The gorgeous cover of Grayson Handy's new book was enough to make me leap at the chance to meet him and learn his floral secrets. Little did I know how much I would learn or how much I would adore him! Grayson style is positively influenced by his Southern roots and exponentially expanded by his global travels. His warmth and down-to-earth disposition coupled with his pronounced wit made our morning flower school more like a personal conversation with a newly famous friend.
I have to admit, when I arrived, I was not exactly in the right frame of mind to sit and listen. Racing through my head were all the things I needed to do, was supposed to be doing and had told others I had already done. Grayson's sense of humor, impressive credentials and engaging designs quickly caught my interest.
I always find it intriguing how artistic people find their creative calling. Grayson's college degree is actually in fashion design from VCU. Although it is a different artistic career path, Grayson commented that he relies on many of the things he learned through his art education as positively influencing his work such as the basic art principles for composition, texture, balance and color. After graduating from VCU, he took a position with Barney's New York and later with ABC Carpet and Home. Grayson and his partner, Arturo Quintero are co-owners of Prudence Designs and Events in Chelsea in New York.
I loved this quote from the forward to the book:
"A daily practice at ABC Home is to see home as our mirror. The space we create around us reflects our personal vision, and when our vision is realized, it mirrors back a sense of wholeness and refuge. Flowers channel beauty and power into our lives and invite us to find, reflected, our own form of self-expression."
Paulette Cole, Owner of ABC Carpet and Home
Follow the link to an interesting article in Elle Decor about Cole and her passion for sustainable design!
He started the first arrangement by covering a simple, glass cylinder vase with carpet tape and rolling on this incredible "paper" made from real bark. I have been searching and searching the Internet and can not find a resource for this product. I can see this being something I keep on hand at all times. I already have a large roll of carpet tape that I keep on hand. I have used it to secure a variety of objects to vases such as colored pencils, asparagus and twigs. It is very strong.
Many of the flowers Grayson used were quite unusual such as the Buckeye Peony he is adding to the arrangement in the photo above. The depth of color in this arrangement is amazing.
Another flower of note is the Amnesia Rose. This is actually this rose's true color. It is not dyed this color! Grayson is a big proponent of using flowers as they are in their natural state.
The arrangement he created as we watched was similar to the one from the cover of the book. I love the monochromatic palette and depth of color in this arrangement. It looks as if it were artfully picked from the backyard yet the variety of blooms he selected is anything but common. He commented that the little bunch of lily-of-the-valley alone would sell for over $150 in New York.
Speaking of Lily of the Valley...we were actually fortunate to see Grayson as he was asked by a prominent television morning show to appear and recreate Kate Middleton's bridal bouquet the morning he was scheduled to fly South. We were quite honored that he chose to fulfill his commitment with us.
Here is the list of flowers from this arrangement:
Lily of the Valley in pink
Japanese Sweet Pea
After creating an arrangement, he always spritzes the arrangement with water to keep it fresh. You can still see a little of the water beaded up on the greenery.
The second arrangement was created in a bright, apple green Chinese takeout box, a signature container used by Prudence Designs. He started by creating a little bouquet of cellophane to nest the Oasis so that the container would not leak. I love the textures and colors in this compact little arrangement. Notice that he finishes this clever design by adding a set of chopsticks.
The orchid blossoms at set in individual water tubes and the petals are folded open for maximum impact.
Here is a list of the flowers he used for this arrangement. I hope I didn't miss any!
Pin cushion protea
Japanese orchids, epidendrum orange
Thank you Grayson for sharing your many talents with us in Winston Salem!
Grayson Handy signing my book.
Here is a close up of the bark paper he used to wrap the simple, inexpensive glass cylinder vase. It is secured with double sided carpet tape and then wrapped with raffia. The bark paper is actually made with thin sheets of real bark.
A special thanks to Janice Cain Stationary and Gifts of Martinsville, Virginia for bringing Grayson to Winston Salem. The flower seminar was lovely. If you would like to purchase a copy of Flowers for the Home, please visit Janice Cain's website through the link above.