Friday, October 07, 2005

Excitement Wilts

Remember when I was so excited to take my Floral Design night class? I was so optimistic.

The class started last night. In a word, it sucked.

I had been concerned that I might be stuck doing old lady-ish carnations and baby's breath arrangements, but it was far, far worse than I ever imagined. We used POLYESTER FLOWERS. Disgusting! It's an outrage!

Here's how it went down: the instructor arrived. She's an older European lady, who entered the classroom panting and mopping sweat from her brow and chest with a scrap of rough brown paper towel from the washroom. That was not a great impression for an instructor of a refined and sophisticated craft...

Then she proceeded to announce, "It's not worth my time to pick up the supplies for this class." She actually used those words, "not worth my time". She read down a long, long list of mysterious types of wires, tape, foam blocks and cutters that we should each go out and buy. The class description had stated that all materials would be provided to the student, at cost. Instead of her picking up the supplies for the 25 class members, she decided it's easier for her to send 25 people in 25 directions in a mad scramble to find all these things we've never heard of. That was a bit of a shock - five minutes into the class and already she's shirking her responsibilities.

Oh, and she told us to bring "a pot for holding flowers." Someone asked, "Do you mean, a vase?" and she was like, "Uhhhh.... a vase."

Next: the lesson. The instructor told us to each give her $2. She gave us each a couple of pieces of wire and told us to wrap tape around them. Then she took out a big Dollar Store bag and dumped a pile of horrible, faded, dusty, frayed fake flowers at the front of the class. Ugh, it was so tacky. The goal was to learn to make a boutonniere from these scraps. She must have been making money off us, too, because there was no way these supplies were worth $2 per person.

The boutonniere lesson should have taken 15 minutes at the most, but it took the entire two hours. That's because she made one as a demo, without really explaining what she was doing. The rest of the class consisted of people going up one by one to ask her, "Is this right? Is this right?" So, there was no lesson to speak of, just a chaotic workshop.

Of course, all the finished boutonnieres were hideous, including mine. With such awful junk to work with, there was no other possible result.

Now, I could forgive using fake flowers for the first class only, but the instructor told us to bring a dozen identical fake flowers for next week's class (along with about 20 other items), and she implied that we might maybe try real flowers at the end of the course. What the hell? This is not at all what I want to learn! It's not like you can directly apply the same practices to real and fake flowers: fake flowers bend, they don't wilt, they don't snap, they don't need access to water!

Moreover, I just know that my own modern flower arranging style is not going to mix with someone who thinks that overdyed polyester roses with fake plastic water droplets are pretty.

So, what to do? I can drop the course and get my money back. It makes me sad to do that, though, because I really want to learn more about floral design. Perhaps I could just take the money I get back and buy a nice do-it-yourself floristry book
and some supplies... Besides, it's not like I'm a beginner or anything.
Yes, I suppose I was spoiled by my wonderful ikebana lessons with Kawabe Sensei in Takarazuka way back in 2002/2003. She was a very kind, thoughtful and helpful teacher. She always encouraged and praised me, but I though she was just being nice to the slightly hopeless foreigner. Then one day, I overheard her scolding another student. "Look at Andrea's work," said Kawabe Sensei to the other woman in Japanese, "that's the right way to do it." I was shocked and very flattered.

Although we did struggle to communicate the finer philosophical points of 'o-hana', we understood each other. "We are," she said, "human."

Then I moved to London. Several times a week, I walked past the Islington studio of
Paula Pryke (she's the Donna Hay of floral design). Actually, I would walk out of my way just to pass the shop! I love her bold and modern designs. I would press my nose against the window to gaze at her imaginative floral creations, some as tall as me! According to her website, Paula runs a 4 day intensive Flower School at the Islington shop. The cost? A thousand pounds.

So, maybe I'm expecting a little much from my cheap adult education night class?


Rob said...

So sorry to hear about your dead iBook, Andrea. Wow, that sucks.

Atsuko said...

sorry about the class.
I wonder is there any Ikebana teacher in TO?

Netts said...

First, absolutely get your money back. Second, report that hag to the school board for not providing any of the supplies she was supposed to, not having any idea of how to teach and being obviously incompetent. Demand that they fire her to save other unsuspecting students the ordeal. Might seem harsh but you'd be doing it for the greater good.

suzy said...

That is so bad! Fake flowers are hideous and should be banned (along with doilies).
Your ikebana class sounds fantastic though... I have been wanting to try that, but waiting til my Japanese gets better.

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