Felicia C. Greenberg knows how to delight her fans. She and her husband, Glen, go off on a road trip with their family.
In their household, family means a car full of puffy white poodles and other canine breeds. At least they won’t have to make pit stops. Because these show dogs are life-like but not alive. They arrive at a special show on Monday, April 15, in Missouri, with 15 of their creations.
Her family includes fabulous life-like silk floral sculptures. Greenberg, a talented artist who has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has restored costumes for theater productions but now turns up at charity events and the Westminster Dog Show.
“I love bringing smiles to people’s faces,” says Greenberg, who started her business, Table Art & Event Designs, more than a decade ago. “Their jaws drop and they can’t tell if they’re real or not.”
She is a self-described sculptor, painter and custom designer. Felicia not only has experience with fresh floral arrangements and pastry design but is knowledgeable about vintage and antiques. Victorian tea parties with her pooches are a popular theme. Don’t be surprised to find a Shih Tzu dripping in pearls or prepping for an evening out.
Prior to starting her New York based-company, she was designing custom place mats for Bed, Bath & Beyond. But in the course of her work, she attended lots of events. And she was bored by what she saw. Insipid floral design.
She thought she could do better.
Using wire forms, she started creating centerpieces. Through word of mouth, friends started asking for her works.
Her break came when she created a life-size sculpture of a dog named Lucky.
“I was doing the pet wedding for Animal Fair magazine,” she said. “At the time, Lucky, a Maltese, held the Guinness book record for the most photographed dog with celebrities.
“They decided to do a pet wedding with Lucky and I was going to make some sculptures.”
Right before the event, Lucky wasn’t so lucky. He unexpectedly died so Felicia created a life-size design of Lucky that wowed the guests – as well as the press.
“It was the fuse on the firecracker,” says Felicia’s husband, Glen Greenberg, a businessman who owns Glass Technology Consultants.
Her work is now in great demand. It’s not too much of a stretch to say she is a floral William Wegman, an artist who accesses canine personalities, especially white poodles, and has gathered a loyal following.
“Felicia’s work is masterful,” says Jill Rappaport, an award-winning animal advocate and network TV journalist.
“She’s captured our fur angels in the most beautiful whimsical way. Her attention to pet detail is mind-boggling. I wish I had a garden of her pet creations”
It can take days for Greenberg to make a design. “It’s a challenge to get the expression of the dogs just right,” she says. “It’s meticulous work because the petals go on one at a time. And you have to restructure it if the proportion isn’t correct.” She often uses roses for the poodles’ curls and tiny baby’s breath threaded together for a Bergamasco shepherd – a dog with dreadlocks.
This attention to detail is her signature. People swoon over her dogs, which can be portraits of beloved family members or just pure fun. At events like the Westminster Dog Show, winners have placed their pedigreed pups next to her creations for a photo (and a laugh).
Prices range from $125 for a holiday ornament to $525 for a 17-inch reproduction. Larger lifelike animals can be in the thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the job.
Aside from the Westminster Dog Shows, her jobs have included work for the American Kennel Club, the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation and Rock-Can-Roll Hunger Relief. She often donates her popular designs to charities close to her heart.
Aside from her sculptured pets, she also creates centerpieces and tableaux for corporate displays, and props for baby or bridal showers in more conventional themes.
At a Missouri event that is sponsored by Purina, Greenberg will unveil a new creation. The artwork will be painting of the animal’s faces, but the bodies will be made of silk flowers. “It will be a painting that feels as though it’s three dimensional,” she says. However, her pet menagerie will be the catnip for many. Glen and Felicia are traveling with 15 of them for this event, which takes place Monday April 15. There will be a cat as well.
Although she uses fresh flowers for certain events, it is the silk flowers she favors for her dog and cat creations. “Silk lasts forever,” she says. “Most people, thinking it’s real flowers, worry that they will die in a week – until they realize it’s silk. I’ve made them to be treasures that clients can keep forever.” – Jill Brooke