Large Scale Design Class – Day 2

The large scale saga continues! At the end of day 1 of the class, we laid some groundwork for the next days work, which was to involve decorating a tent with garland and other components, and decorating the birch chuppah / wedding arch.

We talked through some more mechanics of various structures/ bases that you can put flowers on, and learned some ways to DIY these structures, and some tricks for making them transportable.  Case in point: this bamboo base, which isn’t permanently assembled but rather rests on short PVC pipes in concrete, so you can deliver it in pieces.  It’s very cheap to construct, and can be rented / re-used on top of that, but when you cover the base and put little pops of flowers on top, it makes a big impact.    The great thing about this class is that even when the stuff being demoed wasn’t really my style (I am on the record about not loving tropical designs ; ) I could easily envision / adapt it into my style- for example, this same thing could be done with birch poles, if you hollowed out their bases enough to fit over the PVC.

Here is that concept starting to take shape – to get through tons of demos and instruction in the three days, we didn’t always complete everything, but took each design far enough for us all to get the idea and be confident that we could do it on our own.  There is foam in the base for additional flowers, the concrete would be covered, and of course the third bamboo pole would get its own mini arrangement in a real design!  I really loved this idea – again, I’d use birch or some other type of branch besides bamboo, and don’t even get me started on birds of paradise (which are a flower that I have a personal issue with that all goes back to my backyard and 4 hours of pick axing labor ; )-  but the idea of making an easily transportable, rentable, reusable, and inexpensive base that you can put small pops of flowers into and get a ton of height and impact out of was very intriguing to me!

Moving on… mixing cement was fun- and placing the curly willow branches in it was so easy – you can either keep the box you poured the cement in as part of the structure, or, as we did here, fill it with a garbage bag that you ultimately peel off, so that it’s just a cement base left:

We also got some up close peeks at how the Chuppah was constructed / assembled- again, lots of hardware store finds:

The semi assembled Chuppah: how to set up a birch chuppah moss

And the bare tent that we’d be decorating the next day:

how to decorate a wedding tent

The first thing we did on day 2 of the class was make a garland.  We worked together, and got through a 15′ garland pretty quickly.   As great as it is to have this skill, Leanne taught us how to source fresh garland as well, and she believes that the benefits of outsourcing this outweigh the (slight) cost savings of doing it yourself any time you need anything more than 10 feet of garland (I completely agree!) But it was great to learn to make it.  We used sisal tips, plumosa and ruscus for this garland.

how to make a fresh garland

And wrapped, and wrapped, and wrapped the bunches with paddle wire – we used a whole reel of it for the 15′ garland!

The garland was hung using nothing other than s hooks (it was formed around a long length of twine, so it was the twine really helping it settle onto the s hooks).  We’d left a loop of twine at each end, so that’s what we first hung in the tent’s corner:

how to hang a garland

Leanne then demonstrated how to cover a tent’s ugly metal legs with natural materials, which can be less expensive than fabric draping- bind wire was involved!

And here’s where our curly willow piece that we’d set into cement the previous night came in – a little companion piece to augment the tent decor, or to use inside the tent- again, we didn’t totally finish this as we had so much ground to cover in the class! But we certainly all got the idea, and there are lots of inventive ways that you can cover cement in a design like this:

We each made a triangular shaped arrangement in a foam cage to decorate the corners of the tent- here is one of my fellow students hanging hers (if you guessed that she used an s hook to hang it, pat yourself on the back!):

And then it was onto the chuppah, which was by far the highlight of the class for me! It was my favorite overall look / design, and the one thing that I was specifically hoping to leave the class confident doing on my own in the future.  It all started with six full sized foam cages.  Into each of the cages, we placed about 12 flowers – but were taught that with any design quantity estimation, plus or minus 20% of the number of flowers will also work.  It could have been as few as 9 flowers per cage (with more greens featured), or as many as 15 (if the client had a bigger budget or wanted an ‘all flower’ look).  We wrapped them in ti leaves, just to hide the plastic and so we didn’t need to completely cover the tops and bottoms with greens.  And we just used stem cuttings to affix the leaves to the cages!

Once we’d each made our two cages, we hung them upside down with zip ties and s hooks, across the width of the chuppah:

how to decorate wedding arch chuppah with fresh flowers roses esperance hydrangea callas calla hypericum

And then began to tighten up the zip ties and use additional zip ties to force them to face forward:

how to decorate wedding arch chuppah with fresh flowers roses esperance hydrangea callas calla hypericum

Here’s how it looks with zip ties tightened.  There were some gaps between the cages, and we filled them in with additional flowers, and then gracefully draped callas over the design (we used corsage pins to pin them in).

how to decorate wedding arch chuppah with fresh flowers roses esperance hydrangea callas calla hypericum
Here the callas have been added – the design could have certainly been considered finished without them, and they added dollars to the design that weren’t strictly necessary to cover surface area, but they also added a lot of interest – I think they really made this chuppah design so much more special!
how to decorate wedding arch chuppah with fresh flowers roses esperance hydrangea callas calla hypericumAnd the finished arch, with a matching companion topiary piece in the works too.  These pieces could be placed down the aisle, or could just be used in a pair on either side of the chuppah to kind of extend / expand it:

how to decorate wedding arch chuppah with fresh flowers roses esperance hydrangea callas calla hypericum

After we created these designs, we went upstairs and crunched numbers – we calculated how many stems we used, their wholesale cost, and guidelines for pricing and selling these types of large scale designs.

I can’t wait to do something like this for a client now!





February 29, 2012 - 9:21 pm

Kelly Sullivan (Botanique) - Wow, sounds like a great class! Thanks for sharing everything you learned!!!

March 1, 2012 - 5:50 pm

Lori - Wow! I’m on the edge of my seat to read about Day 3! Great posts!

March 2, 2012 - 11:24 am

Kate - Just posted day 3 – Hi Lori, thanks for commenting!

May 21, 2012 - 2:13 pm

Denita - Kate,

Lovely work you all did in class. Thanks for posting the tips online. The ti leaves on the cages are a great idea and a time saver. 🙂


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