My creative workbook

Christine de Beer Floral Lifestyle Design

Tradition and Technique, Technique and Tradition

"The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come. The professional is sly. He knows that by toiling beside the front door of technique, he leaves room for genius to enter by the back."
Steven Pressfield


Kyogi paper bird and fan nest basket with burgendy lilies

I rarely reach for a Floral Design book or Internet Search when I need to find inspiration for my work. But I often go back to tradition to find the new. I prefer Cutting Edge Designs using ancient, cultural and traditional techniques. My art is the result of trying to bring these two ends together.

Fan basket and bird woven from shaved wood

The word "tradition" is derived from the Latin tradere or traderer literally meaning to give for safe keeping. I love that.

If you look at traditional arts and crafts you will notice that it is their compliance to a certain look or technique or unbending design rules that makes them traditional in the first place. Think of painted Russian dolls or Bushmen rock paintings or a Hogarth’s Curve Floral Art Design. There is a great amount of skill in the creation of these enduring designs but not a huge scope for originality or creativity by the craftsman.

Weave pattern and random knots in strips of Kyogi paper

Contemporary Designers on the other hand are valued because they moved away from tradition to develop new techniques that are inventive and inimitable, often ignoring the traditional "rules" entirely.

But as Contemporary Designs evolved and became sophisticated as a design style on its own the need for an even greater understanding of the traditional principles and elements of design grew. Proportions, for example, become harder to calculate if you are working with an armature rather than a vase but it is still important as a design consideration. Ignoring the traditional has become unworkable.

Looking into the fan basket from above

Cutting Edge Designers now build on the enlightened foundation cast by Contemporary Designers by ignoring the constraints of tradition but still acquiring a greater technique skill set by revisiting tradition. This has become a vital part of creating new designs and relevant design philosophies in all art forms today.

Kyogi fan basket from the side

When you need inspiration for a design problem study a Traditional Craft- you will be amazed!

Weave strips of the fan basket through the bird body

Design Note: The bird is woven from traditional Japanese Kyogi paper using a Palm leaf art technique from South America. Dark and dramatic burgundy lilies are tucked in low to line a fan shaped basket that unravels into an unruly nest. Random knots in the weaved strips mimics the knots used to tie the birds beak and tail.

For another Kyogi paper design look at my Blown Away. Kyogi paper was historically used in Japan to wrap food – all natural, keeps the food from drying out, adds a subtle flavour and it can be composted to return to the crop-soil-cycle! It is pine (or cedar) wood that is shaved so thin it’s almost transparent. It can be wrapped, rolled, cut, stained, torn and easily glued.

Every week I add a new design with related tutorials. Be sure to subscribe to receive an email notification with design inspiration.

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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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