Evolution of an idea….

GCA Major Flower ShowI thought it might be fun to relate the evolution of a design idea.  A major part of the fun in creating a design is figuring out all the tough parts to make the pretty parts work.  The show:  Houston: Treasure: Florescence. GCA Major Flower Show.  The class:  Class 2. Modern Marvels                                             4 Entries

Designs inspired by handcrafted contemporary neckpieces, staged on a 40” x 15.5” square pedestal…….

The necklace:      b.Torn Gold Neckpiece, Gijs Bakker, 1986 Size: 11”x 12”x 1/8”

Gold neckaceThe picture of the necklace duly arrived.  Very contemporary and exciting – although it looks a little hard to wear!  Uncharacteristically, I thought of capitalizing on the same round shape.

Circles and anthuriumsThis design from the FASG Palm Beach workshop (see Archives, “Palm Beach Pastimes, November 2012) began the chain of ideas.  The willow is wired in an increasing spiral circle to create a flat surface for plant material.  Hmmm …. grist for the mill.

Scarlet wiresThe next month I demonstrated this design at GCA in New York.  The how-to for this came from the Nominator at flowerflinging camp in August.

cornus spiralMy idea was to deconstruct the circle by making a spiral shape.  I began using red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) following the shape of an 18” Styrofoam disc.  The thicker the dogwood stem the harder it is to slowly bend into shape.  I used greening pins to hold them in shape.  Hard to see, it begins at 12 o’clock and by the time it reaches 11:30, it bends under the styro.  I wanted the circle shape to spiral back to create depth in the design and to keep it from a literal copy of just the circular necklace.  Once they dried, they kept their shape and could be wired together.

spaced wiresI used the same technique of wiring, above, as the Nominator did.  However it became very clear no matter how much patience I had, the dogwood had a mind of its own.  It was beyond my patience to create a meticulous design with that plant material.

Wired circlesSo back to the drawing board….or rather styro board.   I switched to Oasis Mega Wire, a 6 gauge wire, in gold, available online at www.marshallproducts.com.  The gold of this wire is very yellow orange unlike the golds of other Oasis wires.  I used the same system of shaping it to the styro, but I was able to wire one strand to the next easily.

Gold wiresOnce I had four strands wired I was able to get rid of the styro.  In the picture above you can see that the wire went on and on.  I began using all nine feet to get the length needed to create decreasing spiral circles. The cardboard piece keeps the wires on each level separate. It is easiest to slowly roll out the coil towards each wire join.  This was very time consuming but not hard.  I recommend listening to Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” series of books on CDs.

Golden wire spiralsThe completed spiral had 16 strands wired together. The stringing wires haven’t been trimmed. The blue tape shows how the top edge was cut. I have set the structure in a styro wreath shape.  I want it to sit above the pedestal and slightly tilted back.

Golden wires editedNext I mocked up a stand of dowels using styro as a base.  This is from the back.  Once I could take a good look at it,  I made the decision to remove some of the coils.

cardboard modelA cardboard model of a stand was taken to a plexi-glass fabricator I found in the Yellow Pages.  He made a nice tough stand of Lexan, drilled with holes.

trying lichensWhile the stand was being made, I began auditioning plant material to encrust the design.  Tree fungus, lichens and barks were collected in the woods.

Painted lichens I painted them in a combination of metallic paints from www.modernmasters.com.

beautiful gold necklaceWhen I got to Houston, lo and behold, the necklace looked rather different in the case. Aqua instead of dark green!

Gold wires and leavesHere is my entry which won second prize. The end was cuffed in a piece of Oasis wire one-half inch wide, sprayed with gold.   At the show, all the plant material was added with glue dots: James Storie and Maggie Oie orchids, Aeonium, leaves from several kinds of begonias.

Most unusual use of plant materialAlthough the judges felt that the plant material was too dominant and rightly so, the Texas Florist Assn gave me an award for the Most Unusual Usage of Plant Material.  The whole kaboodle arrived back from Houston today.  Lots of the leaves look as good as new especially the aeonium!








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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2 Responses to Evolution of an idea….

  1. Betsy says:

    Now that was pretty fascinating. Lord, you have a lot of patience, Susan! Great outcome!

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