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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Divine Divas: Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) bette #davies joan #crawford #horror:  So this has gone a little off-piste (I’ll be reviewing Of Human Bondage in the next few days), as I’ve been trying to go in order of film release, but I requested this from the library and it came earlier than expected! Anyway, welcome to the mother of all rumour-filled films, in which Misses Davis and Crawford- long rumoured to be bitter enemies- are sisters ‘Baby’ Jane and Blanche Hudson, trapped in a co-dependent and unravelling relationship that isn’t fun for anyone. A washed-up and now alcoholic former child star, Jane is forced into the role of carer of her sister, a more successful actress who was disabled in an accident caused by Jane’s drinking. Jane’s mind becomes more and more unstable as the film progresses, putting her sister-and those around her- in grave danger.

babyj2 I love this film. It’s campy and outrageous and surprisingly quite funny. I ADORE Bette Davis as Jane; her level of ‘meh’ in some scenes actually make me laugh every time I see them. I think every performance is fantastic and that this is one of those films deserving of its cult status. I understand why people become slightly obsessed with it. (My Twitter cover picture is the one above; my Facebook profile picture is of ‘Baby’ Jane applying lipstick. I am quite biased.)

I first saw it when I was about 15 and it wasn’t much later that I discovered one of my favourite books, ‘Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud’ by Shaun Considine, which is a biography of the two actresses told through their apparently bitter rivalry (which is disappointingly debunked by Karina Longworth in my favourite podcast, You Must Remember This.) I remember being being especially taken by Davis’ transformation into the deranged Jane: layers upon layers of caked makeup and a creepily innocent smile. In contrast, Crawford had to be really persuaded to abandon her high-glamour look, which she didn’t really do. In some of the earlier scenes, she is eerily beautiful for someone who has been locked in one room for twenty years, and Davis later complained that Crawford wore ‘falsies’- and that, in a scene in which she had to lie across her chest, it was like landing on ‘two footballs’.

Is it scary? Not really, by modern standards. I imagine there were scarier films being released even in 1962, to be honest. But what it is is a hugely entertaining film in which two greats allow themselves to be parodied (to greater or lesser degrees!) and to admit the ways in which their careers were permanently changing.

Handmade sale!

I was looking through some bits and pieces and realised that I had a lot of stock left from when I used to make and sell things at craft fairs in Brighton and I really would like to clear the decks- I only have so much storage and if I keep everything, Benn will eventually have to divorce me due to hoarding… So I’ve decided to start small.

I’ve made all these items myself with a range of materials. If there’s anything you fancy, leave me a note in the comments with what you want and a way to contact you once I’ve worked out postage. Everything is sold as seen- any questions, get in touch!

Bracelets- 

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  1. Rock Music- Paper, lava rock, goldstone. Was: £9 Now: £4

2. Sahara- Large porcelain beads, goldstone. Was £10 Now £4.50

3. Tiger- Mookite (the irregular shaped beads; it’s a gemstone), tiger’s eye. Was: £9 Now £4

bracelets24. Ice and Fire- Lava beads, blue sodalite. Was £10 Now £4.50

5. Marrakech- Paper beads, clay. Was £7 Now £3

6. Waterlillies- Vintage (1950s and 1960s) Czech glass beads. Was £10 Now £5

bracelets37. Beachball- Glass beads. Was £9 Now £4

8. Gatsby- Murano glass beads. Was £9 Now £4

9. Clash- Plastic beads, freshwater pearls (runs slightly large). Was £6 Now £2.50

bracelets410. Aphrodite- rose quartz, glass. Was £8.50 Now £3.50

11. Christabel- Chalk turquoise, purple glass. Was £8.50 Now £3.50

12. Old Lace- Large 1960s Lucite beads, blue sodalite and moonstones. Was £9 Now £4.50

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13. Picasso- Glass beads and moonstone. Was £8 Now £3.50

14. Chaos in Tokyo- Japanese paper beads, plastic beads. Was £6 Now £2.50

15. The Nile- Chalk turquoise, glass. Was £7 Now £3

Scarves– These long, skinny scarves would be great in early autumn and are made from organic Merino wool, hand-dyed by me (it’s really hard to capture the colours, but they are quite bright. Ask if you’d like further photos.) I designed and knitted the scarves myself. Originally £17.50, these are the last two: Sherbert Pink and Awesome Orange (SOLD). Now £8 each

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Vintage Stamp Brooches– Made by a friend of mine, these simple badges feature genuine stamps from the 1970s to the 1990s (and many are from countries that no longer exist!) £1.50 each or three for £3, please state clearly which number you would like when ordering.

The following numbers have been SOLD: 1,2,3, 11,16,19.

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