My creative workbook

Christine de Beer Floral Lifestyle Design

Mud!!!

This was my Mud!!! Floral Art Demonstration at the Rondebosch Flower Club.

Mud demonstration

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.

Technique 1:
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.

Mud vases

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.

Technique 2:
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.

Monkey rope on the wreath

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.

Monkey rope mud detail

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.
Technique 3:
Anchoring and securing something in a design with mud

Mushrooms in the 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.
Technique 4:
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.

Stand and Weight

I needed extra weight on the stand and covered a small plastic exercise ball with mud to balance the stand.

Mud

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.

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Christine de Beer

This is my ongoing creative workbook to research and capture design projects and techniques. You will mostly find ideas for floral art but I will also include some other projects such as gift packaging, cards and even cake decorating with a few lifestyle projects arranged in between.

Everything you see in this workbook was designed, made and photographed by me, unless specific credit is given to another designer.

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