Christine de Beer - effortless floral craftsman
When I started researching mud as a possible enhancement to contemporary floral art I was thoroughly inspired by the possibilities. Due to time restrictions I decided to limit the amount of techniques to four for the demonstration and to include all the step by step tutorials here in my workbook rather than show them all in lengthy detail on stage leaving more than enough time to discuss the concept after the demonstration.
Building with mud to create a three dimensional design and a natural barrier.
Mud features strongly as a traditional building technique in many cultures. It is also predicted to be a prominent building method for the future because manufacturing mud bricks does not require a lot of energy and is an environmentally safe way to insulate a structure.
For my demonstration I placed small square vases filled with mud and everything else I will need while demonstrating on stage. The vases showcased the mud quite nicely but I also wanted to hide some of the elements (such as the Shiitake mushrooms) from view- especially before the demonstration. To create a barrier I made small mud bricks to build a little wall inside the vases.
Using mud can strengthen and protect surfaces.
In nature elephants take a mud bath to screen their skins from the sun. Mud wasps and swallows build their nests from mud. In both cases the mud dries to a strong protective layer. In floral art we can use the same technique- smear mud onto a surface to create a natural looking facade that dries to a hard protective shell.
For my demonstration I needed a very strong, natural looking way to secure the orchid plants onto the wood wreath.
I made “hooks” from sisal and wire that I covered with mud to look like Monkey rope.
The mud caked together gluing the thin strands of sisal around the wire creating a strong protective layer. Once the mud was baked dry in the sun it also fixed the shape of the hooks to make it easy for me to fit it over the wreath and later attached the orchids to the Monkey rope while I designed on stage.
Another idea would be to create a strong, but natural looking backdrop by dipping sheets of canvas into mud and then to bake it dry in the sun until it becomes rigid.
Anchoring and securing something in a design with mud
Nothing says wet, rainy and muddy quite like mushrooms. I wanted to glue a few Shiitake mushrooms onto the wood wreath with mud. I needed a really sticky consistency to ensure the mushrooms will stay where placed.
If you have clay based soil in your area it is ideal but I had to add mineral oil to create my mud putty.
Beautiful mud: add texture and colour
Previously I explained how I used music and beaded wire to represent drops of rain dripping down the wood wreath to create puddles of mud. To create the “puddles” of mud I made mud balls that I placed below the design on the stage. The balls were both decorative and functional.
I needed extra weight on the stand and covered a small plastic exercise ball with mud to balance the stand.
Next I hollowed out a Styrofoam ball to display the three cut orchids in and I opened a fiberglass ball to display the willow covered test tubes in. I also placed a tiny Oasis ball (great way to recycle the used shapes!) and a few more balls to follow through on the mud concept.
Different types of soil create different textures and colours of mud (see the mud bricks for an example of lighter mud).
For my demonstration I decided to stick with a rich dark potting soil with bits of bark and roots in. This tied in well with the bark on the wreath, the roots of the orchids and the chocolate (edible and 100% dirt free) Mud Pies that was shared with all my flower friends as part of my birthday celebration after the demonstration. I will show you more pictures of how I served the Mud pies in Favors and Flavours.
This wired rope is inspired by Monkey vine that you see hanging from trees. It is strong, rough and very tough. Covering the rope with mud will add texture and it also insulate...
How to make a sticky putty out of mud
So much goes into one stage design that I thought it would be worthwhile to break up the design elements and explore each in more detail.
My bag was woven from re-purposed wire and recycled fishing line and tiny stems of growing sweet pea plants and orchids