Principles Of Design In Flower Arranging

Principles Of Design In Flower Arranging

While today’s styles of arrangement differ so much from east to west, these are obviously the product of gradual evolution in the art, because examples of very early flower arrangements in almost any country, including Japan, do not differ so greatly from each other. To modern eyes many of them appear over-massed and lacking in form. The containers are heavy and dominant; there is no recurring pattern.

It is natural enough that the materials should be tightly massed in these early arrangements, for without efficient stem holders how else could the decorator make them stand in place? Except by bunching them and inserting the stems in an aperture just large enough to hold them, few flowers could have been massed and kept alive for longer than a few hours. Sometimes stems were arranged in damp sand rather than plain water, and sometimes flowers were placed in containers, often baskets, filled with damp moss, but this was mainly to supply moisture rather than for support.

One can often see therefore why even short stems were arranged in tall vases, a fashion incidentally that has lasted up to the present day. If containers are light in weight and the flowers inexpertly arranged they tend to overbalance. Once flower arrangement became more sophisticated and means of holding the flowers just where the decorator wanted were introduced, vessels became shallower.

Bunched or posied

When the means to hold stems securely in place were provided, definite patterns began to emerge. As explained earlier, originally and particularly when intended for home decoration, the flowers would first be bunched or posied. The bunch would be domed or cone-shaped and usually furnished with an outer collar of leaves or fern fronds.

Stems were left as long as possible in the bunch but for arrangement these would be cut as required, they would be cut short to fit a low bowl or left longer if the flowers were to be stood in a taller but still heavy vase, with a wide base to prevent it from overbalancing.

The leafy collar protruded over the rim of the container and thus the bunch ‘sat’ on the rim of the vessel. Often the tall vases had a slim waist.

This meant that they could be used for bunches with varying thicknesses of stem portion. Until the 1940s this style of vase was being produced in great numbers and can still be found, often in cut glass. It is used also at flower shows for displaying blooms such as sweet peas.

The waisted shape is seldom used for modern flower arrangements simply because it is not designed for them. It limits the arranger who finds that when side stems are arranged to suit the line of the wide base of the vase arrangements tend to be too tall or too wide. Apart from that, nipped-in containers are notoriously difficult to use, although these can be attractive. In this, case the vase is modern, but its shape is similar to the old types).

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