This is my 7th year as an exhibitor at deYoung Museum’s Bouquets to Art. An all out prestigious event presented by the San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums, it is there largest fundraiser and draws crowds upwards of 30,000 visitors during a 5-day period during the show, and as of 2014, has raised more than $5.5 million for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
So, no pressure or anything. I’m one of the lucky 125 designers that are allowed to select a piece of art from the permanent collection and interpret into a floral design.
I received notice of my assigned piece in mid-March. One of the 4 of my preferred selections, ‘Tulip Culture’, by George Hitchcock (1889). Of course, it happens every year, I get stumped. And this year, I was stumped for the longest time. With every vision I had, it was shot down by the very highly restricted ‘NO’ list of the use of materials. For example, my first vision was a beautiful rattan and slat garden trug, which would have been loaded with tulips. Then I wanted vintage bulb storage crates. Not OK with the committee either. Baskets, wood, bamboo, bark, moss, etc are all on the prohibited list as they can harbor insects and/or airborne mold spores. So, back to the drawing board!
And then I had an Aah-Ha! moment. I had been lucky enough last month to get a visit from Debra Prinzing, who gave me a sample of a new product called Floral Soil(tm). This product works like the classic Oasis floral foam, but with a huge difference. It is made of plant material, and is non-toxic, chemical and fossil fuel free, and it works FANTASTIC! Since it’s a new product and I’d never used it, I gave it a trial run by soaking it in clean water with a bit of flower food in it, and then stuck some fresh tulips into it and left it in a couple of natural environments out of the cooler to test the flower’s longevity. WIN! These tulips stayed hydrated and alive for over 5 days. OK, that’s the proof I needed. So the star of the show really turned out to be this product, which I am convinced will revolutionize our way of designing. For those of us who’ve banned Oasis flower foam from our repetoire for years now, this is a welcome addition to the mechanics lineup! Let the fun begin! It was absolutely perfect aesthetically for my BTA design, as it mimics a real ‘soil’ look, so I used it as a field for my tulip bulbs. It was perfect, and I’m happy to say this product has a huge stamp of approval from me!
Floral Soil soak
The Process of creating the field of tulips
Interpretation is SO crazy sometimes! I don’t even remember the lady in the field being anything prominent in the painting, but I just HAD to use silver sand inside that glass compote. It turns out I was subconsciously remembering her skirt, which looks silvery and flowing in the painting. That sand ended up being a fantastic duplication of the feel and color of her skirt!
168 tulips in action here. I may add that each one had to be wired and taped. Otherwise they would have grown out of control, over the vase lines, obstructing the painting,etc. Tulips are tricky and are a real pain to use when a nice tidy and contrived Pavè is in order.