Scott Jewett and Seth Williams from Continental Floral Greens... with IFE Iron Designer 2014 Winner J Schwanke!

J claims IFE Iron Designer Title for 2013!

Scott Jewett and Seth Williams from Continental Floral Greens… with IFE Iron Designer 2014 Winner J Schwanke!

Every Year the International Floral Expo hosts the “Iron Designer” competition. This Fast Fun and Furious Design Competition features Amazing Flower Industry Talent… poised to create a specific themed arrangement with “surprise package” contents in a very short limited amount of time!

The Competition is Hosted by IFE Celebrities and Former Winners… Friend Jason McCall AIFD from The Elite Flower (and former 2 Time Iron Designer) lent his sparkling commentary to this years Competition!

Iron Designer Contestants nervously awaiting the competition…

Now… those of you that know me… know I’m just not a competition sort of guy… but my Guys at Continental Floral Greens INSISTED I compete in this years Iron Designer Competition! The Continental Guys are great “Influencers” and also pretty good Cheerleaders! They signed me up… and I was approved to participate by the IFE Committee! Whew!!!

J gets into the Zone… choosing CA Grown Flowers and Purple Colors!

The Competition was Fierce… and Friendly with some of my Favorite Friends… Precious Jaclyn Gough… from Fort Lauderdale…(love that girl!)…and  Long time friend and Incredible Designer Ty Leslie… and a list of Brilliant, Talented Designers from all around the Globe!

J shows off his Hand Tied Skills… and also hitting the “Time Constraints” of the Iron Designer Competition!

Our Challenge: To Create an Extreme Hand Tied Bouquet in 20 minutes using the flowers and accessories provide us… Flowers From Kendall Farms (CA GROWN ;) Syndicate Sales Mason Jars and NEW Bouquet Wrap (think brightly colored Ace Bandages that stick to themselves)… and Burton and Burton Vases, Ribbon and Accessories…

J putting the finishing touches on his COLOR BLOCKED hand tied Bouquet!

Now I’m just about as EXTREME as Eggs and toast… and I went with my instinct to create Pretty Flowers…Color Blocked… (to match my Shirt… I was wearing Purple that day!)… Ornamental Kale, Delphinium, Eucalyptus, Spray Aster, Canterberry Bells… and Lavender Bouquet Wrap… (I was struggling to get the Bouquet Wrap started when Life Long Pal Laura Demaree-Shinall stepped on stage to offer some pre-started rolls…NICE!)…For me… It was simply about creating Pretty Flowers… in a hand tied design!

My VERY TALENTED Competitors created Amazing Bouquets… using different items in creative ways and exploring the far reaches of Extreme Hand Tying Expertise… I do alot of Live Television so the 20 minute mark wasn’t as intimidating… and I was determined to conclude ahead of the time constraints! It helped that the hosts were offering WINE to loosen up our Creative juices…I Love a Contest with WINE!

J loves to arrange flowers… and with a bit of wine.. we’ll that’s just perfect!

We concluded and left the stage for the Distinguished Panel of Judges to score and decide a winner… I was simply glad I had competed and wished my Fellow Artist Congratulations and ALL the BEST!

Then things got a bit strange as the Host attempted a Ru-Paul-Esque Type of Elimination… at one point I thought I was dismissed and left the stage… but low and behold… suddenly the top 4 Included me and my Friends Jaclyn, Ty and Myself….

Deborah DeLaFlor AIFD, PFCI was just one of the Illustrious Judges for the IFE Iron Designer Competition!

Slowly cuts were made until Ty and I stood Alone… I must admit it’s fun to be in a winner’s circle with a Friend and Amazing Talent! Ty’s Just Wonderful!  Well… the rest is history…The Announcement and Prize for Iron Designer 2013 was awarded to me and my Purple and Lavender Hand Tied Bouquet! The Continental Guys… went Wild… as did so many of my Life Long Friends… Thanks for your Kind Comments!

So… Moral of the Story… If your Sponsors want you to Compete… DO it! Make it FUN… Wine Is Very Helpful… and Be True to Yourself and the Flowers! It’s was an Honor to be surrounded by so Many Talented People… and KUDOS to IFE for creating a FUN Flower Filled Competition that is a Highlight of the Show!

Follow this link for an Album on IFE Facebook from the Competition!

When Flowers are Involved… I’ve Found that FUN… above all is the BEST Thing to Have!