Friday, September 18, 2009

Gerbera Daisy Bat Mitzvah

DSC00277 Buffet Table - Gerbera Topiaries

I ran into an old acquaintance at a high school function a couple of years ago. As we briefly filled each other in on our lives, I told her that I was taking floristry classes at College of San Mateo. She asked me if I would be interested in helping her out with her daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah. Though I had often provided flowers for friends, family, and charity functions, I had never accepted a professional job before. I would only have my second floristry class under my belt by the time the event came rolling around in nine months.

Then she sent me this e-mail:
...  I have been meaning to follow up with you. Quite seriously, you simply MUST let me hire you for ******’s bat mitzvah.
I am generally dreading the planning of this celebration; thank goodness it's the last of three.
If I know that you will be helping, I will actually look forward to it. Amazing.
You could do whatever part of the celebration you prefer, although I would like you to do everything you feel competent at -- so maybe not the DJ part.
Invitations, flowers, decorations, table settings -- anything that requires a highly sophisticated yet playful sense of style. For years, ****** has been saying that she wants great decorations, but I have been refusing. On the other hand, if you take over, that's a different story. It could be a great way for you to experiment with some of those amazing, creative ideas of yours.
… Please say yes!

How could I not?

The best decision I made was to select classmate Tracy Lou as my partner for the event. Tracy had a one-year head start in taking floristry classes and was taking two classes per semester. Since we both studied computer science, at rival schools, I knew we spoke the same language and had a similar work ethic. We laugh when we use engineering terms to describe our floral creations but in truth it is a convenient shorthand between us.

Since our thirteen-year-old client chose pink and green for her color scheme, I suggested using the youthful and cheery gerbera daisy as her primary flower.

We finished making the last triple-decker daisy centerpiece at two in the morning. 

DSC00252 Gerbera Daisies Triple Decker production

They looked eager to go to work on their way to the temple:

DSC00263 Delivery Time

The reading (called a haftarah) for this Bat Mitzvah was about Moses parting the Red Sea, a name which some believe to be a mistransliteration from the "Reed Sea". We created a diptych-like arrangement for the bimah. Two containers were placed in a "V" shape to symbolize the parting sea.

DSC00254 Bimah Arrangement

We chose the tall green papyrus reeds because they grow along the Nile River where Baby Moses was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter. The purple gladiola provided a great contrast to the green and brown base colors. 

Bimah Arrangement

The occasion marked a double bat mitzvah with two girls celebrating this coming-of-age ritual on the same day. It was convenient that there were two containers. After the service they were placed farther apart on the dessert table..  Each family had an arrangement for their individual dinners. The arrangements had versatility and longevity. They lived their fourth lives as the families hosted their out-of-town guests in their homes over the following days.

The luncheon at the social hall is informal, with just a few flowers:

DSC00257 Lunch at the social hall

DSC00261 triple bud vases

DSC00259 Spray Rose cube

But dinner was more formal, complete with handmade placecards for the guests:

DSC00269 daisy place cards

We were proud to transform the stark, all-beige social hall with its towering ceiling into a more intimate, welcoming, and festive atmosphere by using green and white paper lanterns. The Asian effect of the lanterns is a nod to our client’s Chinese heritage. 

DSC00281Daisy Bat Mitzvah

We made gerbera daisy topiaries for the buffet table:

DSC00278 Gerbera Daisy Buffet Table

On their way out, guests hanged Mazel Tov greetings on these Manzanita trees: 

DSC00272 Mazel Tov Trees

Our first big event came to an end. We were exhausted but overall we were pleased with the outcome. My friend wrote us an e-mail the following week:
"You and Tracy created a magical space in the room and even in the foyer. Thank you so much! I can't wait to see your next projects. Take good photos for a portfolio, and make sure you always give me credit for being your first official client!"
We will absolutely always give her credit for taking a chance on a couple of new floristry students. Tracy and I were so blessed that our first official client was a dream.


Marilyn Miller said...

You did a great job! And your young client chose such a fun color scheme to work with. Congratulations!

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby you GO!!

I know how much work that must have been, even though I haven't done all those arrangements, holy cow.

The bimah is SPECTACULARLY beautiful. You were so right to put the glads in there, they make it pop. But the shapes and textures alone, and the composition, are just incredible! What an inspiration.

You had to decorate for luncheon AND dinner? Whoa. That rose arrangement is absolutely breathtaking - better than most professionals, and worthy of one of the flower shows you've posted. Every detail from the name cards to the paper lanterns is just perfect.

I would hire you in a heartbeat.

CC said...

Dear Diane,
What a gorgeous presentation!!
You are a wonder!!

A Cuban In London said...

You see? Now your business card can read: 'I also do weddings and bat mitzvahs' :-).

On a serious note, I loved the floral arrangements. They were very original and creative. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

margie said...

dutchbaby, professional party person, these are gorgeous. i love a mitzvah, bar or bat. always so fun and happy.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Marilyn Miller,
Thank you! I love working with 13-year-old clients. They are emerging adults, yet they still have a true playfulness about them.

Dear Ruth,
After the gorgeous wedding you hosted for your daughter, I know you know how much work these events are. We love working with flowers and feel so privileged to be trusted with such an important occasion.

We decorated for the luncheon and dinner, and the bimah arrangement was of course for the service. In addition, we designed centerpieces for the other mother and then taught her how to produce them for her daughter's bat mitzvah dinner.

Dear CC,
Gee, thanks!

Dear Cuban,
Haha! Not only that, I can say that I know a great DJ. Only problem is, he lives in London.

Dear margie,
Thank you! And thank you for the inspiration for this morning's post: Macro Monday.

paris parfait said...

What fun! Beautiful job: flowers, decor and calligraphy. Lucky girl who was feted.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear paris parfait,
It was truly fun! Thanks!

Relyn Lawson said...

I think, intended or not, you may have just embarked on a new career. At least, if you want it. Oh, D. You are so very talented. So VERY talented!!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Relyn,
Thank you! It's become an avocation, which is just the way I like it. Two or three a year is about my speed.

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