The participants in our floral design contest Isn't She Loverly: Design in Bloom will unveil their arrangements for judging on Friday, November 30th! As we approach that day, we are excited to post reflections on the process from several of the participating florists. Here we feature All Seasons Floral Preservation, led by Theresa Hambleton and Mary Beth Lopresti, who have been paired with a dress that the character Pauline wore in Legacy of Light.
Our history in floral design:
All Seasons Floral Preservation is led by the sister team of Theresa Hambleton and Mary Beth Lopresti. With their talented staff they press, preserve, and create custom-designed framed floral art with sentimental flowers. They are passionate about providing every client with a pressed floral work of art that is as distinctive as each flower, and the occasion it represents. Since starting All Seasons in 2005, they have earned a reputation among florists and event specialists as the company of choice for unique floral preservation designs.
Being involved in this event:
In 2007 & 2008, Theresa created floral art as part of “Flowers Interpret Art” at the University of Virginia Art Museum. Her pressed floral interpretation of “Natural Bridge” and “Garland of Melodies” were very well received. While Pauline’s dress is not in a frame, it is most certainly a work of art so we were thrilled to be asked to participate in this event. Our Sterling, Virginia staff is looking forward to viewing the exhibit in the Catwalk Café and attending a performance of My Fair Lady.
Research for the project:
Three years in the making, Legacy of Light was a work commissioned by Arena Stage so we are honored to have chosen this special dress. The photos of the dress were gorgeous but it was imperative to learn more about Pauline, the woman wearing the dress, before creating the design. To do this, Theresa read and watched interviews with Karen Zacarias and understood the depth of the characters.
Just seeing the dress on the hanger showed the garment itself. Additional research was done by researching online to find photos of the character, Pauline, in various performances throughout the country. These photos provided visual aids to show how her body looked, how she wore her hair, and how the fullness of her dress accentuated her tiny waist.
Pauline longs to be educated like her mother and study at the Sorbonne when she is eighteen rather than get married. She presents herself to her mother before her marriage and Emilie tells Pauline that she looks “as bright as the night sky.” Our design shows Pauline holding a book to her heart while she is wearing the wedding dress. All of these details play a part in the creation of “Pauline’s Dress.”
The process of creating a work of art inspired by a dress is similar to what we do every day at All Seasons Floral Preservation. Each work of art is a team effort and begin with fresh flowers pressed by Susan & Chris (pressers extraordinaire). A design meeting with Mary Beth and the client results in a draft of the design to be created by the floral artist. This includes the design layout, background mat color, and frame selection. The artist’s inspiration is drawn from the design form and photos of the particular bouquet or arrangement. Information about the client and/or the event represented by the flowers is also a key element to the artist’s ability to connect to the piece as it is created.
When Mary Beth & Kathleen (the All Seasons’ bookkeeper) went to “Meet Your Dress Day,” they took several close-up photos of Pauline’s dress. The dress had such gorgeous fabric and amazing detail that these two amateur seamstresses were in awe! The photos proved to be essential in capturing the important role the dress itself plays in the character’s part. The fabric was to be Pauline's wedding dress thus the symbolic nature of the fabric, keeping her from following her passion to pursue her education, plays an enormous role in her life.
As she does with clients’ “before photos,” Theresa displayed photos of all parts of Pauline's dress. The photos were taped to a large piece of foam board that hung above her worktable. She said, “I became completely submerged in the fabric as I created the piece. It was so very exquisite that I was easily taken to the world of Pauline while meticulously cutting & gluing fragile petals of gorgeous blues & purples to recreate the dress.”
Where one may see a pressed peony stamen, Theresa sees the perfect material to make the gold embroidered trim of the dress. Baby’s breath serves double duty as part of the lace on the dress’ sleeve and stars in the sky. The underside of a giant magnolia leaf has the perfect color and texture to create a book that appears to have a leather cover. The design also features lisianthus, hydrangea, and Queen Anne’s lace. Every tiny piece in the intricate design was placed with great care and specific intention.
When viewing photos of the display area at the Catwalk Café, Theresa decided to make the artwork larger than our typical piece (usually 5”x7” up to 16”x20”). The space allows for more height so the finished framed work of art is 20” x 30.” The dimensions may not seem large, but the tiny details in the piece enable it to become as large as life.