Learning New Tricks: Floral Arranging

I’ve always aspired to be one of those effortlessly creative people with an eye for design and color.  Sadly, those things just don’t come easily to me; choosing paint colors for the walls in my house was a spectacular trial-and-error affair.  Believe me when I tell you Benjamin Moore’s Incense Stick is too dark for your living room walls–even if the room is huge, wall space is minimal, and the room is drenched in sunlight for most of the day.

Because of my wont of an artistic eye, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to join a friend at a floral arranging class offered in Hoboken through a social website.  Spending time with Jen always promises entertainment (or danger)–another recent outing together culminated with me fainting dead away at Shea Stadium (Yeah, yeah, City Field. Whatever.) and being rushed to the stadium’s ER via wheelchair.

Jen’s motivation for taking this class had something to do with her recent engagement; I think she envisioned coming away with the skills necessary to whip up her bridal (and bridal party) bouquets and centerpieces.  The main thing we learned in class is when it comes to wedding flowers beyond a fistful of daisies, hire a professional.

The instructor doled out little plastic containers and instructed us to run two strips of double sided carpet tape around the circumference, spaced two inches from each other.  We then grabbed branches of magnolia and stripped the leaves to use as covering for our containers.  Using the tape, and later raffia, we affixed leaves–shiny side face down–to the container.

In a vain attempt to be creative, I used three bands of raffia. It ended up looking like a corset or something.

Next, we were instructed to take three or four stems of various flowers and greens–roses, hydrangea, some type of kale, berries–and strip them of leaves and thorns.  Our instructor, who worked for many years in Europe, then attempted to impart to us the French Spiral method of arranging flowers.  This method is the one favored by Martha Stewart and many crafty people the world over.

If done correctly, flowers arranged in the French Spiral will stand upright on a table (and later in a vase or bowl).  This style of arranging is sometimes used for bouquets, too.  Sadly, this method was a bit tricky to master as it involves using two hands to literally turn the flowers, all while adding new flowers and making sure the bouquet is aesthetically pleasing.  Too much pressure for yours truly!

 Jen also struggled to achieve the French Spiral.

We enlisted the help of one of the instructor’s assistants, and he took pity on our attempts.  He worked with both of us to more evenly distribute the flowers and to tighten up our spirals.  In the end, mine was actually pretty and is still sitting on my kitchen table in fair condition 10 days later.  (I think my flowers didn’t wilt because it’s 58 degrees inside my house.)

Here's my arrangement in all its glory! Those folded leaves are a fancy touch, right?

After our class, we headed out to an Irish pub in town where I promptly won a Guinness t-shirt during a round of Bar Bingo.  Taking this class was fun and despite my jokes, I really did learn about arranging flowers.  I’m going to try some photography classes next.

Are you too old to learn some new tricks?  What kind of classes would you (or do you) take if your schedule allowed?


  • At 2011.11.16 04:51, vivienne said:

    I would take up crocheting if I could find a good teacher. There is always something about winter that makes me want to be creative. The flowers look lovely.
    vivienne´s last blog post ..Radiance by Alyson Noel

    • At 2011.11.16 09:14, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      Your bouquet is lovely. I took flower arranging years ago and learned to leave it to the pros. I NEED to take photography classes.
      bermudaonion (Kathy)´s last blog post ..Wondrous Words Wednesday

      • At 2011.11.16 10:02, rhapsodyinbooks said:

        This looks beautiful! You’re so crafty! :–)
        rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog post ..Review of “Trespassers on the Roof of the World” by Peter Hopkirk

        • At 2011.11.16 10:47, Steph said:

          You are infinitely more crafty than I! I have a good eye for colors, but that’s about it. I have never really been able to draw or do anything above and beyond knit, which as you know, I only took up last year! Flower arranging is a no-go for me, I’m afraid!
          Steph´s last blog post ..Oops, we did it again…

          • At 2011.11.16 15:25, Jenners said:

            The results are lovely!! I’m not one of those “effortlessly” crafty people either.
            Jenners´s last blog post ..Audio Review: Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

            • At 2011.11.16 16:11, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

              It’s so pretty! The colors are almost my wedding colors, I should have hired you. I not crafty but I like pretending that I am.
              Jess – A Book Hoarder´s last blog post ..Hunger Games Movie Trailer!

              • At 2011.11.16 17:04, Meg said:

                Love it! I would love to learn more about floral arranging — I actually used to work at a craft store in college and made wreaths from time to time. That was much simpler than something like this, though!

                I was just talking about taking a cooking class yesterday! Spencer and I like a little Greek restaurant in town and just saw they offer courses from time to time. I consider our photography club sort of like a “class,” too, because we have tutorials all the time and guest speakers trying to teach us new tricks. It’s important to always keep learning — but I know I don’t have to tell you that!
                Meg´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday: Good eats (and beverages!) in Ireland

                • At 2011.11.17 15:25, Dishy said:

                  Nat, your bouquet is so beautiful! I’m not very skilled at floral arrangements. I basically get flowers once a year, snip the ends and try to adjust them as little as possible from their (pre)arranged state. If I accidentally move things too much, the bouquet ends up looking lumpy and off. It’s not pretty.
                  Dishy´s last blog post ..50 Low Sodium Recipes for Thanksgiving!

                  • At 2011.11.17 19:46, Kathleen said:

                    Kathleen´s last blog post ..It’s a Dog’s Life

                    • At 2011.12.02 11:40, Cath @ Constance Reader said:

                      I’ve taken some photography classes and I think I’d like to take jewelry making, too. Maybe cake decorating? Weaving? Haha, I guess I’m open.

                      I love your flowers! Beautiful!

                      • At 2011.12.14 14:53, Connie said:

                        I think it looks great! I took a flower arranging course years ago and enjoyed it. I hope all is well with you and yours!

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