An All-American Floral Design Tool Kit
June 11th, 2013
I never thought I would be such a proponent of the American Grown-American Made movement, but after writing The 50 Mile Bouquet and Slow Flowers, I have gained newfound appreciation for companies that provide jobs to American workers. We should all make an effort to both value and promote domestic farms and domestic manufacturers. Hey – even my books are printed in North American (not Asia!), on FSC certified paper with soy-based inks. I have my publisher to thank for making the choice to not print overseas.
Here, for you, I have compiled a list of my must-have floral design tools and accessories. Sadly, it has been a challenge to find all the Made-in-the-USA products I want. For example, I can’t find any women’s gardening gloves that weren’t made in Asia (yes, there are some leather glove makers still around in the US, but those products are intended for a more rugged gardening activity than floral design!)
And then there are those companies that label their packaging with phrases such as: Designed in the USA; Assembled in China. That’s not really what I’m looking for either. Nevertheless, I am here to share some glimmers of hope that American manufacturing is alive and well in the specialized world of floral design.
Here are my favorite floral design products. I recommend you check them out and make a conscious choice with your dollars! When you read a sentence like this one: “. . . carefully manufactured in Seattle by skilled craftsmen paid a living wage,” from apron designer Janna Lufkin (Raw Materials Designs), you really want to support her spirit and her faith in her company’s lifeblood, the workers who turn her ideas into tangible products!
Florian floral snips (for herbaceous and woody stems), $25.95 plus tax & shipping. This fine point scissor shear is made in the USA and is an excellent hand pruner. It is ideal for flower arranging, Ikebana, Bonsai and other precise hand pruning activities. This hand pruner shear features precision ground stainless blades and comfortable polypropylene ribbed grips with a brass thumb lock. Size: 7 1/4″ long. Florian also makes a fine rachet pruner, which you’ll find useful for cutting thicker branches of trees and shrubs. *Rachet Pruner is $36.95 plus tax & shipping.
Garden Party’s Thorn strippers (for stripping rose stems), designed by a floral designer and made in the USA, $11.95 plus tax & shipping. This colorful and lightweight tool has a spring-action handle to protect your hands from thorns, while the finger supports ensure a non-slip grip. Durable metal blades are honed to reduce tearing or peeling of the rose stem. Size: 6 inches long.
The Vase Brace is a tray with bungee-style cords on all four corners, which makes it easy to transport a vessel filled with flowers — especially by car, $16.98 plus tax & shipping. Far more reliable than cardboard boxes that break from water damage, this cool product was designed and perfected by a florist. The hooked cords are adjustable for different-sized vases and containers. Size: 12-by-12 inches.
Two types of metal FLOWER FROGS are still made in the USA, sold by the Dorothy Biddle Company. In 2010, Dorothy Biddle purchased the Bonnie Mfg. Company, which manufactured the pin-type flower holders (Kenzans and pin frogs). It is now the only US manufacturer of flower holders, including hairpin and needle/pin varieties:
One style is the Blue Ribbon Flower Holder, a hairpin-style that comes in round and oval shapes ranging between 1-inch to 4-inch in size. Price range: $7.50 to $30. My friend Susan Appleget-Hurst just sent me the 2-1/2 inch round one and I’m excited to use it. I also have some vintage Blue Ribbon Flower Holders in other sizes, which reminds me to tell you to keep an eye out for them at garage sales and flea markets. “Blue Ribbon Flower Holder, Greeley, PA” is embossed on the base. Use some floral clay to anchor the frog in the bottom of your vase and – voila – no need to use foam (which you know I hate for its toxic qualities!).
The other style is the Pin Frog, Kenzan or Ikebana holders, these pin holders come in a variety of sizes (7/8-inch to 5 inches) and prices ($4-$50). There are also oblong, oval and square versions in similar sizes and colors – brass, black or green. The product’s heavy base prevents tipping and the brass pins hold material securely. Can be anchored with clay or adhesive. Won’t rust, either!
Raw Materials work aprons, created by my friend Janna Lufkin, a photo stylist, blogger and popular art director of top magazine home, organizing and interior stories. Janna’s aprons are fantastic, made in the USA. from domestically-sourced 100% cotton fabric. On top, you’ll find her utility apron, $35 plus tax and shipping (available with red or blue stitching); beneath, the classic chef’s apron, $45, plus tax and shipping. In addition to these stylish work aprons, Raw Materials Design’s Natural line of goods includes kitchen and dining textiles. You can also search the Organic USA cotton line to find similar products, including a French waiter’s apron.
Vintage American vases are easy to find online or at flea markets. Look for Floraline, McCoy, Haegar, Royal Copley, Bauer and others from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. American-grown flowers deserve to be showcased in an American-made vase, right? A match made in heaven!
For my bouquets, I love using Bauer California pottery, which makes wonderful, perfectly proportioned vases, made outside Los Angeles, in the original factory. You can read my story of how Janek Boniecki saved this iconic company, restored the manufacturing operations and reissued the original flower pots, urns, vases and cachepots in hipster palettes of orange, red, yellow, turquoise, teal and cobalt. Now you can have “new” Bauer on your tabletop, perfect for your flowers! Above, the Madagascar Vase (12-1/2 inches tall, $60 plus tax and shipping), comes in 15 colors and two smaller sizes; Stock Vase (12 inches tall, $66 plus tax and shipping) comes in 15 colors and two smaller sizes. The Pinnacle Vase (11 inches, $60 plus tax and shipping), comes in 15 colors.
**Sadly, I am still looking for USA-made women’s gardening gloves. No luck yet!