Frances Florian Article - Tucson Daily Citizen Sept 20, 1974
long consider too. ' - will does Side the the to get continued. of as stand door was the for her class deftly, sections, petite skittering had a to do' . . . " Who put the mushrooms on the Ping Pong table? By MARY BROWN Citizen Homes Keillor Sometimes when Gary and Jimmy Florian decide to play a game of Ping Pong they find they're out of luck. Their mother, Mrs. Kenneth Florian, has beaten them to the table -- not to play Ping Pong but to dry mushroom' caps. Jimmy and Gary don't mind. They know it's just that their mother is readying readying materials for her designs of dried arrangements. They, their father, friends and neighbors all are constantly on the lookout for such materials. In fact, one 4- year-old neighbor fattens his allowance by bringing an occasional offering. Mrs. Florian, a landscape design critic as well as a member of the Mesquite Garden Club, specializes in dried arrangements arrangements in which she uses almost anything that grows or has grown -- even an item such as a dandelion puff. "I'm constantly searching for materials,",she materials,",she says. "I've gotten driftwood on camping trips to' Mexico, weeds, cotton and yucca pods, chive blossoms, eucalyptus, eucalyptus, branches, corn stalks and even some bittersweet from Michigan. Many items come from my own garden -- Â· locust pods, margueritas;^daisies, Johnny-jurnp- ups, roses, pansies, violas, marigolds, and nandina berries. If you use your imagination, you can use almost anything." anything." Her interest in the art started at the. University of Arizona where she took art courses and later courses in design. It's grown'to a point where now the designs are all over the family home at 5717 E. 14th St. One room of the home, formerly a bedroom for her daughter, Susan, now Mrs, Richard Sisler, has been turned into a workroom where shelves accommodate hundreds of clear plastic shoe boxes in which she keeps the dried materials. Mrs. Florian dries her flowers in silica gel, a sand-like material. The flowers are buried in the gell, which pulls out the moisture. The next step is standing the stems in Oasis, a product similar to sty- rofoam. The flowers then spend three to four minutes in a microwave oven and that takes tlie water out of the stems. There are other ways of drying, directions directions for which come with the silica gel, but Mrs. Florian has found the oven method a shorter process. For color she uses grated color chalk on the flowers and a floral spray on the green parts. She shapes the design in a base of Oasis or clay. The mushrooms are air dried and Mrs. Florian observes thai some of the forms they take in the drying are "fantastic." "Every mushroom is different in shape." The designs are done in all sizes, some under bell-shaped glass holders, some miniatures in glass boxes trimmed with brass. Still others are mounted on driftwood. driftwood. Leftover materials may be formed into what she calls "mini plaques" because because they're mounted on round or square coasters which can be hung. She sells her arrangements to one Tucson store and ships some to various parts of the country as well. Mrs. Florian also does arrangements of bride's bouquets. These are dried and can be cherished as keepsakes. v, A ' \ ' It takes imagination Citizen Photo by P. K. Mrs. Kenneth FJorian proudly displays one of her dried arrangements in which she used a cholla skeleton, cotton potl, eucalyptus leaves, desert marigolds, a mushroom cap and a butterfly.