Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wreath Decorating Day 1

I'm posting this a day late; I'm wiped out! I'm seriously out of shape if just standing around for nine hours and decorating wreaths makes me this stiff and sore (especially my feet). It's been a lot of fun, even so. Besides the rare pleasure of spending hours using my hands, wonderful materials, and my creativity, I get to catch up with a lot of interesting and lovely people I only see at this time of year. 

The first wreath is really slow going since I have to reacquaint myself with the wreath materials and decorating routine. First we find a work space with an easel, pull out our pruning shears and other tools, and tie on an apron. Then we get our nametags and our first assignment from the front desk. Then we take a little tour around the church basement that's been converted into our workshop to scope out the greens, the dried materials, the berries, the glittery trims, and the ribbons sitting in tubs arranged by colors. We gather what we like and get down to it. All the naked little wreaths are sitting upstairs, outside, tied up by the half dozen and stacked into little towers, waiting to be turned into Art.

I can see from the clock that my first oeuvre, a "Hanukah wreath," took me about three hours. This customer returns wreath materials from previous years so we can reuse them. I was given an entire box of stuff, including three dead blue bows. I would not have chosen these giant silver pinecones, but that's what there was. We made her a fresh bow and I add some new silver pearls and silver-sprayed eucalyptus berries to the recycled stuff. 

Per usual, wreaths look better in person than they do in photos. I now realize that this is true of all wreaths not just mine, so I am trying to relax about it. In person, many wreaths done by the other volunteers are exquisite. And when I try to photograph them, it just doesn't capture their beauty.

Some of us are worried about a pinecone shortage. In previous years, we were drowning in pinecones, so people stopped gathering and storing them for December. Now we're down to the rejects from last year. Almost all of the good ones were used up last year. 

You might think that a pinecone is a pinecone, but you would be wrong. I'm sure that any member of the Garden Club could enlighten you at length about the various qualities of pinecones and what makes a good one. They come in a surprising array of shapes, sizes, colors, densities, and degrees of flimsiness. Some are good and some are simply bad. The best ones are sort of fat and short, and either reddish or pale golden. The white pine ones are sticky and flimsy, and look better with metallic spray. We don't usually bother with anything smaller than about the size of a fun-size Snicker bar.

It seems I can't decorate a wreath without pinecones, and I'm not alone in this, so we weighed emergency measures: either buying pinecones (expensive) or going on a foraging excursion. Club veterans more experienced than I keep mental lists of which cemeteries, parks, and so on have good supplies, from Concord to the Cape. But we are too busy to go. So we just fretted and kept using up the inventory. I should mention that everyone tries to hoard her favorite materials; a lot of swapping, coaxing, and even pilfering goes on every year, and gets worse through the week as supplies dwindle.

I suppose squirrels are like this when it comes to nuts.

As you can see, a looming pinecone famine didn't stop me from squandering the supply. These wreaths are also fluffed up with cedar and white pine, and have eucalyptus berries, and holly. Holly leaves behave badly after a few days so I've clipping my sprigs down to the berries and twigs. These are going to hang on a couple of adjoining townhouses on Beacon Hill:

For some reason, I had to do a third wreath that looked about the same. I didn't care. I still had some pinecones. Almost no one likes to work with this kind of pinecone, but they don't bother me. (They seem to bother dog owners more, for reasons I won't go into.) It was a warm day so I decided to go hang out in the alley with a can of spray paint, and dust the berries and the cedar with gold. I just love being in an alley with a can of spray paint, although I am not vandalizing anything except natural materials. (I suppose I should think about this tendency. I will, sometime, but I'm too tired now.)

A plaid bow is always an excuse for me to explore color:

I decorated five wreaths and added bows and shaped/pruned a few more. Last year, we were shorthanded and had a large number of orders. This year, we switched a few things around so we have a less demanding schedule and can enjoy the process more. More people are volunteering, too. It's working really well. Everyone was getting their projects done without having to rush — and also having a good time.

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