Tablescapes Class at Rene Van Rems

Today I’m excited to be posting photos of the set up, some of the process shots, and a behind the scenes sneak peak at the assembly area at Dos Gringos, a major creator and distributor of grocery store bouquets, and the building in which the Rene Van Rems studio space and classroom is housed.

Way too much came out of this class for just one blog post, so later in the week I’ll be doing separate entries on some valuable tips, tricks, and techniques I learned in the class, as well as posting images of beautiful new flower varieties and growers that I was exposed to through the class.

But first, I started my day off with another great flower related mug, the one that Rene gives to all of his students as a party favor! I don’t know why I like these mug photos so much, it’s kind of weird ; )

The studio space is gorgeous – it’s filled with copies of Rene’s books, awesome marketing materials that he uses when he speaks at conventions, and props galore!

Oh, and the most drool worthy wall o’ribbon you have ever seen! It was so big, I had to break it up into two photos!

On the way into the studio, we were greeted with a lovely tablescape sample, and some arrangements that foreshadowed the amazing botanical materials we’d be working with that day:

Those amazing peachy baubles are some sort of dates on the vine, that are not available commercially, natch ; ) Rene grows them on a tree on his property.  Of course he does!

The class was a great mixture of business analysis and motivation, hands on techniques applicable to special event floral centerpieces, and tips and tricks for integrating flowers in with overall event decor, with a big focus throughout on ways to be cost conscious, both by sourcing products for less, and through creating clever designs that make a big impact without using lots of expensive materials.

Here is the studio space, and some shots of us at work!

Here are some shots from Rene’s demonstrations – learning stem insertions in foam using sticks rather than flowers can be a great exercise, because you really see the radial pattern.  One of the most valuable things I learned in the workshop is that if you always insert stems like this, at noon, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, etc (which is then repeated of course on the front face and every other axis) you will never run out of space in the foam or have stems running into each other.  I have always struggled with this.  Also, if you’re trying to make a symmetrical, planned design, inserting stems this way is the only way to make sure the flowers face the correct way.

In that second shot, Rene stands in front of a lazy susan, which he purchases for cheap at Ikea, and loves to design on as you can spin the piece and see it easily from every angle as you work.  Awesome idea!

Here’s the first piece we made.   It’s a demi globe shaped centerpiece in foam anchored in a dish, and the principle was to insert the stems perfectly radially, like in the demonstration with sticks.  The below pics were part of a demonstration about how elevating a low centerpiece adds impact (I totally agree with that!) 

The next arrangement we made was in keeping with this one that Rene made for one of the sample tables, but with slightly different materials.  The purpose was to learn to group materials, rather than alternating and spreading them out equally, which can start looking “very FTD,” in Rene’s words ; )

P.S. yes the kale is tipped with gold paint, and the gourds are dusted with copper Just For Flowers spray – I love the effect of the paints in this design (not as big a fan of the tablecloth, but I certainly see how it ties in with the flowers!)

For our version of this design, we used antique hydrangea, rosehips, agonis, protea, unripe vine dates, and some pomegranite and other fruit “permanent botanicals”.

rosehips agonis

We also wrapped the plastic base with ti leaves, and secured them with U Glue dots, which are a wonder product!

Here are some of my process shots:

And of course, many of us opted to spray our rose hips with Copper or Black Cherry Just For Flowers.  I know that painting flowers has a bad rap in some circles, but you can use a color that’s very close to the flower’s natural color, and just spray a fine mist, and it can take something that’s perfect but just a touch too green or orange or whatever and make it mesh beautifully with the rest of the design.  In this case, I far preferred rosehips that were more of a deep almost magenta tinged red-orange to the brighter red-orange color they were.

Here’s my sample coming together.  We removed the petals from the sunflowers (obviously!) and the arrangements took on a really dramatic, deep, almost spooky tone:

A completed student arrangement:

OK before I hang it up for today, I also wanted to share some behind the scenes shots in the Dos Gringos bouquet assembly area.  And I thought my new Floret Cadet accoutrements were impressive!

Those are bouquet conveyor belts, with individual stem cutting stations.  They also had the biggest walk in cooler I’ve ever seen (about half of their 60,000 sq foot facility, it seemed to me!) After my visit, I looked on their website and learned even more cool things about Dos Gringos – they recycle 10,000 lbs per month of greens /scraps and turn it into compost, using their unique underground conveyor belt system (you can see a pic here in their own tour).   Another fun fact – during the two week period prior to Mother’s Day last year, they shipped out 900,000 sunflower bouquets!

It’s so fun for me to see where our flowers come from.

Stay tuned for two more posts out of this class – one on individual tips, tricks and techniques I learned, and one about the two growers I met and their product!

November 1, 2011 - 8:36 pm

Olga - What an amazing experience Kate!! Can’t wait to get a peek at the techniques 🙂

November 2, 2011 - 2:28 pm

Bradley Beck - Love the photograph of you spraying with Just for Flowers. Thanks for being a fan of Design Master.

November 2, 2011 - 2:34 pm

Kate - You’re welcome – they’re fun! My favorite color is Black Cherry so far ; )

November 4, 2011 - 9:03 pm

janet - It looks like it was a fantastic class. I can remember learning to insert stems into foam in a radial fashion – it made my life so much easier! I’ve seen the lazy susan trick, but your post reminds me that I really need to buy one for myself…

November 7, 2011 - 9:22 am

miriam - Wonderful Class, thanks for sharing, Rene is AWESOME!

October 7, 2012 - 1:22 am

Deb Di Bella - Great post!! Thanks for sharing – wish I could have attended that class. May I link your post to my blog?

I will give you full credit.

October 7, 2012 - 9:08 am

Kate - Of course! Glad you enjoyed the post

March 14, 2013 - 12:23 am

Deborah Di Bella AIFD - Thanks Kate, I just linked and posted your blog about the workshop.

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