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Arranging Roses, or creating Rose Arrangements, is one of the ways we stretch our rose growing hobby and get creative. We all cut our roses to bring into our homes to enjoy them or to share. Simple bouquets are among the beautiful fruits of our “rose crops.”

 

However, many rosarians take cut roses to another level, creating artistic designs with roses, and in fact, our rose shows offer competitions on rose arrangements that follow design standards. This is an introduction to creating rose arrangements that are considered artistic designs. The ARS Handbook for Judging Rose Arrangements puts it this way:  “In flower arranging, design is the pattern or plan of an arrangement, organizing the elements according to design principals.”  It might seem like a foreign language at first, but the study of design is a very rewarding activity, particularly for rosarians who are looking for ways to extend their rose growing hobby.

 

LESSON I.

These are the governing standards for designing with roses (and other flowers and plant materials).

 

PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN – Governs all visual arts, including rose arrangements.

 

  1. BALANCE – physical and visual stability of an arrangement. It is achieved by the placement of design components. There are two kinds of balance – symmetrical and asymmetrical.
  2. DOMINANCE – when one or more components in a design is stronger than others. Dominance is achieved through the use of color, form and texture. Dominance is important in establishing unity. Roses must be the dominant flower in arrangements for ARS exhibits.
  3. CONTRAST – the use of unlike qualities of design components. Contrast can be found in shapes, lines, colors, or textures.
  4. RHYTHM – the visual path that carries the eye through the arrangement. Rhythm may be expressed in line, form, pattern, color, or by the placement of design components.
  5. PROPORTION – the amount of anything relative to the amount of something else, as in the size of an arrangement to its designated space, or the size of the container to the other materials used in the arrangement.
  6. SCALE – is size only; closely tied to proportion. Proportion is so dependent upon size that proportion and scale are usually considered together. The size relationship of each component in a design to the container and to other components within the design should be in good proportion. Scale can be the size relationship of plant materials to each other and to the container; or the size of accessories, bases and the design position as a whole.

 

 

ELEMENTS OF DESIGN – Physical properties the designer has to work with.

 

  1. SPACE – the unoccupied areas – open space - within and around the arrangement. That open space is organized to establish balance and proportion and to achieve interest in the design. Control of these spaces is achieved by placement, shaping and pruning.
  2. LINE – the directional movement that leads the eye through a design. The line may be horizontal or vertical, long or short, curved, straight or angled, thick or thin, strong or weak, diagonal or zigzag.
  3. FORM – the shape, structure or outline of an arrangement. While line is one-dimensional, form is three dimensional. Form has height, width and depth.  Form can be open and light, or closed and heavier. An open form has spaces within and appears light. A closed form has few spaces (as in a mass design) and appears heavier than an open form of the same size arrangement.
  4.  SIZE – the physical dimension, but there is both actual and visual size of line, form or space. Visual size can be influenced by color and texture (warm colors seem larger, heavier and more dominating; cool colors appear lighter, and appear to recede or are neutral).
  5. TEXTURE – the surface characteristics of the components of a design. There is roughness and smoothness, evenness and irregularity. A surface can be shiny or matte, sandy, smooth, and even flawed.
  6. PATTERN – the silhouette outline of the design, the outline formed by the plant materials, the shapes of plant materials and other components of the design.  Placement of plant materials and other components form a color pattern, a texture pattern, or similar element-based patters usually formed by the repetition of parts.
  7. COLOR – the most important and influential element of design. Color is the visual response to reflected light rays. The colors you use can help interpret your theme, or trigger an emotional response from the viewer of your design.  There are three elements of COLOR:
    1. HUE – the name of the color.
    2. VALUE – the lightness or darkness of the color.
    3. CHROMA or INTENSITY – the brightness or dullness of a hue. The degree of intensity or grayness, the purity of a color. A color of high intensity has no gray added.

 

 

 

DESIGN COMPONENTS – The components, or parts of your design.

 

All branches of art are governed by the elements and principles of design and the ideas necessary to use them effectively. The painter works with canvas and paints; the architect works with blueprints and computer plotters; the flower arranger works with plant materials, supporting mechanics and components to create a unified, harmonious and beautiful design.

Components of designs are:

  • PLANT MATERIALS -  fresh, dried or treated dried. Plant Materials are living plants:  Flowers, grasses, branches, bushes, or trees. In rose arrangements a rose or roses must be included and must be the dominant flower. Outdoor garden grown roses, whether fresh or dried, must be used in all arrangements.
  • CONTAINERS – used to hold plant materials and other components of a design. A container may be an integral part of a design or a state for a flower arrangement, subordinate to the design. Containers may be wood, pottery, glass, plastic, metal or other material and may be any color or design. It should be suitable for the type of design: Traditional, modern and Oriental containers each have particular characteristics.
  • MECHANICS – hold the materials of a design together. Commonly used are floral foam, needlepoint, floral water tubes, wire and other devices and supports. Mechanics should be as unobtrusive as possible.
  • BACKGROUNDS – the surface or scent behind the design. It may be a wall, or a freestanding background. Designs must be confined with the area of the background.
  • BASES – anything placed under the design except the underlay and are considered part of the container and design. They add weight and stability to the design, as well as contrast in color, texture, or they can simply add height.
  • ACCESSORIES – any accent added by the arranger to emphasize an interpretation of expression. It is considered part of the design, and must be in harmony with the rest of the design and subordinate to it.  A well-chosen accessory may add visual weight and balance, help interpret a theme, add interest, or help express a feeling.
  • FEATURES – objects that dominate in a design. A feature may be used if the schedule specifically states that it is permitted. A feature should be used if the schedule specifically states that it is required.

 

MECHANICS – Your tool box

 

  • Scissors or clippers, for cutting canes, mature wood, as well as for trimming small plant materials.
  • Oasis.
  • Needlepoints of varying sizes.
  • Sticky substance for securing needlepoints and other design components.
  • Florist tape.
  • Florist wire.
  • Cloth for table to keep work area clean.
  • Entry tags for rose show entries.
  • Pencil and note pad.
  • ARS Guidelines for Judging Rose Arrangements
  • ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses for help in identifying rose varieties.

 

LESSON II.

In this lesson, we will take a closer look at the PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN, with a few sketches to help illustrate.

1.  BALANCE

Two kinds of balance are:

A.   SYMMETRICAL, which means that on either side of an imaginary bisecting vertical line, the design has equal physical and hence visual weight. Components are placed in as equal amounts as possible on either side of the imaginary central axis. (from ARS Guidelines)

 

B.  AYSMMETRICAL BALANCE, which is equal visual weight on each side of the imaginary vertical axis, although unequal in physical weight.  (from ARS Guidelines)  Visually, the design is balanced, because the length of the plant material on the left side balances with the larger objects that are not as long on the right side. (M. Wellan)

 

2.  DOMINANCE

Dominance is the stronger effect of one component in a design than of another, or the use of more of one element than of another, such as color, form or texture. Dominance is important in establishing unity; it requires subordination to emphasize the dominant effect. (from ARS Guidelines)  In the black and white drawing below, the two leaves appear to be dominant; however, if the drawing were in color and the leaves were dark against a darker background, and the roses were of a bright color, such as a golden yellow or orange, then the roses would likely appear to be dominant. In either case, your design would have dominance. (M. Wellan)

 

3.  CONTRAST

 Contrast is the use of unlike qualities of design components to emphasize their differences, thus evoking interest in a design.

            Contrasting shapes, i.e. round, square

            Contrasting lines, i.e. horizontal, vertical, diagonal

            Contrasting color, i.e. bright, pale

            Contrasting texture, i.e. rough, smooth  (from ARS Guidelines)

 

Contrast provides interest in your design. However, remember when there are equal amounts of contrasting elements, attention is divided and dominance is lost. And, too many contrasts within a design result in a confusing design having erratic rhythm. (taken from Garden Club Guidelines)

 

4.  RHYTHM

Rhythm is the flow or feeling of movement that carries the eye through the arrangement – the visual path through the design. Rhythm may be expressed in line, form, pattern or color, and by the placement of design components. (from the Guidelines)  These are excellent sketches using different design styles to demonstrate rhythm. Use these sketches to help you visualize these two Principles of design: Balance and Proportion.  (M. Wellan)

 

5.  PROPORTION

 

Proportion refers to the amount of anything relative to the amount of something else, and of each of them to the whole. In a rose arrangement, proportion refers to the amounts of color, texture or form; to the relation of the design to its niche if in a rose show, or its position in any space; to the relation of one part of the design to another, or of each part to the whole design; and to the relation of the design to the container.

In a conforming and pleasing proportion, an arrangement should be at least one-and-one-half times the greater dimension of the container, plus its other dimension (height, width). The only situation in which this would not apply is where there may be no container, as in a modern design. Proportion refers to the amount of plant material in comparison to the container.  (from ARS Guidelines.)

Good proportion is one of the hardest concepts to grasp and to achieve in a design. Using the same drawing as above, we illustrate the proportion of the plant materials to the container, which appear to me to be in good proportion. Use the 1.5 to 1 formula by measuring for awhile; after a time, you will be able to look at a vase and determine that is it too large for the design, too small, or just right. One of the major violations of the rule of proportion is in a show, when for example, a tall niche is provided by the show committee, and the design requirement is a horizontal design. Show chairs should keep this potential problem in mind when creating the show schedule. Once assigned, the niche is your available space, and the designer should take the size of the niche into account. This is an example of the use of the phrase “filling the niche”. (M. Wellan)

6.  SCALE

 Scale is size only, and is closely tied in with proportion. In practice, proportion is so dependent upon size that proportion and scale are usually considered together. The size relationship of each component in a design to the container and to other components within the design should be in good proportion. To be considered in scale are the size relationship of plant materials to each other and to the container; the size of accessory and base to the design as a whole; the size of the design to its position whether in a niche, on a table or on a pedestal. (from ARS Guidelines)  My examples of components being out of scale:  Say there is one large leaf in an arrangement when all others are smaller clusters – I would say that leaf is out of scale. Say there is a small accessory used with a large mass design – cute, and it may be allowed, but I would say that figurine is out of scale.  (M. Wellan)

 

LESSON III

In this lesson, we will review the seven ELEMENTS OF DESIGN.

  1. SPACE
  2. LINE

3.  FORM

Form is the shape – the structure – the outline of an arrangement. Form is three-dimensional; it has height, width and depth. An open form has spaces within and appears light; a closed form has few spaces, as in a mass design, and may appear heavier than an open form of the same size. Placement of materials and good use of color can convey strength and depth, or careful selection can help convey the theme of a show schedule. Line and line-mass arrangements are open form; mass arrangements are closed form, though they may be constructed in a more airy form, i.e. not crowded.

4.  SIZE

Size is physical dimension, but there is both actual and visual size of line, form or space. Visual size can be influenced not only by physical dimension but also by color and texture. Warm colors seem large and dominating whereas cool colors seem to recede or be neutral. A rough texture will appear larger than a smooth plane of the same dimension; a shiny texture may appear to have more weight than a matte finish. Placement of materials can affect visual size.

 

5.  TEXTURE

Texture is the surface characteristics of the various components of a design. There is roughness and smoothness, evenness and irregularity. A surface can be shiny or matte, sandy, dirty or even flawed. In plant material, texture can convey life and health, or injury and illness. Different textures within a design offer contrast and interest, but should not be allowed to affect balance and unity. Texture provides interest in a design through contrast in textures used in the right proportions.

 

6.  PATTERN

Pattern is the silhouette outline of the design as well as the inner outline formed by the placement of the plant materials and the shapes of the plant materials themselves and other components of the design. Placement of plant materials and other components form a color pattern within a design.

 

7.  COLOR

Color is the most important and influential element of design. Color is the visual response to reflected light rays and triggers emotional response as well. That is the technical definition. Color is a very broad subject, and will be taken up in its own lesson.

 

LESSON IV.

In Lesson IV, we will look at a few classifications (types) of designs within three groups: Traditional, Modern and Oriental.

  • TRADITIONAL DESIGNS

  • MODERN DESIGNS

  • ROSE ARRANGEMENTS IN THE ORIENTAL MANNER

  • ORIENTAL FREE STYLE

 

 

Resource for Floral Arrangements:

 

Mechanics for Rose Arrangements by Mississippi State Floral Design Department- Youtube

 

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