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Design Division notes

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Design Division notes
  • From: Curt Marble <cmarble@tiac.net>
  • Date: Fri, 7 Feb 1997 20:47:39 -0700 (MST)

>I was Show Chairperson one year and I've done the schedules for the Design
>Division (arrangements) for several years.  Is design your interest?  I have
>some firmly held ideas about design, and encouraging design, in Iris Shows.
>I can either discuss these on the list, or in private email.
>Kathy Marble

You (well, some of you) asked for it.

First I need to correct my original message. I don't think my brain was
totally connected when I wrote that "I was Show Chairperson":  I've chaired
the Design Division more than once but never the whole show.  I've never
even entered the Horticultural Division, mainly because I try to enter as
many design classes as I can and there's never any time left to groom
(whatever that is) for Horticulture.

Let me first explain who I'm not.  I'm not an AIS judge, nor am I a NCSGC
(National Council of State Garden Clubs) judge.  I'm just a hobbyist who has
attended floral design lectures and had the good fortune to become friends
with a woman named Clare Richards (now 85 yrs young) who became my mentor.
Claire is a NCSGC master judge and the best teacher anyone could
imagine...always encouraging.  I'm currently beginning the study of Ikenobo,
a school of Japanese flower arranging.

My involvement with our ISM (Iris Society of Massachusetts) shows began in
1992. As with many things in volunteer life, the first time you do a job,
you wind up "reinventing the wheel" because no one has recorded how they did
it.  My background was as a computer programmer/systems analyst so I
document in my sleep (no cracks, you guys).  Anyway, I made a "cookbook" of
how I ran that show.  That still exists in ISM's show notebook.  I recommend
such a notebook, enriched each year with the next chairperson's experience.

I will summarize some thoughts, give excerpts from the original cookbook,
and some schedules from previous years, though I don't promise to present
these in logical order. Some things I feel strongly about and will mount my
soapbox when discussing those.  BTW, I speak only for myself.  These ideas
are only one of many possible ways to stage a show.  Other people have other
styles and other ideas. I hope I get their feedback and guidance.

First, I think anyone who is involved in design should own a copy of The
Handbook for Flower Shows, published by the National Council of State Garden
Clubs, Inc: 4401 Magnolia Avenue; St. Louis, MO 63110-3492 1-800-550-6007.
You gotta talk the talk.  I suggest each club own at least one copy to be
kept with the "show notebook".  

Many prospective exhibitors are shy about entering the Design Division,
perhaps because they are unfamiliar with the terminology and don't want to
"do the wrong thing".  So this year I am starting to include a NSCGC
definition (paraphrased) in the schedule to explain and educate.  As soon as
this year's schedule is approved by Mike Moller, I will send it to the
list...maybe someone will come to the show as a result.

SOAPBOX:  I feel strongly that we need to encourage junior members to enter
all classes they feel they can handle.  Therefore, we explicitly state that
"Exhibitors under age 19 may enter adult classes in addition to the youth
class."  (Remember this is the design division, not the Horticulture
Division.  In Horticulture I realize that AIS does not allow youth to enter
both youth and adult classes, though I don't understand why).  (I think here
of Andy Wheeler who often wins first place in design classes, both adult and

COOKBOOK EXCERPTS (all based on an early June Show):

January or February:  Ask three NCSGC judges.  (AIS handbook suggests that
one judge be both an AIS judge and a NCSGC judge.  We have no such person so
we supply the iris-specific information to the NCSGC judges by assigning
them a knowledgeable clerk.)  Find "kind persons" for judges who understand
that the exhibitors are often not experienced arrangers.  It's a good idea
to ask judges well in advance while calendars are bare.  Write a follow up
note to the three judges (see appendix).  Judges are not paid, but we do
invite them to a luncheon, and I give them a plant (usually Siberian).

Look over old schedules for class ideas.  I feel that the Design Division
Chairperson should pick the theme/title of the show since it is his/her job
to find theme-related class titles.

Send proposed Design Division schedule to the Show Chairperson who will send
them to the AIS Exhibition Chairperson for approval.

In ISM the Staging, Entries, and Clerks are handled by the general show
chairperson, not specific to Design.  They also order the appropriate
ribbons.  We have not needed a Design Classification Chairperson ("does a
specific entry qualify for the class?") until two years ago when it was
discovered that a NCSGC judge (not an ISM member and unknown to any of us)
had entered a novice class.

mid-April:  Send a copy of the show schedule and a couple show announcements
to each judge.  (appendix).  Call Staging person to discuss what to use for
table covers, etc.)  Purchase prizes for Best Design and for winner of Youth

Week before show:  Send a reminder note to judges (appendix).  Print class
titles to be placed on exhibition tables.

Show day:  Arrive early and set up work tables for arrangers separate from
the Horticulture Division exhibitors (minimize cross-traffic).  Provide
watering can, 3x5 cards, masking tape, etc.  Set up tables for completed
arrangements...better too many than too few since spreading arrangements out
will help show each one off (as opposed to crowding them together).  Staging
chairperson may help with this.
Get ribbons for the Design Division from the Show Chairman.
Keep an eye out for the judges so that you can offer them coffee when they
arrive.  Perhaps have someone else hostess the judges so you can help designers.
In the Design Division, an exhibitor places his/her own arrangement.  When
the last design is in place, check for entry tags and plant material lists.
Place divider between the different classes and put class title cards in
Invite the panel of judges to begin their task, providing them with
clipboards, introducing the clerk, etc.  Emphasize again the need to be
encouraging and instructive in their comments, since exhibitors are usually
not seasoned arrangers.
After they have completed judging, the clerk finishes transcribing their
comments and places them with the design for public viewing.  Someone (you
or designate) should host/hostess the judges through luncheon and present
them with a gift plant if you choose.  I ask the judges if they would be
willing to review the designs with the exhibitors.  Judge are sometimes
concerned that they will be challenged, but we have had several really
wonderful experiences with this kind of dialog.
Take pictures of individual designs for notebook.

Within a week after the show: Send Thank You notes to each judge.

    -It would certainly be helpful to have an idea how many arrangements to
expect but with the unpredictability of weather and bloom season... .  We
would rather have someone come unannounced than not come at all (or be
reluctant to commit themselves).  We want to run a relaxed show and things
have turned out OK so far.
    -Decide on a cutoff time and be semi-firm (at least don't let someone
START another design), because the judges need sufficient time not to feel
    -We don't limit the number of entries in a class so the judges may
suggest splitting a large class in order to present two sets of ribbons.
You might want to suggest this if they don't (making sure there are
sufficient ribbons, and maybe a blank class title) because the aim of the
show is to encourage.
     - We don't require that arrangements be made on-site.  I know many
shows are run differently out of concern that an entry might not be made by
the exhibitor but we've had no problems.  There are some people, like Andy
Wheeler, who enter both Horticulture and Design.  The only way they can
accomplish this is by bringing completed arrangements.



    1.  Entries will be received Sunday, June 4, 1995 between 8AM and
10:30AM. No entry may be removed until 4PM.
    2.  This division is open to all arrangers, ISM membership not required.
    3.  The design must be made by the exhibitor, but plant material need
not have been grown by the exhibitor.
    4.  An exhibitor may place only one entry in each class, but may enter
more than one class.
    5.  Exhibitors under age 19 may enter adult classes in addition to the
youth class.
    6.  Designs must contain one or more irises, which must predominate
where other plant material is used.
    7.  Bases, mats, and accessories may be used in all classes.  ISM will
endeavor to protect all exhibits but cannot be responsible for loss or
damage to the exhibitor's property.
    8.  No artificial flowers, fruit or foliage are permitted.    A limited
amount of dried/treated dried plant material may be used.
    9.  Each design must be accompanied by a 3"x5" card listing all plant
material used.  Include cultivar name if possible.

  Designs will be judged by accredited judges of the National Council of
State Garden Clubs.
  In each class, one first, one second, one third, and one or more honorable
mention ribbons will be awarded if the judges consider them merited.
  A large purple rosette, Artistic Sweepstakes, will be awarded the
exhibitor receiving the most first place ribbon awards in the Design
Division.  In the event of a tie, subsequent ribbon placements will be used
to determine the award.
  A large AIS purple rosette and a prize will be awarded for the Best Design
of the Show.  The winner of the first place ribbon in the Youth Class will
receive a prize.

Class 1  - BUFFET TABLE - A floral design for the party's buffet table.
This is a novice class for those who have not yet won a blue ribbon in an
adult design class.
Class 2 - ALL DRESSED UP - A design inspired by the fabric of a garden party
dress.  Fabric or photo to be displayed.
Class 3 - TEA CEREMONY - A design in the Japanese manner inspired by the
ambience of the tea ceremony.
Class 4 - UNDER THE PERGOLA - A design suggesting a cool, shady retreat from
a sunny garden party.
Class 5 - COCKTAILS AT SIX - A sophisticated design.
Class 6 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY - A youth class for those under 19.  A design using
bright colors to celebrate a child's birthday party.
I was particularly happy with the idea of class 2 (if I do say so,  myself)
..trying to teach that, when you wonder what to do, you can look around for
inspiration.  Andy Wheeler did chide me, however, that I should've thought
of the men.  He used a tie which was great.

   - I always have a novice class and a youth class.  This means that these
classes are restricted to Novice/Youth.  It DOES NOT limit novice/youth from
entering other classes.
   - I usually have an "in the Oriental manner" class
   - I like to have some classes that give more guidance than what the
schedule of a NCSGC Standard Show would, eg. "using pastel flowers", or the
fabric one.     - I like to have some class(es) completely open to the
exhibitor's interpretation, eg. "sophisticated"
   - As I said earlier, I am starting this year to give a NCSGC definition,
then have a class which requires that kind of arrangement.  (This year it
will be Parallel Design.)


Dear Andrea,
    We spoke at Morning of Design about the Iris Society of Massachusetts'
June flower show.  I'm hoping to confirm your position as one of the three
judges for the design division.  I have also invited Penny Decker and
Henrietta Petroska.
    To review the specifics:  the show will be held Sunday, June 7 at the
Suburban Experimental Station, Waltham.  Entries will be in place by 10AM so
judging can begin at that time.  I hope you will be able to join us for a
luncheon at the conclusion of your judging.  The show is open to the public
    As I mentioned when we spoke, the focus of this division is to encourage
gardeners to enjoy using their iris in designs.  It is not a National
Council show in terms of rules, but hopefully an opportunity to foster good
design, nonetheless.
Dear Andrea,
    The schedules have been printed, so I thought you would enjoy a look at
the classes.  The show is not limited to ISM members, so I've included a
show announcement in case you'd like to share it with your local garden club.

Dear Andrea,
    Just a quick note to remind you of the ISM show this Sunday.   Hopefully
this week's weather will jump-start some of my Siberian irises.
    If you need to reach me, my phone number is 508 456-8086.

Dear Andrea,
    ISM members complimented be on Sunday for getting such "wonderful
judges".  The kindness and care in your written comments was greatly
appreciated.  I thank you sincerely for being willing to judge our show and
hope the delayed start did not create a problem for the remainder of your day.
    Let me again invite you to visit my garden--I'd love to encourage an
iris convert.

If you've stayed 'til the bitter end, Thank You.  I hope this has made some
sense to you.

Kathy Marble <cmarble@tiac.net>
Harvard, MA
zone 5

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