Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Masonic Funeral Flowers

Recently we had a request for a Masonic compass and square funeral arrangement. I have to say in my almost 20 years of doing flowers, I've never been asked to do a Masonic lodge arrangement. I was, however, aware of them and that there are styrofoam forms for these items - the compass & square, a broken wheel for the Rotary, Kiwanis symbols, etc. But this stuff, or set pieces as we call them, is very old school and not widely done any more.

I haven't been doing this long enough to see some of the really old school designs - but I've heard the tales of pieces like the "Gates of Heaven" or "Pearly Gates" which were large freestanding designs of gates completely made out of flowers or the "Empty Chair", a chair all covered in flowers. I'd love to get my hands of some photos of old funeral work, so if you have any links, please share!

Over the past couple of decades, the amount of flowers going to funerals in general has diminished dramatically. Part of this has to do with the rise of donations as an option for celebrating someone's life, but some of it has to do with a great reduction in the number of hours for wakes. When I started out, the typical funeral had 3 sets of calling hours - 2-4, 7-9, and 2-4 again the next day. Over time that became 2 sets of hours on one day, and then one set of hours, usually 5-8 or 4-7 o'clock.

Now, a lot of the wakes we see have calling hours for just one hour immediately preceding the funeral service. With the hours for viewing so limited, a lot of folks don't see the point of flowers for such a short time.

I can tell you though, that going to a wake or service that has no flowers can be a little cold. Flowers continue to bring comfort, even if not on the same scale as "back in the day".

Back to our Masonic flowers! I can tell you, I had quite a time securing a compass and square form! None of my vendors had one in stock. I knew I could make one if I had to, but this would add a lot of time to an already busy day.

After a couple calls to a few flower shops that have been in business forever, I finally found one who had a couple of these in their basement - whew!

My client requested blue and white and mentioned carnations. The old school way to do a piece like this would have been to cover the form in carnations, but we wanted to keep the clients requests in mind while updating the look. So I covered the form with black ti leaves and variegated New Zealand flax leaves and placed it in arrangement of blue and white flowers (including carnations!).

I think we succeeded, what do you think? Would you want flowers this specific and symbolic for you or your family?

1 comment:

Nichole Campbell said...

I've never had the opportunity to create one of these either-but I definitely like what you did with it. It certainly feels updated and fresh, yet still reflects what the customer wanted. (And I didn't even notice the carns in there at first!) I have also heard of the "empty chair" and have always thought that would be an interesting design to create. So many options...


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