It always starts at the farmers’ market.
Open-air weekend markets are a dangerous place for those with big creative ideas, especially during the summer season, where every corral is loaded to the brim with fresh, fragrant fruits and bright blooms begging to be touched… or just snapped in ‘Portrait’ mode for the ‘gram, whatever.
As you sidle down the rows of vendors, traipsing past the ripe, juicy peaches and the giant bunches of snapdragons and freesias chilling in big buckets of water, you think to yourself, “You know, I’m gonna buy a bouquet for myself. Because I’m worth it.” Resolute, you dive deep into the bunches, searching for an arrangement with a perfect stock-to-flower ratio. And finally you find one — only to catch a glimpse of the price tag and realize you could easily buy a week’s worth of home-brewed kombucha for the cost of one measly bouquet!
Suddenly those single blooms look enticing, no?
You try to convince yourself, “I could make a bouquet like that. Honestly, how hard can it be? All I need is a pretty ceramic vase and I’m good to go.”
Dear reader, I understand you. I, too, aspire to be the type of woman who effortlessly pairs florals with quirky vases found in thrift stores on the east side. But unfortunately, I’m just not that type of girl. I’m the girl who walks into the Los Angeles Flower Market on the one day it’s closed (Sundays, FYI!) and then goes back the next day, only to walk out with a bunch of different types of fern leaves, a piece of eucalyptus, and absolutely nothing that resembles a potential bouquet or table centerpiece.
Good news: You don’t need to be Martha Stewart to put together a killer floral arrangement.
In fact, a wave of female florists has emerged in the last few years who are pushing the bounds of what traditional arrangements can be. Women like Emily Thompson, Yasmine Mei, and Sophia Moreno-Bunge have garnered fans from all over the world (thanks, Instagram) with their sculptural, beautiful, and unique arrangements.
And sure, they look a bit more complicated than your typical Trader Joe’s $5 bouquet. (Okay, a lot more complicated.) But anyone can begin arranging no matter what their experience or artistic level, says Sophia, the founder of Isa Isa Floral. “There are so many different places to start; sometimes it’s an interesting local material or a landscape that provokes me to make an arrangement. There’s always some inspiration that comes from a source seemingly unrelated: a painting, a space, a feeling, a dream.”
And with that, she’s offered to share some tips with us. It’s time to start arranging, flower-istas!
1 | Start ideating on what you’d like to put together —
Where’s this arrangement going to live — on your kitchen table, next to your bed, or somewhere else? Think about the size, shape, and color palette you’d like to use.
2 | Round up your materials —
Start shopping for flowers! Ideally, work with whatever’s in season; blooms will be less expensive, more vibrant, and will likely feel more precious because you can only find them at a certain time of year.
“Every season has something special that you can get inspired by,” shares Sophia. “The cool thing about Los Angeles is that there are a lot of weird and amazing local materials to use year round — dates, citrus on the branch, palms of all sorts, weird South American trees, passion vine, loquats, jasmine, grasses — not to mention that local roses are in bloom eight months of the year… if not a bit more.”
You can head to your local farmers’ market for fresh flowers, or if you live in a major city it’s usually worth an early morning trip to your town’s Flower Market. There will be way more options available for you to choose from, and they’ll be fresher and last longer if you’re shopping at the Flower Market as opposed to a farmers’ market or a local store like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.
3 | Use a vessel that speaks to you —
Sometimes a plain old Mason jar just won’t do. Sophia highly recommends using a vessel that speaks to you. So think outside the box — can you put your favorite old ceramic bowl to work? Or if you have a little time, browse through the offerings at your local thrift shop. Yes, you might end up walking out with a tacky-looking dog-shaped vase, but there are also plenty of hidden gems at very reasonable prices hiding on the shelves of most Goodwill stores.
4 | Use the tools of the trade to bring your arrangement to life —
A flower frog, clippers, and flower wire can go a long way in helping you realize your botanical vision. Use the flower frog to keep stems standing at the angle you desire — without it, you’ll notice sagging issues. Flower wire attached toward the base of the stem keeps blooms upright and intertwined, and a good pair of clippers (in lieu of normal scissors) will chomp through woodier stems.
5 | Be proud, stay humble —
Tool around with your arrangement — be curious, and don’t be afraid to make interesting choices with your design. Once you’re happy with what you’ve made, snap a pic and post it to the socials to show off your handiwork!
Michelle Pellizzon is a creative consultant based in Los Angeles. A former professional dancer-turned-startup employee, she’s led a strange but wonderful creative life. Follow along for her latest projects and mishaps at @betterbymichelle, and connect with wellness practitioners at her company, @holisticism.