A Slice of…?

c Nico de Swert

c Nico de Swert

In his 2005 book “Living with Arrangements”, Nico de Swert demonstrated a charming idea that I have used with many variations. It is basically a melon-like slice section of an orb which can be translated into various designs. You can watch Nico do arrangements for Pottery Barn on youtube – click on this link:

Make a slice: drawingMy original how-to appeared in “Christmas Balls” (see Archives, Dec. 6, 2012). In the drawing, the ‘melon’ slice is very clear. It is replaced with a slice of Oasis. The Oasis can be sealed with a piece of Press-n-Seal, which happily sticks to wet surfaces. Place a piece the Press-n-Seal along the inside cut ends to hold in the moisture. Keep the Oasis hydrated with ice cubes once a day. They will gently melt into the surface where it first dries out.

The Barns front stepLast month when buying my pumpkins, I made sure to get one with which to do this design. Last week at the Fairfield Garden Club, I demonstrated how to do make a pumpkin into a container. This ‘pumpkin’, middle of the group and probably more of a squash, had a bold yellow gold color with an amazing bumpy texture and deep ribbing.

Golden pumpkin vaseFirst cut the pumpkin. Sometimes a mallet or hammer helps get it started. The curving V-shape of the cut is apparent. Clean out the pumpkin seeds and strings.

 Fall pumpkin & OasisDepending on the size of the opening, use a piece of instant Oasis or a section of an Oasis orb as the insert. Oasis orbs come in regular sizes 3”, 4”, 6” and 8”.

 Pumpkin with shaped OasisIt is easy to do with a block of Oasis too. Using a cookie spatula, still the best thing for Oasis – thin with no drag to it, shave it to shape, allowing the height to sit slightly higher than the surface of the pumpkin. Hydrate the Oasis and place it back in the space. Toothpick skewers can hold it place if necessary.

Pumpkin stuffed for ThanksgivingAt the demonstration in Fairfield, chocolate Anthurium, bronze mums, Solidago with a reddish cast, dried yellow kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos) and beech leaves were used with Galax leaves and pine sprigs.  Thanks Fairfield – we had fun!!

Susan DetjensLooking ahead past Thanksgiving (forgive me!) this can be adapted other ways for holiday designs. This is an 8” Styrofoam ball with dried pinecones, nuts and other faux botanical items. The wedge cut out contains pine and roses, plus a little spring of kiwi vine. This is where the Press-n-Seal helps keep the dried, dry, so that it can be used over and over. The whole thing sits on a decorative wood candle stand.

Susan DetjensA smaller ball of Styrofoam with Dusty Miller rests in a pretty ceramic vase of much the same color. Red ranunculus and elongated eucalyptus fill the Oasis.

Susan DetjensIn the same vein (ha ha pun intended) but much quieter, Eucalyptus with its seeds, dried tree fungus painted silver, and oak leaves with silver only on one side stand on a wonderfully textured silver vase.

Susan DetjensLast but not least, at the New York Junior League last December, I used a smaller silver vase, sweet smelling white freesia, tiny scarlet sweetheart roses and pine.


Posted in color schemes, floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, flower vases, holiday design ideas, Making containers, Making floral containers, Party flowers, Pumpkins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Look at me! White vases…

White ruffled mushroomsI’ve been having my Bill Cunningham moment. Everywhere I go I see stunning white containers. These curious ruffled platter-like containers are sold by Terrain, the uber-stylish home and garden stores from the folks at Anthropologie. There are only two of them right now, in Westport CT and Glens Mills, near Chadds Ford PA. They are a real destination store, worth a long drive, a day out – complete with delicious cafes. You’ll never leave empty-handed.

 Terrain mighty fern vasesYesterday, these striking fern vases caught my eye. Handsome texture and GESTURE….oh what could compete with that? It makes a good challenge to yourself – what would you put in there? I pictured an almost solid mound of color – any strong color that suits you – in a tight mound, hovering just as the container opens up, to set off those aggressive fern fronds.

 Container white dots San FranciscoThese containers in the San Francisco flower market are subtly textured with white on white dots in a barely raised pattern.

White Coral timmingsAt a florist shop in Memphis, these vases emulate crowds of coral from under the sea.   Notice how much ‘quieter’ the greenish taupe cousins are.

 Vase of romaine leavesHead of romaine leaves vaseSurely related to the ferns, these ‘Romaine’ leaf vases have such an inviting texture to them whether they are in a V-shape or a tall head of lettuce. Wouldn’t it be fun to put heads of romaine in them?

White coils pottery White wabi-sabiThese cache-pots at Terrain are particularly handsome plant containers with a lovely sense of being hand-made.  The one in the bottom photo has a serene sense of wabi sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of undeclared beauty.

 Mother of Pearl DiscsEven mother-of-pearl can get into the act with these glittering containers, housing a marvelous sedum that tries to hold its own with all the bling.

White Ribbon containerYup, that’s the flaw with white containers – they steal the show. Perhaps they are best left to stand and look marvelous, saying ‘look at me’.

White ribbon with blue flowersYou can try, but no matter how pretty the flowers, don’t you see the vase first?

White with many colorsMaybe it is best if the white vases are really little, too?


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Hermes on Madison

 Hermes BoxHermes, the luxury purveyor of hand-stitched leather and sumptuous silk, is one of many European shops on Madison Avenue in New York City. Back in the day, our office ‘uniform’ seemed to consist of sleeveless (not any more!!) dresses in linen or wool, worn with our prized Hermes scarves. We saved for months to buy them.

Hermes Noble Steed and fashionAlthough it’s been a long time since I’ve shopped at Hermes, I always watch for their clever windows. In October, walking up Madison Avenue at dusk, they were witty and completely charming.

Hermes Madison Ave window Hermes HorseBooks, books and more books were manipulated, painted and combined to make horses and statues to compliment the clothing and accessories.

 Hermes for TwoPicasso-esque cubist heads replaced the standard mannequin visages. The background is wall-to-wall book spines, colored and striped.

Hermes Two  heads with booksThese playful heads added texture and humor to the serious styling of the clothes in their neutral tones.

Hermes Yellow cape and faceThis face seems the most animated and with an almost wistful smile.

Roman Bust Hermes windowBooks in their natural state formed the classical bust, set against the multicolored background of striped spines. Even with all that going on in the background, the black cape and dress still stands out.

 Hermes a mask of fashionBoth heads are carefully constructed. I don’t know which one seems the more startled!  Start saving your old paperback books now and think what you might create.


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