I have quite a treat for you today! British Master Florist Amanda Randell is here to share one of her recent projects with us. When I saw this fabulous foliage cloak, I knew we had to invite Amanda to join us on BB to talk more about the mechanics of the design and her inspiration for the project. She has been so gracious while collaborating on this post. We hope you enjoy the story behind the autumn leaf cloak and the stunning photo shoot location.
I work for a fabulous Hotel and Garden called Hotel Endsleigh. Each week I bring flowers and foliage in from the garden to dress the hotel. The gardens were designed by Humphry Repton in 1814 and are 108 acres of glorious valleys and woodlands on the Tamar River, the border between Devon and Cornwall in the UK.
The arboretum has the most spectacular array of specimen trees and each Autumn I try and think of things to do with the abundant and multi coloured leaves that fall. I was thinking of creating a dress from them, but commercially this is impractical. I wanted to achieve something mysterious, ethereal, other worldly, something for Titania or Galadriel. Also I had just been watching Harry Potter with my 11year old daughter and we were talking about how one could make an invisible cloak. One long walk later with the dogs and we were collecting the leaves.
The practical issues came next. Autumn leaves don’t last very long, they dry and crack and lose their colour quite quickly. So I knew we needed to keep them damp. I had tried oiling them, and even dipping them in wax to prolong their life span. Then attaching them to the cloak needed to be quick and would have a very short shelf life. Hot glue doesn’t work on wet things so I opted to use Oasis cold floral glue. To doubly make sure the leaves would stay put, the cloak needed to be of a furry fabric to take better, so I ordered a grey velvet cloak as the base.
I had made friends with a videographer who had just bought some time lapse equipment and was looking for a project to film and so I approached him. The cloak took 8 hours to make and Jonathan Warren filmed all eight hours and then put it together in a film. [To watch the film, click here.]
The leaves are a wonderful mixture of Autumn colour including Lime, Acers, Gingko, Magnolia, Beech, Birch, London Plane and so many more. The edging around the hood was made from Pampas Grass plumes.
To show off the cloak (a figurative design), in all its glory I needed a model to wear it in a bridal capacity, enter my good friend and fabulous photographer Maggie McCall and her very beautiful daughter Ellie. I chose to position our shoot at Hotel Endsleigh where the leaves came from. My original hope was to somehow have Ellie walk under the trees as the leaves were falling creating a cloak around her as she walked. Sadly the weather was not on our side and it was too wet for the film cameras. I was thrilled, however, at what we did achieve. Maggie took some 500 shots, many of them totally exceeding my hopes.
The wedding bouquet Ellie carried was a collection of Autumnal flowers grown on my own cutting farm: The Tamar Valley Flower Farm, which is only in its first year, but the most natural addition to my continuous growth as a florist. The more one learns, the more there is to learn, and combining nature with design fulfills my raison d’être.
What a pleasure it has been getting to know Amanda while working on this post! She is incredibly passionate about flowers, design and education. She holds a Licentiate Level 5 City and Guilds which carries a British Master title. To earn the title, Amanda studied business, the Principals and Elements of design and some 40 known techniques which were put together by the world famous Gregor Lersch, whom she refers to as “the German Master Florist who is the most thrilling floral design communicator in the World”. In 2014, Amanda was a RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medalist.
I asked Amanda for some behind the scenes shots from the cloak photo shoot hoping to catch a glimpse of her in action. I’d like to extend a special thank you to Maggie McCall Photography who captured and shared all of the beautiful images for the post.
Thanks for stopping by to share your amazing work, Amanda. We’re already looking forward to your next visit!
See more of Amanda’s work: