Wreaths. My first assignment on Wednesday was one that most of the other decorators refuse: no bow. A bow covers up a nice chunk of the wreath and that saves time. It also gives the decorator a starting point and a direction. The bow always goes on first; it's a rule. I was born questioning authority and I like wreaths without bows.
The assignment called for an indoor, all-natural wreath. The customer will keep it hanging until the spring if it holds up well, so it shouldn't look Christmasy.
I like to use a lot of different materials on indoor wreaths, especially things that are too fragile to be used outside, like dried flowers. I can't use holly or fresh eucalyptus because the former shrivels up too much and the latter smells bad, like cat pee. I didn't add pine, juniper, or cedar to add texture and variety this wreath, either, because short, clipped greens don't always dry prettily, and some drop pollen.
I rarely do indoor wreaths so this was my chance to scavenge in our many old boxes and bags of fragile dried plants, including ancient roses and papery hydrangea. I often break the delicate stuff when I wire it onto the wreath. It's easier for me to use harder items like seed pods. I don't know the names of many of the items I chose but there's golswn yarrow (I think), hard brown yucca and lotus pods, reddish rose hips, two other kinds of dried yellow flowers, dried pink clover-like flowers, two more types of hard, woody seed pods, tiny dried (non-smelly) purplish eucalyptus berries, pine twigs, and two types of pinecones.
This wreath took me a lot longer than usual. Many little blueberry muffins fueled my labor.
lying outside on the bench, it looks brighter and more three-dimensional:
After lunch (pizza and leftover salad), I ate more brownies and contemplated my next order. It was a "decorator's choice" outdoor wreath, meaning I was free to pick my own colors and materials. However, the customer said she had a dark aubergine door. I picked a green bow and covered large pinecones and purply lotus pods with gold glitter spray. Someone brought in lots of lovely holly without berries, so I used that, plus some gold glittery plastic springs, and lots of the tiny, bright-golden jingle bells that dangle on delicate gold wires. There are also pearly green and iridescent purple glass balls. and some dark, dried purple berries that never made it onto the previous wreath.
Looking at it now, it seems like a rather moody wreath, but who paints their door aubergine? Not Little Mary Sunshine, I'd say. But the tiny bells make a festive, silvery sound.
My next assignment was a pair of all-natural outdoor wreaths for double front doors on Marlborough Street. I must have been feeling a bit punchy, or bored. Since my last wreath made noise, I decided that these wreaths needed to make a different kind of statement.
I started with pine, cedar, pinecones, and holly, which some kind soul had offered to me from her own stash. The wreaths are mirror images, which I find easier to make than identical twins.
For an aromatic touch, I added cinnamon sticks, which I'd found while foraging for the wreath with no bow. To wire a cinnamon stick onto a wooden pick, I had to poke holes into it with an awl. This turned out to be time-consuming and hard, since cinnamon cracks and breaks. I persisted.
I doubt I will ever use cinnamon again but the wreaths smelled wonderful.
If you look closely you will see five white, dried flowers that are spiky, hard, and exotic. No one could identify them; they may be a variety of protea. We think they were pulled from a fresh florist arrangement someone got on her birthday a couple of years ago. I found 10 of them in a box under a pile of moldering yellow roses. They were full of pretty, fluffy brown seeds that I was told to remove in case this is an invasive species.
Everyone loved them and wished they had some. Everyone else could have made more interesting and dramatic use of them, I'm sure. But I kept them for the poor customers who were stuck with cinnamon sticks, which I was now finding weirder and weirder. People kindly calmed me down; the sticks stayed on the wreaths.
I wrap the tips of my index fingers and thumbs in surgical tape to help prevent thorns and holly leaves from pricking me. Here are my hands before I washed up:
We all went home each night after washing our hands with Crisco shortening and dish detergent. That still left us with grimy nails, splotches of pine sap here and there, and random glitter. Glitter on our faces, in our hair, under our shirts. Glitter spray paint on my boots.
I may have looked a mess but my work station looked remarkably neat this year. I made a point of cleaning up after each wreath was finished.
I didn't document my hoarded messes of previous years but these two shots will give you some idea:
I was proud of my new ability to not be a slob. If only it could translate to my desk at home. Never!