“A Sweet Floral Life is pure magic.”—Ariella Chezar, author of The Flower Workshop and Seasonal Flower Arranging
Rising Instagram star Natasja Sadi’s floral arrangements have a sumptuous, old-world look straight out of a classical painting. But among the glorious profusion of fresh flowers, there is often a surprise twist: handmade sugar flowers (traditionally used in cake decorating) that are indistinguishable from real ones and last forever.
In A Sweet Floral Life, Natasja guides you through her creative process of flower arranging and developing your personal style, along with tutorials for seasonal arrangements, living and entertaining with flowers, and how to photograph flowers.
A former fashion designer, Natasja began making flowers out of sugar to honor her African and Indonesian ancestors who worked in the sugarcane fields of Suriname. In A Sweet Floral Life, Natasja provides steps for sculpting sugar flowers, a versatile medium with limitless possibilities—they can be used in fresh floral arrangements, displayed on their own as unique home décor, or used to adorn cakes. And whether it’s the middle of summer or the dead of winter, sugar flowers are always in season and always in perfect full bloom.
Capture the romance, set the mood, and be swept away by gorgeous and inspiring floral art with A Sweet Floral Life.
|Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed
|8.60(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.90(d)
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
A Passion for Flowers
To live in Amsterdam is to be surrounded by history and flowers. From the iconic seventeenth-century canals to the houses that line them, the past lingers on architectural facades and further below, submerged in the wooden beams that hold this city only slightly above water. Each day, I wake to the chime of the Westerkerk bell tower, which has been ringing since the early 1600s. Its daily companionship is a call to remain present in the sounds, smells, beauty, and trade that created and continues to embody the identity of my charming city. As I mount my bicycle to visit the Saturday morning flower market, I anticipate filling my basket with the last of the Netherlands’ famous tulips, frilly ranunculus, and maybe a few early peonies if I am lucky. These glorious blossoms are only a few among the many choices of locally grown flowers that are my country’s point of pride. I arrive early and without expectations, ready to let the colors, textures, and forms on display call to me as I visit with my favorite vendors.
My selections barely fit into my bicycle’s basket, and I must mind the cobblestone bumps as I journey back home to my atelier. Depending upon my projects, some weeks I require two trips: the first batch of flowers hastily deposited into the foyer while I return to the market to collect the remaining bundles necessary for my tasks.
Once home, I climb the narrow steps of our eighteenth-century merchant house to the upper floor and emerge onto the roof that towers over the gates of the city. Up here with the full scope of Amsterdam’s canals in view, I observe the pots in my rooftop garden that overflow with seasonal plants developed at the hands of multigenerational Dutch farmers. I pluck a few blossoms and bring them back to the sink, admiring how their wild and windblown character mingles with their highly cultivated cousins.
I settle into an afternoon of quiet solitude with a warm cup of tea by my side, and the fun begins with arranging the blossoms into a cheerful riot of color. Each Saturday’s bounty inspires a week of seasonal celebration as I place the flowers into delftware vases. These arrangements fill my family’s home with warmth as they settle into bright corners or ramble across the dinner table.
This passion for living with flowers developed over time into a multifaceted livelihood. As more people all over the world desire permanent images of these compelling creations in their homes, my photography of my arrangements has evolved to capture them in the moody northern light for limited-edition prints. I must wait for just the right moment of light before capturing their ephemeral beauty with my camera. During this time, I notice how the flowers relax and open, changing their relationship in the vase. If there is anything more satisfying than composing an arrangement, it is seeing it displayed on the wall of a beautiful home, ten times its original size and coated in high-gloss resin!
I step back and admire my sumptuous floral bounty before more closely considering its details. What comes next is a long stretch of time studying, sculpting, and painting the individual parts of each flower in sugar paste, an edible medium that pleasantly brings out the perfectionist in me. I owe this in part to the generous inspiration and resources that Amsterdam provides to study the infinitely varying forms, colors, and textures of seasonal flowers. The accessibility of so much abundance is endlessly inspiring. Because my sugar flowers look so real, they are often mistaken for their perishable counterparts and are especially suited for decorating lavish celebration cakes (see page 229), which are in popular demand for their keepsake qualities. Each day is a race against time to record the glorious moments of the flowers that change with every hour.
This work culminates in a triumphant manifestation of nature’s splendor, and as I reflect on another week passing, I can’t help but become nostalgic. The many threads that have woven my life together as an artist are all present and laid before me in a full-circle moment.
I never would have anticipated living this flower-filled life, but what a joy it is to spread so much love for natural beauty. Teaching these skills to others has taken me to the far reaches of the world, including Jakarta and South Africa, London, and New York, where I have discovered a common language with others who spend their days admiring and working with flowers.
The joy and wonderment of nature has built a bridge between my past and present moments of pleasure.