So far as containers for the type of driedI deal with, the choice is comparatively easy: the simpler the better.
The predominant feature of this type and style of arrangement is in essence traditional, delicate, light – indeed, it is, one hopes, an expression of nature in its most true and captivating form. No gimmicks, no artificial colour, no unnatural aids play any part in the theme. Rather is it to be recognised as an essay in bringing together, in simple and appropriate assembly, the manifold beauties of nature, culled with appreciation and diligence throughout the seasons. Fritillary and grape-heads in the spring – the columbine and scilla seed-heads next – the bent and timothy grasses in early summer – the paeony, maple and – and so many others as the season grows – until finally, by September and October, the store is almost complete (except for the late , hydrangea heads and the like); and at this stage in the sequence, the question of an appropriate in which to arrange them becomes paramount.
Whereas the fresh flower arranger works in situ, the dried flower arranger should have the pedestal, the container, the mechanics, tools, and accessories all ready, close to the dried material, in a studio-like manner. The dried material worker has the immense advantage of being able to draw from a whole year’s harvest at one time, and if the store has been carefully and imaginatively opened up and the contents set out for viewing, selection will be much easier and quicker.
With small delicate arrangements, generally not larger than nineteen inches high and eleven inches broad, a champagne, sherry or hock glass is ideal – or a similar size china vase (plain white, soft yellow, dark olive green). So too, are alabaster, soapstone or lead vases, a small tazza, a cornucopia, a cherub holding a shallow bowl, a small candlestick – any of these are apt and charming containers. Vases of over-heavy design or with gaudy decoration must at all costs be avoided – the muted hues of dried material are best against an unobtrusive background. Owing to its rather brittle nature, dried plant tissue will last longer and look better in a container on a “”. This gives scope for a more natural drooping of leaves, grasses and over the rim. Equally, a flat arrangement using an ash-tray, saucer, butter-dish, mirror or tile, can make a delightful variation, with, say, a clump of gentians or other small , leaves and ferns, set in moss, or lichen-covered Plasticine. When using a wine-glass container (not too opaque) a charming iridescent effect can be obtained by lining the glass with a double thickness of clear cellophane before putting in silver-sand (if used) and the Plasticine. This also serves to hide the “mechanics” within.
There are, of course, endless ways ofdried plant material in many types of containers. So much depends on personal taste. The arranger has a splendid excuse for browsing among antique shops, in “reject” china and glass stores, at bric-a-brac stalls and country sales – the choice is wide, the scope enormous, and excitement can be intense.
For exhibition purposes, whether the arrangement is for decoration, competition, or sale, a stand on which tothe assembly is really indispensable. Candlesticks of wood, metal, porcelain or glass can make very effective stands, with a flat painted platform fixed over the candle-socket. Similarly, trade display stands, of composition, foam, or perspex, such as those to be found in shop display fitters’, are useful. Messrs Anjay Displays Ltd have a wonderful selection of display material in perspex and mirrored glass. If all these are lacking, then upturned painted flower- or paper-covered boxes can prove helpful. For large arrangements, pedestals and torcheres are obvious choices.
Positioning the Arrangement
As the type of arrangements dealt with here are not cumbersome, they can be moved easily from place to place – for instance, on the mantelpiece (so long as it is cool there), at the corner of a bookshelf, on top of the television set, on a writing table, and not infrequently on the spare bedroom dressing-table. Because of their “three-dimensional” design, they are best placed against a background of walls, pictures or books. The all-round type of arrangement does not make an effective centre-piece for a dining-room table as it can look over-stiff. Blu-tack, is most useful in positioning arrangements.
All dried arrangements look their best when viewed from afar, with the light above, below or in front of them – never behind.