Archive for the ‘Florist Tips and Tricks’ Category

Hand-Pressed Petals

August 13, 2010

One crafty afternoon, my assistant Montita came over with her flower-making supplies to teach me the art of pressed millinery flower making.  Montita was a silk flower maker in Thailand, and she is a fount of wisdom on the subject.   Let me just say it’s  a difficult and time-consuming process.  Here’s what we went through to make one fluffy flower:

1.  Boiled clear gelatin with water to make a liquid, and spread it onto sheets of fabric.  Hung them outside to dry.

2.  Tested out the irons to make sure they weren’t so hot that they would melt or burn the fabric.

3.  Hand cut petals from our stiffened fabric. We used silk dupioni and a thinner poly silk.

4.  Used over 4 different iron tips on each petal to achieve the exact curve, curl, and wrinkle we were going for.

5.  Stacked each layer of petals, and sewed them together using pearls as “stamens”.

Here is the result!  I made this super simple ivory flower with freshwater pearl center especially for my friend Kim to wear on her wedding day.  I’m so honored that she wore one of my first hand-pressed creations on her big day!

Image courtesy of Orange Turtle Photography.

Here is a more complex peony flower that I made for one of my dearest clients to wear next weekend on her wedding day.  The lace bits compliment the rustic Spanish feel of her wedding perfectly.

These flowers are so much effort, but they are infinitely more beautiful than some silk flower you’d buy from a craft store, chop off the stem, and glue to a hair clip.  I’ve been experimenting with different fabrics, fabric dyes, and iron tips to see what comes of it.


Peach and Periwinkle Bouquet

February 17, 2010

When Jasmine Star asked me to create a bouquet  for The Workshop, she gave me free reign over it, like she always does.  No set color palette, no set theme, just make it hot!

Here’s my thought process when creating a bouquet where there are no parameters, which is totally fun but a little intimidating.

I look at what I DO know. I knew the dress by Joan Shum would be short, beaded, corset style- very Audrey Hepburn.  I knew the couple beforehand (they are great friends of my sister, and I’m proud to say I suggested them to Jasmine for the shoot!)  Jodi is tall, blonde, and beautiful, but by no means ordinary.  There is a striking edginess to her facial structure (her doppleganger is Sandra Bullock- do you see it???)  Plus, she’s quite quirky and hilarious, too. Not exactly a delicate little flower 🙂

-This leads me to the “feel” or “vibe” of the bouquet. Beautiful,  vintage-inspired, feminine, but by no means girly, with a bit of glam.

I decide on a color palette. How?  Sometimes totally randomly.  In this case, I started with peach (because it’s soft but not too girly), added a little tangerine to keep it happy, and brought in contrasting periwinkle blue.  Why?  Because  I’ve never seen a wedding in these colors and wanted to give it a whirl.

I choose the flowers. Usually I preorder, but in this case, I winged it and went to the flower mart to pick from what was available.   The Monday after Valentine’s Day is a little bit slim pickin’s, but I did manage to find some amazing treasures there

My catches of the day?   Beautiful peach shampoo ginger (they really do smell like shampoo!), blue muscari/grape hyacinth, orange stars of Bethlehem, and peach nerine lilies.

-I create and add finishing touches.  I wanted a tightly packed, textural bouquet with groupings of blue muscari.  I also tucked in silver hand-beaded leaves (my athena clips in silver!) to coordinate with the intricate beading on the dress.  I love the way silver looks with peach.

And there you go!  A peach and periwinkle bouquet!

Jodi and Matt are the cutest!

Way to “smeyes”, Jodi!  Gorgeous hair and makeup by Vivian Tran and the All Made Up team.  She’s the sweetest!

An athena clip tucked into the bout adds a bit of sparkle.  Yep, each and every bead is hand-sewn, because that’s how I roll!

A million thanks to Jasmine for allowing me to take part in The Workshop!

Ugly-Pretty Flowers?

January 30, 2010

While racing around the mart choosing flowers for the Style Lab, I started to think about “ugly-pretty” flowers.  I am generally drawn to things that are ugly-pretty (or “ugly-cute” as in the case of my boston terrier 😉 My favorite models and actresses straddle the line between ugly and beautiful.  Their buck teeth/ bug eyes/huge foreheads make them even more intriguing.  The scraggly desert landscape on the way to Vegas is ugly-pretty. I’m also obsessed with vultures (ask my husband!)  which are mostly ugly and creepy, but beautiful in flight.

(photo by Joe- Basil was extra ugly-cute as a puppy)

In a time where pretty, feminine, and vintage-inspired weddings abound, most of my clients are asking for soft, fluffy, petally flowers such as roses, ranuncula, and peonies.  There is NOTHING ugly about those flowers, and I adore them for their beauty!

(photo by Jerry Yoon)

But I also adore the spiky. The waxy.  The scary but beautiful looking flowers.  It’s refreshing to be able to use them from time to time, and I do believe tropicals and other unusual specimens will be returning to wedding decor soon enough.   I also like the idea of mixing in some ugly-pretty flowers with pretty-pretty flowers to bring more texture and surprise to the arrangements.

Without further ado:


(This list is totally subjective, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder)

1.  Leucodendrons–  my favorite variety has light yellow petals and an ombre-like ball in the center.

2. King Protea– Looks like a fuzzy pink monster.  Literally the size of a honeydew melon.  Frightening!

(photo from wikimedia)

3.  Bromeliads– typically used as a house plant, but I also see cut bromeliads at the mart in bright fuchsia, red, yellow and orange.

(photo by The Image Is Found)

4.  Sunflowers– admit it, these are kind of ugly… the huge brown center looks like a giant bumble bee’s eyeball.  But I will never forget the beauty of the sunflower fields in Tuscany.  I’m still dying to do a 100% sunflower wedding.  Any takers?

(photo by docuvitae)

5.  Arabicum Ornithogalum– One of my favorite flowers because of the tiny star-like blossoms with  black centers.  When in full bloom, these are definitely more pretty than ugly.  But when the blossoms are still tight, the green center of this flower sticks out and is pretty funky looking.

(photo by Trista Lerit)

(photo from flickr)

6.  Nigella- The most mesmerizing shade of blue, but the pods look like hairy tumors of some sort.

(photo by Joe)

7.  Gloriosa Lilies– I carried these on my wedding day.  They are a climbing vine with the most graceful stems and gorgeous fuchsia petals.  They look like daddy long leg spiders!

(photo by Trista Lerit)

8.  Pincushions– such a perfect name!  See picture at the bottom of the collage.

(photo by Boutwell Studio)

9. Sexy Pink Heliconia– That’s really what this is called! Heliconias scare me a little, but this pink variety is amazing to look at.

(photo from here)

10.  Lady Slippers- God is such an artist.

(photo from here)

Do you have any favorite ugly-pretty flowers that didn’t make my list?

The Treasured Petal Boutique!

January 13, 2010

Announcing my brand new etsy shop, The Treasured Petal Boutique!

I am selling items to have (decor), to hold (ring pillows and flower girl baskets), and to wear (accessories galore) for weddings and everyday.

I LOVE working with fresh flowers. They are evidence of God’s artistry, they smell divine and offer endless design possibilities.

Golden Carnation

But there is something comforting about creating nonperishable items that will never ever wilt or die.  Plus I can do it in my pajamas in front of old movies whenever wedding season  slows down.   Now I’m able to sell T-Petal creations to people all over the world, not just to my dear brides in L.A. and O.C.

Athena, In Gold

Can you tell that my stomach has butterflies in it? It is way intimidating to dive into etsy waters.  Especially when there are so many artists selling gorgeous pieces (heartoflight, whichgoose, and twigsandhoney are among my favs!) But I do believe I am bringing something special to the etsy community, so  stop by my shop and take a look around.  I will be adding items almost everyday, and shipping is just 2.00 to the U.S.!

Ever Wonder How…? Part 4

November 3, 2009

Ever wonder how… to make a floating floral raft?

The first floral raft I ever saw was this R. Jack creation on the Love and Splendor Blog.


(Photo by The Image Is Found).

There are also some amazing Japanese flower rafts on the net, like this one:

ocean flowers

(photo from here)

Piggybacking off my last post, I thought I’d share how I created the floral rafts in this picture.  I’m often asked to create things that I’ve never done or even seen before.  This was one of them!  I’m sure there are many ways to do this, so let me know if you have another method that works.


1.  Purchase styrafoam sheets, at least 2 inches thick.  Mine came from a floral supply store.

2.  I wrapped satin ribbon around the foam and secured it with pearl pins for a nice, tailored look in the water.

3.  I gathered different height candle holders and positioned them on the styrofoam.  I took wooden picks (aka hyacinth sticks) and stuck them around the candles like a little fence.  They keep the candles in place.  I was worried that the weight of these candles would be too much for the foam. Surprisingly, the foam is very bouyant and I could have probably loaded the rafts with even more.

4.  Next, I took 3″ round caged foams (see picture below, from the fss website) and spaced them evenly on the styrafoam.  It took about 10-12 cages per raft.  Note:  If you’re using sturdy flowers like mums and carnations which do ok without a water source, you can insert these flowers directly into the styrafoam sheets using toothpicks or pins.

caged foams

5.  I wanted the rafts to look like fluffy beds of flowers, so I chose flowers that would give me a lot of coverage (hydrangea, stock, open roses, and ivy).  I inserted the flowers into the foam cages and tried to keep the arrangement low, so as to not block the view of the candles.


6.  We used LED pillars for one reason- if the wind blew these suckers out, who was going to jump in and relight them?  Real wax LED’s look realistic from a distance.

7.  Oh yes, remember to LIGHT THEM/TURN THEM ON FIRST before you dive in to set them up!

8.  We created hooks on the bottom of our rafts with ribbon, and attached fishing weights to the hooks with fishing line.  You can spray paint the weights light blue to blend in with the bottom of the pool.

9.  Hindsight is 20/20, and I realize now that we could have attached the  fishing line to opposite sides of the rafts, and then tied them to waterproof suction cups on the walls of the pool. You would need to  test it out ahead of time to make sure they would be secure enough.

These are incredibly labor intensive, which can make them very pricey.  I think a simple raft with votive candles on a bed of petals or greenery would be just as gorgeous (and a little more budget friendly).




Ever Wonder How… Part 3

October 7, 2009

Ever wonder how... to prevent “sweaty vase syndrome”?

I like the look of stacked vases.  The picture below features bubble bowls stacked on top of cylinders of submerged orchids.

entry 2
Photo by The Image is Found.

I also love creating floral cake stands with glass vases and plexiglass.

Photo by Trista Lerit Photography.

I’m also loving enclosed terrariums, like the one below via Grey Likes Weddings.

terrariumLidded apothecary vases filled with flowers are also sweet.


Here’s the potential problem:  flowers and plants sweat, and if the evaporated water can’t escape, it causes fogginess inside the glass.  This is not such a cute look.  I’m embarrassed to point this out, but you can even see my vase is sweating a little in the picture above!

I learned a cool tip passed on to me by my head assistant, Shana.  She is full of wisdom and I’m blessed to have her on my team.

Step 1.  Find a stick of clear glue for a glue gun.

Step 2.  Use sharp scissors to cut it it up  into little pieces, the thickness of a pencil eraser.

Step 3.  Use a glue gun to glue the pieces to the rim of your vase or jar.

Step 4.  Place your plexiglass sheet/vase/lid on top.  The little  glue gun pieces prop up the cover just enough to allow air circulation, and help to prevent your vase from fogging up.

What makes this so handy is that the glue pieces are hardly noticeable, they come off really easily when you’re done, and every florist has glue sticks in her/his toolbox somewhere.  I have yet to try this trick on a super hot day, when sweat of all kinds is all too abundant.  Can anyone vouch for this, or have another solution?







Heat wave + Flowers = Anxiety

September 9, 2009

Picture this: It’s August in California and it’s 100 degrees.  You’re transporting flowers to a big hotel, and the loading area is in a boiler room of all places. You pray that your flowers survive the moist, sticky heat as you wait for the teeny tiny elevator to arrive so you can bring your flowers to the reception… two centerpieces at a time.  This happened to a colleague of mine who is an amazing photographer and graphic designer, but who also dabbles in the floral arts occasionally.  This experience left her traumatized.

I’ve been there, too! A few weeks ago, my assistants set up an outdoor wedding in 103 degree weather.  The bride’s favorite flowers are orchids (yay! sturdy!) and dahlias (uh-ohhh).  My sharp assistants followed my instructions carefully and added the dahlias to the arrangements at the last minute.  Except the ceremony started an hour late, and by then the blazing sunshine had taken its toll!  Of course, my girls brought extra flowers along and fixed the arrangements just in time.  Everything looked beyond gorgeous, but you can imagine the stress levels!

Any couple getting married in the summer months in California is ultimately taking a risk, not only with flowers, but with melting cakes, running makeup, flattened curls.   I got married in August,  so I totally understand!  But I owe it to my clients (and my own sanity) to take the following precautions to minimize the effects of heat on delicate flowers. I can’t do miracles, but I do all that I can do to make sure that even if I look like a sweaty mess by the end of the day, my flowers still look  fabulous.

1.  Choose Wisely: I create my floral recipes and place my orders about 2 weeks before the wedding.   When I do that, I check the weather forecasts.  If it looks like it’s going to be sunny and/or hot, I try to choose sturdier flowers for outdoor arrangements.  If a bride LOVES delicate flowers like dahlias, tulips, or gardenias, I’ll try to reserve those flowers for indoor arrangements or handheld bouquets that can stay in vases indoors until the last possible second.


bromeliads, orchids, and china berries- virtually sunproof. Photo by The Image is Found.

2.  Buy Fresh: This is where excellent flower suppliers come in.  Think of what wedding flowers have to go through before they end up on the table- they travel from all over the world to the U.S., then to the flower mart, then to the flower shop, then they are handled and designed, then transported to the site.  Only the freshest of blooms can withstand that much manhandling.

bridal bouquet  - Copy

Photo by Sae Lee Photography.

3.  Use a Reliable Cooler: Ours is bigger than all three bedrooms in my house put together, and has never ever failed us.

4.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: We change the water often and keep the flowers well-misted with finishing spray.

5.  Load quickly: We start the air conditioning in the cargo van first, then load the vases and nonperishables, then lastly the flowers.  And we keep the air blasting the whole trip!

6.  If possible, stall!: Not always possible, but we try to keep the florals indoors or in shade until the last minute.

Veronica_Paul-1196copyAs the shade rolled across the villa, we placed the centerpieces accordingly.  Notice there are no centerpieces on the sunny side!

Photo by Jerry Yoon.

7.  Bring Extras: We bring extra blooms to take the place of flower casualties.  Always a smart idea!

I'll never forget this wedding- it was 106 degrees in Sierra Madre that day!  Luckily, the flowers were troopers and held up pretty well.

I'll never forget this wedding- it was 106 degrees in Sierra Madre that day! Luckily, the flowers were troopers and held up pretty well. Photo by Jerry Yoon.

Here’s what I’m dying to know: Any floral designers have to deal with extremely COLD weather?  That’s something I’ve never experienced.  Also, what do other vendors, like bakers and makeup artists, do in heat waves to keep their product looking fabulous?

My Favorite Roses

September 2, 2009

I always ask my brides which flowers they love, and which flowers they absolutely don’t love.  Roses are almost always mentioned.  Most brides see their lovable qualities- their gorgeous spiraled petals, the insane variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, their sturdiness in all kinds of weather, and their relative affordability (I can’t think of a more bang-for-your-buck flower out there.)  But there are some brides who consider roses to be a little “same-old”,”traditional”, or “bleh”.  Perhaps they just want to explore the hundreds of other more unique flower possibilities before they settle on the old stand-by.  I totally get it.

These are the roses that excite me every time I pick them up from the mart.  These are the varieties that have reignited my love for roses and have converted my most anti-rose brides into rose lovers.

1.  Polo:

A creamy white rose.  Love their cup-like shape and ruffly texture.


(Photo by Tony Florez Photography)

2.  Pink Intuition:

How funky are these fuchsia zebra striped beauties?

pink intuition

3.  Faith:

These lush roses have a color that’s hard to define: where lavender meets dusty rose meets silver.  They are so much more beautiful in person.


(Photo by Viera Photographics)

4.  Amnesia:

There is something mysterious and a little haunting about these greenish-greyish-purplish roses.


5.  Black baccara:

My love for this rose is probably obvious, since I use it whever I can. You can’t fully appreciate it until you feel it’s velvety soft petals.

black baccara(Photo by Trista Lerit)

6. Abraham Darby garden rose. Scratch that, any garden rose!!!

darby rose(Photo by Jasmine Star)

7. Mimi Eden Spray Rose:

A million tiny petals that burst open in shades of intense pink and cream.  Their mini blooms are the size of quarters.


(Photo found here)

8.  Sahara:

Soft beige with a touch of pink on the outside of the petals.  Adds a hint of color to neutral white arrangements.

modern tablescape

(Photo by Jonilyn Photography)

9. Supergreen:

My go-to green rose.  While green tea, jade and limbo roses can look a little washed out and yellowish (depending on the bunch), supergreen is reliably a vibrant shade of chartreuse.


(Photo by Michael Norwood Photography)

10.  Circus:

No rose opens as beautifully as this orange and yellow bi-color lovely.  It just pops in this bouquet!

tran and peter 8(Photo by The Image Is Found)

There are so many others I could list, I may need to do a part 2 🙂  With so many rose varieties coming out all the time, there are still many more to discover.  Also, R.I.P. to my favorite rose varieties that are no longer available in L.A. (like sterling silver and candy bianca!)

Are you a “rose person?” What are your favorites? Also, if you’re a florist, are you mourning the loss of a favorite rose that is no longer being produced?  I feel you!

What’s in my cooler?

August 8, 2009

My friend let me chop down a ton of beautiful green apple branches from her overloaded tree. They are so shiny and bulbous, and look so sweet in this weekend’s centerpieces. I can’t reveal too much, but here’s just a glimpse at what my designers have been up to the last few days.

It involves the aforementioned apples…


And the most beautiful dinner plate dahlias…


Recycled glass bottles…


And petally garden roses that will satisfy any peony lover-who-can’t-get-peonies-in-August.


Can’t wait to see it all come together!

Have a wonderful weekend!

And happy (late) anniversary to my good friends Angel and Erik! It was an honor to stand beside you on your big day 4 years ago.

What’s in my toolbox?

July 13, 2009

I think it’s fun when wedding planners divulge what’s in their emergency kits. Sometimes the stuff they stock seems so random and meticulous to me, proving how Type A these planners need to be! Angel from Love and Splendor wrote a terrific post for Weddingbee PRO about her emergency kit, and Liene from Blue Orchid Blog enlighted me with some of her unusual tools.

We florists also need to come prepared. When working with fragile, perishable artwork on a time crunch in sometimes brutal weather, things can DEFINITELY go wrong. But with florals, there is always a way to make it work. Through trial and error, I’ve built an arsenal of tools that has seen me through some snafus. Here are a few that I just packed up yesterday morning for a fabulous LA wedding:

  • wire and floral tape: to make last minute corsages or bouts, or repair ones that are looking less than perfect
  • small and large pearl headed pins
  • crowning glory or finishing touch spray: when misted onto the florals, these sprays help lock in the moisture and keep them fresh- an absolute must for California summers.
  • extra ribbon in the wedding colors: to rope off the aisle so guests don’t stomp your aisle petals to smithereens
  • toothpicks: so I can do this neat little cake trick
  • water pitcher
  • hot glue gun
  • extra vases: super important! I always bring a few extra vases with me for peace of mind.
  • glass cleaner, plastic cleaner, and paper towels
  • lint roller: to quickly pick up any flower bits that fall off the centerpieces onto the linens. I’m thinking of bringing along a dust-buster to clean up the carpets too.
  • florist gummy: to stick arrangements to glass vases or containers
  • extra flowers: my florist friend once told me that a big stack of chiavari chairs fell on one of her altar arrangements and destroyed it. Luckily, she had extra flowers and floral foam to patch things up just in time. Phew!
  • pipe cleaners: so useful for attaching flowers to arches, bouquets to chairs, and for removing the pollen from lilies. Simply sweep the fuzzy pipe cleaner over the lily petals to brush away pollen.
  • tent stakes and twine: to my horror, a chuppah once collapsed to the ground because a strong ocean breeze picked up the fabric like a sail! I had to run to REI and grab tent stakes last minute to secure the posts into the ground. Needless to say, I ALWAYS have tent stakes with me now for arches, columns, and other ceremony structures.
  • needle and thread
  • clear fishing line
  • small buckets: the faucets on site are often too short for vases to slide under. You can fill small buckets instead and transfer the water to the vases.
  • long lighters
  • Water siphon tube: I think any florist can relate to the following scenario. My assistant came to pick up the rental vases at the end of the night, and was faced with these big boys:


    Huge thick glass vases filled to the brim with blue water and submerged orchids.

She had to channel her inner “hulk” to hoist these 50+ pound vases off the center of the table, all the way to the kitchen sink where the water could be dumped, all the while not spilling a drop of tinted water onto the linens or carpet. What I should have thought to do is to send her to the site with a water siphon tube. She could have sucked out half the water into a bucket in seconds, allowing her to more safely and easily pick up the vases. Next time we’ll be prepared!

As creative and artsy as we can be,  florists need to be a little Type A, too! Actually, all wedding vendors are working in high stress situations and need to come prepared. Just out of curiosity, any bakers or photographers want to share their emergency kits with us? That would be interesting!