Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019 – a recap

The Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019 was chock full of learning!  Sooo much information was shared.  We covered pricing & business, hanging installations, freestanding installations, low centerpieces, and elevated centerpieces.  We exclusively used foam-free mechanics and covered several different techniques.  Students went home with heads overflowing with information!

Suspended foam-free floral installation by Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019 led by Tobey Nelson Events

Our head table, bedecked! A hanging foam-free celebration of spring was just one of the 4 major installations we made. Our feasting tables were set with the centerpieces we made.

The whole gang from the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Here's the whole sweet gang from the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019!

Prior to the official kick off, we offered two optional bonus sessions!

Tour of a Local Flower Farm

It was a perfect PNW spring day to visit nearby Sonshine Farm. Grower Pam Uhlig is one of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market farmers.  She is a savvy farm business woman and a very skilled grower.  Students enjoyed seeing her operation and the origin of some of the blooms they would be working with.

Professional flower grower Sonshine Farm hosted the farm tour during the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Pam shows students her Anemone crop in the greenhouse.

Professional flower grower Sonshine Farm hosted the farm tour during the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Admiring woody plants with Pam at Sonshine Farm.

Wearable Flowers

The second bonus session was on small-scale floral wearables.  We talked about the mechanics behind updated corsages, tattoos, necklaces, simple hairpieces, and the like.  Also discussed was the importance of proper processing and storage.  We created these pieces on Sunday, and each person wore theirs to Tuesday’s feast.  Thanks to knowledge acquired at the workshop, each piece was fresh as a daisy and in perfect condition!

Students created beautiful things!  And got lovely images, courtesy of our beloved workshop photographer Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography, to use in their portfolios.

Fresh flower corsage bracelet made at the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Fresh flower hairpiece made by BloomBuggy at the Whdibey Flower Workshop 2019

Fresh flower necklace made by student of Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Day One starts with Price and Profit Design

The Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019 officially kicked off with dinner and drinks and time to mingle.  Then we gathered for introductions.  After getting to know everyone, we dove right into Sustainable Floral Business with Emily from Curious Lola (and also Lola Creative).  This was the first of 3 sessions Emily taught.  Over these three sessions, Emily guided students through a nitty-gritty analysis of why, and how, they should developing their own pricing structure.  She helped lead students to find their unique magic multiplier – the magic number that can help achieve the goal of a profitable business!  We answered loads of student questions, had informative conversations, and lots of a-ha moments!!

I love Emily! She is such a problem solver!

Emily Ellen Anderson teaches Sustainable Flower Business at Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

An a-ha moment in action!

Day 2 – Foam Free Centerpieces, Low & Elevated

Monday was a full day dedicated to FLOWERS!!!   We learned a variety of foam-free techniques for centerpieces,starting with low, and ending with elevated.  Demonstration and lecture was interspersed with hands-on making.  Students got to indulge themselves in a generous and yummy selection of American-grown spring flowers and a variety of vases as well.  Since the work of each student was photographed, I wanted each student to have the freedom to create a piece that reflects their unique style & brand!  No two need look the same!

Workshoppers at the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019 had a generous selection of spring flowers to select from, all American Grown!

So many gorgeous American Grown blooms to choose from at the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Your unique style is valued at the Whidbey Flower Workshop. Students are given a choice of containers for their creations.

A vase for every brand!

Tobey Nelson teaches a variety of foam-free floral mechanics at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Foam-free centerpieces can be made with chicken wire, pin frogs, or both!

Julie picks her palette

I taught several different mechanics, and gave a demonstration of my design process and how I incorporate key principles and elements of design.   Then each student chose her vase, mechanic and blooms, and went to work!  Throughout the work time, I was available for one to one critique to work through challenges, and help make the most of design opportunities.

Midway through our flowering, we took a break for a session with photographer Suzanne.  She gave a quick but valuable lesson on how to design for photography.  She shared a variety of tricks for the experienced photographer and the novice alike.

The low centerpiece session culminated in a styling & photo session with Suzanne.  We stocked our photo booth with a selection of tables, props, backdrops, etc. so that each photograph would be unique, and reflect the brand & style of the artist.  We wanted the  pieces to be true portfolio assets!

One on one critique of student work at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Foam Free Centerpiece by Folk Art Flowers at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

In the afternoon, we tackled foam-free elevated centerpieces.  Again, demonstration was followed by hands-on.  These pieces were done as group projects.  Each team practiced a different set of different techniques.

Julie & Jodi work on a long-span elevated centerpiece on stands.

Workshops are fun! I love dear Becky - she's a kick!

Foam free elevated centerpieces from the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Elevated centerpieces in a vase, made two different ways, but both without foam.

Harlow Stand with a Long foam free elevated centerpiece made at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

A long, elevated foam-free centerpiece on Accent Decor's Harlow stands,

Day three – Foam Free Large Scale Installations

Our final day was dedicated to installations.  These are my favorite to make, and boy did we get carried away!  We made a bunch: a floral chandelier made from Oasis gold mesh and test tubes, a freestanding urn-based piece, a small wall-hanging with Holly Pillows, a suspended floral column, and a long hanging piece that went over the head table.  We learned a lot and employed a large inventory of tools and techniques including Holly pillows, Eco-Fresh Bouquet Wraps, rigging, pulleys & gripples, magnets, and more.  My hope is that graduates of the Whidbey Flower Workshop have the knowledge to make any installation or feature that their clients request!

Talking techniques! Learning can be serious business!

Making a floral installation has Keri all smiley!

Students working on both elevated centerpieces and on the suspended floral column.

Lynn adds Camellia to a foam-free elevated centerpiece

Nikki edits a Ranunculus for the chandelier

Jane and Julie help hoist the finished chandelier into place

The Farewell Feast

Together we learned a bunch, had a great time, and pulled together a great event!  We sure crammed a lot of floral features into a small space, and a ton of education into a short time!

In the past, the workshop culminated with a dinner.  Students, teachers and farmers gather at a beautiful table amid our floral creations.  That has always been a highlight moment.  But for 2019, I wanted that dinner to be a real event.  I wanted it to matter more – to be bigger, to reach more people, and to do something positive.  Our host venue, The Roaming Radish, is a very popular restaurant known for its farm-to-table fare.  So we joined forces – Slow Food meets Slow Flowers.  We invited some key VIP guests, and some of their favorite patrons to an exclusive dinner with my students and crew.

Diners were blown away by the floral environment, and students enjoyed seeing their creations appreciated!  Debra Prinzing was the keynote speaker of the evening, welcoming guests and helping to spread the message of foam-free floristry.  I love an opportunity to share what sustainable floristry is and why it matters!

Floral Entryway of Whidbey Island Restaurant

Looking in on the beginning of the Floral Fest! Guests are greeted by the floral column and a ledge full of floral centerpieces.

Dinner guests talk with workshop students while enjoying a glass of wine and the floral ambience. Look at the bright smiles brought on by being among the flowers!

Debra Prinzing talks about Slow Flowers and sustainable floristry at the whidbey flower workshop

Debra Prinzing, leader of the Slow Flowers Movement and one of my personal heros, takes the stage to talk about sustainable floristry and what consumers can do to help the movement grow.

A good look at some of the different projects: elevated centerpieces on a vase (L) and on stands (R), plus the chandelier overhead and the suspended column near the entrance.

Raising Money with Flowers

The highlight of the night was the centerpiece raffle.  Since out-of-town students can’t take their flowers home, we decided to use them to support an important local organization.  By raffling all the lovely creations, we raised over $500 for the local Whidbey Organic Farm School.  Flower Power in action!

A student gives a centerpiece to a raffle winner

A workshop student gives a centerpiece to a lucky raffle winner

School "headmistress" Judy appreciates the raffle proceeds, which will be used by the Organic Farm School for seeds and compost and other necessary items.

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