Why floral artistry is not as easy as you thought
Time to blossom
For the last two years, Faradiba Anuar of Florahera has been honing a craft that transforms just about any space into one with a beautiful, fragrant and fresh atmosphere. Floral artistry - or flower arrangement - has taken up her spare time as she imparts her knowledge unto eager hobbyists. Holding private one-on-one workshops as well as recently expanding into group workshops with The Craft Crowd, Faradiba - who is a schoolteacher by day - tells us that floral artistry is undoubtedly fun, but it's no easy task.
In fact, to master this craft, one needs to be well versed with its background, rather than just its final visual outcome. Thus, a bulk of the learning process involves delving into how to treat, manage and take care of these flowers so that they last as long as possible and serve their purposes. In our interview with Faradiba, she explains why.
How did you start learning how to do floral arrangements?
I went for a few courses and after that I self-experimented and self-learnt, of course, with the help of the Internet. Then, I also did a lot of research, not only on how to do the arrangements, but I also studied about the flowers themselves, as well as the seasons and suppliers. This is because some local suppliers can't or refuse to bring in a few flowers that I want, so I have to directly contact suppliers from outside of Malaysia to bring them in for me.
Why did you want to teach floral artistry?
First of all, sometimes it hurts me to see when people have the resources - like, beautiful flowers - but the arrangements are really bad. I feel that it is my responsibility to at least share what I know. During my last group workshop there were a group of foreigners, probably tourists, who joined the class. They thought that the whole course would be the same as what they've learnt previously, but when it came to a few tips that they have not heard of before, they were actually very happy. They got to learn something new.
How do you come up with a lesson plan on what to teach your students?
For events where I collaborate with organisers, I usually follow the organiser's brief. For example, with The Craft Crowd, they asked me to do a basic course. So I taught them all the basic tips like how to manage the flowers, how to hold them, how to choose them, and how to keep them fresh, and other minor things.
But for personal courses, I am very particular. I am very strict, and I follow the course outline that I have been through before. So the person has to be very committed. First, we start with knowing the flowers, and then, how to manage the flowers. It takes awhile before you can actually start arranging the flowers. People may think that arranging flowers is just as that; but let's say if we have ten chapters, arranging the flowers is only at chapter seven.
So there's actually a lot of work that goes on behind flower artistry that people don't really know?
Yes, people may think that arranging is easy, but it's more than that. For people who take learning and teaching very seriously like I do, I feel that I'm responsible for making sure that my students understand and apply the right things. Because let's say if they want to teach others later on, what they carry forward is my responsibility.
Is floral artistry then, very different from just creating something pretty?
Some people think that flower arrangements are just about buying pretty flowers and gathering them to make beautiful arrangements. But probably on a professional level, or for people who really want to learn about flowers, it's important to make sure that it's more than just making the flowers beautiful. To me, personally, when I buy flowers, the flowers are the product of somebody's hard work, to plant it and take care of it before it blooms that big. For example, take peonies: people see the big beautiful peonies but they aren't aware of the hard work it takes to grow it. It is common that when you plan ten peonies, only two to five of them can grow well.
And of course, there's the price. You don't want to buy one peony for RM45 and then just arrange it to make it beautiful; you want to make it last. Some of my clients complain that some florists have the flowers beautifully arranged, but when it comes to their events, the flowers don't last. It's important to make sure that the flowers maintain and serve their purpose. The longer they can last fresh, the better it is.