Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Past...

The first book about working with flowers that I bought was Ronaldo Maia's Decorating With Flowers, which was published in 1978. I bought it about 10 years after its publication, and while some of the ideas might seem out of favor at the moment, there is still a lot of inspiration to be had, and it is still a great source of ideas!

One of Ronaldo's ideas that has always struck me as charming is his candy cane vase arrangement. For my interpretation, I use white carnations, which are such great flowers to work with! I know, I know, Sex and the City's Charlotte HATED them ("They're filler flowers!" but Carrie LIKED them, "especially the pink ones"), but they can be quite spectacular when they are on their own, and NOT used as "filler flowers"! And for Christmas, I have two "go to" carnation arrangements that I love: the all white arrangement, which is in the candy cane vase, and the tonal red (cardinal and scarlet) arrangement in a more simple container (a black glass cylinder looks really slick, or use a silver vase for a more festive look).

Today it's about white and the candy canes. I had a lot of practice creating this arrangement... When I worked for Los Angeles custom florist, David Jones, I would make two of these each week that would be delivered to Harry Winston, Beverly Hills. For the jewelery store's arrangements, we used clear glass cubes, but it works equally well in this cylinder. David taught me that this technique uses more flowers than you think you need! In this vase there are about 50 stems altogether. The matrix of the arrangement is oregonia, which resembles boxwood, and then the flowers are worked in. Another touch that David taught me is to also use the mini variety in the arrangement, as well. The buds and smaller blossoms create texture and movement in the arrangement, and loosens it up a bit.

For the vase, again, more candy canes than you think are needed. This vase took about 70 canes! I used to make these by taking florist clay, which comes in a long ribbon, and creating 2 rings, an upper near the opening and a lower, near the base. This clay never dries, but does its job holding the canes. This last time I thought I'd use a glue gun (channeling my inner Martha!), but quickly found out that once water was inside the vase, it broke down the bond of the glue on the glass. Some of the canes loosened up... go figure! If you don't want to use the clay, or want something more permanent, use a glass cement made for adhering things to glass.

After the canes were attached, I tied a piece of red grosgrain ribbon around the cylinder and tied a simple knot.

For a different look, here's the same technique in an antique silver waste pot, which is from my grandmother's tea service. Also in this shot is another idea from Ronaldo, his galax wrapped votive candles. I love these and use them all the time on my table!

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