Making A Mobile Design

Every 3 years floral designers from around the world gather for a competition and show in a designated host country. In 2020, at the end of February, moments before the world was overtaken by the COVID19 pandemic, we gathered in Jaipur, India for the World Association of Flower Arrangers (WAFA) World Show. Over 400 competitors representing 28 countries were there to showcase their talents. In other posts I have talked about my designs at previous World Shows I have attended in Barbados (2017) and Dublin, Ireland (2014).

For WAFA 2020 I was permitted to enter two classes (often we are only allowed one class). The first of these was a class entitled “Suspended Sensation” with a height of 180cm from a hook and a width of 60cm.

The staging supplied a hook so I decided on a mobile rather than a simple suspended design – this is the World Show after all. If I wasn’t going to test myself now, why would I enter!

Thinking about the travel to get my design to India as well as the staging time (I would only have 6 hours total for the two designs) I wanted this design to be as complete as I could make it to allow for all the time at the staging to be adding any special plant material and actually putting the design together in place for judging. We were allowed a maximum of 40% pre-prepared work.

My design is a reflection of the sensations I expected to feel when in India. The colours, shapes and plant materials.

Starting with a cardboard tester I tried shapes and the mechanics of fishing line and swivels to see if my idea was worthy of further development.

Having then decided on a shape, I cut paper templates for each of the pairs of “arms” I would need for the mobile. These were graduated in size with the largest ones being at the top.

Then it was time to cut the balsa wood being used for the final design using the paper templates, laying them out in pairs as they would hang as I finished cutting out each pair.

The balsa was then covered in full strength PVA glue to seal it and left to dry completely. As it was humid at the time I did leave them for a few days.

Next step was to lay out the pattern on one side of the “arms” – the other side was to be completed during staging with other plant material so that when the design was moving there would be a constant contrast of views.

The pattern is made with dried lentils – orange, green and yellow in a mandala style as a mark of respect for our hosts in India. The lentils are placed in the pattern directly on to the wood and then a slurry of PVA glue and water is poured (very carefully) over the whole design and left to dry completely.

This is the 40% allowed preparation for this design. In a separate post I will cover what happened at the actual staging.

Here is one section finished as it would be for the competition. The arms are connected with wire through Craspedia, the other side of each arm has a coating of Nori sheet (seaweed) and some bleached seagrass – all of these being components I could take with me and complete at staging time. As each section of pairs will move independently, there will be a different view of the design at any one time from any angle.

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