Monday, February 28, 2011

WFT Extra 004: Jaime Hayon + Kutani

Awesome vases by Jaime Hayon collaborating with a Japanese traditional Kutani potter (official website here).  Recently, a lot of designers have been introducing new ways of using traditional craft techniques.  They keep the same high quality as the original artifacts yet create completely different aspects and become very avant-garde objects with a simple twist in shapes, patterns, colors, etc.

The traditional characteristics of Kutani pottery is to draw lines with blue/navy color called "GOSU" first and add thick paint called "GOSAI" (5 colors) over it.  The 5 colors are red, yellow, green, purple, and navy.  This Hayon's series don't have the traditional colorfulness of Kutani but have very bold contrast of red, blue and white that is a very traditional Japanese color scheme.  With striking forms and modified traditional patterns, he truly created the right balance of "west meets east" style. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

WFT Extra 003: Japanese Botanical Art

I collected these Japanese wood cut prints over the years.  Unfortunately, I haven't found the perfect place to show them off yet and they are still sleeping in my closet:(  I bought these from "Tessai-do" (sorry, no website) by Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto Japan (  I try to go to this teeny tiny store every time I go to Kyoto to collect botanical prints that are mostly done in early 1900's.  They also have different wood cut prints other than botanical ones.  If you have a chance to go to Kyoto, you should stop by to do some treasure hunting! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WFT Extra 002: Fleur de Lis

A brand new florist in River North!

It's called "Fleur de Lis" (  It literally means "flower of lilly" in French.  It's also the name of a graphic symbol that is used in many European coats of arms that are associated with the House of Bourbon.  It's located at 715 N. Franklin Street along the Brown line where used to be a small art gallery.  The gallery closed last year (if my memory is correct) and I was wondering what it would be.  I never thought that someone would take the space so quickly.  Ever since the economy crashed in 2008, a lot of the stores and restaurants in this area closed down and haven't been occupied by new tenants since, including Pearl, a huge art supply store that I used to go to every so often.  This is very good for the neighborhood to be revitalized. 

It's in a small brick building.  There's a french door leading into the store with black and white striped awning above.  The interior is in calm gray tone with black and white accessories.  I was astonished when I found out that they had vases by Fringe Studio ( that my mother collects and she asked me again recently to buy more.  The flower case and working table is in the back room overlooked by the second floor balcony, which is a bridal salon (!) and a skylight and a chandelier.  On the center of the working table, there was a very modern minimal Calla lily arrangement in a big vase.  I later realized that they had a Calla lily motif in their logo.  They wrapped the flowers with black and white stripe wrapping paper with black ribbon.  It is very chic.

There were thee women working there when I went in.  They were all very nice chatty people.  Overall, my experience at this store was EXCELLENT.  I love the cohesiveness of the whole package from the interior of the store to their logo.  I would 100% recommend you to check out the store if you would like beautiful flowers or to give someone a gift. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

003: Spring Is Almost Here

For this week's therapy, I wanted to make something very spring like.  Maybe using tulips or daffodils or hyacinths.  I imagined it to look like a birds' nest.   I purchased 8 red tulips (w/ one extra - more on this later) this morning.   My plan was to cover a floral foam with blossoms and leaves.  I was going to bend the leaves to make them puffy, and place the flowers to look like they are coming out between the leaves.  Then place it on the center of circular Pyrex plate and wrap the center piece with shredded magazine pages to add a "nest" effect.  I ended up not using the foam but used a simple clear vase instead, and still managed to do what I wanted to do by using the leaves.  I  placed the largest four leaves bended and made sort of like a clover shape around the outer edge, which is the "nest" part, then added 9 tulip blossoms in the middle like "eggs".   It wasn't quite as I planned, although, I am very satisfied with the outcome.  In a strange way, this might have been more "nest-like" than plan A.  They also smell so good!!

So, here's what happened.  This morning I was so excited to do WFT and was thinking a lot about what kind of flower I would get this week.  It was very nasty in the morning though, I almost didn't want to go out and get flowers.  But luckily (:P) my son seemed that he wanted to take a nap around the time he usually eats breakfast/lunch but couldn't quite fall asleep.  So I figured that it would be nice to have him fall asleep sooner rather than later, and I know just the trick for that... a baby carrier.  He falls asleep very quickly whenever I put him in it.  I haven't done it for quite a while since he's gotten pretty heavy.  But I put him in it and voila!  He was sleeping even before I got to the brand new flower shop down the street from us, which just opened last week.  I will talk more about this store exclusively in tomorrow's WFT Extra:)  Anyways, it worked out perfectly because I knew there were stairs leading to the front door of the shop and there's no way that I can lift our stroller up the steps.

I went in, and the flower case (is it called refrigerator?) was sort of tucked in the back.  I immediately fell in love with the white tulips in it.  They looked so pure and innocent and perfect for the first spring arrangement.  Unfortunately, they were somebody's who ordered specifically and weren't unavailable.  I was also drawn to these gorgeous golden color roses, but I wanted to make this arrangement to be a seasonal one, so instead, I got 8 red tulips.  The person who helped me was generous to give me an extra stem and I got 9 tulips for this week's therapy!  They were only $1 each.

I was also especially excited  about today's therapy because I finally went to a craft store to buy floral foam yesterday.  Well, it turned out that the one I got was a desert foam, not oasis... and I got 5 pc pack:(  I saw all the desert foam at the store and there was darker color foam next to it, so I just grabbed one assuming it was oasis and didn't really read what the label said.  To make things worse, when I came home from the flower shop, I was too excited and didn't double check the label and opened it.  I started soaking one in the water and I soon realized that it's not absorbing water at all.  I thought something was wrong, then I FINALLY checked the label and there it was.  It said "DESERT FOAM FOR FLOWER CRAFT".  Oh, no...  I had this grand idea of making it more like an "arrangement" piece by using foam, however I needed to come up with plan B.  Today, I learned a important lesson, though.  "Always check the label."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WFT Extra 001: Seeds!!

I have been collecting plant seeds for this season.  Every spring I go to a nursery to get potted annuals and perennials for my planters because I'm not good at planning ahead.  I always wanted to grow plants from their seeds but by the time I realized that it's pretty warm outside, it's too late to do that.  So I tend to rush to nurseries and get potted ones...

I got some regular flower seeds and some Japanese veggie/herb seeds that are hard to get here.  Most of them are from a local Japanese grocery store in a north west suburb of Chicago. I've got very good selections of seeds and have already scheduled when to plant them.  I wanted to post it here so that I remember... just in case;) 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

002: Cute As A Button

For the second week of Weekly Flower Therapy, I decided to do something very small.  Or I should say, it ended up being that way...

This week I was really hoping that I had time to go to a craft shop to get some floral foam.  However, again with the tight schedule with my son, work and the "hallmark holiday" that is Valentine's, etc., I just went to a local grocery store yesterday and picked up 5 stems of Gerbera Daisies.  I also wanted to purchase some greens to go along with it, but since I was at the place known as "Whole Paycheck", that would have gone way over my budget of $10.  So, I stuck with just the Gerberas.  I was looking for alternatives for the greens at their produce section, but I didn't have any luck finding anything I wanted to use.  By the way, it was interesting to see all those gentlemen occupying the whole store yesterday buying a bouquet and grocery for valentine's dinner (I assumed).  I wondered if they took the entire afternoon off...

When I came home, I was quite busy cooking a romantic dinner for my lovely husband who works so hard for us every day.  Because I didn't have time to arrange the flowers as I wanted, they were just thrown into one of my favorite vases.  The vase itself is very unique, and I was actually lucky enough to help design it at one of my previous jobs.  For a second this morning, I thought it might be ok to post this arrangement as is, but my gut said "no".  I had a fear of this "therapy" becoming just buying grocery store flowers and putting them in a weirdly shaped vase.  So I looked around our living room and found these shot glasses and hand towel holders made of lacquered bamboo.  And I made a small arrangement with one of the Gerberas.

Ok, so it could be "throwing some grocery store flower in a weird vases", but at lease I tried.  I think it's cute as a button.  So I made two of them, put them on a wall self by the front door either side of a key tray.   Do you think I found an easy way out???

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

001: Faux Bonsai

Here it is.  The very first weekly flower therapy.

I went to Crate and Barrel in Lincoln Park the other day.  I always love their flower section but never had the gut to buy anything from there because their flowers are REALLY expensive.  But that day, I was there holding my son, and an elder gentleman walked up to me and commented that my son is very cute.  We chatted a bit, then he started to pick up some flowers from the buckets.  So I guess in a way, he encouraged me to pick up something for myself as well.  However, I didn't want to spend $50 for a bouquet of flowers, which happens all the time if you want really nice ones.  Instead, I just started picking one stem of whatever I liked and kind of made an instant arrangement there in the store.  I started with a tall element, which was a plum branch.  I then added some greens like Hypericum buds.  Then I figured that it definitely needed more blossoms and I found these super chic dark purple Spray Mums.  And that was just under $10 before tax (that means it went over $10 after crazy Chicago sales tax but since this is my first time, I think this still fits my concept...).  While I was picking those flowers, I already had an idea which "vase" I should use.  It is a small piece of Japanese pottery that my mother gave me, whose outside surface is deep red and inside surface has an abstract pattern in very soft pastel colors.  I also remembered I had a pin frog that I bought from Japan and barely used it, so I was pretty psyched about using it.  And voila.  The idea was to create an illusion of "bonsai" with cut plants, and I think it worked pretty well for my first attempt.

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my weekly flower therapy and I hope to hear from you!

Monday, February 7, 2011

000: Concept

I love flowers.   I want to live with flowers everyday.  But there are some difficulties to keep them in my house continuously throughout the year.  Because... 

A. too expensive
B. too cold outside
C. no yard 

One day I was by the flower section at a store and realized how much I love them.  I can't wait for the weather to get better and be able to garden on my tiny terrace.  So, I decided to pick whatever I can buy under $10 and make an arrangement every week.  That's how I started.