Imbolc is the festival that marks the end of Winter. It begins at sundown on 1st February and ends at sundown on February 2. As the days lengthen and the light grows, change really starts to show. With the landscape still in winter’s grip, lots of delicate little flowers push through the soil; snowdrops, hellebores, cyclamen, pansies, iris, and more. How happy we are to see them! When these precious flowers appear, it's certainly time for celebration. We designed this tablescape with our farm-grown iris and snowdrops in our hand-built ceramic bud vases, botanically dyed silk runner and the unexpected addition of perfectly balanced twig sculptures. We created this piece inspired by traces of blue sky through clouds when peering upward from below a canopy of winter trees.
Make your own celebratory Imbolc table design with the following guide.
When arranging with short stems, the choice of vase is key. We have chosen our small bud vases made in Glasgow by ceramicist Cathleen Newman. The milky white-pink glaze and tactile surfaces celebrate and elevate the subtle blues of the iris and delicate white snowdrops.
Cut your largest flower heads at different heights (high, middle, low) to approximately 1.5x the height of the vase or smaller. For this we used Iris Reticulata "Alida". Cut your smallest flowers at a few different heights to emulate how you see them growing in the ground. For this we used the wild snowdrops that have naturalised all over our farm and garden. Make a small posy in your hand with 2-3 of the bigger flower heads (iris) or 5-7 of the smaller flowers (snowdrops) to get the angles of the flowers right before placing carefully in the vase. Tweak and position the blooms so that they are facing out and/or fanning out in a spiral. Make sure they are not sitting to one side. Think about how they will be viewed from all angles of guests sitting at either side of the table.
Lay your silk in a flat line down the middle of the table before twisting and gathering it so it flows in a pleasing, relaxed manner. Be loose, relaxed and expressive with it. Next place your vases directly on top of the silk in clusters of 2-3. When placing the vases on the silk, gently twist them so that the fabric naturally hugs the vase.
Keep adding vases in non-linear clusters, gently twisting into the fabric as you go along. Add another interesting botanical material for a dynamic look, we sprinkled some honesty seeds along the fabric folds.
Next, we added the twig sculptures. Use small, lightweight branches that have lots of small, branching twigs and interlock 2 of them together. Use the table to make sure they are level. Add the 3rd branch to create a tripod and tweak until you find the balance point. This takes a bit of practice and a lot of patience! Practice a few times to get a feel for it before adding to the silk runner.
Add the twig sculptures in between the clusters of bud vases bringing some of them further out so that they are partly on/off the runner for a relaxed, informal look.
Go slowly, study every flower, be relaxed but deliberate in your placement, remember that less is more, edit if you need to. Most importantly of all, enjoy the process!
Thank you for reading! Do let us know if you make an Imbolc table design of your own!