Cover Catie Lee, founder of

Catie Lee of Floratorie, which specialises in dreamy floral art installations, takes us through how to create a dramatic dried flower arrangement of your own

If you've been to hipster cafe Three Plates Full, you'll find your attention drawn to the dried flower installations that catch the light just so. Romantic and dramatic, they are the creations of Catie Lee, the founder of Floratorie. Now in its sixth year, Floratorie specialises in fresh flowers and weddings, besides doing retail installation, and providing floral arrangement courses.

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Before Lee got into the floral industry, she was a graphic designer and this shines through in the visually striking, almost architectural approach she employs for her creations. "For me, I'm still a designer, but now I deal with flowers. Flowers are an art, something natural and lighthearted for me. I'm passionate about researching different floral materials, taking inspiration from nature and following my own aesthetic to present my own creations," she explains.

"In my daily life, I like to take photos and be in nature. I am fascinated by architecture and interior design, because they inspire me and improve my aesthetics in my floral design and installation."

If you'll like to try your hand at creating your own dramatic dried flower arrangement, Lee shares five tips.

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1. Tools of the trade

"To start, you'll need to collect your florist tools including scissors, chicken wire and dried floral foam. I don't use any specific florist scissors brand and picked mine up at the flower market. They have lasted really long so I would recommend getting a dedicated pair of florists scissors.

Chicken wire and dried floral foam always come in standard sizes, so you should cut it to fit the size of your vessel. If you have any left over, keep them in a dry area so they'll keep well."

2. Picking and drying your flowers

"You can buy your flowers already dried from local flower market, buy online or even dry your own flowers. One of my favourite flower markets is Pudu Ria as there is a lot of variety of fresh and dried flowers . Most flowers can be dried but roses and eucalyptus leaves are especially good. Also, if you receive a beautiful bouquet, enjoy them fresh and then, just before they start to wilt, take them out of the water and hang them upside down, out of direct sunlight.

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"For your arrangement, do not choose more than three colours, but do choose the colours and flower varieties that you like. I like to use dried palm leaves, pampas, cotton flowers and dried foliage and generally prefer to go for natural dried colours or white. If you want to make the arrangement more interesting, you can add an accent colour like pink or yellow or orange to enhance the arrangement."

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3. Choosing your vessel

"Vases are always a favourite but you can actually use daily items such as a cup, a box, a bowl or a pot as a base. I like craft or antique vessels because they always look classy and on trend. Using them is a simple way to bring out the character of the arrangement."

4. Arranging your flowers

"Use chicken wire to fix the basic structure in the vase. If you're a beginner, use foam instead. Then spray all your flowers with regular hairspray to prevent them from falling apart. At this stage, you can also to add some colour elements. 

First, use the boldest flower of the bunch as the focal point, then add dried palm leaves as frame work. You can then add the main flower to create a different element. Then add small flowers for decoration to embellish.

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"Continue to fill up the foam with dried leaves foliage, such as eucalyptus, to create rhythmic feeling and to emphasise the overall outcome. Last, add some highlights like pampas to enhance the wow effect and complete the overall presentation."

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5. Maintaining your arrangement

"The shelf life of dried flowers is unfortunately quite short. Which is why the humidity and amount of sunlight amount they are exposed to needs to be carefully controlled. Keep your arrangement out of direct light, so a space like your living room would be ideal. Air-conditioning also helps to preserve the arrangement. If you want to keep it dust-free, you may gently wipe them with a dry or damp cloth."

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