The holiday season is upon us and today’s episode will accomplish several things. I created this special gift-themed segment to highlight some of my favorite artisan-made products that I’ve become familiar with in the past year or longer.
Second, I wanted to share the voices of “makers” with you. All are women this year, but that is just a happy coincidence (I’m sure we’ll find many male makers to highlight in the future). I recorded short conversations with each of these select artisans. Each is driven to create beautiful and high-quality products inspired by flowers, botany and nature.
Please enjoy these conversations and check out these artist-makers, their work, and – most importantly, links to their online stores so you can see their collections of American-made goods for gift-giving. Have an unforgettable Floral Holiday and moreover, be inspired by the creative entrepreneurs you’ll hear from today.
First up, meet botanical photographer Ellen Hoverkamp of My Neighbor’s Garden.
I’ve written about Ellen’s work for the Los Angeles Times and for Garden Design Magazine, so over the past few years, we’ve become friends.
It was especially rewarding to have Ellen attend an all-day workshop I taught at Blithewold Mansion in Rhode Island last fall – and to see how readily this gifted artist moves from one medium to another.
A Connecticut-based artist and former art teacher, Ellen Hoverkamp first started composing images from nature using an early model flatbed photo scanner in 1997, she didn’t even own a camera. Nor did she know the names of most of the plants she used. “It was all about form and color for me.”
Fast-forward to 2005 and Hoverkamp’s evocative and artful assemblages of botanicals and edibles were profiled in The New York Times; they’ve since been exhibited in museums and graced covers of books and periodicals.
Ellen arranges flowers, pods, branches, vines, gourds and roots as vivid still-lifes against striking black backdrops.
I like to imagine that if Ellen had been born three or four centuries ago, she would have been a Dutch master painter. “I love the hyper-real details of my images,” she says.
Ellen relies on cuttings from public gardens, nurseries and private landscapes to create her pieces. She says that the mission of her work is to bring attention to the efforts of gardeners and to the beauty of nature.
At Ellen’s web site you can find a beautiful online store with her photographic products, including signed prints, note cards and my favorite– photographically printed scarves.
Ellen is a renaissance woman. Her 12-by-58-inch scarves feature seasonal floral and botanical compositions printed on silk charmeuse. The reverse side is hand-died contrasting fabric and Ellen custom sews each one.
In addition to drooling over Ellen’s botanical scarves, I know you’ll want to peruse the fine art work on her web site. You can order prints of most of the floral and veggie compositions there – and there are hundreds to choose from. Ellen posts new work each week on her Facebook page, so check out my link to find and follower her there.
Finally, you can now order her beautiful black canvas tote bags featuring a cornucopia of edibles or a just-picked-from-the-garden floral array. Click here to order.
SEATTLE MADE TO CONTAIN YOUR STEMS
Next up, please meet Kristin Nelson of Kri Kri Studio, a Seattle-based ceramic artist whose vases are popular favorites of the local floral design community here and far beyond, including Barney’s stores in Japan.
I’ve selected Kristin’s vessels to present my All-American floral entries at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show for the past two years. Learn more about her story here.
It seems so fitting to combine locally-grown flowers gathered in vases of equal quality and beauty, made by a talented artisan who touches every single product that leaves her studio.
Kristin’s new VIT Collection is modern and clean, inspired by Scandinavian design and a perfect complement to any flower in any season.
I love Kristin’s color sensibility in the glazes she selects — everything from calming neutrals to joy-inducing brights.
If you’re in Seattle, you may want to check out Kristin’s upcoming studio sale in early December where you’ll meet the artist and get to choose the perfectly-imperfect hand-made vase just for yourself or perhaps as a gift for a special recipient. Kri Kri Studio’s Facebook Page will have more details – so check it out here.
Kristin also shared details and links to these upcoming Seattle events, where you can meet the artist and purchase her lovely pieces:
To be on Kristin’s mailing list for her annual sale, email her at email@example.com
HAND-LETTERED AND HAND-MADE
Next up, please meet Karen Plarisan and Karly Sahr of Verbena Flowers & Trimmings based in Roseville, California.
The mother-daughter team lives and breathes flowers. Karly Sahr has a graphic design and art degree from U.C. Davis, while mom Karen Plarisan has a landscape design and horticulture background.
They gather inspiration from being surrounded by nature, so it is only fitting that Verbena has developed into a pesticide-free farm and flower design studio.
In addition to floral design work, the two have added an online store that features Karly’s creative product designs.
I want to highlight the “Earth Laughs With Flowers” t-shirt featuring Karly’s exquisite hand-lettering. She and Karen gifted me a very special tote bag with that same screen print last year and I can’t tell you how many people stop and ask me how they can purchase that tote. The totes aren’t available right now, but the t-shirts are. I know the design will resonate with flower farmers and florists alike.
This week you’ll find a sale going on – 30 percent off t-shirts, stickers and all graphic downloads – through November 29th. And Karen and Karly are offering a free “Life in Color” download with every purchase. It’s just the thing to add to your own inspiration board or to print and give a friend who needs a creative lift.
LUXURIATE WITH HANDMADE SOAPS & BODY PRODUCTS
Next up, please meet Holly Rutt of the Little Flower Soap Co., based in Michigan. Holly spends most of her time during the warmer months running Sweet Pea Floral Design, serving wedding clients, but when the temperatures drop, she turns her focus to a joint maker-project with her husband Justin Rutt.
The Little Flower Soap Co. is a small batch, body care company established in 2010.
Holly and Justin’s mission is to design products that become must-have, can’t live without favorites. They have developed completely natural, healing recipes that smell amazing, really work and are cutely packaged.
Please enjoy this short interview with Holly.
It’s too bad you can’t smell all these wonderful fragrances we’re talking about, but her prices are so affordable that you can easily order a few products to give as gifts, but save one yourself.
Holly’s enthusiasm for her products are contagious. There’s something for everyone cooking up in the kitchen at Little Flower Soap Co.
And a quick note – you’ll meet Holly wearing her floral designer hat in an upcoming segment of The Slow Flowers Podcast when I interview her about the flower-filled bathroom she designed for The Flower House in Detroit. so stay tuned.
SUSTAINABLE FLORA FASHION
My final gift selection introduces you to Mary Brewster of American Flora, a sustainable fashion company based in Connecticut. I hope you’ll enjoy the story of how we met and about Mary’s goal of sourcing textiles and manufacturing women’s fashion here in the U.S.
I’m so pleased to feature this All-American maker who’s charting new territory in women’s fitness and lifestyle apparel.
Mary’s inspiration for starting American Flora came largely from being a ballet dancer and teacher. She wanted to create pieces that would provide a comfortable feel and feminine look in the studio, and would also pair well with lifestyle wear. She was particularly focused on finding a sustainable fabric.
Mary happened upon a book with a painting she had studied while spending a semester of college in Florence. She says that “Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring had always moved me, but I realized that it also depicted so much of what I wanted for my company. Beautiful Flora, the goddess of flowers is shown scattering her seeds over the world. A symbol of renewal.”
Her collection uses a fabric called Repreve. It’s made from recycled plastic bottles. Another kind of renewal and positive look to the future.
“Flora seemed to roll off my tongue, and was so fitting for the other passion in my life, gardening. After many hours of working on a name for my company, it came to me. American manufacturing was a must in the equation. There it was. American Flora,” she says.
I’m so pleased to feature American Flora and Mary Brewster’s innovative designs. You can shop for American Flora products here.
And thanks for joining me today, the day before Thanksgiving. As you enter this holiday season, I wish you moments of rest and creative contemplation.
We all have been racing through a year of flower farming, floral design, events and professional commitments that are equally wonderful and exhausting. Now it’s time to pause and hopefully reflect and recharge to prepare for a new year.
It is with a spirit of gratitude that I thank each of you in the Slow Flowers community for your support. To me, it’s a confirmation that we are on this creative journey together, changing the way Americans view and value the flowers grown on our domestic farms.
Episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast have been downloaded more than 72,000 times. I thank you and others in the progressive American-grown floral community for supporting this endeavor.
Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.
Music credits: audionautix.com