Rittners School Of Floral Design
In Boston Presents....

How To Make An Intermediate Contemporary Vase Arrangement

Most American flower shops today are capable of doing both traditional as well as contemporary floral art.

Traditional floral designing is characterized by having greater quantities of flowers, more foliage, etc. Contemporary floral art generally uses less materials, but makes greater use of space. Contemporary floral design tends to mix unusual combinations of things together. It has the feeling of Oriental style floral designing, yet it is distinctively Western.

This is a good example of a contemporary floral design, at the intermediate level of complexity. It uses a rather interesting mixture of both everyday flowers and unusual dried materials. Try it!! I think you will find it an interesting creative exercise!

What You Will Need

  • Tall Container
  • Foam
  • 9 Carnations
  • 1/2 Bunch of Miniature Carnations
  • A Little Statice
  • Sabel Palm Leaves
  • 3 Sea Grape Leaves
  • A Lotus Pod
  • Baker Fern
  • Small Dried Pods
  • Novelty Artificial Bird

  • We start this design by placing our piece of foam into a container. The base that we are using is approx. one foot tall. We first fill the container to the brim with scraps of foam, and then using specialized florist tape, attach foam to the top of the base. We use some of our baker fern to completely cover the top and the sides of the foam with foliage. It is easier to get this done early in our construction, then it will be later after our other materials have been placed.

    We want to establish height in the design. Therefore we place a cluster of our sabel palm leaves into the rear center of the foam, as shown in the illustration.

    You can see from the start that the sabel palm immediately creates impact in the design. There are some designers who insist that one must follow the rule of creating a height that is 1.5X the height or width of the container. Contemporary floral artists tend to break the rule, and extend the height of designs even higher. While we have used sabel palm here any tall or branchy material would also work quite well.

    Lets start to fill in the stucture of the design a bit. Note the three giant leaves that have been placed in the design.These are called sea grape leaves. They are brought in from the Carribean and painted all kinds of colors. The folks who import these, glue heavy wire to them, so that they are easy to work into your floral designs.

    Place two to the left of the design slightly to the side of the sabel palm. The third sea grape leaf is placed coming out to the right of the base of the unit. Notice that with just three items we have filled a very large area. The purple pod placed into the center of the design is a lotus pod. Lotus pods have long been a favorite dried material used by designers. Like the sea grape leaves and sabel palm the lotus pod has been dyed, and a stem of wire attached. You can pick up these various dried materials from your local florist. The overall shape of the design to this point looks something like an L.

    Next lets start to add some of our flowers. Place two carnations as shown in the picture.

    Adding more carnations, we can work our flowers down the left side of the design, gradually going out towards the left, creating a section of the design that angles down slightly towards the table. Some of the carnations are placed in between the sea grape leaves. Notice how the shape of the design appears more like an upside down T.

    Carnations are a good choice in this design. The orange color works well with the sandy color of the sabel palm and sea grape leaves. The size of the flower forms a good proportion with the other materials and creates a definite visual statement. The purple lotus pod creates good contrast and a focal point.

    Still the design isn't ready for prime time! We have a lot of weight on the left side of the design, but need more for the right side.

    More small pods are placed into the design. Two round and white ones called bell cups are placed, one in the center of the design just above the lotus pod, the other going out to the left on the baseline of the design.
    A little bird is placed on top of the lotus pod with a little spanish moss forming its nest. A line of four pods is placed working towards the right side of the design. Miniature carnations are placed as shown in the picture to create a balance between the right and left sides of the design.

    A few pieces of statice provide variety and contrast of texture through the arrangement.

    This is a design meant to be viewed on one side. It would be very effective in an entry hall, or on a side table. Although we used carnations in this example, we could vary the mood and price of the design by substituting yarrow, roses, gerbera or lilies. In place of the miniature carnations, consider the use of button poms, starburst poms, dendrobium orchids, or sweetheart roses.

    We hope that you really enjoyed this brief floral design lesson. At Rittners Floral School in Boston we provide floral design instruction that includes a wide range of different styles and techniques. Please come and take one of our hands-on workshop programs!!

  • Rittners Floral Education Center returns you to our Floral Education Center.

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