If you were a florist in 1954, your design work was likely supported by chicken wire, cedar greens or newspaper filler, placed in the bottom of containers. Delivering a floral arrangement was a gamble. The water would “slosh,” flowers would move and often only lasted a day or two.
It was in the same year of 1954, that V.L. Smithers produced the first carton of OASIS® Floral Foam. The product was to revolutionize flower designing, providing a fast, efficient and secure means of designing and handling flower arrangements that lasted longer. Those benefits have allowed modern floristry to develop to its current level of sophistication and efficiency.
From the beginning, the foam held the same amount of water it holds today. A nine-inch by four-inch by three-inch block of OASIS® Floral Foam holds two quarts or four pounds of liquid. This represents more than 50 times is own weight! The bricks took almost an hour to saturate and were good for up to 5 days, as long as they were kept wet. The florists kept them sealed in plastic, because once dry, the bricks would not re-saturate.
Today, floral foam bricks are placed in a tub of water, self-saturate in 60 seconds, and continue to wick water to the flower for the life of the arrangement.
In the early 1950’s, Mrs. Ethel “Tommy” Bright, the original floral commentator, went on the road, lecturing, judging and promoting on behalf of industry manufacturers and soon became the spokesperson for the new product, OASIS® Floral Foam.
In the days of wires, cables, carbon copies, manual typewriters and hand-written letters, getting floral foam samples into the hands of floral design schools and florist associations was a priority, relying on slow communications and the natural curiosity of floral designers. With little-to-no knowledge of the florist industry, The V.L. Smithers Laboratories began receiving and responding to requests from florist associations around the country. In a 1954 letter from the Smithers-Oasis archives, it was noted that Bill Hixson, AAF, AIFD, PFCI (Hixson’s School of Floral Design) was at that time, appearing in florist association meetings and design schools, praising the new floral foam product.
Design shows were springing up across the country, and these shows proved to be fertile ground for the introduction of this new product.