Anatomy of a Design

Memphis/Milano Flower ShowThis last sighting of Memphis/Milano will give the anatomy of entering the class called “Blue Suede Shoes” – excruciating detail.  One of the unique and exciting features of the Memphis major GCA flower show is that the featured collection on exhibition is chosen specifically for the flower show, posing a new design challenges.  "Continental Table" 1984When the famous notebook of images of the chosen collection is seen at various GCA events and meetings, the designers do not know the gallery or the size of the pedestal.  They choose what appeals to them.  My rule of thumb is, first, the immediate appeal of the artwork as an inspiration.  Next, does the image conjure up one or two ideas right away?  If so, then I figure I’ll think of more.  If nothing pops up, it’s not the artwork for me.

Susan DetjensSo what does one do with a cow table, or officially “Continental Table” 1984 by Michael De Lucchi?  My original thinking was the round shape and the black and whiteness of the table.  I usually doodle ideas and choose one to mock up in very casual fashion.  However, losing the autumn and holidays to the broken wrist (and if I am honest, forgetting the ideas that originally popped up!) meant that one idea needed to move into action.

Susa DetjensMy solution was to deconstruct the table by using two round shapes spaced apart to give the design depth, and to pierce the round shapes with long right-angled boards to suggest the two panels on the table.  That opening would be filled with flowers and finally it needed to stand up on the pedestal.

Mock-up of designThe Home Depot yielded pink insulation sheets (30” x 30” x 1”) of Foamular, which were perfect to cut out for the shape.  They are smoother, easier to cut and less messy than Styrofoam.  A wire wreath form was used as a template for the size of the  circle. The jerry-rigged stand was made from scraps of Styrofoam and Oasis.  The challenge was to come up with the precise design and measurements of the stand for The Great Welder.

Design and stand practiceFrom the side of the design, a dummy stand of bamboo stakes in a piece of oasis/Styrofoam (held down from falling over by heavy kenzans) is visible.  It was important to determine how large the gap between the circles should be.

Stand by The Master WelderEight inches seemed the best bet so a drawing of the stand went by email to The Great Welder who carried out the commission with alacrity and precision.  How lucky am I?

blog Blue Practice with liliesThe circles were painted black and green, and the edges taped with overlapping pieces of cloth electrical tape.  This tape is not easy to find but it works really well molding itself to the shape. It has none of the shiny surface of most of the vinyl tape.  The matt finish and the overlapping sections created their own texture and covered the irregularities of cutting the insulation. Put some in your toolbox.  I painted two 6” X 20” balsa boards (craft and hobby stores) royal blue and placed them at a right angle in the opening.  They were a slight nod to the panels on the cow table, and being blue, an even briefer nod to the title of the class “Blue Suede Shoes”.

Upholstering  midolinoFor the rear circle panel, midolino sticks (green) were glued down side by side across the form on both sides with Alene’s Maxi Tacky Adhesive.  Tedious, but eventually it begins to go faster.  Kenzans and other heavy objects, placed on wax paper, were used to weigh down the midolino until they dried.  The overlapping pieces were trimmed with a virgin pair of nail clippers (something else for the toolbox – good for Botanical Arts cutting)!!  These sharply cut each one cleanly without smushing (technical term) them. Once the round shape was complete and precise, it was sprayed black.

Trial and error circlesA trial and error process discovered lemon leaves (Salal) were the right color of bright green for the front surface of the second round panel and a trial insured they would last if upholstered to the panel with glue dots.  Lots and lots of glue dots. The rear of this panel was completed in the same way with galax leaves.

Blue Suede Shoes Class First from sideThe stand was painted white to match the pedestal (a shout out of thanks for the touch-up!!).  On the back legs where it met the panel, it changed to black to blend in with the midolino.  The galax leaves on the back, more glue dots, were place over the stand.  The two rounds were literally hung from and against the stand with tape and more glue dots. The blue boards sat in the opening on the stand with a low slab of Oasis on top.  Finally the most glorious rainbow and white anthurium from www.greenpointnursery.com were used along the entire opening.  In this side shot, the cow table is just visible at the rear.

Susan DetjensMore than you ever wanted to know about Class Seven, “Blue Suede Shoes” First place with the hope that some mechanics and construction tidbits might come in handy sometime for you.  And night before last, it snowed again……..

Cheers!

 

About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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One Response to Anatomy of a Design

  1. Audrey Curl says:

    Susan, you never cease to amaze me. You are incredibly talented!

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