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AFE’s 2021 Arizona Travel Grant Recipient

Bringing Arizona Florists Continued Education

With industry events back in full swing, the American Floral Endowment (AFE)’s programs like the Arizona Retail Florist Education Travel Grant are key to bringing industry members continued education and valued experiences!

AFE’s 2021 recipient, Patti Klawans of Tucson, Arizona, and Designer at Mayfield Florist, was able to connect with and learn from skilled designers volunteering in the flower room at the AIFD Symposium 2022 this past July in Las Vegas, Nevada after a year of postponing travel.

Experiences like these are invaluable to industry members, bringing them to the crossroads of connection and first-hand education. AFE recognizes that professional skill building and career growth are continual pursuits. With the Arizona Retail Florist Education Travel Grant, Arizona florists have the exclusive opportunity to attend a national industry event with provided funds to connect, learn, and grow.

Patti Klawans first applied for the Grant hoping to further her education by working with the AIFD designers and helping them prepare for their stage programs – she did just that! Read about Patti’s experience at AIDF 2022, what she learned, and how the Grant helped her get there.

What an exhilarating rejuvenation to my floral education. The American and International designers chosen to present classes and stage presentations were exceptional, generous, and technically courageous in their designs. The best education for any advanced or first-time designer is to work in the flower room with the designers doing anything they ask you to do. If you listen and tackle any task they give you, it will be the best education you’ll ever get. You may be binding, sweeping, gluing, or building, but whatever it is, it will be valuable. Connecting with designers and products worldwide will help you in your endeavors. The ability to contact a world-class designer for advice is priceless.

On day one at the symposium, I volunteered as an ambassador. My jobs consisted of folding huge paper bags used for trash recycling. These were placed at each station to help keep things clean. We replaced bags many, many times. Then, a spray paint booth needed to be constructed in the basement, so designers had a safe place to paint and stay out of the design area. After finishing that job, I was sent to help Dr. Solomon Leong with his projects. Dr. Leong’s presentation was titled “Reincarnation,” and it wasn’t until he presented on stage that I saw his vision. It was spectacular, so thoughtful, and human. I was honored to help make miles of binding stripped bamboo about 4′ long to create roots to then bind together to make panels. Dr. Leong used a lot of colorful zip ties in his designs and brought aluminum zip ties from Japan. What a wonderful, generous gentleman he is.

 On the same day, I began working with the World Cup winner of 2019, Bart Hassam. I did more binding; this time, we were binding 4- and 5-foot Emu grass, dingo grass, steel grass, and koala grass that Bart brought from Australia. After binding these strips, another Ambassador and I began making a very large sphere out of steel grass, secured with precise measurements and a very fine Australian wire. It took us 4 hours. After we finished that backbreaking job, we let out a cheer, and Bart said, “You want to make another one?” Of course, we did with pleasure. Bart showed us a technique used in Scotland hundreds of years ago to wire bind handles to glass cups and glasses. Bart was very generous to allow me to take his class all day Sunday, learning these techniques.

 It was wonderful seeing old friends and meeting new ones during the week. I’m excited to bring all the techniques and ideas to my job and classes.

 Thank you to the American Floral Endowment for contributing to my education in our wonderful floral industry. This is such a great opportunity for continuing education.

 By Patti Klawans, 2021 Recipient of AFE’s Arizona Retail Florist Education Travel Grant.

About the Grant

AFE’s Arizona Retail Florist Education Travel Grant was established in 2017 by Ken Young AAF, to help owners, managers, and employees of traditional brick-and-mortar floral stores in Arizona with the means to pursue continued education at a national industry event.

Every year, a recipient will be selected by AFE’s Education Committee to receive the Grant of up to $1,000 to help cover the cost of attending an out-of-state educational event. To learn more about the eligible events and apply for the next Grant by October 1st, 2022, head to https://endowment.org/arizona-travel-grant/.