In a moment of quiet during these gradually lightening days after the winter solstice, I send you love, warm thoughts and a hopeful wish for peace for all of us in the ways we most need it.
When my friend, Jill invited me to her wedding and asked me to create a collage with her flowers and her ketubah, I was intrigued. Ooooh! I’ve never done anything like that before!
A ketubah is a beautiful and essential part of a Jewish wedding that dates back about 2,000 years. It describes a husband’s responsibilities and a wife’s rights within their marriage and it’s a whole lot lovelier than your run-of-the-mill modern day prenup. Couples will often choose to have their ketubahs done in calligraphy or painted and hang them in their homes as a beautiful reminder of the sanctity of their commitment.
Jill and David's idea to adorn their ketubah with their preserved wedding flowers is a modern, personal approach to this time honored tradition. Their 'blank' ketubah was purchased from MPArtworks.
They were married under a tree on an idyllic college campus surrounded by blue hydrangeas and local, organically grown flowers from Old Friends Farm. After the reception I gathered up all the flowers (even the sweet little sprgs of rosemary and lavender that had adorned the dinner napkins) and brought everything back to the studio.
I wanted to get them into the presses straightaway!
Because I had witnessed the signing of the ketubah, I knew I'd be a creating a circular design, so I carefully guided the flower stems into a gentle curve before pressing them. I envisioned an elegant circle of flowers and I hoped that curved flower stems would create an effortless, natural flow to the piece.
With all the pressed petals laid out, the art of design is as much in choosing what won't be included as what will.
I auditioned different blooms for feature roles in the piece. The yellow Gerbera Daisy at the bottom center of the circle was only partially reconstructed before I realized it wasn't the direction I wanted to go in.
It's important to hold space for all the possibilities and move on when something isn't coming together!
I fell in love with the balance of the three rich dark pink Peonies that formed a triangular balance while off-setting the unbroken symmetry of the circle.
Nothing is predictable right? Not love, not life, not marriage! So I love to throw some unexpected elements into a design as a visual metaphor that even the bumps in the road can be beautiful!
I also opted for a less-dense, more open feel to the flowers in the circle. Allowing for the beauty of the white spaces gives oxygen to the finished piece. Like the space between two people gives them room to grow together...(I can come up relationship and flower metaphors aaaaaalllll day. Because, you know, LOVE and FLOWERS, gah!)
Jill and David came into the studio mid-way through the process to choose their frame. They look pretty pleased with it, I think!
I think one of my favorite things about this collage is the way, when viewed from a distance, that little bloom on the left, near the top, looks like an exhuberant dancer who just MIGHT NOT be contained, and could, at any moment, leap out of formation to spin and whirl in their own little solo before rejoining the chorus.
Ah. life. Love. Flowers.
Well, here we are! After three months of pressing, talking, designing and building, KC & Mary’s botanical collage is complete!
When KC & Mary showed up at my studio with two coolers bursting with flowers, two things were obvious to me. First, they LOVED their flowers — they held a tremendous amount of meaning for them—and second, I was going to be making something unlike anything I’d ever made before.
See how it turned out...
What started out as an order for an 11”x14” collage made from KC’s bouquet, became a 20”x20” shadow-boxed piece containing a whopping 27 flowers built out in layers.
I wanted to capture the way KC and Mary lit up when they told me about their wedding day and how much their flowers meant to them - joy, utter, complete, unapologetic joy. I wanted to create that for them in an explosion of color, texture and dimension that would transport them back to their wedding day.
This collage was challenging, not just in the huge amount of work involved—pressing thousands of flower petals and reconstructing 27 flowers from them—but deciding which flowers to use and which (sadly) not to use.
There were the technical challenges of creating depth by building the height of the flowers, creating a shadow box for the frame and getting everything JUST right. (Someday, I’ll tell you the story of the one tiny flower that just wasn’t EXACTLY where I wanted it to be and the lengths I went through to move it.)
And there were the design challenges…how to create balance AND joy, order AND effusiveness, structure AND raw, powerful emotion?
Watch KC & Mary see their collage for the first time...
1In the end, it’s a piece that invites you to step closer and experience every inch. It welcomes you into a world, a celebration, a beginning…and it rewards you with something new to see each time you stop to take a look.
Isn’t that what LOVE really is? When we’ve found our soulmate, isn’t it like that too? Always something new to discover in this person we’ve chosen and how richly we’re rewarded when we stop to look more closely!
Whether a couple brings me six flowers or six dozen flowers, I strive to make art that resonates with their love and transports them back to the moment they said, "I do."
It was transformative to work with KC & Mary. Just as every creative experience I share with my clients fills my heart--it's been deeply gratifying to move in parellel with them for a small part of their journey together.
Dear ones, thank you for taking a moment to stop and smell the flowers with me!
P.S. - Experience the process from beginning to end, by watching part 1 and part 2 of KC & Mary's story.
Do you know what a tussy-mussie is? If you guessed a Victorian-era turn of phrase for what you see in that first, half-waking glance in the mirror each morning, you’re HALF-right!
A tussy-mussie is a Victorian-style bouquet placed in a metal vase specifically designed to be carried. During the Victorian age, there were some highly practical (malodorous) reasons for ladies to carry sweet smelling posies when out in public, but it also became quite fashionable for young ladies to carry flowers given to them by their suitors in these ornate metal vases.
My mom collected tiny tussy-mussies which could be pinned to a hat or lapel. I remember my child-self breathlessly turning those brooches in my hand, the ornate patterns caught by the slanting afternoon sun in her room. I imagined in exquisite detail what elfin bouquets I would place in them and how it would feel to wear them out in the world. Surely, that must be what it means to walk in beauty, I thought.
When I found these glass lockets, my child-self was breathless again, struck by the beauty of possibility…oh! The perfect place to carry sweet, tiny, pressed flowers next to your heart. To walk in beauty and carry with you the sweet memories of those fresh blooms…
I was moved and inspired and excited and couldn’t wait to offer these beauties to my customers.
I imagined them being a thoughtful gift for a mother-of-the-bride. Or a new mother-in-law. But this summer, I had a customer who loved them so much, she ordered nine—one for herself and each of her eight bridesmaids—and asked me to fill them with purple hydrangeas.
What a wonderful way to bring even MORE botanical beauty into her wedding! Not only would they each carry flowers, they would wear them too! AND have them to keep forever!
I offer the lockets in three shapes; oval, square or round with gold-plated findings and a 32” gold-filled chain. Each shape is available with blue, purple, pink or white Hydrangea with Queen Anne’s Lace and a single, tiny leaf.
These flower-filled lockets can be the perfect gift for someone you love--your mom, wife, sister or best friend. (Whether or not there’s a wedding in your recent past or immediate future.) Imagine, as the snow falls outside, you put another log on the fire while your loved one opens the gift of a summer day…
Want to give THE GIFT she’ll talk about for years to come? These lovely lockets are available in the store now.
May she walk in beauty...
She Walks in Beauty
By Lord Byron
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Find pressed flower lockets in our online shop...
For more botanically inspired gifts, consider our Year in Flowers desk calendar!
Each year when I create the Flora-Ly Calendar of Flowers I choose a quote that suits the mood of the time in the studio.
This quote embodies how I have been feeling for months and will surely continue to feel into 2018. My heart is full of gratitude. I recognize it daily. Grateful for my happy children, my new daughter-in- law and my husband who keeps me fed and makes flower presses. I am grateful for the clients who have sought me out, entrusted me with their precious flowers, heaped praise, cried happy tears, told their friends – who told two friends – who told two friends. Grateful for colleagues who enlighten, challenge and enrich my business. It's been a fun, colorful creative time. So every day my heart does feel like a summer day. Riding my bicycle, swimming with friends, playing in the waves and creating beauty for appreciative people. Thank you for being here.
I've been in business for a smidge over five years and if there's one thing I've learned (there isn't, there's waaay MORE than ONE, but it's just a saying...) it's that there is something magical that happens when you find other wedding pros that share your aesthetics, values and drive to hone their craft and serve their clients. Through our conversations, we learn, we grow and we discover things that never would have occurred to us on our own. These are the people I turn to with questions or frustrations, to share info and celebrate successes.
I love my people so dang much that I want to share them with you!
You're going to love them too!
This brand new series of videos will introduce you to wedding professionals who are amazingly good at what they do. You'll meet bakers, planners, floral designers, photographers, jewelers--people from every corner of the wedding world!
The thing I love about each of these people is the heart with which they serve their customers and practice their art. During this season of gratitude, it feels right to express thanks for these friends who inspire me, teach me, listen and learn along with me.
Sometimes we're fortunate enough to sit on the same couch for these chats. Other times we depend on technology to shrink the miles between us.
Today, I'm so excited for you to meet Sandra Costello of Sandra Costello Photography. (Go on, click the link! She's got an AH-MAZING website!) We sat down to talk about what we do, why we do it and what sets us apart from other professionals in the wedding world. Sandra is passionate about the heartfelt way she connects with her clients. Sharing herself fully with her clients and forming a deep connection with them creates a sense of trust that allows people to open up so Sandra can capture the essence of a couple and the emotions in the moment. (Seriously, look at the pictures on her website, you'll totally understand what I mean!)
Sandra's the one who urged me to put more energy into creating a heartfelt connection with my clients. Now, when people come to me to preserve their wedding flowers, I spend the time to listen and learn about their love, their wedding and how their flowers embody the emotions of the day for them. As my friendship with Sandra has deepened, it has enriched the relationships I create with my clients. And that has fed my soul as an artist as I create botanical collages that are inspired by the essence of who my clients are and the love that brought them together.
Sandra was ALSO the one who suggested we interview each other on video since it's easier to explain your work in conversation with a friend than it is do a full-on video sales pitch (and much more pleasant!). It so dang much fun that I decided to make a habit of it.
I hope you enjoy this first episode of Heart-to-Heart!
KC & Mary had brought me two coolers full of flowers from their wedding.
I pressed just about everything they'd given me and when the flowers came out of the presses, I'd joked that I might need a bigger table. Then, of course, I was quick to point out that if bigger tables were required to hold more flowers and more love then (metaphorically speaking) we should ALL have BIGGER tables!
I stood back to take in the scope of the botanicals I'd taken from the presses. There had to have been a thousand petals in front of me. I bit my lip, intimidated by the sheer volume of the possibilities.
I took a deep breath. Just as every journey begins with a single step. Every botanical collage begins with one petal.
Shhh, here's a secret...when I get a bouquet, I pick apart all of the flowers and press the individual petals. Weeks later, when they come out of the presses, I re-build the flowers petal by petal.
Watch the process here...
I had reconstructed about 20 flowers when it became clear that the 11"x14" collage KC & Mary had ordered wasn't going to be big enough to hold this botanical abundance. I sent them an email to explain. I asked them to consider a bigger piece. "Think about where you're going to hang this in your home. Do you want one large piece, or maybe a series of smaller ones?" They said they'd talk about it and get back to me.
I expected KC & Mary to deliberate awhile to consider the possibilities. I was suprised when I heard back from them the very next day. They wanted a 20"x20".
"We want to capture that feeling of abundance we had throughout the day. Not only the abundance of flowers, but love and laughing and so much fun!"
For KC & Mary their flowers represented the total joy of their wedding day and they wanted their collage to capture that feeling so they could hold on to it forever.
As much as it thrilled me to hear how excited KC & Mary were about their collage, I was a little bit terrified. No lie. 20” x 20” is a large piece of artwork when your medium is pressed flower petals.
I needed to get busy building more flowers.
After I've reconstructed the flowers, it's time to design the collage.
But, before I begin to the design process, I set an intention.
I take a few moments and sit with the flowers. I think about the people I am creating for and what they want.
I think about love; deep love that makes one person say to another, you're the one for me.
I listen to the flowers. They witnessed the moment. They soaked up the joy. The flowers were there and now they're with me, imbued with the emotions of the day.
As I was designing KC & Mary's collage, I started to giggle. There ARE joy in the flowers and it's CONTAGIOUS!
I'm following the lead of the flowers and we're having a grand ol' time here at Flora-Ly Studios.
Here's a little glimpse of the piece in process...
I met KC & Mary at last year's Valley Wed show at Quonquont Farm.
Although they didn't have a plan yet for their wedding flowers, they were intrigued with the idea that they could have them preserved.. We chatted, they took a card, and they moved on to the next vendor's table. I remember being struck by their careful intention that their wedding day reflect who they are and how they love each other.
About a month before their wedding, KC reached out. They had big plans for their wedding flowers and they wanted to be sure I reserved the presses for them.
Here's the day they came to Flora-Ly Studios with the flowers from their wedding...
They had worked with Corina at The Botaniste. Their instructions to her were riotous, colorful, bountiful bouquets and tablescapes. Boy howdy, mission accomplished! To say color and texture reigned supreme at their wedding is an understatement.
Usually, when a couple comes into Flora-Ly after their wedding, they bring me a bouquet. KC & Mary brought me two coolers full of flowers! Their wedding flowers were so meaningful to them, the idea of throwing any of them away broke their hearts. So they brought as many as they could carry!
As they pulled flowers from the coolers, they "ooohed" and "aaahed" and gushed about how this arrangement was on their table or those looked just like the ones in their garden. Clearly, their flowers evoked the joy of their wedding day and the exhuberance of their love for each other.
Here's what thrills me about what I do...I get to preserve so much more than wedding flowers...I get to create something that will capture the joy of KC and Mary's wedding day and let them remember and relive that feeling every day for the rest of their lives. That's powerful stuff.
Sometimes unconventional choices just feel right. This bloom is beautifully unconventional, 100% joy-inducing and an absolute embodiment of KC & Mary's exuberance.
When I took KC & Mary's flowers out of the presses, my first thought was, "Oh my! I need a bigger table!" You know what? The whole world needs a bigger table! We all need to make room for an abundance of beauty and unabashed joy! More flowers, I say! Bigger tables, if need be, but more flowers, fuller hearts and efferescent joy for all!
My mission now, is to use these petals to inspire KC and Mary as much as they've inspired me!
Stay tuned for the next glimpse of KC and Mary's wedding flower preservation. I can't wait to see where all this love takes us...
P.S. - Immediate gratification anyone? Fast forward to Part 2!
What a joy to have the studio so busy! A record number of couples have asked me to create art from their wedding flowers this year and lately, it's been a whirlwind of gorgeous bouquets, pressed flower petals and inspiration!
Here's a glimpse of what it looks like when life is full of flowers...
Every single wedding bouquet that comes to the studio is utterly gorgeous and unequivocably unique. Some have just a blush of color...whispering of love...
...and some flowers are riotous and joyful and shout love to the rooftops!
Every bouquet that is entrusted to me to press, preserve and make art with is an absolute inspiration. I'm so lucky that I get to be surrounded by so much beauty!
All of the gorgeous flowers get taken apart petal by petal and go into the presses. I actually had to have MORE presses made this year to accomodate all of my wonderful clients!
Here's what it looks like when I empty a press...the deconstructed and pressed wedding bouquets have a glorious, simple beauty to them.
After pressing, I painstakingly recreate the flowers. At this stage, tweezers are my BEST friend.
My intention isn't to literally recreate the bouquet, but to transform it into a timeless piece of art that makes space for the memories of a courtship, romance and wedding day; and also expresses love and anticipation for a marriage that holds the promise of two lives lived fully in tandem.
Want to see some of the finished pieces? Check out my inspiration gallery! Are you curious about how it looks like to work with me? As the studio becomes busier, the presses need to be reserved in advance, so let's talk!
So, you’re planning a wedding and you want it to be like nobody else’s. You’re looking for a baker, photographer and floral designer who’ll honor your individual style. You want to pay homage to your home town with local touches from artists you share a personal connection with.
You’ve GOT to come to Valley Wed.
On October 29th, a hand-selected group of wedding professionals from the Pioneer Valley will gather at Quonquot Farm in Whately, MA. We’ll be there to delight, intrigue and wow you with our offerings while you soak in the beauty of this 200 year old farm and relax with nibbles & cocktails.
This isn’t your Momma’s wedding show. This is fresh, eclectic and personal.
I’ll be there with my latest botanical designs. Let’s talk about your flower dreams and how we can turn your bouquet into art that you can enjoy forever.
Maybe you’re thinking about hand painted wedding invitations? Ooooh fancy! Let’s talk about too.
Bored by the choices you see for bridesmaids gifts? Or maybe you’re looking for something special to say thanks to your mom & new mom-in-law? I’ve got something truly unique to show you!
It promises to be a lovely day in a lovely place with lovely people sharing lovely things. Doesn't it just sound....SWELL?!
Have a peek at all the amazing wedding pros you’ll get to meet and buy your tickets!
Enter to win a pair of FREE tickets!
I CAN'T WAIT to meet you and hear all about the wonderful plans you're making!
I'm Linda, keeper of the flowers.