The Language of Flowers, also known as floriography, was a popular way to send a secretive message to someone during the Victorian times, when being outwardly expressive of feelings was frowned upon. I’ve paired this language with my decorative techniques of etching and mono printing onto functional ceramic wares and even my sculptural figures. The combination of flowers, like words in a sentence, have different meanings depending upon the context in which they are used and they have become an integral part to help me tell the story of a piece.
There are many online sources to gather different floral meanings. I often use the Almanac and Wikipedia. For more in depth stories behind the florals, along with beautiful illustrations, the book, “Floriography” by Jessica Roux. She also goes into the narrative of bouquets of flowers – which can bring on a whole different meaning depending upon which flowers you pair or group together.
Here is some recent work that was influenced by the Language of Flowers. A list of flowers illustrated and their meanings will follow a short description of each piece.
As a breast cancer survivor, each flower on the figure represents a part of its journey of having faced loss and feelings of deep sorrow, yet somehow holding onto courage and strength to get through.
- Poppy: eternal sleep -paired with snowdrop: loss of a loved one
- Rose, dark crimson: mourning
- Rose with thorns: overcoming difficulty
- Daffodil: unrequited love
- Iris, yellow: passion
- Nasturtium: Conquest
- Forget Me Nots: not forgotten
- Morning Glory: affection
- Thyme: courage
- Chamomile: energy in adversity
- Protea: transformation
- Celandine: joys to come
- Snowdrop: hope
- Pussy willow: a new beginning
Similar to the feeling of having the rug pulled out from beneath your feet, this sculpture represents two sides to one person: one shows a contented life and the other has faced a personal hardship and is coming to terms with her new reality.
- Side 1 [Rug]:
- Stock: happy life, contentment
- Magnolia: dignity
- Cherry blossom: feminine beauty
- Side 2 [No Rug]:
- Black tulip: Strength
- White tulip: remembrance
- Pink tulip: caring
A special connection between long-time friends, this bowl celebrates and acknowledges the continuance of that friendship.
- Zinnia: everlasting friendship
- Pansy: a friend you think of often
- Pear Blossom: longevity
- Celadine: joys to come
- Ivy: endurance
- Forget-me-nots: not forgotten
The New Beginnings bowl speaks to many different new starts in life: a new job, a new home, a wedding, a baby, etc..
- Daffodil: new beginnings
- Daisy: innocence
- Firebush: purity/clarity
- Thyme: Strength
- Clover: good luck
- Wheat: prosperity
This small dish is decorated with botanicals that are all about Remembrance – perfect for small items easily lost or forgotten: keys, rings, special little finds and more.
- Zinnia: remembering
- Forget-me-nots: forget me not
- Tarragon: lasting interest
I will be creating more pieces – both functional and sculptural – throughout the year. Incorporating the Language of Flowers into my work is just another way to help me express what I am seeing and feeling. Perhaps it resonates with you too.
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