Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Aquascaping" at Conservatory of Flowers


Welcome to the inspirational journey of AQUASCAPES

 Aquascaping is "garden designing under water".   The goal of Aquascaping is to create an artful underwater landscape.  There are many technical factors that come into play for a true Aquascape .  But for now, put that aside and start brainstorming, creating and sketching.  Think of the popular tablescapes we've been doing in the floral/event industry and combine them with flowers that are being submerged (orchids, roses, callas......).  Think of  the European Landscape and Vegetative designs and turn them into Aquascapes.  Let this historical craft inspire you just like the Dutch/Flemish paintings did.  Yes, there is a Dutch Style Aquascape that was developed in the 1930's.  Many of the same characteristics that a Dutch/Flemish floral design would have with lush and multiple types of plants having diverse leaf colors, sizes, and textures.

There is also a "Nature Style" which is a Japanese style, introduced by Takashi Amano in the 1990's.  This style in contrast to the Dutch Style focuses on minimalism, with rules of placements creating miniature landscapes with a limited color pallet.  Many parallels to Oriental Floral Design.

Aquascapes are exhibited now at The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.  Also, there are so many inspiring plants and living designs being shown there.  Not to mention the beautiful grounds and architecture of the Conservatory.  This historic landmark has five galleries filled with exotic plants and flowers from around the world.  
So many techniques, species and floral design styles in one place. Wonderful organic materials that  illustrate the principles/elements of design. Below are just a few examples of how to use the Conservatory as an educational wonderland.

Underwater Gardening


Lush living wreath designed around statue pond

 Exciting way to learn Line, Shape and Reversed Proportion 


Magical Repetition

 Gorgeous Contrast of Texture

 The Conservatory of Flowers is also a special venue to recommend to your clients.  They open their doors for private events after hours year round.
I hope you get a chance to see the exhibit and experiment with your own Aquascape Style of designing.  Let's start this trend together.........................................................
For more information on the Aquascapes and Conservatory go to:

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Day With "Tomas De Bruyne"

Tomas De Bruyne - Floral Designer

I highly recommend taking a seminar with Tomas De BruyneThe Floristry Department at City College of San Francisco was privileged to host at their facility this Brilliant Belgian Floral Designer.  Special thanks to The Northwest Region of the American Institute of Floral Designers(AIFD) who presented and coordinated his program/workshop.

One of the many things you learn through his seminar is the importance to continually invest
in yourself.  It's so important for florists/floral designers to continually update our knowledge and enhance our skills to achieve success.  You will also learn that personal and professional development go hand and hand.

The seminar was aimed at students and flower shop owners wishing to stand out from the rest by using the 3 creative M s:  creative mechanics, creative merchandising and creative minds

Tomas being a floral designer, teacher, author and entrepreneur has a rich source of knowledge/experience with much to share. Visit his website for more information on his many accomplishments,upcoming seminars/projects and European Master Certificate.
Design demonstrated by Tomas.

Tomas teaching techniques for a cascade bridal bouquet.

The completed cascade bouquet that City College of San Francisco Student Cynthia Woods won after attending the workshop.

City College of San Francisco's SAIFD President and First Place Winner for the SAIFD Competition in Las Vegas "Ineke Moss" enjoyed assisting and learning techniques from Tomas.

Tomas discussing the mechanics of his design and the opportunity to tap into the Special Event Industry with our specialized skills as Floral Designers.

City College of San Francisco Student Jennifer Rossi concentrating and learning the intricate detailing for one of the designs Tomas shared in his program.  This was such a wonderful opportunity for CCSF students learning hands on with Tomas.

Emil Yanos AIFD one of the coordinators and assistants for the seminar prepping a design for Tomas's program.

Break time with Tomas, Wil, Connie, Lily, Cheryl, Greg and Katherine.  
 One of many techniques learned at seminar. 
Techniques with pussy willow. 
Thanks to the Northwest Region of the American Institute of Floral Designers.  This inspiring program and workshop happened because of their efforts and passion for flowers.  Thanks to Wil Gonzalez AIFD and his committee for all their hard work!  This year the American Institute of Floral Designers are celebrating their 50th anniversary.  If your interested in experiencing these types of programs, workshops and presenters go to  The next AIFD Symposium is in Chicago Illinois, July 3-7, 2014.

This Fabulous Floral Group contributed to the success of Tomas's program. Thanks to all of you for a wonderful experience.  Special thanks to the sponsors of the program who provided their product:  Accent Décor, Brannan Street Wholesale, Smithers-Oasis, KB Flowers and The Sun Valley Group. 
Thank You!!
Jenny Tabarracci AIFD

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Bouquets to Art" Celebrates 30 Years

This year Bouquets to Art celebrated their 30th Anniversary.  The design above by Dominique Pfahl  owner of Floreal in San Francisco captured the essence of the exhibition.  Her design displayed the heart and soul of so many who are part of this premier event in San Francisco.  Dominique wrote the following about her design " I thought it would be fitting to create a tree that started as a little sprig in the ground, grew as a beautiful blossoming tree, every year, thanks to the indefatigable hard work of the hundreds of volunteers, the creativity of the floral community of the Bay Area and beyond".......

The exhibition included a one-night showing of  Floral Fashions designed by the City College of San Francisco Floristry Students.  These talented students were the talk of the town after the Opening Night Gala on Monday, March 17, 2014.  Above City College of San Francisco Student Hee Joo models the creations she made with Young Pak.  Six other student design teams created floral fashions inspired by artwork in the museum's collection.  The guests were captivated by the live models and designs.

 Floral Fashion Inspired by the Artwork of Louis Comfort Tiffany
Floral Fashion by CCSF Student Ariel Ermatinger Inspired by the Artwork of Arthur Dove

Floral Fashion by CCSF Student Fiona Li
Drawing by CCSF Student Mia Pettyjohn
Floral Fashion by CCSF Student Mia Pettyjohn Inspired by the Artwork of George De Forest Brush
Floral Fashions for Bouquets to Art 2014.  CCSF Student Designers:  Nicole Kastle, Oxana Sanukova, Imelda Iraeta, Hee Joo, Young Pak, Carolyn Manan, Takhmina Akramova, Fiona Li, Maria Pettyjohn and Ariel Ermatinger
The exhibit is a great way to visit and catch up with your floral friends.  I enjoyed viewing the displays and sharing design experiences with the above Floral Designer Emil Yanos AIFD.  He chose the artist Otis Oldfield and was inspired by the Artwork from his series "Building the Bay Bridge".  I loved his interpretation.
The exhibit allows me to try new techniques and expand on what I know.   The challenges are coming up with a new idea,  logistics, selection of appropriate/acceptable material and working the exhibit into your schedule.  There are  limitations with materials you can and cannot use in the museum.  This year the show was extended one more day.  The designs need to last for seven days.  One of my goals was to come up with a design that would not require a water source and to select materials that dry well.  I also like to use new materials in the industry and include trends into the design. 
Above are the beginnings of the designs leaf work.  I found the metal frame at the department store Ross a few years back.  The frame was cemented in a plastic bucket for stability.  The leaves on the body are dusty miller glued on their backside and the same was done with the lemon leaves glued on the plastic bucket.  Tack 2000 was used for all leaf gluing. 
Above is the completion of the gluing process.  The square pedestal is made out of plywood.  The lemon leaves were glued both front and back sides for this part of the design.  The gallery is very dark and small. So I wanted to keep everything light, bright and a manageable size to accommodate the large crowds in the gallery.  I focused on clean detail for this design.
This is the completed design displayed in the gallery.  I was happy the lighting crew could spot light it!  I used a double coil technique with bullion and decorative wire for the smaller necklace.  Tiny succulents were sprayed Gold and glued on with clear floral glue.  Fresh Floral Jewelry is a popular trend in our industry and I learned many tips in Wendy Andrades book on this topic.  The medallion was made out of craspedia accented with a massed bullion lace coil technique.  The larger jewelry garland was sculpted with Mega Aluminum Wire a newer product to our industry.  I sculpted this with my hands and pliers.  I was able to make the shape without any additional mechanics, it holds itself together.  I then wired Gold succulents onto the garland frame and glued craspedia for the finishing touches.   Gold Chain is used in the design.  Another new product to our industry.  The Oasis company supplies it.  The jewels were given to me from Steven Brown a few years ago and I was happy to make use of them in this design.  Some of the artwork was made with Gold thread so I focused on this element for my floral design and also because Gold is a trend now.
Photo provided by Greg A. Lato/latoga photography

It's always a thrill to see how everything you imagined and planned turns out.  Above is the artwork I chose for inspiration.  The title is "Athena with Medusa and Gold Snakes" by Marilyn Pappas.  I hope you got a chance to see this fabulous show.  If not, there's always next year. You can view this beautiful piece of artwork that was hand-embroidered on linen at the de Young museum in San Francisco.  Jenny Tabarracci AIFD
For more information about the show go to:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"ISES" A Place To Start

How and where to begin as a Florist are questions often asked to me.  I regularly give a classroom lecture to these questions, but if you want to skip the lecture, go to an ISES (International Special Events Society) event.  I recommend and encourage individuals seeking to become Florists or Special Event Professionals to attend a local chapter event.  You can attend an event without being a member.  I attend events at both the Napa - Sonoma and Northern California Chapters.  The "Designer Showcase" is an Educational Program that is always a good introduction to ISES.  This month I attended the Northern California Chapter's Designer Showcase at "Bimbos" in San Francisco.

One of the many valuable things about attending an ISES event is experiencing the ambiance of popular venues in the Northern California area.  Knowledge is power and the more venues your familiar with the better for your business.  "Bimbo's" was originally owned and started by Agostino Giontoli in 1931 on Market Street in San Francisco.  Currently, this iconic retro supper club with an art deco influence is located in the North Beach District on Columbus Avenue .  It was famous for glamorous showgirls, cabaret shows and a fine three - course  meal.  The legacy continues by Giontoli's grandsons.  Visit  for more information on this historic night club.

ISES encourages a collaborative exchange of ideas whether it is by a panel discussion of event designers, inspirational displays by florists, rental companies, special effects experts or sampling many delights of local caterers menus. Networking can start at these events which leads to industry relationships and an excellent opportunity to build your business.

Networking and meeting other special event professionals face to face is crucial to the success of your business.  More than ever industry professionals and clients are looking for that personal touch to build trust and relationships. The stunning table display above was showcased by Napa Valley Linens. It was nice to chat with Diana Cardenas their representative for the event. Their showroom is located in Emeryville and be sure to check out their website to find the latest trends in fabric, design and color.  Linen websites are a great source of inspiration for designers.  It's another way to see how flowers are incorporated into tablescapes.  Also, building a relationship with linen specialists is a great way to showcase your designs on their website and vice versa.   They just might pick one of the events you collaborated on to feature in their website.


Every guest table at Bimbo's can be spot lighted.  This is an asset to floral designers.  Appropriate lighting is important for your flower arrangements. The lovely floral design above by Ornamento was our favorite guest table arrangement of the night.  The container was abundant of silver grey dusty miller with accenting miniature garland lights woven through the design.  This mono botanical arrangement made a simple bold statement which was very effective in the dining area.  Ornamento is one of San Francisco's premier floral and event design studios owned by the creative genius Orna.  Visit their retail store in the Fairmont Hotel or at

Blue Heron Catering showcased the vignette above with the tabletop items by Classic Party Rentals. The floral décor is showing influence of Radiant Orchid (Pantone's 2014 color of the year). These colors work well with the eggplant linen and accenting gold chargers, china, glass and flatware.  For more information on both companies visit their websites:  and
Innovated and exciting cake artistry is often showcased at these events.  The above cake was designed by The Whole Cake a boutique located in Oakland, CA.  Once again we see how linens can inspire and influence your designs. Visit for more information about this companies cake artistry.
The brilliance of balloon artistry is showcased above.  The possibilities are endless with Bijoux Balloons. This fun and fabulous display was enjoyed at the event.  Loved the sculpted mushrooms, and the passion/energy Robin Bosma brought to the room.  She was the representative and certified balloon artist.  Visit for more information.

 ISES is an opportunity to build relationships and strengthen those that have developed over the years. It's also a way to keep current in the industry.  If your not sure where to start, try an ISES event.  You just might click with someone who is also beginning which can lead to support and collaboration.  There are many mentors to help you along the way. These events allow you to look out side your profession for inspiration.  There is so much knowledge and artistry in all special event fields.
Above I'm sitting with two industry professionals that find ISES a fantastic networking outlet. Nixon Tran was a City College of San Francisco Student and now is the Operations Manager at Michael Daigian Design.  Michael Daigian owner of MDD generously shares his wealth of knowledge and graciously has assisted Nixon, myself and many more florists and special event professionals with the development of their careers/businesses.  Visit Michael's website www.michaeldaigian to experience why he is another one of San Francisco's premier floral design companies.  Hope to see you at an ISES event.  Visit for more information and their next event in your area.

                                              Cheers!!  Jenny Tabarracci AIFD