February 28 – Floral Design Day

Posted on February 28, 2018

Floral design isn't actually just about flowers.

And it certainly isn't just grabbing a few flowers, willy nilly, and sticking 'em in a vase!

Instead, floral design is using plant materials (of course including flowers!) to make interesting and / or beautiful compositions.

In other words, it's an art!

One of the first people to claim flower arrangements as an art form was Carl Rittner, who started a floral design school in Boston. And today is his birthday - hence it being chosen as Floral Design Day.

Here are some aspects of floral design:

Some of the non-floral parts of floral design include greenery like ivy, myrtle, fern, lemon leaf, eucalyptus...

...possibly bark, pinecones, fruits, roots, or other plant parts...

...plus accents such as ribbons or raffia, ornaments, small toys, candles...

...plus containers such as glass vases, ceramic pots, wooden boxes, woven baskets, tin cans, or even wagons or toy trucks!

Have a theme. Tropical flowers have a different look than roses, which have a different look than mountain wildflowers.

You can design smooth-and-flowing compositions, or broken-up and rustic, or abstract and modern, or traditional and simple.

Repeat a pattern by using groups of three or five of the same kind of flower repeated with variations over the entire arrangement. Remember that odd numbers like 3 and 5 tend to be more eye-pleasing than even numbers.

Connect one part to another so that the eye easily goes from one part of the arrangement to the other. 

Consider having taller portions, cascading portions, or sweeping portions. 

Vertical lines suggest power and strength. Horizontal lines are calming, suggesting a sense of stability. Diagonal lines suggest energy, and curved lines suggest motion - but a softer, easier sort of eye-movement than diagonal lines.

Also, c
onsider the negative space between elements of the design.

Consider the textures you want to use. You might want a very delicate, intricate kind of flowers with a simple, smooth vase...Or you might want rough textures in both flowers and their holder.

You may want a symmetrically balanced arrangement for a more formal or traditional look.

Or you may want the informal, modern look of asymmetrical balance.

Of course, with floral arrangements, radial balance is very common. In this case, the elements radiate from a central point like the rays of the sun.

Consider using lots of colors, just three colors, or only one color.

Proportion is important. Stick with the Greek "golden ratio" - also called the golden section or golden mean - the ratio of the vase to the flowers is (roughly) 3 to 5 to 8.

An easier way to say that is that the ratio should be somewhere between one-half and one-third.

February 27 – Happy Birthday, Bertha Pappenheim

Posted on February 27, 2018

Today's famous birthday is someone whose face once graced a German stamp in a series called "Benefactors of Mankind" (but in German, of course: Helfer der Menschheit).

Perhaps it should have been called "Benefactor of Womankind"!

Bertha Pappenheim (who was born in Vienna, Austria, on this date in 1859). Her family had roots in Orthodox Judaism. When she was 29 years old, Pappenheim moved from Austria to Frankfurt, Germany, and there she got involved in art, science, and charitable works. She also wrote poems, novellas, children's stories, and a play. Many of her writings were published, some under a male pseudonym (common for women writers at the time).

So...why did I say Pappenheim was a benefactor of womankind?

  • She worked on issues of human trafficking of women.
  • She worked with, and served as president of, the League of Jewish Women, striving for education for girls and job equality for women.
  • She founded and helped to found kindergartens, community homes, and schools.
  • She founded an orphanage for Jewish girls.
  • She translated Mary Wollstonecraft's paper in defense of women's rights (English to German).
  • She translated the "Women's Talmud" and the Women's Bible (Yiddish to German).

You may wonder how this Jewish woman living in Germany dealt with the Nazi threat. Actually, when the Nazis came to power in 1933, Pappenheim was already pretty old. She took a group of orphaned Jewish children to safety in Great Britain in 1934 - but the next year she discovered she had cancer. She died in 1936 - before Kristallnacht and the concentration camps and all the most horrific stuff.