I haven't blogged for quite a while, but am ready to kick things off again with some great content that has been accumulating over the past two years. As many of you know from following on Instagram, I have spent quite a bit of time internationally - teaching my 2-day floral master classes - including Canada, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Russia, and Ukraine - all in addition to workshops in the United States as well as weddings and events. It's been (and continues to be) busy, to say the least.
For the next several weeks, I'll be sharing images from a number of workshops, and first up is Russia - the first international workshop that I did back in 2015. Photographer Corbin Gurkin joined me in Moscow, and it was an amazing time, as you'll see from the images below.
Many of you know my story, but if you don't, the short version is that I went to school with dreams of being a diplomat and traveling the world. Never did I imagine that my second career - as a floral designer - would ultimately fulfill this dream.
I have to share a secret with you - when I first decided to go to Russia for a workshop, I had no idea what type of interest there would be, and whether or not my workshop would sell. But, I figured it was a risk I would have to take! In the end, it was a sold-out class attended by some of the hippest floral designers in Russia. If there is one thing that continues to be impressed upon me in my floral journey, it is that you cannot let fear keep you from pushing yourself to the next level.
"You cannot let fear keep you from pushing yourself to the next level"
I knew from social media that there were many Russians interested in my work, and had been to Saint Petersburg in the past, so I knew what to expect in terms of appreciation for the arts, grand architecture, and colorful beauty. So, when a lovely Moscow-based floral designer - Liza Ambrasovskaya - featured my work in Veter, a Russian magazine, I asked her if she would like to help organize my coming to Moscow to teach. Needless to say, she coordinated everything, and without her it couldn't have happened.
Saint Basil's Cathedral as taken from Red Square. Consecrated in 1561. The apartment we were staying in was about a 15 minute walk from Red Square, so we took a number of walks over to check out the square, Saint Basil's, and the Kremlin. So much history, and fascinating to see.
The space was a very old (huge) industrial building that took up a city block. Up a number of flights of stairs (no elevator) was the venue space - Mazel Tov - a photography studio full of windows and gorgeous natural light.
These apples, along with a number of other foraged beauties, were gathered at Liza's parents home on the outskirts of Moscow. There isn't a lot in terms of foraging in Moscow, so it was wonderful to have access to a private garden to augment some of our floral variety. We even went so far as to ask a neighbor if we could cut from their wall of wild grapevines - which they were gracious to allow.
This was my demo arrangement for the centerpiece portion of the workshop. Typically in a two day class, we do centerpieces and statement pieces on day one, and then bouquets and an editorial photo shoot on day two.
It was a challenge to source the types of flowers that I am used to working with in the United States (and have available to me at the San Francisco Flower Mart), but Liza really pulled out all the stops to get us some gorgeous floral variety.
Students at work. In general, there is a significant appreciation for the arts in Russia, and garden-style floral design is something that the Russians have really embraced. I was amazed at the level of talent in the class.
Beautiful student work!
Alëna Kubik here with her beautiful arrangement. Alëna also makes lovely hand-died silk ribbons, and gave me a lovely selection on the second day of class to take home.
More beautiful student work.
At the end of the first day of the workshop, we used our completed centerpieces for a class welcome dinner. It was so much fun getting to know everyone, and I only wish that I spoke Russian as well as everyone spoke English.
We had some gorgeous gowns, and gorgeous models. I was amazed at how young the models were that the agency sent - both only 14 years old, but able to pose like they had been modeling for years.
I love this gown by talented American designer Emily Riggs.
Vintage dress above from Shop Gossamer.
Moscow street scene - right across from St. Basil's Cathedral and Red Square. Dress by Emily Riggs.
Gown by Russian designer Tatyana Kochnova. It's hard to beat the colors on the streets of Moscow (well, maybe only in Saint Petersburg).
Our wonderful group, and an amazing beginning to a series of international workshops!