Nature imitates Art

Botanical Arts Manolo MomentMillbrook Garden Club is celebrating its Centennial this year with the theme of  “In our Founder’s Footsteps”. To celebrate 100 years of flower shows, MGC’s Centennial Flower Show chose the simpler theme of FOOTSTEPS.  Classes ranged from Baby Steps for a miniature floral design to Step On It, for a horticulture class of ground covers. Botanical Art classes have become popular in GCA flower shows. Moving MGC into its next century, it was decided to have two classes in this new division. Above is the class called Manolo Moment, a shoe ornament made from all dried materials.

Manolo Moment HMWhen we were speculating on how to display the shoe ornaments, we found a very generous donor (with a very dainty shoe size) who just happened to have 3 pairs (for our 6 entries) looking for a new home!!   How lucky we hadn’t called the class Louboutain Legends. Eh, voila, staging was solved. The designers each received a shoe (which they couldn’t alter in any way) to inspire their design.

 Manolo Moment First placeThis beautiful and exquisitely crafted design was the class winner. If you enlarge the picture you can just see the three layers of what looks like the most delicate organdy ribbon bow – which is in fact skeletonized leaves. A brava treatment! On the accompanying key card (visible above each design) samples of each piece of organic material untreated must be identified. The turquoise is an almond. Wouldn’t you love to wear them?

Happy Feet  First & BISHappy Feet, a child’s shoe of all dried materials, was the other Botanical Arts class in the Flower Show. In this photo of the winner, and also Best in Show Botanical Arts, you can see the materials listed botanically along with the sample on the key card. These classes require not only a vividly creative mind to design the botanical art, but one that recognizes the potential of the materials which facilitate these amazing transformations.

Happy Feet GCA Novice AwardWith such a mind as this, a nationally recognized artist also a member of MGC, who entered BA for the first time, won the GCA Botanical Arts Novice Award for this second prize entry in Happy Feet. This jester-like shoe would enchant any child with a penchant for casting spells! Made from many, many seeds silvered and gilded, the dark ruffle like edge to the top are those tree ear mushrooms used in Chinese cooking!

Walk About  first placeReturning to the Newport Show (see last Grand Vistas posts, Archive), Walk About, a cane or walking stick made of entirely dried material was a most unique Botanical Arts class, merely because of the special staging it required. This was made of all botanical material and won the NFS Botanical Arts Award for impressive quality, skill and creativity.

 Walk About first key cardFrom the key card, you can see the many varieties of materials used in this beautifully realized walking stick. From the schedule: “King Louis ZIV of France carried an ornate walking stick. He restricted them to the aristocracy and they continued to be status symbols. The walking stick had its heyday in the 19C both here and in Europe. Tiffany & Co as well as the all the important porcelain houses such as Faberge made them featuring gems, enameled collars and carved images”.

Walking stick first close-upA closer look at the top of the stick shows it to be lidded, and inside is a watch face. The exquisite details were meticulously handled. Good eyesight and fine motor skills are definitely required!!

 Walk About secondSecond place in Walk About went to a walking stick fit for a Maharaja.

 Walk About second key cardUnfortunately blurry, the photo again illustrates the many varieties of materials that were painted, gilded and otherwise embellished to imitate the gems, enamels and other surfaces of a sumptuous walking stick.

 Walk About second detailThe designer won the NFS New Exhibitor (in BA) Award. Her intent read: “The elephant has always been regarded as sacred; the jeweled walking stick was the emblem of power for the maharaja”.

Linda Filley

Linda Filley

With a little segue back to shoes, in the Hudson River village of Rhinebeck NY is the siren call of the fascinating shop called Paper Trail. Needless to say it is a mecca for a paperholic like myself for papers, gifts and more.  Visit the store site to see many more:

Linda Filley

Linda Filley

These uber-stylish shoes give our Manolos a run for the money, don’t they?? Many admirers of this delightful craft flock to the shop to add to their collections. Imagine such slender and small shoes silhouetted across a mantle!



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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