Hat’s Off!!

Philadelphia Flower Show Central MarqueeGolden Age movie stars, Esther Williams, Audrey Hepburn, Carmen Miranda, Josephine Baker and Lauren Bacall, had their red-carpet moment in the HAT Classes at the Philadelphia Flower Show. These classes in a circular space called Quadrant have become increasingly popular with exhibitors and the public.

c Martha McClellan

c Martha McClellan

Movie fans of a certain age will remember Esther Williams, who swam her way through more than half of each movie she made. Did they have any plots? This delightful design reminded us of her very stylish swimming caps.

c Ellen Avellino

c Ellen Avellino

c Martha McClellan

c Martha McClellan

Audrey Hepburn inspired three hat designs.  It helped that she could wear anything and make it chic.  Top, Audrey, perhaps, in My Fair Lady?  Second, a tour-de-force of dried pineapple creates a 1960’s saucer hat for Audrey.

c Martha McClellan

c Martha McClellan

The meticulous details of Audrey’s hat fashioned a winner! The third Audrey hat, a pillbox, was entered on the last Friday but I didn’t get a photo of it.

 Buster KeatonEven the gents were remembered with this charming tribute to Buster Keaton. Note the unrolling celluloid film as the ornament!

 Lauren BacallLauren Bacall was remembered with gerberas, protea, baby’s breath, begonia, statice, wheat and birch.

Lucille BallOoo-la-la!   An uber-chic Lucille Ball constructed from manipulated variegated aspidistra with vibrant calla lilies and freesia. Are you jealous, Ethel?

 Carmen MirandaWhen was the last time you saw these gorgeous Catteleya orchids which used to be THE corsage of the Helen Hokinson set? Combined with ferns and cymbidium orchids, they shouted Tropicana!!

CherGosh, who was this? …the incomparable Cher, of course. Hundreds of lily turf grass, inserted in tiny groups, were contained by a barely visible bandeau of prayer plant leaves.

Marlene Dietrich Josephine BakerTwo beautifully made hats for two icons.  Top, a pink close-fitting design for Marlene Dietrich.   Botton, not placed in the Quadrant yet, this painstaking tribute to the chic Josephine Baker was created on a tissue-paper cloche substrate. Next to this on the worktable was a huge bag of more hydrangea florets ready to go to the rescue of any missing ones.

 Carmen Miranda on FirdayWho can resist Carmen Miranda as the wearer of the most outlandish and delightful hats? Best Hat of the Week winner, and Friday’s entry, this Carmen makes you hear the music!! Congratulations to all for a wonderful red-carpet!!


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Lights Camera SCREENPLAY

Philadelphia Flower ShowTABLE: Screenplay was the name of the floral design class I entered in the Philadelphia Flower Show. These classes were staged on a platform 8’ wide x 4’ deep x 4” high, set in the ubiquitous flower show ‘mulch’ with a Belgian block edging. In fact the ‘platforms’ are contiguous with about 3’ between them. Although the design is judged from the front, the design is on a ‘island’ clearly seen from both sides, and better lit from the ‘back’. A white table from IKEA, 49” long x 29” h x 29” w, was supplied by the show. The TABLE theme varied each day: TABLE: Dressing Room for an actor or actress; TABLE: Oscar Party actor, actress or movie; TABLE: It’s a Wrap wrap-up party for movie, and TABLE: Screenplay, movie.

Chinese Movie Raise the Red LanternWhether the judges receive the movie titles ahead of time or not (in Philadelphia, not), I always believe that the title one chooses should speak for itself. Nothing tricky or obscure for a judge who couldn’t, because they weren’t told, do their homework. I chose the glorious “Raise the Red Lantern”, 1991, a Chinese movie of great visual beauty set in a remote aristocratic strife-filled household in the 1920’s. For my purposes, the title said it all.

Silver Medal WAFAIn “Steal Away” (Archives Feb 2015), I discussed taking designs and reworking them. In this instance, my idea was to combine two successful designs into a new design, well maybe new-ish! The first design idea was my table at the 2011 WAFA Show in a class called “Painting”. Happily, the table in that class was supplied in black. (Thanks, Gail)

Susan DetjensThat table idea would be combined with aspects of my 2013 design in Philadelphia in “SUPERALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS”, using Harry Lauder Walking Stick and kiwi vine instead of the purple painted willow framework.

 Hand-made Lanterns medleyIt was always my intention NOT to use red lanterns. All the red, red, red would be the branches, flowers and foliage of the floral design. The class description says arrangement and accessories. The lanterns were made from chicken wire cylinders, covered with an open work artist paper, and trimmed with foam core and midolino sticks. And yes, that paper was blue, eventually sprayed black.

 5 lanterns on the tabletrial of three lanterns and red harry LauderUsing a series of black iron stands (originally from Pier One – fifteen or more years ago, hoarded as never seen since), I started to work out a diagonal path across the table space which was outlined in tape. I began with 5 lanterns, and eventually settled on 3, making them shorter as I went along. The center stand was a tall, more rigid affair of heavy iron with a lantern wedged over it.

 Mechanics of Lantern StructureAt the show, a lot of time was spent getting the black felt cloth runners evenly on the slippery table and hiding the white legs – thanks ladies for the pins!!! The branched structure was sprayed cadmium red, a great Liquitex acrylic color (no fumes). It was cabled to the stand, center front and back. A lump (technical term) of Oasis was wrapped in some Press n Seal at the base, set on the structure, and then held in place with a wrap of black clematis wire, placed over Oasis and zip-tied (barely visible top and bottom before being tied), . In the end, I had to cut away some of the Press n Seal as it showed too much but it kept water from dripping on the cloth.

 Chinese takeway boxes and chopsticksWorrying that the lanterns might not be perceived as accessories, I added Chinese takeaway containers filled with black rice, er – gravel, and chopsticks….and now the envelope, please:

 Finding Nemo HM table classHonorable Mention: “Finding Nemo”. Nemo is hiding out on the right, while a prow shaped container holds the arrangement.

The King's Speech third place tableThird place: “The King’s Speech”. Lots of attention to details, like the marbles on the cloth near the base of the lamp.

Schindler's List second place tableSecond Place: “Schindler’s List”.  Prunella – I was too busy to see it happen, but the table legs were wrapped in black cast bandaging – very clever idea!   Made it very smooth and sleek. I didn’t see it come off again for the next designer so I don’t know if it leaves a residue.

Susan Detjens Lantern backsideLet me tell you I got a little worried when I saw all those chairs and the floor showing up, who knew?? Plant materials: Obake and red anthuriums, bronze New Zealand flax, James Storie and Mokara Orchids, galax, Leucodendron ‘Safari Sunset’, kiwi vine, Harry Lauder Walking Stick.

RAise the REd Lantern First PlaceFirst place: “Raise the Red Lantern”. Whew! all’s well that ends well.


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Lights, Camera, BLOOMing!

Philadelphia Flower Show Central MarqueeAt the Philadelphia Flower Show, Horticulture resides in the spacious Hamilton Horticourt, where all manner of horticulture, coddled and cosseted by their growers, is shown to great advantage.

 Horticourt Forced bulbsIn gravel areas, hundreds of forced bulbs vie for attention and the judges’ eyes. This post is for my loyal followers who are avid and skilled horticulturalists. I won’t even pretend to comment on the plants and hope my identifications are correct!!

 Horticourt Orchid AlleyRaised benches put the red-carpet worthy orchids at eye level, the better to lust over! Their Technicolor blossoms are an antidote to freezing weather. When this photograph was taken, it was blustery and snowing outside the show.

Lycopodium hanging basket LycopodiumHanging containerThese exuberant Lycopodium winners in the Hanging Containers Classes caught my eye. In a very Dr. Seuss-like way, they seem to defy gravity by not falling out of their baskets.

 Begonia 'Tiny Gem'Begonia ‘Tiny Gem’. Populist PHS doesn’t require botanical names for anything in the show. A missed educational opportunity for sure, in my humble opinion.

ColeusThe red velvet petals of a lovely, huge coleus, so compact and perfect!

NephrolepsisA red ribbon for Nephrolepsis cordifolia “Lemon Drop’.

 Stag horn fernThis staghorn fern won a blue ribbon. As you can see, the hanging plants are staged above the forced bulbs.

Horticourt Tillandsia BulbosaWe floral designers don’t often see Tillandsia in full bloom. What a marvelous plant – and actually identified on the entry card: Tillandsia bulbosa.


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