Note:Amy Ly (formerly Amy Kunkel-Patterson) of Gather Design Co. in Seattle created the unforgettable SUNFLOWER GOWN for American Flowers Week in 2017. She recently posted about how she produced this exquisite floral garment, along with her recipe and techniques. Here is an excerpt and link to her full post and the full gallery of Anna Peters’ beautiful images.
The Sunflower Gown
I am the kind of person who always says yes to an outlandish idea, even before I know how I might make it happen. This dress came from one of those conversations, that went something like this:
Amy: Oh, that’s exciting! What do you have in mind?
Debra: Well, I am wanting something really bold. I’d love to take what Susan McCleary did last year with botanical fashion and commission a designer to create something even bigger, like a whole dress made out of sunflowers. I want it to feel like classic Americana, but with a high end design.
Amy: Great, I’ll do it.
Debra: Wait, are you serious? Do you know how to create a dress out of flowers?
Amy: Not yet, but I will soon!
From this initial conversation in mid-August, we compared calendars and talked to the Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market about when sunflowers would be at their peak, settling on a day in early September. Debra graciously let me choose the photographer for the project, and Anna Peters was the first person I called. I could tell she was skeptical when I explained the idea of a dress made out of sunflowers (I fear she was picturing something like this), but we’d worked together before and she trusted my idea and agreed.
Homegrown Blooms appears in the June 2018 issue of Super Floral Magazine.
I’m so excited to share the stories of grocery stores around the country who are participating in and promoting American Flowers Week, bringing their customers a new reason to purchase bouquets and bunches of local blooms!
Arranged with all-local Pacific Northwest blooms, I love this sweet centerpiece that I made at a design workshop with Tammy Myers of First and Bloom last summer (c) Missy Palacol Photography
A perfect patriotic floral combo! (c) Missy Palacol Photography
Maybe the palette seems a little cheezy to you, but ever since I created American Flowers Week in 2015, I have been on the lookout for fantastic ingredients that add up to beautiful (and anything but cheezy) Red-White-and-Blue floral arrangements and bouquets.
Nothing says “proud” and “homegrown” better than recreating our American flag’s true colors in a vase, right?
Another view and a snap of me with my American Flowers Week-inspired beauties (c) Missy Palacol Photography
That fun, al fresco-style event took place a month or so after American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4) but clearly the stars and stripes were top-of-mind because I didn’t hesitate about the palette when Tammy offered me an entire rainbow of botanicals from which to choose.
MORE RED-WHITE-AND-BLUE FLORALS
I’ve been playing with reds & maroons, whites & creams, blues & indigos — across the botanical spectrum — for the past three years, and now I’m really getting excited about our next American Flowers Week campaign. It’s coming up in just five weeks, so I hope these images inspire you to create your own Independence Day bouquets. Please share them at our Slow Flowers Community Page on Facebook!
All-American flowers, grown in Oregon at Charles Little & Co.
A child’s table, painted delphinium blue by a vintage dealer, is my perfect podium for this bouquet.
A July 4, 2015 Mason jar bouquet featuring ‘Checkers,’ a favorite dahlia from Jello Mold Farm.
Enjoy these glorious red-white-and-blue flowers, picked just in time for American Flowers Week.
California Pajarosa roses adorn the tutu, bodice and headpiece designed by Teresa Sabankaya for American Flowers Week 2017.
Floral Palette: California-grown hybrid tea roses, garden roses and spray roses and their seasonal companions Designer: Teresa Sabankaya, Bonny Doon Garden Co., (Santa Cruz, CA) www.bonnydoongardenco.com, @bonnydoongarden
Floral ingredients supplied by California Pajarosa, Watsonville, CA, and Bonny Doon Garden Co., Santa Cruz, CA
Teresa Sabankaya in the Bonny Doon Garden Co. cutting garden.
Teresa Sabankaya launched her floral business Bonny Doon Garden Co. by selling single stems, bunches and bouquets from a kiosk in downtown Santa Cruz, Calif. She often stocked the tiny shop with cuttings from her vast residential garden in the nearby hamlet of Bonny Doon, called Shangri-La by locals for its remote and stunning natural beauty.
As author Amy Stewart wrote in her groundbreaking book Flower Confidential, “Teresa Sabankaya has the kind of flower shop that you would dream about opening, if you are the kind of person who dreams of opening a flower shop . . . (it) fit with my idea of how floral commerce must work — you’d grow some flowers in your garden, you’d buy some from a farmer down the road, and you’d put them in buckets and sell them to your neighbors.”
A decade after being profiled by Stewart, Teresa is still designing and selling her signature garden-style florals throughout the greater Santa Cruz area, although today Bonny Doon Garden Co. is housed inside the coastal city’s New Leaf Community Market. As a Veriflora Certified Retail Florist, the shop assures customers the product they buy is grown in a sustainable manner, including from domestic flower farms.
“We source mainly from local organic and sustainable flower farms, thus assuring you a very fresh product,” Teresa explains on her web site’s home page. “We love to incorporate materials from our own cutting garden in Bonny Doon, too, while using the surrounding woods, meadows and vineyards as our inspiration.”
The 11-acre Sabankaya grounds are often home to styled shoots, attracting private design students and photographers alike. It serves as the ideal setting for Teresa’s American Flowers Week creation, a wearable rose tutu and headpiece to accompany her model’s pink satin corset.
With her model (and daughter) Antalia Sabankaya as her muse, Teresa selected an intense, fiesta-hued palette with roses dominating her design. The pristine hybrids, sprays and garden roses are more local than most, having been raised in sheltering greenhouses just miles away in Watsonville, where friend and flower farmer Paul Furman runs California Pajarosa Roses.
“I absolutely love his product,” Teresa raves. Her enthusiasm and commitment to green practices in her business are in alignment with the second-generation rose farmer’s decision to pursue Veriflora Certification for California Pajarosa.
“I am so impressed that Paul went through the process of switching from conventional growing to a sustainable method that allowed the farm to also become Veriflora Certified,” she says. “It can be an expensive process for growers and it’s not easy.”
While planning the rose-infused wearable floral fashion shoot for American Flowers Week, Teresa zeroed in on one of her favorites grown at Pajarosa: the ‘Alhambra’ rose. “That was my star rose,” she says. “It almost looks like a garden rose with its high petal count and the petals range from pinky peach to orange to fuchsia on the outer petals.”
Teresa wanted to design a flattering floral tutu that accentuated Antalia’s fitted pink satin corset. She researched magazines and Pinterest boards for inspiration and found a tutu made from silk flowers that got her thinking about constructing a tutu that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of real roses.
“While tulle fabric wouldn’t have worked, I found a gold mesh product from Oasis and began playing around with it,” Teresa says. She used 24-inch lengths of the mesh to shape “petals,” layering them to form a “flower” skirt. Matching gold Oasis flat wire woven through the mesh grid serves as a “belt” that fastens to Antalia’s waist.
The design begins with a tight pavé rose pattern to accentuate the tutu’s waistline. Teresa attached botanical elements with a combination of glue and gold wire, the tails of which are like little tendrils dangling from the skirt.
“The metal mesh itself isn’t that strong, but the wire edges of each petal hold their shape,” the designer explains. “As I folded the pieces, they formed a pouf here and a tip there to create the petal look I wanted.”
Teresa realized she didn’t want to complete cover the mesh with flowers, but instead allow the material to be the tulle-like element of her design. “I put something lacy toward the tips of each petal, pieris and jasmine from my garden that supplements Paul’s roses for a lacy, frilly look.”
The corresponding headpiece relates to the skirt with one distinct difference. “We had been cutting tree peonies from my garden to sell at the shop and the intense color was a perfect complement to Paul’s roses,” Teresa says. “I knew I had to add one to the headpiece.”
With the backdrop of her property’s Mediterranean-style architecture and its lush, secret garden to showcase her all-local floral couture, Teresa’s imagination plays out in the third dimension, made more special because she collaborated with family and longtime floral industry colleagues to celebrate American Flowers Week. “I want people to look at this picture, to look at those flowers, and feel the way I feel when I get to design with them,” she says.
Model: Antalia Sabankaya
Makeup: Zachary Winer
Hair: Carly Vollers
Photography: John Kaemmerling Photography
Location: Sabankaya family garden, Bonny Doon, CA
Romantic and mysterious, the floral cape designed by Tara Folker of Splints & Daisies features all-American grown botanicals from Stargazer Barn in Arcata, California. (c) With Love and Embers
Floral Palette: Bulb flowers, including Irises, tulips and callas; Foliages, including ornamental cabbage, sword fern and wild huckleberry.
Floral ingredients supplied by Stargazer Barn, Arcata, California Designer: Tara Folker, Splints & Daisies, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; splintsanddaisies.com @splintsanddaisies
Floral designer and artist Tara Folker
Tara Folker has been designing flowers for nearly two decades, having opened her own dried florals and woven basketry business when she was 19. Coming from a family of artists on her mother and grandmother’s side and of plant lovers on her father’s side, Tara concludes, “Things mixed for me, and I ended up in artistic florals.”
While she doesn’t describe herself as a fashion designer, Tara has produced a number of wearable floral garments for styled shoots. “I call it my playtime because it’s when I can actually do what I want to do. As anyone in the wedding industry knows, you don’t always get that. With styled shoots, I’m going to do what I love.”
When Bill Prescott, Stargazer Barn, offered to provide the flowers and foliage for Tara’s American Flowers Week concept, the timing was perfect. Tara and her team photographed in early January when not much local product was available on the East Coast.
She treasured the chance to select from Stargazer’s greenhouses and fields in Northern California: Fancy and standard tulips, ‘White Versailles’ Freesias, ‘Telsar’ Irises, ‘Cantor’ callas and all sorts of greenery, such as white and purple ornamental cabbage, sword ferns and lacy sweet huckleberry. The color palette: purples, peaches, white and green – quiet and moody for the season.
I had never seen the huck before, but it looked fun. Plus, I loved that the sword ferns were harvested from the Redwoods just a few days before the shoot.
Tara is comfortable with designing in real time, on location, rather than committing to a sketch or recipe in advance. She took as her muse Ashley Garner, the beautiful, edgy model, and the raw warehouse space at Hingework, a Lancaster event studio with large windows, white brick walls and a contemporary/industrial vibe.
The designer imagined a semitransparent floral cape that would showcase all of the fresh flowering bulbs, draping fluidly from the model’s form. “I didn’t want to do a dress or a skirt again, but I wanted to create something wearable that was new to me, too, so that I could feel satisfied with the design.”
Ashley’s style – juxtaposed against the soft, romantic, feminine florals – emoted an almost fantasylike narrative. A black leotard and leggings allowed Ashley’s body form to be another organic element while the makeup accentuated her eyes and lips. Of course, the model’s bare head also became part of Tara’s overall vision.
Tara envisioned a short shrug or capelet with sleeves, but while building the underpinnings with chicken wire, she realized sleeves would restrict Ashley’s movement and feel stiff. For a tall, lanky model, that just didn’t make sense.
“In the end, the chicken wire is almost like a scarf that lays across her shoulders. With not much of a base, the flowers themselves became the garment,” Tara says. “The flowers were tied onto the wire that I did use, and it really hugged her shoulders.”
RESOURCES Model: Ashley Garner Makeup: Stefani Burket, Bonafide Ginger, Lancaster, Pennsylvania Photography: Jillian and Ryan McGrath, With Love & Embers, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania Location: Hingework, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Floral Palette: A medley of flowers and foliage from the landscape, hothouse and nature Designer: Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes, RHR Horticulture, Seattle, WA @rhrhorticulture
Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes, guest designer for American Flowers Week 2017
Riz Reyes is a garden and floral designer whose creations have won gold medal and people’s choice awards at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, all achieved while he also worked as a horticulture manager at public and private landscapes in Seattle.
Riz considers Portland, Ore., floral designer Françoise Weeks one of his mentors, and he is influenced by the work of Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost and British designer Zite Elze, the artistic inspiration for this piece.
Asked to create a woodland-inspired menswear look for American Flowers Week 2017, Riz’s response was highly personal.
The whole concept of men and flowers is intriguing to me because it touches on my background and the journey I took to get into horticulture, floriculture, plants and flowers. For me, there was always that stigma of little boys and flowers not being a favored thing.
“I especially like working with things that are textural. A lot of the materials and natural elements that I use and the range of colors that I like are inspired by the Pacific Northwest and its ferns, moss and lichen,” he says.
Riz began with the Market’s availability list to choose an array of small succulents such as Aeonium, Sempervivum and Echeveria; Phalaenopsis orchids; spray roses; hellebores; globe thistles (Echinops); Pieris japonica; the metallic blue fruit and buds of Viburnum tinus; sprays of Grevillea blossoms and G. ‘Ivanhoe’ foliage; Leucadendron foliage; the mosslike textures of the crested Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Cristata’) and Dianthus ‘Green Trick’; the fascinating marble vine (Diplocyclos palmatus); buds of larkspur (Delphinium hybrid); and the immature fruits of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera). He also foraged for lichen, small pods and ferns from nature.
Behind-the-scenes at our photo shoot with model Alexander Brooks, photographer Mary Grace Long, designer Riz Reyes and make-up artist Yessie Libby. Photographed, January 2017.
“I had never done anything of this magnitude,” he admits. Working with a mannequin torso was essential to give shape to the vest and a corresponding jacket as he added botanical elements. Riz first applied two coats of adhesive spray to the vest to get a sticky surface for attaching the textural “embroidery” of flowers, plants, foliages, pods and lichen.
At the same time, he used liquid floral adhesive to attach individual pieces, balancing shapes, colors and varieties, to create an overall pattern. The textilelike design is reminiscent of a Persian rug or antique tapestry in its depth and detail.
To Riz, it was important to collaborate with the model and photographer and to develop a level of trust with both.“Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be able to work in this dynamic. There is this profile of a guy being the giver of flowers. So for me, the grand takeaway from this experience – and hopefully, it will come true – is to dispel the assumption that men and flowers don’t exist together.”
RESOURCES Model:Alexander Brooks Makeup:Yessie Libby, Yessie Makeup Artistry, Seattle, Wash. Photography:Mary Grace Long, Mary Grace Long Photography, Seattle, Wash. Location: Mary Grace Long Studio and Discovery Park, Seattle, Wash.
One thing Amy really wanted to impress upon us during her talk was that her takeaways on the international flower industry are actually more nuanced than they may seem at first glance. Namely, as we navigate the ins and outs of the domestic vs. imported flower industries, it can be easy to forget the jobs and the people behind all this commerce and the full dialogue around it. Things become a lot less black and white and yes, more nuanced, when we’re able to remember this.
Panelists, from left, including moderator Chantal Aida Gordon, Leslie Bennett, Riz Reyes and Nichole Cordier Wahlquist.
According to Lennie, the panel led by Chantal “felt like a discussion that was long time coming for our industry.” She felt motivated to respond to many of the points covered by the panel, and offered this encouragement:
I think it’s important for us to take a look at ourselves and remember that we’re not just passive actors out in the world, that we all in fact play huge roles in setting industry norms and standards. Who else can we get to that table?
Thanks for your support, Lennie — and for endorsing the Summit! We’d love you to attend our 2018 Summit, details of which will be announced soon!
Yep, you read that right: 5 million and counting! That’s the social media impressions generated by YOU and YOUR Instagram & Twitter Posts in the past 30 days!! #AmericanFlowersWeek has exploded — just like fireworks!
In our third year, participation in AFW more than tripled the impressions generated last year, putting #americanflowersweek on the map in all 50 states!
[Imagine the true metrics if Facebook let us track hashtags? Just sayin’!]
Thank you to each one who joined in! The Slow Flowers Communityhas the momentum to effect change in the marketplace, so continue posting and sharing the #slowflowers message every week of the year! Source: Keyhole.co
The 3rd Annual American Flowers Week has come to a close and it was our best ever!With participation across the U.S. in all sectors of the floral industry, this New Floral Holiday is waving the flag and making a splash from coast to coast.
Read on to discover how the Slow Flowers Community spent this year’s campaign celebrating American-grown flowers — be inspired and start making plans for your 2018 floral parties, events and creative projects!
Floral Fashions — a Couture Approach
Showcasing the design work of four Slow Flowers members, from left: Tara Folker of Splints & Daisies; Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture; Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co. and Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Gather Design Co.
This year, Slow Flowers, which presents American Flowers Week, commissioned five floral-inspired fashion shoots depicting iconic American grown blooms. The designers who contributed their creativity and artistic talents teamed up with generous flower farms that donated stems straight from their fields and greenhouses.
Melanie Cherry, Town & Country Markets’ floral boss, shared this shot of an in-store sunflower display for American Flowers Week.
Diana Westcott, regional floral buyer for Whole Foods’ Mid-Atlantic Region based in Maryland, shared this beautiful display from one of her floral departments!
Slowflowers member Rita Anders of Weimar, Texas-based Cuts of Color, delivered hundreds of bouquets and bunches of American Flowers Week blooms to Central Market in Houston. She texted us these photos and added: “Labels look great! I love the labels!”
Steve Pabody, partner in Triple Wren Farms in Ferndale, Washington (with his wife Sarah Pabody) have a fabulous partnership with Cone & Steiner General, a neighborhood convenience store, with soon-to-be 3 Seattle locations.
AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK Promotion Idea
Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers in Astoria, Oregon, donated all net proceeds of her locally grown bouquets sold during American Flowers Week to Northwest Battle Buddies, a nonprofit partnering combat veterans with professionally trained dogs. Love this idea and the personal, healing connections being made with Kathleen’s flowers.
Cone & Steiner’s displays feature locally-grown Triple Wren Farms bouquets for American Flowers Week.
Flower farmer Steve Pabody and grocery entrepreneur Dani Cone. It’s all about local, community, and connections.
On the first day of American Flowers Week, June 28th, I met up in Seattle with Steve Pabody, partner in Triple Wren Farmswith his wife Sarah Pabody.
Their Ferndale, Wash., flower farm makes weekly deliveries to Cone & Steiner, an innovative new-old neighborhood convenience store, with soon-to-be 3 locations.
Steve delivered straight bunches of lovely anemones and mixed bouquets in Mason jars — all labeled American Flowers Week.
Triple Wren Farmrs’ anemones for American Flowers Week!
I had a chance to ask owner Dani Cone for her take on the holiday – and on buying from local flower farms. Enjoy our interview:
Here are a few more beautiful floral shots — eye candy that greets neighborhood customers stopping by Cone & Steiner, enticing them to grab a bunch to add to their coffee or sandwich purchase.
Beautiful mixed bouquets, wrapped in paper — ready to take home.
And P.S., these are just a few of the American Flowers Week bouquets that Triple Wren delivered to Pacific Northwest area retail outlets. Steve and Sarah delivered bouquets and growers’ bunches to New Seasons, Whole Foods and Metropolitan Market stores in the area, too!
[Note: this is an expanded bonus interview conducted for Florists’ Review June 2017]
Amy Kunkel-Patterson of Seattle’s Gather Design Co. once tried to convince a bridal studio to let her sew flowers onto a wedding gown for a styled shoot. They didn’t go for it, so faced with designing a gown out of classic American sunflowers, she jumped at the chance.
“I’ve been wanting to build a dress out of flowers, but there wasn’t a wedding gown designer around who would let me sew flowers on a very expensive dress,” she says.
Amy is the first to admit that working with sunflowers wouldn’t have been her first choice. “Most designers, especially designers who do weddings, would probably have the response I had: ‘Oh. Sunflowers. A big yellow thing with a dark center. Who wants that for their wedding?'”
Ever the researcher, Amy began to discuss her floral options with the staff and farmers of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. “They showed me all the options. Beyond yellow, there are varieties in the brown palette, and ones where the petals start a little bit yellow in the center and then fade to mostly brown. And then, they offered me a bunch of the burgundy and plum sunflowers. I’ll admit, I didn’t know there were plum-colored sunflowers before I did this project.”
The elevated palette allowed her to incorporate other seasonal field flowers, such as wine-colored amaranth and ‘Sahara Mix’ rudbeckia, which echoes the sunflower shape but on a softer, smaller scale.
When I saw the different shades and variations of the sunflowers, it was an ‘a-ha’ moment for me. And I knew this didn’t have to be just a solid yellow sunflower gown, but one with yellow fading into other colors to create something very elegant.
Having learned to sew and build things as a kid, the idea of working with unconventional tools wasn’t daunting. It’s these skills that have served Amy well as a wedding designer working on large-scale installations.
With the idea of a dress design in her mind’s eye, and with a willing model, flower farmer Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Flower Farm in Langley, Wash., Amy began to fit a two-piece garment that would serve as the basis for her gown. “I actually started with a dress that I bought at Goodwill and cut down to make a bodice with a plunging neckline and a really open back. The skirt is a flat king bed sheet draped over two types of chicken wire and a bit of tulle, with a belt that fastens on the inside of the skirt so you don’t see it as it cinches around her waist.”
Amy jokes that at times she felt more like a builder than a floral designer because of the amount of metal involved, including a section of 1/2-inch grid hardware cloth. “The entire gown weighed about 65 pounds,” she points out.
The skirt’s wire foundation was necessary because of the heavy flower heads, more than 500 altogether. “I didn’t want the train to collapse so I had to create a physical structure to hold it out.”
Because of the sheer quantity of flower heads, Amy’s original idea of sewing each botanical piece to the fabric base wasn’t practical. “It would have taken far too long and the flowers would have wilted by the time I finished,” she says. Tubes and tubes of cold Oasis glue did the job, however — at least one-half gallon of glue by Amy’s estimate. “I didn’t start attaching the flowers until late afternoon the day before our photo shoot. Then I attached the rest of the sunflowers, the amaranth and rudbeckia on the day of the shoot. I’m so glad that my friend Erin Shackelford of Camas Design volunteered to wrap the little grass pieces into tassels to edge the hem of the skirt.”
Other finishing details include single threads of burgundy amaranth that drape beautifully over the model’s waist and hips, speckled turkey feathers collected from a local farm and a charming hair piece that echoes the botanicals use for the dress. “I’m just thrilled with how it turned out,” Amy says.