Stuff I learnt in floristry class

Hello!

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I’ve been going to a beginner’s floristry class since January. I’m not very good at it, but I don’t even care because I really enjoy it. I’ve even made my peace with the fact that my nemesis is florists’ foam (also known as oasis, which does make me think of the Gallaghers.)

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I do, however, enjoy putting bunches of flowers together (although I think I’m not allowed to call them ‘bunches’ now that I’m *sort of* trained. I think I’m meant to refer to them as bouquets…) I’ve learnt some great tips about choosing flowers and putting them together, which I would have liked to have known before I started putting stuff together.

  1. Bleach your vases and change your water

28235344_10155296869792267_8276381645575148795_oEvery time you have an empty vase, fill it with water and put a few drops of bleach in it and leave it overnight (although I forget and sometimes leave it a few days…) Empty it and rinse it out. This will kill any bacteria and means that you’re starting with a clean, germ-free vase. It’ll mean that your flowers last longer from the get-go. In a similar vein, make sure you change your water every couple of days.

Some people swear blind that a drop of bleach in the water works to keep flowers looking fresh, although I would only do that for roses; for anything else I use a teaspoon of sugar or, if I have it, the packets of flower food you get with supermarket flowers.

2. There’s nothing wrong with supermarket flowers!¬†

27021216_10155227044562267_3429879072351896780_oI do love going to the florist, but it is expensive. There’s nowt wrong with supermarket flowers- I use them quite a bit for class, and a florist recently recommended I buy focal flowers (i.e. the main flowers in an arrangement) from a florist, the secondary flowers from a supermarket and the greenery from a garden. To be honest, it depends on time/money as to whether I have time to do all of that. But you can definitely gussy up a couple of bunches of Aldi’s finest- arrange them in a symmetrical pattern, twisting the stalks if you can, any foliage on the outside, and tying off with string. Chop the bottoms of the stalks off evenly- et voila! A tied bouquet! The only thing I would say is that supermarket flowers do not tend to last as long as florist bought flowers, but when they’re cheap as chips, who cares?

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment

IMG_20180214_083541_236I think one of the reasons I’m not terribly good at the lessons is that I’m not very keen on the formality of what we’re being shown. This is just my thing and no judgement on the teacher (who I love) or the whole world of floristry. It’s just me being an awkward sod. I tend to prefer smaller arrangements that suit a more vintage taste, which have a country garden look to them. This is what I will continue to make once I finish my course, and what I enjoy making. As one of Brighton’s top florists told me, ‘It’s not rocket science and there are no hard and fast rules.’ (He was quite dismissive of a lot of the formal structure of floristry- and seeing as he did my wedding bouquet, I tend to trust him!) One thing I would say: supermarket flowers tend not to smell much. If you want that, consider buying some broom or something like stocks from a florist- even one stem of these will lift your bunch of flowers into something a bit more special.

4. A few tweaks can make a bouquet look way more expensive

IMG_20180311_131728_492Around Valentines and Mother’s Day, flowers will be at their most expensive. If you wanted to make something flowery in the run up to those, I would heartily recommend you buy supermarket flowers for the bulk of it (especially if you want roses or tulips) and then go to a florist for a few finishing touches. The bouquet about was commissioned by Benn for his mum and I did go to a florist where I know I will get a good deal (and a discount for being a student, hurrah!) This is more my style- I love stuff that looks like I could just pluck it from my garden on a sunny June day and it’s nicely balanced, I think. Anyway, there are a few things I’ve noticed when you put together a bouquet:

  1. If you want roses, but not the expense, you could try lisianthus (the deep purple flowers above) or ranunculas, which are pretty in a similar way but often without such a steep price tag (although they will never be as cheap as daffodils or carnations!)
  2. Eucalyptus is having a moment. You can get the traditional varieties, with large silver leaves, or the smaller leafed variety, which is in the arrangement above. The good thing about eucalyptus, especially the bigger type, is that it will literally make any bunch of flowers look more expensive. Probably because it is quite expensive, but it would be a price I would consider paying for something special. To be honest, though, I’d just have vases full of it round the house I love it so much. If you want nice foliage, consider pistachio leaf, which is nice and half the price. Foliage is super important and I almost never have enough.
  3. If you want to make something look vintage, go with wax flowers. These tiny pink or white flowers are a bit of a discovery for me and also seem to be having a bit of a ‘moment’. Oh my god, I love them. They look like something from a Victorian wedding and they last an AGE. They aren’t hugely cheap, but they are cheerful and really add something to the flower arrangements I make. These would go in my vases with the eucalyptus.

5. Use Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration

I have a Pinterest board where I keep all things floristry- I love looking at flower combos, as well as different colours and presentation options. I’m also obsessed with the language of flowers and what different flowers meant in Victorian times. I then use this as a starting point for ideas. There are also some really great Instagram accounts run by florists, with different styles and specialities. Have a hunt around and find your style. Then, go and have a go. It’s really, honestly, not that hard. Seriously- look at some of the mistakes I’ve made!

If there’s anything you’d like to know, but I may have missed, let me know either in the comments or on Twitter. Enjoy your flowers!

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#PaperHaul Featured: Helz-Illustrates

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November’s #PaperHaul box couldn’t contrast more with last month’s if it tried. To go from 40s Film Noir to 80s Lisa Frank-inspired design is bonkers, but it’s one of the reasons I love getting my monthly stationery fix. As a kid who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, this batch of paper goodies is giving me a serious nostalgia fix.

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The cards this month are BRILLIANT. I have already given the big ‘You’re Fabulous’ card to one of my friends for her birthday. She works too hard and is a lovely person- when you’re stressed, it’s a good thing to be reminded of your fabulosity. I’ve sent the rainbow card to a friend who’s readjusting to life back in Germany after an amazing few months working on a scientific study of whales in Iceland. I figured a cute card might cheer her up. The rest of these cards will be saved for future moments of unexpected cheer.

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Can I just say how much I LOVE the monthly addition of the notebook? I mean, I’m firmly of the opinion that you can’t have too many notebooks. I did give this one to my fabulous-yet-stressed friend though. I thought the design¬†would make her smile and how can you not be cheered up by a cute unicorn on your Notebook Of Important To Do Lists? The little card reminds me a bit of Jem (the old 80s cartoon, not the recent disastrous film.)

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The sticky bits have yet to be deployed- but never fear, they will be! The stickers are bigger than the usual #PaperHaul offering, but I like it.

Now please excuse me while I go and watch old episodes of Rainbow Brite on YouTube. x

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You can register for #PaperHaul here.

Disclaimer: I get my box at a discounted rate, but my reviews are honest and reflect my own opinions.

 

 

 

The Happiness Project #1: Using colour

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I find that colour can have a massive effect on my mood and how I feel in general- it’s a small thing, but it can have a huge impact. It can be a nail polish or lipstick, a scarf or the glasses I wear that day. Colour can be a shield or a beacon and I use it accordingly.

So today I’m going to wear one colour that is cheerful- and I’m going to compliment someone on something colourful they’re wearing.

What does colour mean to you? Do you have a favourite? Leave me a comment or tweet me- @wuthering_alice

The One and Only.. Phoenix Yard Books colouring books for grown ups!*

I have been colouring a lot lately and it’s been a real form of therapy. It’s the first year I’ve really felt like I was back in the swing of exam season since returning from maternity leave and also one of the hardest I can remember in terms of pressure. I haven’t been in the mood to do much- knitting and letter writing, not to mention blogging, have felt far too much like hard work and I’m not sure my mental capacity has been up to doing any of them at any great standard. So this is where tinkering in the garden- and especially- colouring have come in.

A few weeks back, Phoenix Yard Books contacted me and asked if I fancied giving their colouring books a go. I said yes immediately, as I’d looked at them a few days before in Waterstones and had been impressed by the variety of illustrations.

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As you can see, the titles I was sent are:

The One and Only Colouring Book for Grown Up Children

The Second One and Only Colouring Book for Adults

The One and Only Mandala Colouring Book

The One and Only Colouring Book for Travelling Adults

I love the mandala book especially. I may not be as zen as the monks who create one in the lobby of the White House in House of Cards, but I can see the appeal of colouring in such intricate designs (I seem to favour the more delicate designs in the book.) Here is my current work in progress, it’s been going for about a week now:

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(By the way, the pencils I’m using are these ones, and I wish I’d bought them earlier.) Carl Jung was a fan of mandalas- something about them being an extension of the self- but I like them because they allow me to really allow my perfectionist, I-like-my-things-to-be-symmetrical brain go to town. I choose limited colour palettes and then make IMPORTANT DECISIONS. Even if I do ten minutes of colouring in, I feel much better afterwards. I literally switch my brain off and only focus on trying to colour in the lines (which is way harder than you think when you’re a wound up ball of stress energy and a dash of crossness is added in to the mix.)

The other three books are smaller in stature but more eclectic in their illustration choices- sugar skulls, hipster people, animals and abstract patterns are all represented in these books and there really is something for everyone.

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Oh- and a quick note about the travelling colouring book: it comes in a slip case and has ring binding, so perfect for those who want to do a bit of therapeutic colouring on a commute…

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*Books were sent for review, the pencils I bought myself. Links are not affiliated

Grown up colouring and the art of getting a bit Zen

I was recently sent a copy of the first issue of Art Therapy magazine to review. As I recently wrote about how close I was to burnout, I was willing to try anything- ANYTHING- to get my mind a bit quieter.

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Please, do forgive me for the use of carpet as background- this was a hasty photoshoot.

I started having a go at grown up colouring (which is obviously a ‘thing’ now) while watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (also a ‘thing’) and found both immensely enjoyable.

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Thing is, for the first time in a few years, I am on ZERO medications. This means I am dealing with the world uninsulated for the first time in a long time. I need distractions from stroppy toddlers, coursework marking and the post-exercise agonies my body is determined to inflict on me. Both colouring and Kimmy Schmidt are good, positive antidotes to stress.

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Colouring in makes the imperfect perfectionist in me happy- I like everything to be symmetrical and the patterns in the magazine encourage this. I may have got a D in GCSE Art (I didn’t even want to take it in the first place, to be honest but choices at my secondary school were somewhat limited….), but by Jove I think I’d get at least a C in colouring in! I also think I’m going to be OK with my stress, too.

Issue 2 of Art Therapy magazine is now available.