Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wreath Decorating: Day 2

So very tired... but also eager to reflect on another lively day in the church basement as we're making wreaths with the Garden Club of the Back Bay. We decorate and sell a few hundred wreaths every year during this holiday fundraiser. The proceeds are used to care for the neighborhood trees and other related projects.

Yesterday a rumor was floating around: one of our members heard the Chilton Club (a historic, exclusive women's club on Dartmouth Street) was throwing out a large quantity of pinecones. I privately chalked it up to wishful thinking... the desperate hallucinations of pinecone-famished decorators. But today she arrived with two shopping bags filled with great-looking pinecones, apparently with Brahmin pedigrees. And, wonder of wonders, she willingly gave one of those bags to the Club president... and me!

We hoarded them for most of the day. If other decorators saw those pinecones, they'd want them, and we'd have to be gracious. So we bided our time — but still had just three pinecones left at the end of the day (which was evening, actually, we went home at 8).

Here's today's output, beginning with a customer request for a pair with silver bows for one of the poshest houses in the neighborhood:

I'm no good with silver; whenever I spray stuff silver, it just looks gray to me. I dusted some white pine and eucalyptus berries with silver spray paint and foraged for pinecones and lotus pods sprayed by others in past years. Those big rosy cones are sumac — interesting to work with and dramatic. I found some matching rosy statice, and used spray of silver pearls.

The next wreath was for an art-deco lobby with a champagne color scheme. The customer wanted gold, copper, and antique gold accents. This wreath is loaded with gold and copper "bling." I was proud of myself for using magnolia leaves (challenging for me),  a ton of glittery plastic, balls, and pearls — and not a single pinecone (see hoarding, above). It's fun to try something different.

I finally stopped hoarding the fancy pinecones for this pair, heading to the double doors of a Beacon Street house. These wreaths are packed with pine, pearls, sprays of ruby-red "jewels," eucalyptus berries spray gold, yellow cedar, and I can't remember what all. The clock says 6:30. I spent another hour and a half cleaning up my disastrous work space, eating leftovers from lunch, and admiring other people's work.

And there is already quite a lot of work to admire. This is just a fraction of it:

I also had to clean my hands, which were actually a lot better-looking than usual, thanks to the surgical tape on my index finger and thumb, and my occasionally wearing garden gloves. Since I'm not working with holly leaves and we have no rose hips (tiny thorns) this year, I haven't been bleeding. Much.

Tonight, thanks to a seasoned Club member, I learned the best method for getting pitch off my hands. First, scrub dry hands with Crisco. We keep blocks of it by the sink. Then use a dry paper towel to wipe off the loosened dirt. Repeat as needed. Then wash with a splash of dish detergent and water. My hands are clean, but my nails are still filthy. I don't care: it hurts to use a nail brush right now.

Today my output was five decorated wreaths and five that just required pruning, primping, and bows. We have a dedicated team of people who spend their day making all the bows for the rest of us to use. Their beautiful bows are the Club's signature — you can identify our wreaths on doors all over Boston by their big, perfect bows. Those bows make the wreaths, and I humbly try to keep that in mind as I do my thing all around the perimeter.


  1. so many beautiful wreaths. I don't think I can pick a favorite.

  2. I love the use of sumac! A grade school excursion to nature preserve dozens of years ago, the wild sumac is the only thing I recall out of the entire trip!

  3. Looks like a lot of blood sweat and tears went into decorating these wreaths, and it certainly pays off!


Spam goes right into the trash but I appreciate relevant comments from non-spammers (and I can always tell the difference). I do my best to follow up if you have a question. ALL spam, attempts to market other websites, and anything nasty or unintelligible gets deleted instantly. The cats and I thank you for reading — and please feel free to comment on what you read.