Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wreath-Making 2011, Day 2

Today I made six wreaths in-between stuffing myself with those yummy little cinnamon rolls that Whole Foods sells in clear round tubs. The Garden Club provides a generous breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the wreath crew, and they always have these rolls. I believe I ate one per wreath today and, frankly, they are the real reason I volunteer every year. At home, I no longer graze all day long; I've developed better habits. But wreath-making requires a surprising amount of energy (i.e., burns calories) so I have zero guilt as I single-handedly wipe out the cinnamon rolls. (And sometimes I use both hands.)

Five of my wreaths were for one customer, and they were all variations on this one, so I won't bore you with the series:

These outdoor wreaths are supposed to be visible from a distance. The customer asked for red-and-gold bows and matching accents. Gold-sprayed lotus pods and pinecones provide a lot of glitz for natural materials. I also used holly, cedar, red glass balls, and glittery red branches. If you cut a small pinecone in half crosswise, the bottom portion looks like a petaled flower; these look great on wreaths.

Making several wreaths that match or coordinate can be daunting and/or boring but we all manage in our fashion. Today, someone had to decorate a special trio of enormous wreaths, 3 to 4 feet in diameter. She used wide burgundy ribbon, huge dried artichokes, and giant magnolia leaves, among other natural materials. They looked wonderful — perfect for Hagrid's holiday decor at Hogwarts Academy.

My five wreaths took most of the day. Then I did one more, for a customer who wanted a sheer gold bow, natural materials, and gold on an indoor wreath. I filled out the wreath with cedar sprays that had yellow buds (or seeds?), and went overboard on pinecones, as usual. I added glittery gold branches and tiny gold balls for glamour. Someone kindly told me that it looked like "fireworks." 

Most of the other decorators relish dried materials — hydrangea, statice, roses, goldenrod, and other plants that are stocked in abundance and are a Garden Club tradition. I tend to avoid it. Today I finally admitted to myself that most of it looks dead and fussy to me, at least whenever I try to work with it. My designs don't say "Christmas wreath," they say "grandma's house." Other wreath decorators create lush still lifes in sophisticated color schemes with those dried materials. When I try it, I end up with a mess. So I stick with pinecones and fresh greens.

My hands ached the whole day. I didn't expect this much discomfort; I think I'm the only decorator who has such issues. I must be getting old. Today, I wrapped up my thumbs with medical adhesive tape and wore an old pair of cotton gloves. This helped prevent abrasions from needles and holly, but I also have a carpel-tunnel type injury at the base of my thumb from pushing countless wooden florist picks (with wires that secure most of the materials) deeply and firmly into the branches of the wreaths. It hurts no matter what I do.

So I'm going to stop typing, take more Advil, and ice my hand so I can go back to work tomorrow. I probably won't do as many wreaths as usual. Penny and Ed Cherubino came to visit today, and when I worried that I wasn't going to beat my personal-best wreath number from last year, Penny reminded me that I'm not playing for the Patriots. It was the perfect retort. But my first assignment tomorrow is a pair of big gold wreaths for one of my fellow jurors from last month! Boston is a small town; you've got to love it. And I also love decorating, even when it hurts.

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