KARACHI: The first floral art workshop of the Floral Art Society of Pakistan’s Gardenia Chapter held at a local hotel here on Thursday was like an elementary school crafts class.
The students were allowed to play with all kinds of material from plastic sheets, aluminium foil bowls, glue, sticky tape, oil, paint, cloth, rope and all kinds of tools from scissors to wire brushes, heat guns to bare hands. The only difference was that the class had students of all ages of which the naughtiest one was the teacher!
That would be Salma Ansari, the Gardenia Chapter’s first president, who wears many hats, from imitating Maula Jatt, as she did in their last Annual General Meeting, to teaching floral art and holding demonstrations of the same. The lady is known to weave magic and is often called a magician though she herself likes to be called a ‘wizard’.
According to Salma, her forte is ‘jugaad’, meaning she had taught herself to make do with whatever is at hand to have her way. “There were friends who would get this or that equipment or apparatus from abroad. Stuff that would not be available here. So what to do? We do ‘jugaad’,” the floral art expert shrugged.
This particular class of hers focused on texture. “You use your sense of touch to understand texture, what’s hard, what’s smooth or rough,” she said. “But with floral art we don’t do tactile, we are more into visual touch as we do not allow people to touch our flower arrangements,” she pointed out, going on to show how they can help people develop a visual memory of their work.
The students had all been supplied with the necessary apparatus and materials that they would need during the workshop. But before they could get to them they were to wear their aprons, take off their rings and roll up their sleeves.
Things were going to get very messy as plastic sheets were being coated with oil. Ropes
were shredded into thin fibres which resembled candyfloss. Cotton gauze was crumpled and soaked in glue. Sisal fibre, too. And all of these were pasted on the oiled plastic sheets it to be left to dry under the sun.
“Leave to dry until they turn into pickles,” Salma said. But actually she had taught the class to prepare different textured bases that can be peeled off the plastic film or sheets when dry for use in flower arrangements.
Other things taught at the workshop included some tricks of the trade such as using double-sided tape for coating wires to create stems, staining wood with chalk paint to give driftwood an antique look, using wood shavings to creature another kind of textured surface, etc.
Finally, Salma unveiled at least half a dozen of her own splendid arrangements, made using the same materials that she had shown how to prepare in the workshop to a huge round of applause.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2023