I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Michaels Floral Designer, Shirley, from our Irving, Texas store to talk about floral designing, a few of her favorite tools of the trade, and some simple tips to help you make your next arrangement look fresh-from-the-garden fabulous!
Tell me about yourself & how you got started in floral arrangement?
I’ve been with Michaels for 23 years. I started in customer service and would sneak off to be with the designers and learn the art. I used to paint, so I really visualize color and this has helped me in designing because I can see which colors & textures will work best together.
Are there any resources you recommend for beginners?
Take a basic course. (Guess what! We have courses coming to a Michaels Store near you this spring!) Learn the mechanics of arranging flowers and feel the confidence to give it a try and personalize your space. Also, if you see an arrangement you like, say in a magazine or online, try to mimic the style. Floral arranging is trying your hand, then honing your skill. Your first few arrangements won’t be perfect out of the gate. Like any craft, it takes practice.
What are some of the basic tools to get started and try an easy arrangement?
- Wire Cutters will allow you to shorten the stems as desired
- Floral Foam is the foundation of the arrangement, it’s what keeps the flowers standing.
- The Vase is your fashion statement or functional piece to hold the arrangement together.
- Filler is what will hide the floral foam. It can be rocks, moss or another loose additive.
- Flowers… of course! Any color, any flower and any texture- it’s your choice.
You mentioned vase shape, can you expand on the different types of vases and why you would choose one?
There are four basic vase shapes: the bud vase, cube vase, trumpet vase and tall vases. The vase is selected by the space you plan to place it. As I mentioned earlier, it is the fashion statement to any arrangement and the shape will influence your arrangement style. Here’s a little bit of advice in choosing one…
- Bud vases are small but dramatic statements. A single flower or dainty flowers are all you need. This is a perfect complement to any desk or kitchen counter.
- Cube vases have a wide berth and allow for a tightly packed and low arrangement. The shape naturally says “modern”. The cube shape is perfect in any room, office or coffee table.
- The trumpet vase has a flare on the top which allows for more flowers, therefor a larger arrangement. This versatile arrangement works best on a dining table or console table.
- The tall vase can highlight tall dramatic flowers and can also be a stylized fashion statement. Being such a statement this vase works best in large rooms with tall ceilings.
What are some common mistakes that beginners make when designing floral arrangements?
First, being too hard on yourself. Let go, and let the flowers take you where they will. Again, if you learn the basics, you’ll be able to visualize your arrangement quickly. Second, using the wrong Styrofoam. If you have a smaller arrangement (under 18”), use soft. For larger arrangements, you’ll need something more solid to hold up the stems, so use the hard, crusty kind. I guess for most beginners soft is the “go to” Styrofoam.
What is your favorite base to work with?
I like to work with a pedestal vase. It has the same purpose as the trumpet vase and allows for a large amount of flowers or can also be designed as a shorter arrangement since the vase is short and wide. I love having creative freedom!
Do you have tips for working on projects outside of the vase?
Of course! When you work on a wreath, garland or swag, lay the flowers you want to use on top of the base, then take a photo to see if you like the placement before cutting them. This is a great tip since photos always let you see how the colors will work together.
What is the most popularly requested arrangement?
There is a huge interest in regional and tropical flowers here in our store. People love the look of Birds of Paradise, Orchids, Ginger, Water Lilies and Bamboo. (These are some of my favorites as well!). They remind me of warm summer and vacations far, far away. I arrange flowers for all events, personal styles and holidays. Making the arrangement a one of a kind piece of art is my favorite part of the job.