Pass the sticks

Waterfront Park VancouverAfter I returned from Vancouver and the wonderful FASG workshop with Hitomi Gilliam, I was in the mood to experiment. In our workshop, Hitomi made it a point that we were to make structures without necessarily knowing what we might use for flowers. Coming home, I determined to try out some more structures.

Structure SuppliesBeing slightly snowbound and more than ready to clear things out, I used some red sticks (dyed), perhaps some kind of grass or reed, you can see the darker kind of calyx every few inches on the stem. They are slightly flexible, maybe more when freshly purchased but I’ve had these awhile. I am also using 4” zip ties in tan and black, since I didn’t have enough of either one singly.

Sticks several constructionsUnlike working with kiwi vine or curly willow which inspires with its’ shape, these straight sticks need direction. I began joining two or three into a loose shape.

Structure larger and standing upAs I constructed more shapes, I began to randomly attach them together to achieve a 3D standing form, hoping that inspiration would strike.

 Adding curved piecesIt was fun to practice to find a line or form that would be a good armature for some plant material. I began to add more curved shapes following an arc over the structure.

 Many more piecesThe good part about this was there were no expectations. I also began to remove sticks to clean it up and create a more dynamic piece. These sticks will only bend a little before they snap.

Structure in the LibraryAfter removing enough to change the base, I decided I liked it better placed more on its side!

Susan DetjensUsing a slate base and a large kenzan holding water, yellow and two-tone yellow/orange tulips follow the lines of the structure. It will be fun to see how much they grow into it. Grocery store tulips aren’t quite long enough to cross the whole structure.

Tulips and veggie peelerIn a design where tulips stems show so clearly, a vegetable peeler will make them smooth and neat. Just like peeling carrots. Take the leaves off gently first, and then easy does it.

Add a Cube AnthuriumThe grocery store had these brilliant red anthurium plants. They are called “Just Add Ice Anthuriums”!!!   I’m sure there is an oxymoron in there somewhere. The watering instructions call for 6 cubes of ice, once a week.

Susan DetjensNext I moved the sculpture to a table and placed it down on its ‘back’ and added bear grass through the levels. Finally, the striking anthurium were placed to follow the arc of the form and the grass.

Susan DetjensAnother angle, another view. In doing this project, I had the chance to just play with sticks. Use any kind, red dogwood, pussy willow, these no-name (anybody?), or the more curvaceous curly willow and kiwi vine, all of them will give you a great structure!! Just have fun!


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.
This entry was posted in floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, sculpture and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Pass the sticks

  1. Judy Harrold says:

    Love this. Thank you Susan for more inspiration.

  2. Sandi Lord says:

    Those are reeds. I grow them here in SoCal, and used to know the Latin name. Alas . . .
    I took a similar workshop several years ago from Hitomi at CFAA, only with curly willow.
    She is the keynote speaker this year again. Are you going?

  3. Sarah Ribeiro says:

    This was a terrific teaching lesson. I’m going to try it some time.

  4. Alexandra Donovan says:

    Super cool! Every plant is now an “just add ice” plant. I got one that needed 2 cubes per week and the orchid I got was a 3 cube per week. I think it makes it easy for people and stops overwatering

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