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.
I'm Linda, keeper of the flowers.