By Curt Yeomans
For Riverdale resident, Linda Porter, a class on floral arrangements at the headquarters branch of the Clayton County Library System, on Thursday evening, was just an opportunity to see how much she remembered about creating a floral display.
"I'm a crafts person," Porter said. "I love making different types of crafts, and I used to do stuff like making floral arrangements, or cake decorating, a lot ... For me, I'm just refreshing those skills."
For Jonesboro resident, Rita Shiver, it was an opportunity to learn some new tricks of the trade. "I just thought any tips I could get out of this would be helpful," she said.
The one-time class was taught by Meresha Caine, who has operated a floral-arranging business, Silk Expressions, out of her Riverdale home since 2000.
Sherry Turner, managing librarian at the headquarters branch, said she invited Caine to teach a class because patrons have become more interested in "how-to" programs, as the economy has struggled over the last two years.
Caine was a presenter at a wedding expo the library hosted earlier this year, and began making arrangements that she donated to the library to place at its check-out desk, Turner said. "After the wedding expo, we had a lot of people wanting to check out 'how-to' books, such as cake books, and floral-arrangement books, so I thought it'd be good to have a class on how to arrange flowers," she said.
During the class, Caine went over the basics of creating a floral display, including the need for arrangements to show unity and harmony when assembled. "Even though all of these things are different, when you bring them together, it makes something that is very pleasing to the eye," she said. "You don't want your arrangement to stick out like a sore thumb."
After she finished the lecture part of the class, Caine then launched into the demonstration, where she brought together different types of faux, silk flowers, including big-red carnations, yellow daisies, red roses, plus grass, twigs and a bird's nest.
In the end, Caine had made what looked like a small tower of flowers. The grass reached toward the top on the backside of the arrangement, while the carnations, roses, daisies, and other small, yellow and red flowers were staggered, giving the appearance that each flower was standing on top of the other. It was not too much wider in shape than the bright, orange, cylinder-shaped vase.
"There is no reason to think anyone is going to copy, exactly, the arrangement you make," she told her students. "No two arrangements are alike. Each one is unique, because, even if you look at a display and try to copy it, you may say, 'Well, I'd do this, instead of that,' or 'I don't like the way that looks, so let me try it this other way.'"
Among the tips Caine gave to her students, were:
* Light-colored flowers should be at the top of the display, with darker-colored flowers at the bottom. "You want people's eyes to move from the top of the arrangement, downward, and people focus on lighter colors ... first," she said.
* Colors set the theme, and mood, of the display, and should be arranged so one color compliments its neighboring color.
* The shape and size of a floral arrangement is determined by the space it will be located in. For example, large arrangements look out of place in small spaces, Caine said.
* Showing "greenery," such as grass, cat tails, stems, and leaves is OK in floral arrangements, because it adds another color to the display. "Green goes with anything," she said.
* Clear floral arranging gel can be used to hold silk flowers in place in a large bowl, but the flowers need be held in place, either with tape, or a grid, for the first 24 hours while the gel hardens.
"One of the things I never knew before, was that you put the lighter colors at the top of the display, and the darker colors at the bottom," Shiver said.
Porter added: "I never knew they had that clear, liquid solution [gel] ... They didn't have that back when I [first] learned how to arrange flowers."