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  • By Rita M. Ford

About my experience with the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Updated: Jan 25

Generally, I can say my experience with the Philadelphia Flower Show has been good. I started to take part in the competition for the pressed plant artists in 2014 and have continued every year. I have a collection of different ribbons: three of them are “Third Prize”, one is “Honorable Mention” and one is “First Prize”.

The staff was very kind and polite to me at all times. Once, during the trip to Philadelphia from Louisiana, my picture frame was broken on the backside. In spite of that, they fixed it with scotch tape and my art took part in the competition and the show.

One year I got first prize for my art and I was really surprised. They called me and invited me to Philadelphia for a reception. I didn't go, but I remember their invitation with warm feelings. If I had lived close to Philadelphia, I would have definitely gone for the reception.

It is a pity that you can't sell your art at the Philadelphia Flower Show, but I sometimes meet customers at Louisiana local shows, where I sell my art, who saw my pressed plant art exhibition in the Philadelphia Flower Show. I take part in many local and regional art festivals and craft and art shows in my area. Once, two women, looking at my art at a local show, asked me if my art was the same as at Philadelphia Flower Show. I answered “Yes”, and after that one woman bought one of my most expensive pieces. I was very glad. Another time, a customer told me that she saw my art in the Philadelphia Flower Show, recognized it at our local show, and she bought some of my art, too. So, sometimes the Philadelphia Flower Show indirectly helps me to sell my art. I imagine many people would like to buy pressed plant art during the show in Philadelphia, but they don't have that possibility there.

I have another lucky story about something that happened to me and it is connected to the Philadelphia Flower Show. For those who never took part in the competition at the Philadelphia Flower Show, it is important to mention that the rules say not to use any artificial colors in your art. If you get a ribbon from the Philadelphia Flower Show it means, for me, that I can take part with this artwork in a local competition for artists. I need only to open the frame, do some necessary "make up" with Pan Pastel, then pack my art again. The point is that I don't vacuum seal my art now. I use sticky tape and aluminum foil. By doing this, I can enter local competitions in my area for craftsmen and artists.

In my opinion, taking part in the Philadelphia Flower Show competition is especially necessary for beginners as you can find out about the level of your skill. I remember in 2014, when I was a beginner in pressed plant art, I started to feel more confident after I got a prize for the first time. I was going to sell my art and I needed to know if my art was of good quality or not. Taking part in the Philadelphia Flower Show competition helped me to understand this.

I remember that time in 2014. I was really excited. I was worried so much about everything: not to break rules, not to be late, to take part or not, and so on. The most exciting thing was to choose what art to create. I chose the topic for the competition "Garden on the Picture of a Famous Artist”. I decided to create my pressed plant art after Claude Monet’s painting "Lady in the Garden at Saint-Adresse", because I saw this art in real life in the Hermitage when I was living in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and really liked it. This is my photo made in the Hermitage.

Claude Monet’s original painting "Lady in the Garden at Saint-Adresse" in the museum Hermitage (Saint Petersburg, Russia).

Also, I had a very good quality photo of this art in my book about the Hermitage and I also had all kinds of botanical materials for it. When my husband looked at my completed picture, he told me he liked my art even better than Monet's. We laughed about this. It’s very important that somebody encourages you when you are a beginner. My art took only third prize at that time. But I was very glad.

Later when I entered a regional, prestigious competition, I definitely knew which artwork to submit: "Lady in the garden at Saint-Adresse" without any doubt.

Pressed Plant Art after Claude Monet’s painting "Lady in the Garden at Saint-Adresse".

And I wasn't mistaken. My art was very popular at that show. It was crowded near it all the time and it was the first art sold at that exhibition. And it went for a good price too! So, I can say again that taking part in the Philadelphia Flower Show competition has been indirectly useful for me.

I use a simple, light, inexpensive frame in the size required for framing my art for the Philadelphia Flower Show. Four years in a row I covered my art with plain glass so I wouldn’t be too sorry if it was broken. After my picture comes back from the Philadelphia Flower Show, I usually change this plain glass to good quality glass as well as use a nice, expensive frame. Last year I decided to buy one piece of an expensive UV protected acrylic for packing my art for the Philadelphia Flower Show and not be worried anymore that it might be broken. Acrylic is lighter than glass, too. I can use the same piece of acrylic every year.

I'd like to share some specific moments which occurred during my dealings with the Philadelphia Flower Show. Once, the art I entered at the Philadelphia Flower Show did not take part in the competition, because, in their opinion, it was thick, like 3D art. In fact, my art was thin and flat as the rules require, but it looked like 3D art. I wasn’t too upset about it because I got a ribbon with another piece of my art that year.

Another moment was connected to using cotton in my art. I used cotton to imitate sea foam. My art got the “Third Prize”. Somebody called me and congratulated me, but, at the same time, I was told not to use cotton in the future. It was real Louisiana cotton, by the way. Again, I wasn’t upset because, in spite of that, I got a ribbon.

One year I missed the deadline for sending the application form, but I wanted to enter the competition very much. My art was already ready for the competition. I asked, and I was happy to find that they allowed me to enter.

Now, my competitor's spirit tells me to take part in the Philadelphia Flower Show every year. They send me a booklet with all information about competitive classes by mail usually in September. And after I read all the information, I ask myself, “Can I do something this time or not?" And it's clear to me, if I don't try, I will never know the answer.

Pressed Plant Arts are HERE and HERE

Real butterflies in shadow boxes are HERE

Resin pieces of jewelry are HERE


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Many, Louisiana, USA