Leaving... on a jet plane

 A couple of weeks ago I took a phone call from a customer who was on our website looking at a plane tribute we have on there. A lovely conversation ensued and said customer placed an order with me for the tribute. The one on our site was made for a customer many years ago, and at the time I wasn't as sure of my carving abilities as I am now; we were also living in a world where many things were readily available - the pandemic soon put an end to that. It was also made in the colours requested by the family ordering it, rendering it Yellow and Blue. As you can see from the picture at the bottom of the page, it was really quite basic (which is what the customer who ordered wanted at the time, and the frame was a pre-made one I had bought).

During the phone call with my most recent customer I asked "What colours would you like me to make it in for you?". The gentleman caller (ooh, wasn't that a movie?) told me the person the tribute was for had loved planes; flying them, in them, and I believe he also did a bit of plane spotting (I've been known to indulge in some spotting myself at times) before saying "maybe British Airways colours". We had a plan, and I had less than 3 days to get the frame, make it and get it delivered (usually I would like a little more time for such a tribute). 

I logged on to my wholesalers website to order a frame and found.... nothing. Not a single thing which even resembled a plane. At this point the little voice inside my head (which has been known to lead me into trouble at different times) said "oops; that's not what you were hoping for" or something similar!! This meant I was open to the power of Google (other browsers are available but I can't understand why anyone would want to use them!) and in that little search bar I typed "Floral foam plane". The cheapest I could find which I could get in time was from a local wholesaler and that was priced at £65.00. You read that correctly; £65. I nearly passed out. Add the VAT and you've got £80 just for the basic frame, that's without the cost of flowers and everything else on top (see my entry on Saturday regarding flower prices and you'll understand why I never wanted to pay so much on just the frame). That price didn't include the base to put it onto; it was purely for the basic shape of a plane - a propeller one at that, which was of no use to me. This left me with just one option. I had to make it myself!

I had a flat design sheet that I knew I could use so grabbed that off a shelf (yes, I did get bits of floral foam powder in my eye) before sticking together multiple sheets of A4 paper to the correct size. I then drew out the shape of what I consider to be a jet plane (I couldn't tell you if it was a Boeing 747, Airbus A380 or a no longer in use DC10 - for I know it could well have been a Dreamliner (although I think they have a bit better shaping than mine did)). Once happy with the shape I transferred it onto the foam sheet. The moment had arrived; I needed to cut it out. Now, any of you who have had to cut through a floral foam design sheet will know it is not the easiest thing to do, you need a steady hand, a long sharp knife (although not too long or it can get awkward) and you need to position it so that you do not end up snapping the board in half. Trying to cut the wings out, and not break them off was no easy task. I did literally breathe a huge sigh of relief once I'd got it safely cut out. 

I could have added additional foam to the top to get the fuselage shape (which would have made life easier) however, I knew I wanted to make it look as though it was taking off and was worried the additional weight would then cause the whole thing to break apart; making the rounded shape was going to be purely down to me and the angle I placed the flowers into the foam. I did round off the wings and tail to make it a little bit easier when it came to keeping the shape once flowered (although I ended up using leaves to cover them rather than flowers - each leaf pinned on individually).

The next task was to attach my flat plane to the base (for which I used a pillow). I got so carried away setting it up and making sure I had it firmly attached and at the right angle I forgot to take a photo; basically I took the flat plane shape above, added a couple of triangular shapes to a flat pillow before attaching the plane to both so it was at a rough 35 degree angle. 

I started with the wings and once all the leaves were firmly in place I moved onto the flowers. I'm not going to lie to you lovely people; once I'd finished and saw that I'd managed to angle each flower (and every single flower is just that, a flower with a bit of stem attached) to created the domed shape of the fuselage, along with also creating the extra raised area where the cockpit window sites I was feeling slightly proud of myself. Ok, ok; I was feeling mighty proud of myself. To know I'd made a 6 inch high dome from a 1 inch flat base was an achievement I wasn't sure I could have pulled off, yet pull it off I did. 

Once flowered came the smaller details. Spray painting the bits which needed to be blue, and then the leaves white so they matched the main body of the plane. I made the engines and sprayed those (I do love the smell of spray paint on a dismal Tuesday morning) before designing the tail fin and wing tips to resemble a BA liveried plane. Once happy with everything else I then covered the base pillow in moss, before adding some different foliage and white spray roses, as you can see from the photographs below.

There are a couple of florists in this world who I consider to be exceptional when it comes to funeral tributes. Whenever I create something I hope I can be anywhere near as close to how I believe they could make it. Never before in my 36 year career have I said to myself "you could not have made a better job of that" or "those other florists could not have made it better than you have" until I made this plane. At the end of the day though it doesn't matter how pleased I was with it, or how well I think someone else could have made it. The only people who matter are the ones who ordered it. I really hope they liked it. 

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