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In the mood for love……

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Happy Valentines Day from Floradora! We’ve finally hit the big 300 likes on Facebook so THANK YOU very much to everyone who has supported me over the past few years. It’s been a little quiet in the flower factory for the past few months, only a few commissions and no new projects planned as I am now preparing for the biggest exhibition of my life; My Wedding. We got engaged at the end of last year and I couldn’t be happier! Yes I will be making all my flowers and yes I have already started; the wedding is in November! I have the perfect opportunity to put my artistic eye to the test and create my own wonderland of flowers and decorations. I cant give too much away but i’m sure you’ll get some teasers along the way & of course some proper pics after the big day. I will still be taking on commissions during this time so don’t be afraid to ask!

‘Paper Anniversary’

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Introducing the One Year Wedding Anniversary Paper Bouquet. When trying to figure out who would like a Floradora flower and why, it struck me, the mother-load you receive for your wedding. The envelopes are almost always lovely paper, pretty pastel or iridescent shades. As year 1 is traditionally celebrated with a paper gift I thought what a perfect opportunity to make personal bouquets as presents.

To make it unique in a new way to my other flowers, which are made from my own collection, I would really like the couples to keep their own wedding envelopes. Every now and then, when the petals are made, they catch the writing on the paper . When I started making flowers this used to happen by accident, but now I like to pick bits that would look good in a flower and give them pride of place. This means that I can ensure their names as MR & MRS Newly Weds are seen throughout the bouquet, all written in their guest’s handwriting.

It would be really great if grooms happened upon this idea and bought it as a present for his new bride, but my boyfriend assures me that this is unlikely, as it’s not on the to do list, if at all he has anything to do other than turn up. There may be men in the world who like the idea but actually remembering to collect the envelopes is unlikely. It all depends on being organised over a year before the actual anniversary. People always apologise to me “oh I had a lovely envelope I could have given you”, if I got upset everytime someone put something in their recycling bin instead of me I would have to be mad. Unfortunately, I think he’s right but i’d like to be proved wrong.

So i’ve made one from my friends wedding as an example, envelopes kindly donated by Mr & Mrs Hart. From the selection they gave me I chose a variety of colours which looked great together. In this case cream, white, silver and three different pinks. With no specific requests for blooms I chose to make Peonies & Roses. This is my favourite idea but I think it could work for a variety of occasions, if people want to collect and send me their envelopes, any blooms I make will be personal to them. Flowers start at £5 per stem, so your arrangement can be as large or as small as you like, freestanding or framed, the choice is yours.

‘Mum’

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Made in Roath, October 2013.

After exhibiting ‘Reflective’ in the Open Exhibition I decided to get more involved the following year by having an Open House for the 3 day festival. I turned my hallway into a gallery space and created 9 new flower pieces.  This effort to produce an exhibition was really exciting and was the start of my work on a larger scale. It was also the first time I sold to a complete stranger. One of my pieces displayed the word ‘Mum’ in one of the petals. This positioning occurred naturally as I was making the flower. I hadn’t previously cut a petal to make sure a word appeared, but if a piece of text appears while I’m sorting I try and make sure that it features in the final piece. Sometimes when you are layering petals a feature gets lost and a new detail takes the focus, I love this method as it adds to the texture. Having recently made commissions with other peoples collected envelopes I sometimes strategically cut to give particular focus to specific words and pictures if it suits the flower.

The complete fluke of placing ‘Mum’ in the spotlight was the reason this lady was so taken with the piece and decided to buy it then & there. She had been gifted some money by her mum to treat herself so this piece was perfect to her. I was so pleased with this validation that it spurred me on to make more and search for my place in the art world.

Being my first piece sold it still holds a special place in my heart.

‘Framing’

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Been busy this week getting ready for my work being installed at the Tandem Bakery in Hereford tomorrow. I have a selection of roses already framed from a previous exhibition but I wanted to frame up some Gerberas & Lilies to show some more recent work. This is a brilliant venue; right in the middle of town, big white walls & lots of people having yummy coffee & cake.

All of my frames are handmade from recycled materials & they are as unique and unusual as the flowers themselves.

I start with tri-wall which is thick corrugated cardboard, this is a waste product from the factory, which I collect from them. Three layers are sandwiched together with PVA. The frame is jigsawed out & covered with thin cardboard (cereal boxes) this helps with the finish on the frames as when you try to paper-mache straight on to the tri-wall it doesn’t stick very well. A corresponding back board for the frame is also cut.

The whole frame is given a layer of paper-mache using brown paper, I’ve upgraded from newspaper as it is a lot sturdier & gives a smoother finish. The frame is then painted, usually about three coats. The flowers are glued to the back board & then the frame & board are glued together. This is not a frame you can put something else in, the piece comes as a package. I decided to make my own frames after my first exhibition when looking for really deep frames to house my flowers safely. I came to the conclusion that they were expensive & had glass, which put a barrier in front of the artwork that just didn’t need to be there. Design from necessity, I came up with these very light very sturdy & protective frames. They have been likened to a cottage wall, quite apt.

The entire back & sides are then paper-mached together & painted to give a unified look. The last step is a coat of buffed wax to make sure the paint doesn’t scuff & protect the whole piece. Lots of stages but totally unique. Voila!

‘Reflective’

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Unemployed, Cardiff, October 2012.

Fast forward two years….I have been working as an administrator in the day & volunteering at the theatre in my spare time. Each autumn I had seen the variety of talent displayed on my doorstep at the art festival Made in Roath. This is the year I pluck up the courage to enter my own work in the Open Exhibition at The Gate, a local arts centre. The piece is a true self portrait taken in a changing room of a dress that I never bought; it tends to give you a more honest view of what you look like!

This innocent picture had such a striking composition it lent itself to being re-made out of paper. I think it was the simplicity in the curve of my hand that drew me to the image. This piece means a lot to me as it’s the last 2D piece I made & probably the only time I’ve made a self portrait & put it on show.

As an artist I seem to live in a heavily self-critical state to prepare myself for the worst case scenario when judged by peers. Sometimes you’re able to let that go & just enjoy what you have made, this is one of those occasions. I think I look peaceful even though being in that confined, unflattering environment can be the most challenging place you can find yourself in.

It would be nice to re-visit this form of making; taking an image, creating a stencil and then re-creating the image from envelopes. Armed only with a scalpel & a roll of masking tape. Using artistic licence to simplify the shapes & keep the colours within a palette of my choosing. I’ve had some interest with regards to this technique so I guess watch this space……..

‘Postage Paid’

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Unemployed, Cardiff , January 2010.

My first envelope flower.

I had made 2D pieces during and after my degree but since graduating in 2008 it always took a back seat to paying the rent. Given a few months in a new city gave me the time to explore. As I started working with paper again it was a natural progression moving into 3D; they have come a long way since then.

At that time each petal was drawn & cut out individually, tessellating the shapes to try & get the most out of the paper. I rubbed out all of the pencil lines before assembling. I must have been crazy. I know I still am with all the work that goes into a bloom but I think its worth it.

Each petal is added to the stem individually but I now cut out maybe 10 petals at once by folding the envelope. I have outgrown the templates with my roses as I know the shape I’m aiming for & cut them all freehand.

Pictured is my first flower; a barclays bank envelope with quite large petals, it utilises the patterns from the inside & outside with bits of my new Cardiff address visible. Within the flower I’ve tried to balance the soild colour, pattern & handwritten elements; giving each enough room to be seen. The stem was wrapped in cotton, probably the only thing I had lying around & it was stuck together with sellotape instead of glue. It’s interesting to look back & see the shapes & techniques from the first flower. You can only work with what you’ve got, I wonder what they will look like in another 5 years time………..