Debra Prinzing

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Episode 352: Foraged Art with Publishing Maven Leslie Jonath of Connected Dots Media

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Today’s guest is Leslie Jonath, creative director of San Francisco-based Connected Dots Media.

Leslie has over 20 years’ experience in book publishing, creative services, and media business development. And for any of you who dream of producing a book of your own, you’ll want to listen closely to her process and advice!

From 1991 to 2009, Leslie was an integral part of the editorial and development team at Chronicle Books, a Bay Area-based independent publishing house known for its lively, eye-catching and trend-setting books, gifts, stationery, and other consumer products about food, art, pop culture, gardening, design, lifestyles, and more.

A petal spiral from Foraged Art’s feed.

As a Senior Editor in the food, lifestyle, and custom publishing categories, Leslie developed acquisition strategies, launched the successful garden and craft categories; acquired, produced, edited, and project-managed over 250 books across a variety of categories, including food, pop culture, crafts, lifestyle, art, architecture, memoir, and children’s projects.

She also created a cause-related publishing model for non-profit organizations, creating books to benefit Meals on Wheels of San Francisco; P.A.W.S., Bay Area schools and Next Course (which provided job and life skills training for incarcerated women).

As a Director of Creative Development, Leslie was a founding member and co-director of Chronicle’s Custom Publishing division, creating innovative products for cultural institutions, name-brand companies and retailers. Clients included BabyGap, Starbucks, Anthropologie, and the San Francisco Ballet.

Another spontaneous art foraged art project.

The success of her work in this division led to a position as Director for Creative Services for the company’s Business Development team. As head of Creative Services, she  and her teams conceptualized, produced and developed innovative “beyond the book” services for custom clients, including videos and other digital products.

While at Chronicle, Leslie teamed up with Ariella Chezar to create Ariella’s first book in 2002, Flowers for the Table, a guide to choosing seasonal flowers and a lesson in designing with the bud’s natural form. The book revolves around several seasonal occasions, from a summer wedding in the country to hot colored poppies on a cold winter’s night.

Raked-Leaf Rays, a project from Foraged Art

After leaving Chronicle Books in 2009, Jonath founded Connected Dots Media, working with clients in book packaging, video production, and concept and content development and production. And she reunited with Ariella in 2016 to create and publish Ariella’s beautiful new book, The Flower Workshop for Ten Speed Press. In addition to having produced books on floral design, Leslie is the author of Love Found, Everyone Loves Paris, and Give Yourself a Gold Star.

Leslie has also guided Erin Benzakein and Julie Chai on the award-winning Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden book. You’ve heard Ariella and Erin in the past on this Podcast.

Foraged Art, a book for play, creativity and changing your relationship with nature.

So now, we’re going to hear from the woman behind those projects and so many others. I’ve invited Leslie today to talk about two personal book projects that have HER name on the cover as author.

Rory, Peter and Leslie, creators of the Foraged Art Book

The first, just out, is called Foraged Art, Creative Projects Using Blooms, Branches, Leaves, Stones, and other Elements Discovered in Nature (published by Bluestreak Books).

Leslie’s co-author is artist Peter Cole, an artist who works with gleaned objects he collects. From foraged rocks, shells, leaves to discarded menus, matchbooks, and miniature bears, he creates objects of wonder that reflect both natural and urban environments. He is the author of a collection of how-to environmental art books, including Snowmen and Great Pumpkins. He lives in Brooklyn with his family.

Foraged Art was photographed by Rory Earnshaw is a Bay Area-based photographer who shoots corporate annual reports, table-top, fine art, corporate/music industry portraits, product, packaging, lifestyle, editorial, music CD’s, as well as fine art landscapes.

In the spirit of land artists like Andy Goldsworthy, the book is as much about discovery as it is about creation. Leaves shaped like lips might inspire a face; an array of rocks might be become an eclectic mosaic; winter’s first snow might be carved into glowing luminaria.

Whether you love to look for heart-shaped flowers or want to make a peacock made with flower petals, readers will find great inspiration and joy in Foraged Art.

Petal Puddles, a project from Foraged Art

Art, meditation, and nature meet in this adult-focused activity book, with projects that take inspiration from the natural environment, using blooms, pods, branches, stones, and other natural elements. Divided into chapters by natural elements — flowers, leaves, rocks and pods, and more, the book encourages readers to forage and play outside using nature’s seasonal art box. Foraged Art is about making art from what you find and finding art in what you see.

Leslie and I also discuss Feed Your People, an ambitious book that she has been working on for several years — from conception to completion.

Feed Your People is a modern community cookbook. Leslie envisioned the need for Feed Your People after she realized that despite the popularity of dinner clubs, pop-up dinners, and holiday entertaining, there were surprisingly few cookbooks or resources that offer practical instruction on cooking for crowds.

To that she approached the community of big-hearted cooks and chefs—experts who cook for their communities — whose generosity inspires. Stories of their gatherings are accompanied by recipes with detailed  information on equipment, make ahead strategies and tips cooking for groups from eight or to forty (and even fifty!)

As Leslie explains, on a deeper level, the book is about building and feeding community, and, fittingly, she teamed up with 18 Reasons–a beloved San Francisco-based organization that provides classes to low-income residents and hosts monthly community dinners.

She wants this book to inspire cooks everywhere to bring their communities together for a meal—no matter what the occasion. From a simple soup dinner to a pasta pot, whether using paper plates and fingers or cloth napkins, there are recipes around which to create a well-considered, delicious, and memorable event. She sees Feed Your People as a celebration of community, a guide that will encourage people everywhere to feed each other both literally and spiritually.

Here’s where and how to follow Leslie at her social places:

Feed Your People on Facebook

Feed Your People on Twitter

Foraged Art on Facebook

Foraged Art on Instagram

As Leslie encourages us, creating foraged art reminds us that life is beautiful in all of its stages – and that, if we look, we can see the grace in every moment.

I certainly feel that grace this week as many of you have reached out to thank me for this Podcast and how it has helped you. We have 57 five-star reviews on ITunes, which is so awesome. One fan just posted this review on iTunes, writing:

“Over the past few months, I’ve really enjoyed listening to your podcast. Insights and glimpses of what goes on with the Slow Flowers Movement is fascinating. As a 30-year veteran of the floral industry here in North America, it’s surprising that I haven’t been more aware of local growers. Thank you for encouraging the local farms to grow flowers that we can utilize so we can help spread the news of buying American grown flowers.”

I’m encouraged by the amazing participation in our many opportunities to network, connect and educate — and this is a bountiful month for doing so. With American Flowers Week coming up on June 28-July 4, with the Slow Flowers Summit — our LIVE celebration of American Flowers Week taking place on Friday, June 29th in Washington, D.C., and with the many marketing and branding tools available for your use for free, please take advantage of this opportunity and join the community.

If you’re not on our mailing list, you can find a link to the June Slow Flowers Newsletter in today’s show notes — catch up on Slow Flowers members and their fantastic activities, too.

Please make you reservation for the Slow Flowers Summit. Our second annual Slow Flowers Summit takes place in the heart of American Flowers Week – and we have an inspiring lineup of speakers, gorgeous flowers, fun and interactive design activities and of course, a chance to stretch your imagination in a thought-provoking and stimulating environment.

I am grateful to all our entire community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement. As our cause gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button at debraprinzing.com in the right column.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 324,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening, commenting, liking and sharing! It means so much.

Thank you to our sponsors who have supported Slow Flowers and all of our programs.

Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special offer for a free trial issue.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of passionate family farms in the heart of Alaska providing bigger, better peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com.

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org

Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at mayesh.com.

Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com.

Music Credits:
The Wooden Platform; Pat Dog; Long and Low Cloud (quiet acoustic)
by Blue Dot Sessions
Music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 321: My lovely conversation with Robbie Honey + Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock recap and Syndicate Sales’ product launch

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Robbie Honey at Flowerstock (c) Sarah Collier, Taken by Sarah

We all have our flower crushes and those we admire from afar, never expecting to actually meet. So the chance to not only meet and spend time with Robbie Honey, world floral traveler, proud son of Zimbabwe, curious accidental botanist and amazing designer . . . well, it was a certainly a highlight of 2017!

The artist at work ~

Robbie and I met at Holly Chapple’s Flowerstock, the two-day design and creativity fest held for the second year at Hope Flower Farm, the historic compound she owns with husband Evan Chapple – in Waterford, Virginia, not to far from the nation’s capitol.

Holly and Robbie have collaborated on many occasions as instructors, but this was my first experience seeing Robbie up close and personal. Prior to this, my knowledge of him has been mostly by watching his Instagram feed.

Robbie is the creative director at the design company bearing his name Robbie Honey, based in London.

Now and Then, Robbie Honey today and as a young boy in the flower fields of Zimbabwe

Robbie Honey has been immersed in botanical pursuits since he was a young boy roaming the wild grasslands of Zimbabwe. These adventures developed his already keen visual and olfactory senses and instilled in him a lifelong fascination with flowers and their scents.

By the age of seventeen, he was studying horticulture and went on to work in the floriculture trade in Holland and Kenya. Honing his creative sensibilities further, he studied interior design and photography at art school in Cape Town. Moving to London he trained with floral designer Ming Veevers Carter and gained a thorough grounding in event floristry. Incidentally, we posted a story about Ming’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s Gold Medal design for New Covent Garden Flower Market earlier this year. Check it out here.

Robbie’s floral installation for Christian Dior Parfum, London

One of Robbie’s installtions for Hermes, London

17,000 Carnations in an ombre pattern for Mary Katrantzou’s London Fashion Week runway show, designed by Robbie Honey

Setting out on his own at twenty-five, Hermès was his first fashion client, followed by Dior and Armani, establishing Robbie Honey as an in-demand florist within the fashion industry.

With this rare combination of expertise: in botany, floristry and the visual arts, he started lecturing around the world on floristry and writing for the Wall Street Journal.

I love this tablescape with all four of the Robbie Honey candles and the fragrant white flowers that evoke their scents.

Candle fragrances in the Robbie Honey candle collection — lily of the valley, Casablanca lily, jasmine and tuberose.

Robbie Honey’s first range of scented candles is inspired by individual white flowers, the scents of which have long beguiled him.

Robbie at Flowerstock (c) Sarah Collier, Taken by Sarah

It was a delight to not only learn more about what inspires and motivates this talented human as an artist, but a joy to watch him design with American-grown flowers, including many grown at Hope Farm and donated by others, including Harmony Harvest Farm, both Slowflowers.com members — as well as to play with branches and blooms that Robbie foraged with fellow instructors Ariella Chezar and Holly herself.

READ MORE…

Episode 251: Ariella Chezar’s The Flower Workshop Book and Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture’s PhD in – yes, Floriculture

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) and Ariella Chezar (right)

Morgan Anderson of The.Flori.Culture (left) (c) Amber Snow; and Ariella Chezar (right) (c) Corbin Gurkin

This week’s episode delivers double the inspiration as you will hear from two guests — one quite familiar to our Slow Flowers community, Ariella Chezar, and one who is an emerging leader in floral design education, Morgan Anderson.

Both interviews were recorded in May and I’m combining them here for an extended episode that will delight you as a creative person and evoke some new ways of thinking about your business model, be it flower farming, floral design or a combination of both.

MEET ARIELLA CHEZAR

The Flower Workshop BookI am so fortunate to have gotten to know Ariella Chezar over the years. We were first introduced virtually by Berkeley-based designer Max Gill, an incredibly talented floral artist who I profiled (along with the work of photographer David Perry) in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

When I interviewed Max, I asked him to connect me with someone who had influenced his work and he named Ariella. She and I corresponded by email and she contributed a lovely quote about Max’s work for me to use in the chapter about him (and PS, a podcast interview with Max is on my bucket list for the upcoming year).

I promptly ordered my own copy of Flowers for the Table, an evocative book that Ariella created for Chronicle Books in 2002, one that helped propel her into the world of editorial floral design.

Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC

Ariella Chezar was in Seattle to headline the spring bloom extravaganza at SWGMC

Ariella and I finally met face-to-face in spring of 2013 at Chalk Hill Clematis in Healdsburgh, California. She was there at owner Kaye Heafey’s beautiful flower farm to lead a design workshop and as it turned out, I was there with Chicago-based photographer Bob Stefko to produce a clematis story for Country Gardens magazine. The following year, I interviewed Ariella for this podcast in her former Ariella Flowers retail studio in New York City (if you haven’t heard that episode, follow this link).

So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!

So fun to have Ariella in Seattle and to see her response to the beautiful and local flora!

That was about the time that Ariella teamed up with her favorite editor, SF-based Leslie Jonath of Connected Dots Media (with whom she had created Flowers for the Table), to begin creating The Flower Workshop, the designer’s long-anticipated second book that Ten Speed Press released earlier this year.

A lovely inside page from "The Flower Workshop," by Ariella Chezar

A lovely inside page from “The Flower Workshop,” by Ariella Chezar: “How to make a tulip ‘float'” – Photography (c) Erin Kunkel

It took about 18 months to bring this lovely tome to life because Ariella and her creative team photographed flowers and her designs in season, on location in both the Bay Area, where Ariella worked in the early days of her career, and in her childhood home of The Berkshires, where she operates a studio and small flower farm in western Massachusetts.

The gorgeous new book expresses Ariella’s lush, whimsical garden style and her true passion for nature, both cultivated and wild.

Why is Ariella’s work so celebrated? In our 2014 podcast interview, Ariella identifies the place (California) and the moment in time (the late 1990s and early 2000s) when she developed, almost unconsciously, her carefree, uncomplicated design aesthetic. Mesmerized by the abundance of carefree, unconstrained vegetation around her, Ariella responded in kind with a loving respect for the elements. In response, her design style was and continues to be unique and iconic.

"Summer Fruits," Ariella's interpretation from the orchard.

“Summer Fruits,” Ariella’s interpretation from the orchard. Photography (c) Erin Kunkel

Please enjoy this short interview. It was recorded at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market on May 25th, after Ariella had spent two full days first touring the flower farms of some of the Market’s members, then teaching a master design intensive based on the content of The Flower Workshop.

READ MORE…

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: The gifted and inspirational Ariella Chezar (Episode 133)

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

 

Meet Ariella Chezar of Ariella Chezar Design. I captured this lovely portrait of the floral genius on a recent March morning. She's standing insider Ariella Chezar New York, her new flower shop, holding a vase of her absolutely favorite grape hyacinths (Muscari).

Meet Ariella Chezar of Ariella Chezar Design. I captured this lovely portrait of the floral genius on a recent March morning. She’s standing insider Ariella Chezar New York, her new flower shop, holding a vase of her absolutely favorite grape hyacinths (Muscari).

ariella_logoToday’s guest is a floral rock star – someone whose work has appeared in every hot style magazine around – from Martha Stewart Weddings and Modern Bride to O Magazine and Town & Country and countless others.

Please meet New York & the Berkshires-based Ariella Chezar. For 20 years, this gifted daughter of nature has expressed her love of flowers, both cultivated & wild as both a floral designer and an inspiring and generous teacher.

Known for her lush, whimsical, garden style, Ariella has influenced the floral industry coast-to-coast. In her early days, she worked magic in Berkeley, responding to the untamed, native beauty of the Bay Area and Northern California, Chronicle Books tapped her to create “Flowers for the Table,” a lovely, evocative book that helped propel Ariella into the world of editorial floral design.

Later when she returned to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, Ariella settled into her childhood homestead where in the past decade she has produced weddings, events and editorial projects from her studio there.

Inside her new shop, I catch a glimpse of Ariella behind the orchids.

Inside her new shop, I catch a glimpse of Ariella behind the orchids.

Last summer, Ariella made many people happy when she opened her first retail project – Ariella Chezar New York, a floral outpost in Tudor City, one of Manhattan’s most charming secret neighborhoods, located just a stone’s throw from the United Nations.

Why is Ariella’s work so celebrated? In our podcast interview, recorded on March 11th, Ariella identifies the place (California) and the moment in time (the late 1990s and early 2000s) when she developed, almost unconsciously, her carefree, uncomplicated design aesthetic.

She was mesmerized by the abundance of carefree, unconstrained vegetation around her – and in response, her design style was and has continued to be unique and iconic.

One bride put it this way: I believed that Ariella knows what heaven looks like, and she brought it down to Earth just for our special occasion.”

For more about Ariella, I turned to her web site for biographical information. Here it is:

Ariella began creating at a young age. She grew up in the Berkshires of Massachusetts where the outdoors played an integral part of her daily life. Her mother, an artist and avid gardener, inspired seasonal art projects that combined nature and creativity.

Today, her designs evoke nature with their seasonal relevance. Her lush blend of flowers and branches, fruits and vegetables as well as gorgeous silk textiles and ribbons combine for a final product which is both sensual and evocative.

Ariella began her career in the Berkshires working with Pamela Hardcastle and Barbara Bockbrader. These brilliant floral and garden designers inspired Ariella to combine her love of art and the dramatic with her passion for the natural world. “Pamela and Barbara showed me that art and life can be intertwined.” Ariella spent a season selling wreaths to New York flower shops and to shoppers along the streets of SOHO and Greenwich Village. Then she worked with Robert Isabell before moving to the West Coast in 1998.

In 2002, Chronicle Books published Flowers for the Table, a guide to choosing seasonal flowers and a lesson in designing with the bud’s natural form. The book revolves around several seasonal occasions, from a summer wedding in the country to hot colored poppies on a cold winter’s night. Beautiful photographs bring Ariella’s ideas to life. Her personal style and enthusiasm makes Flowers for the Table an inspiration for us all.

As of December, 2003, Ariella moved back to the East Coast. 

It was a delight to visit with this inspirational and truly generous talent! My podcast interview with Ariella will update you on all her wonderful projects.

It was a delight to visit with this inspirational and truly generous talent! My podcast interview with Ariella will update you on all her wonderful projects.

I suspect you are as in love with Ariella Chezar – and her giving spirit – as I am. She has mentored and encouraged so many in our industry, not treating other designers as potential competition, but instead, viewing each as a kindred spirit, a fellow promoter of beauty and sustainability in floral design.

You can follow links on my website to Ariella’s work on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – and sign up for her newsletters that will keep you posted on her workshops and her forthcoming new book.

Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 8,000  times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. 

 The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about her work at hhcreates.net.