Romina Urra-Gonzalez follows the changing of the seasons to create things of beauty with materials that nature provides.
Gonzalez produces botanical designs like fresh floral, live jewellery, wearables, and table centrepieces.
Blooms, foliage, twigs, pine cones, and moss are some of the materials she uses.
“It’s really getting inspiration directly from nature,” Gonzalez told the Straight by phone.
Her botanical creations take the form of earrings, necklaces, cuffs, and bracelets. Wearables can be a floral belt or a fascinator, which is a headpiece. Other items could be part of a strap of a dress or for a pair of high heels. She also makes potless plants, called kokedama in Japanese.
“As the seasons change, the flowers also change. It’s a nice opportunity to use what’s available,” Gonzalez said.
In the interview, the Port Moody resident and mother of three said that creating botanical designs is a sustainable practice as well as a way of supporting local growers and businesses.
Because it’s fall, Gonzalez works with pumpkins, gourds, and squashes, which she utilizes for flower and table centrepiece arrangements.
She likes to go to farmers’ markets and farms, pick items with unusual shapes and textures, then create from there.
“You never know what you’re going to find,” Gonzalez said.
She recently found an elongated watermelon (a type of gourd), which she carved on one side and used for a flower arrangement with birds of paradise, eucalyptus leaves, purple statice, purple limonium, and solidago.
In a photo she sent of herself, Gonzalez showed an arrangement with a large and warty pumpkin, dahlias, chrysanthemums, Chinese lantern, solidago, boxwood branches, twigs, greens, and a long-neck gourd.
Another one of her creations is a cotton-ball pumpkin with fresh ferns, carnations, mums, pink ginger flower, ornamental cabbage, celosia, snapdragon, wax flowers, and boxwood.
Gonzalez is found on Instagram through her brand, Antofilo Botanical Creations.
She explained that antofilo comes from the word anthophile, which means “lover of flowers”.
“It describes my lifelong love for blooms of all kinds,” Gonzalez said. “Ever since I was a little girl, my dream was to own a flower shop.”
Although she didn’t get her own flower shop, Gonzalez got the chance to collaborate with florists when she was still working as an events planner and lifestyle-magazine editor in Manila.
“It feels so good to be able to do it again here in B.C., where the kind of blooms I work with change with every season,” she said. “Live jewellery for special events like weddings, graduations, showers, and intimate dinners is something I am drawn to and want to focus on.”
Gonzalez also worked as a fashion model and image consultant in the Philippines. Her wide experience taught her about proportion, colours, and design.
When a niece got married in Stanley Park in Vancouver this year, Gonzalez made a floral hair accessory and bouquet for the bride, a moss purse for a cousin, and floral cuffs for the wedding guests.
Her creations are all different from each other.
If she’s about to produce something, she starts with ideas in her head, like a certain colour scheme. But when she goes out and gets her materials, she doesn’t mind tweaking the concept, depending on what she finds.
Sometimes she will simply venture out onto the trails near the family home to forage for materials to add into her works. “With nature, there are so many things to pick from,” Gonzalez said.
Reigniting her creative side has served as a tonic for Gonzalez.
“Like many working moms here in North America, my days are nonstop,” she said about the demands of balancing a day job and family life. “A manicure or spa day, or even my yoga, didn’t get me grounded anymore.”
With her creative pursuits, Gonzalez also inspires in people a greater appreciation for nature.
“I get from the Earth and then create all of these, and because of what I do, people get surprised: ‘Oh, I didn’t realize I can wear jewellery made of botanicals,’ ” she said.
Gonzalez’s floral jewellery and botanical wearables are included in the ongoing online exhibit by the Filipino Canadian Art Museum, a B.C.–based virtual art gallery and heritage museum. The show, titled “Mountain Goddess | Mariang Makiling”, which also features paintings by artists Esmie Gayo McLaren and Charlie Frenal, runs until October 24.