistic. But I’ve realized how that thinking was holding me back. Being more organized has made me a better artist. This is not to say I have perfected any of this. Do I still lose my keys daily? Yes. Do I know where my phone is at this moment? No. I’m still myself, just more structured. Basically my inner day dreamer and inner general are like totally best friends now. I think they make an alright team. Cheers.
Another bride in blush!!! You know how I love a gal en rose. And so beautifully captured by A Bryan Photo. I love how classic Bryan’s work is. When you look back at your wedding photos you want them to tell the story of what the day felt like. You want the details but I think more importantly you want the moments and he is so talented at capturing those. I loved working with this bride and her lovely planners at Marieé Ami who always do such a fabulous job managing what always seems like the MILLIONS of details that make up a wedding day. Very grateful to have been a part of such a talented team. Cheers.