Kay Talks About Life as a Florist Before Floral Foam
What Kay did Before Floral Foam
When Kay trained as a Florist 45 years ago, Floristry was very different but yet very much the same. Like all Art & Design, changes are always imminent, designs get bigger, wilder, smaller, neater, trends and techniques are constantly changing and when Floral Foam was introduced to her, although slow on the uptake, Kay says it was a game changer in floral design.
This super absorbent sponge that became so heavy when wet it could support the strongest of stems. Foam actually becomes about 40 times heavier when wet. It could keep flowers hydrated for days and made transportation so much easier for florists.
"When foam was introduced it was very expensive to use so we still used flower frogs, chicken wire and moss when we could, but as time went on we loved foam and it became more of a stable in our work life" says Kay. Kay tells us about when she was training they arranged flowers in chicken wire and the most important thing was to push the stems in far enough to hit the water source, In exams points were lost in your exams if the flowers were not adequately submerged in the water.
When Foam rings for funeral wreaths appeared in the wholesalers we were like ‘this will never take off’ we used fresh moss as a moisture source for our funeral wreaths and wired flowers and foliage on to create our funeral tributes. (much more cost effective but time consuming) It took approximately 10 years before we fully transitioned into only using foam rings for funeral wreaths as their convenience could not be denied and Kay laughs when she thinks about how time consuming mossed wreaths were, they could only be made on the day or the night before and used to wonder how they managed before foam. “But we managed” she says and wiring was the core of floristry and you never met a florist with nice nails and soft hands.
All our wedding work was wired, wedding trends were for larger bouquets as every flower was individually wired into the bouquet, then along came the foam bridal holder (although these were never a favourite of ours) Florists began making bouquets in the foam holders, but as they could only hold a small amount of flowers, bouquets became smaller, until handtied bouquets came back on trend and back out came the chicken wire, and we realised the old ways of making large loose bouquets was probably the easiest way. Our Module 3 Course which focuses on Bridal and Wedding Work is 95% foam free.
What we didn’t know initially was how NON-Biodegradable Floral Foam was. But we do now and gradually we are making a determined effort to move away from foam when we possibly can.
We will of course still train our students in the use of floral foam as we feel not to do so would be a disservice to our students and is limiting their education in floristry and floral design techniques. We are confident it is only a matter of time before a fully bio-degradable foam will be available for florists to use and as soon as it is, this is what we will be using in our training. Oasis do have a foam that is 51% biodegradable in 365 days in a biological active landfill, however Ireland does not have a biological active landfill.
But as part of our school we do train our students using our ‘historical’ techniques that Kay learnt all those years ago ‘before floral foam’
Chicken Wire is a fantastic medium, it is easy to manipulate and shape for some floral design structure where previously foam would have been used. Our unique technique that we use when training our students in Floral Arches , Chandeliers, Pillars etc means these structures can be made off site, in advance without having to build a structure and use buckets of water or Moss as a water source.
Using Moss is defiantly coming back in the vogue with the new generation florist realising how wonderful it is and combining old and new techniques can make amazing structures that can be worked on on-site that don’t need to last too long. However, at them moment buying Moss in the east coast of Ireland and the greater Leinster area has been restricted by the department of the environment and importing Moss is quite expensive
Our business is Flowers and flowers grow from the ground, we need to look after our planet when we can, and by reducing the use of foam when possible and educating our students on the effects it has on our environment, we can help the upcoming generation of florists be more aware and lobby for more environmentally friendly products for our industry from our suppliers.
A quote we always use at the school,
There is a right way,
There is a wrong way and
There is your way
& that is the way that works best for you, at this time, on this occasion, in this location and with the labour, supplies and budget you are being allowed.
Be open to always learning new skills, new ideas and techniques, when you think you know it all ??
Give it up 😊
We have a One Day Advanced Workshop in Wired Wedding Bouquets - Click Here for more details