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July 13, 2017 The Hesston RecordJuly 13, 2017 The Hesston Record

July Walkabout Gallery Artist

Posted 7/13/2017

Record Staff

This month Designs by John owner and florist John Back is the Walkabout Gallery Artist for July.

Back has been in the floral industry for over four decades and is bringing a variety of arrangements to the gallery for walkers and residents to enjoy.  One of Back’s signature pieces are the hand-woven baskets made of muscadine vines. 

“These baskets are all hand-made and I love that part.  The guy who sells them, he stopped by once and we’ve been buying from him for several years. 

“Theses guys go into the forests and this guy just makes them as he goes and then he puts the handles on later. He makes all this out in the forest. I guess they put the wreaths on their arms and make them as they go,” said Back.

Back added he has a love for natural containers and frequently adds twigs and branches to his pieces.

“I enjoy doing the baskets all the time because there’s always something different you can do,” he said.

Vases, Back said, can be a challenge and at times limiting.

“A good designer can put a vase together. If you go to mass marketers and buy a package of flowers and stuff them in a vase and think they’re going to be wonderful... This is the difference between a designer as opposed to an order-person,” he said.

Back, with over 40 years of experience, said one of the first lessons he learned was to create a piece and then leave it be.

“You put it together and then you don’t mess with it after the first time around.  So many people, the young designers, they just drive you nuts because ‘This flower looks weird. This flower looks OK.’ But when you’re working with Oasis (a gel used by florists to keep freshcut flowers hydrated) you’re putting a hole in it and if you put it back in you might not get it quite right and the flowers won’t be able to take up any water,” he said.

While many residents are trying to beat the summer heat, Back said he is already thinking ahead to fall, with his displays featuring warm colors and arrangements that can last to the holidays.

“It’s that time of year. I mean this basket is a neat piece and has the pine and will last into January or February. The Christmas pine gives you that effect,” he said.

Back added as a florist, there is enough variety to keep him busy throughout the year.

“There’s always something. I like the variety and it keeps you moving,” he said.

With customers coming from across Harvey County, Back said he has to balance his business between trendiness and giving customers what they want.

“This is my style and what I do. Let’s face it, the trends come off the east and west costs and people in the Midwest aren’t that excited about trendy things. They’re looking for flowers in a way that they want value for their money,” he said.

Back added all of the arrangements at the Walkabout Gallery are priced and ready to be sold, if a resident sees a piece he or she likes, it can be purchased and paid for at the Wellness Center desk.

“I would like people to appreciate the artistic look, how they’re designed and put together - the mechanics of them,” he said.