A SPRING MEADOW :
PREPARATION FOR A STYLED SHOOT
HOW I USED DRIED FLOWERS AND CALLIGRAPHY TO CREATE UNIQUE BESPOKE PLACE NAMES INSPIRED BY A SPRING MEADOW FOR A PHOTOSHOOT IN OXFORD UNIVERSITY'S DIVINITY SCHOOL.
At the start of this year (six months ago?!) I took stock of all that ERA Calligraphy had achieved in its’ first few months and made a plan about what I wanted to achieve going forward. One of my greatest goals for the year was to meet and collaborate with other creatives and wedding industry professionals, not just to expand my portfolio, but to push the boundaries of the type of work that I was creating. I wanted to experiment with different and exciting materials, splashes of colour and textures too.
So, I was absolutely delighted when Sarah Harper, a fantastic Oxfordshire based florist invited me to create some stationery for her re-branding shoot that was taking place in Oxford University’s Divinity School. Having studied Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, I was especially excited to be working in such an architecturally beautiful and historic yet familiar location.
One of my favourite parts of working with other creatives on a photoshoot is taking a first look at their mood board. I get really excited when I see someone else’s vision laid out as prompts for our own collaboration, and so often, there are one or two images or words that particularly jump out at me. Grand plans and ideas start to formulate in my mind long before I consider the practicalities of ‘how’.
On Sarah’s mood board for her ‘Spring Meadow’ look, it was an image of lilac sprigs frozen inside elegant long ice sticks, together with the comment “We want the person viewing the images to imagine that they can smell the beautiful lilacs and other Spring flowers used” that really caught my attention. I knew that I wanted to incorporate fresh flowers into my stationery, and inspired by the frozen florals, I began to think about how I could capture fresh flowers inside clear place names.
It struck me that what I really wanted was to suspend fresh flowers in a clear material to create small rectangular tiles that I could then apply calligraphy to. I needed the surface to be completely smooth, hard and almost glassy. The answer; resin.
I quickly realised that resin reacts with fresh flowers turning them all sorts of lurid colours. Having been given some beautiful fresh Spring flowers from Max’s parents garden including British Bluebells, Lilacs, Forget-me-nots, Alliums and Honesty, I was really disappointed when these delicate blue and lilac flowers transformed to garish shades of yellow, green and brown when they met with the resin mixture.
After plenty of experimenting, I realised that the flowers needed to be dried before they were mixed with the resin. Given that I had very limited time and lots of material trials to carry out, I was really concerned about the time that it would take to dry all of the tiny delicate flowers that I wanted to work with. Enter, microwave. I set up a production line and make-shift lab in my kitchen, and I got very well acquainted with my microwave. The result was perfectly dried and pressed papery flowers that had kept their delicate spring shades.
By suspending these dried flowers in the resin at different heights in the mould, and combining different varieties of flowers in each tile, each place name gave a unique impression of a spring meadow. With a crystal clear finish and a smooth surface from the bottom of the mould, the surface was perfect for calligraphy. When it came to adding the lettering to the resin place names, I opted for white ink for the calligraphy and a loose bouncy style of lettering to keep the look contemporary and fresh.
Get in touch with Ellie if you would like to talk about commissioning your own frozen floral place names.
In collaboration with:
Florist: Sarah Harper Flowers, Photography: Hannah Duffy Photography, Styling: The Timeless Stylist, Patisserie: Monannie Cakes
Table runners & ribbons: Kate Cullen, Venue: The Bodleian Libraries