Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Foliage and Form in Church Flower Arrangements - Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part post on foliage and form in church flower arrangements relying on Katherine Morrison McClinton's 1944 book, Flower Arrangement in the Church. Here McClinton describes the three types of massed arrangements she views as especially suitable for church decoration: the massed triangle, the massed oval, and the massed vertical:

"In making a massed triangle arrangement, always start with a tall center stalk as your primary line. Then measure two stalks of identical length and place them horizontally to each side of the vase. Continue filling in the triangle with flowers. Place the heavy or dark colored flowers for emphasis in the massed triangle low in the vase and radiate the second triangle with stalks of lighter toned flowers back of the small triangle. Combinations of flowers which are excellent for this arrangement are amaryllis with a delphinium fan; roses with delphinium; roses with stock and anemones; tulips with dogwood; Madonna lilies or peonies with double syringa. It is not necessary always to have a contrast in hue as two or more different varieties of flowers give a contrast in texture which is interesting. The same floral design may be made with one variety of flower backed with a fan of leaves. . . .

"The shape and proportion of the triangle arrangement may vary with the size of the arrangement desired, as this arrangement can be made in a small altar vase or a large urn vase to be set [elsewhere in the sanctuary] . . .


"In making an oval arrangement, first place the center or core flowers low and firm near the base and the other flowers can be made to radiate about this center. An oval arrangement should have depth, as well as height and breadth, and this can be accomplished by turning some flowers to the side and others to the front. An oval arrangement is especially suited to vases with bulges or full-curved contours and to churches with oval archways.


"A massed vertical arrangement is particularly suitable for a simple, tall vase, although a tall urn may be used. First of all, place the vertical stalks, then place the secondary stalks which may be down near the vase or may ascend rhythmically alongside the vertical so that they too form a vertical line. Contrast in flower form is necessary to make this type of arrangement successful. For the tall vertical stock, delphinium or lilac may be used, while the secondary line may be built up with roses, asters, or daffodils of various length stems."
Unfortunately, McClinton does not provide diagrams, but it is fairly easy to visualize what she describes, and a little trial and error ought to yield a good result.

Note that in part 1, posted previously, McClinton said that the massed vertical arrangement is especially suited to narrow spaces, narrow vases, and Gothic architecture. In small traditional chapels, one must usually work with narrow spaces (the altar shelf), so vertical arrangements in narrow vases might be best. On the other hand, if the sanctuary is large enough, with the priest's permission larger arrangements could be placed on pedestals elsewhere within the sanctuary, such as on either side of the altar.

McClinton, Katherine Morrison; Flower Arrangement in the Church (Morehouse-Gorham Co., New York, 1944, 1958 edition); pp. 49-52.

"Hippeastrum Pardinum", from Wikimedia Commons. In the public domain.

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