fairy flowers

I absolutely delight in the idea that there is magic outside, unknown spaces of play and imagination.  When I was a child, I dreamed of seeing flower fairies, after my mother's suggestion that they were fluttering around the wild orchids on the drive up our wooded road.  If only I could be quick enough to see them for just one second!

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This spring, I started making bouquets of wisps of leaves, fruit and flowers small enough for a fairy and turned into an almost weekly ritual (#fairybouquetfriday).  

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Just a few minutes and just a few flowers, and of course a few photos!

All photos and flowers by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

Studio Visit - Maria Schoettler

I visited artist and illustrator Maria Schoettler in her sun-drenched West Oakland  shared studio.  The large, open space gives each studiomate working space with an oversized utility table in the center, made by her dad. You can tell the space is loved, with warm touches of home and a cozy pink couch and functional kitchen with fresh flowers.  Maria's work is a celebration of the seasons filled with produce and flowers (mostly California natives). 

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How did you get your start as an artist and illustrator? I've always been an artist in one way or another, since I was a little girl.  One of my favorite pastimes as a child was drawing and painting: creating images of my "ideal world", perfect neighborhoods of little houses, rolling hills, flowers, family, things of my imagination.  Growing up, I was also involved in performing arts: dancing, singing lessons and performing regularly at the local dinner theater.  I attended magnet programs for the arts in middle and high school. In college I majored in visual art and never really stopped painting from that point onward.  I was always fitting art into my life, even when I was working full time at a Montesssori pre-school in the Oakland hills.  As a young college graduate, I wanted to be an artist with a capital "A", but didn't really know what that would look like as an adult with bills to pay.  So I started doing what was fun and enjoyable, working on paper, doing little illustration projects for myself that that possibility started to take shape.  I made my first "seasonal produce calendar" in 2009 for my own kitchen and it wasn't until friends and family started wanting one for themselves that I put it together that people might actually want to buy! It all went from there and it's been a long road being able to make a living off of my artwork and I'm so grateful I've been able to find a way.

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How would you describe your style? My style is very vintage inspired and eclectic.  I love color and unexpected combinations.  I've always felt like I was born in the wrong era, because I love objects from the past so much - be it music, clothes, home decor and art.  The 1970's is one of my favorite era's to draw inspiration from as far as my home and wardrobe. Stylistically my artwork is very nature-focused, and I love how delicate natural objects can be and how they provide a way to explore and play with composition and color.

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What are some of the things you enjoy most about your studio? I love how much light comes in from the skylights and windows.  But most of all I love being around my fellow makers that also work in the space.  There's so much value in having other creative people to look at your work and give feedback and collaborate with.  I'm an extrovert by nature, so I get so much joy from having human interaction throughout my work day.  Some days, it makes work not feel like work!

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What are some of your favorite places in Oakland? I love Redwood Regional for hiking and getting a nature fix.  I love getting outside.  I regularly walk at the Mountain View Cemetery which has been a really meaningful place for me since I moved to Oakland eleven years ago.  It's such a special place - the grounds have beautifully kept gardens (tulips to die for in the spring!) and the views of the Bay Area are unparalleled as far as a place accessible to the public. Another fixture in my Oakland life is the Temescal Farmer's market on Sundays and the Tuesday Market on the Oakland/Berkelely border, it's where I get my food for the week and very often, a shopper's high.  From a glass of wine, I love Ordinaire on Grand.  Ramen Shop for really quality ramen incorporating seasonal veggies and a simple and fun dinner out.  A16 for authentic Neoploitan pizza.  The list goes on...

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What's on the horizon? I'm not a huge planner and I like seeing what comes my way.  I want to make more fun products and teach more classes and continue to collaborate with interesting people and businesses.

Thanks Maria!  Find her website & Instagram here.

Summer Solstice

Enjoying the start to summer and strawberry season.  When going to the strawberry stand on the edge of town I can't help buying three baskets at a time.  Field grown and so soft and ripe, they have to be eaten that day.  Danes love to ask everyone who isn't Danish to say "rød grød med fløde" because its the hardest thing to say.  It also happens to be a delicious dessert and a nice way to eat fruit at peak season.

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The recipe below is my interpretation of the way my own Danish mother makes it.  So delicious and a welcome to summer.

rødgrød med fløde (red fruit pudding with cream)

2 baskets berries (I used strawberries & raspberries) traditionally its red currants, raspberries, strawberries, cherries or plums (any combination)

3 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

2 tablespoons potato starch flour (or arrowroot powder or cornstarch)

1/4 cup cold water

splash of vanilla extract

lightly whipped cream (its nice barely whipped for this or soft peaks)

Rinse fruit and slice (you can also blend in blender). Place sliced or puréed fruit into stainless steel pan and stir in sugar.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Dissolve potato starch flour (or other) in 1/4 cup cold water and mix in, stirring constantly.  Once off burner, stir in a splash of vanilla extract.  Pour into large bowl or parfait glasses.  Chill thoroughly (3-4 hours).  Serve with cream.

What do we look for?  How do we see? What do we focus on?  A capture in time and fleeting moment, an embodiment of that moment. Sometimes you just need a blast of color.  Bursts of bright pink.  

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Long before I was married, I used to watch (a lot of) movies with my husband and we said if something was filmed well, you could press pause at any moment and the still would be great.  We used to do that so much and time and time again it proved to be right.  That maybe all of this hurry up and get on to the next big event or mile marker in life is missing so much. Lets press pause more often.

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Finding Creative Space

The idea of creativity during motherhood has been circling around.  

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Before having my son, I was always working on creative projects both for work and myself.  I've always taken photos as a hobby of sorts, since I was about sixteen.  After twenty years, I'm taking a break from "working" as a floral designer and I'm noticing that now that I'm not "working" as a floral designer, I'm taken a lot more photos of flowers than before.  Melding my work into something else of sorts.  Flowers have always been a tremendous part of my life and I don't think I will ever stop working with them - just in different ways.  Anyway, I got lost along the way of talking about motherhood and being creative and finding the times and the tug-of-war one can feel.

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As to finding space, I have to make it in a house with a five year old where every space needs to change during the day for the next project or meal - I tend to set up things to photograph on my kitchen table when I have time.  It's got the best light in the house and easy to have a little undisturbed time and a fast and easy clean up.  Life is messy and constantly moving with children.  You can't be too precious, you just have to find a way to push through.

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blissful blues

I love the iridescent glow in the blues (and merging into purples here).  Blue, the color of quiet; still or crashing waves.  I come to water for calm, for reflection, for peace. 

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The sweetest little powder blue forget-me-nots that pop up along my fence.

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Floral on floral, I remember playing with scraps from my grandmother's vintage Liberty of London fabric stash when I was little.  One of my favorites was one of their iconic florals in blues and greens similar to this one.  

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Looking for more color?  A post about summer color and rainbows.

 

All flowers, styling and photography by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

Easter eggs

Last year, I was all about bare eggs. Spring is a time of color and these Kashmir eggs are all about that.  

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A few chocolates go a long way in this simple little basket of baby tears with a few different springs of flowers tucked in.  Perfect for a toddler or on your table.

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I almost like the messy bits behind-the-scenes more.  I always seem to take photos of them.

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More Easter and egg cups from last year.

 

All florals, styling and photography by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

fairy bouquets

Spring has finally arrived!  Happy to let go of winter and move on to days getting warmer.  I am forever in love with strawberries and anyone who knows me knows I love using the foliage and flowers in arrangements.  Such fond memories from my childhood of walking through our garden, picking strawberries.  We used to pick the berries for our dessert and my mom would whip the cream, sometimes even vanilla ice cream.  I guess its the true sweetness of childhood?  My mom talked to us a lot about different fairies living in the plants and wild strawberries (or in the garden) have always seemed so magical to me and a sweet place for a fairy to live.

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How could they not want to live with daisies and strawberries?

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Daisies are another favorite - their sweet faces pull me in.  When I was a kid, I used to love making fairy bouquets mostly out of tiny weeds, pinched between my fingers, almost small enough to put in a thimble.  In keeping with that magic, I made my son a fairy bouquet with strawberry flowers and foliage, flowering thyme complete with a butterfly and mushroom, tied with a fine wool string with a little bow and long tails.   Pure magic!

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 I think I could just make fairy bouquets all day.

flowering branches

Mid-winter is feeling like spring with days in the 70's here in California.  I cut some flowering quince from my front yard and fell down a rabbit hole.  

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Hellebores I picked earlier in the week at my mom's with a beautiful lichen covered branch that fell down one windy night a few weeks ago that I've been saving.

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Muscari take me back to childhood and remind me of little flower fairies with their tiny florets and the blue is other worldly.  Mine started pushing flowers in October!  They're one of my most favorite flowers (my list is very long and changes with the season).    

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I love watching the quince fade out to a pale petal pink.  I remember the days when people didn't want Coral Charm peonies because of the fade that is admired so much today.  Oh, the ever changing floral trends.

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My preferred floral tools have always been No. 2 Felcos and a pair of Joyce Chen snips (they can wear through pretty quickly but are the best size for me and have good action while they are sharp, they also fit nicely in your back pocket, most get accidentally thrown away).  For the longest life of your quince or any flowering branch, scrape down the sides on the bottom inch or so with your Felco's (or knife) and cut on a diagonal with at least one sharp cut up the stem, sometime's I'll do two (like a cross). For more tender woody stems like snowball viburnum or lilac, smash stems with a hammer (or back of shears) after you scrape the stems.  You will get the longest life-span from your flowers by properly conditioning so don't skip.

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winter walks

The first weekend of the new year and we woke up to a beautiful, heavy fog.Foggy mornings seem to give you more of a chance to slow down without feeling a sense of time going by.  At least they do for me.  My family spends a lot of time meandering the trails near our house.  On this morning, my son was looking for mushrooms and I was busy looking at the remnant grass and seed heads of summer and fall in the meadows.  The decaying blackberry canes and the last of the rose hips rotting and withering.  I closed my eyes and thought of other seasons here, the flush of wild roses in the spring flouncing and adorning the sides of the path.  The meadows lit up with explosions of colorful confetti when the mustard, wild radish and lupines are in bloom. The sweetness of the blackberries ripening in the summer heat.  Listening to the birds, always busy, chattering away making nests or screeching as they swoop to snatch a mouse. 

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