Friday, December 11, 2015

Wreath Decorating 2015: Day 3

Walking to the church on Wednesday morning for another 10-hour day of fun, I noticed glitter sparkling on my boots. I still love being out in the alley with a can of spray paint, even if I'm only "tagging" pinecones and lotus pods with gold. We do all of our spraying in the church parking lot, usually under a low tent in case it rains. We use aluminum roasting pans to transport our materials. This keeps everyone working in the basement from being overcome by fumes. 

Whenever I see the roasting pan throughout the year, I smell spray paint.

By Wednesday morning, there's quite a show on the grill enclosing the church's courtyard:

I noticed that the peacock wreaths looked better in daylight. Still not my style at all, but I could see how someone with different tastes might enjoy them:

My first assignment was an outdoor wreath for a farm in New Hampshire. The customer, one of our senior members, told me it's a lovely place with lots of wildlife around, including a bear. She had picked the perfect bow, a gingham ribbon covered with moose (meese?):

I got busy wiring the scrub-pinecones with branches and lichens, after dusting them lightly with silver glitter spray. They often grow in clusters of three, four, or even five on a branch, so they have a lot of impact on a wreath. Without glitter, they can look dark and grubby. Even a tiny bit of glitter gives them some old-fashioned Christmas charm.

I filled out the wreath with cedar that had yellow buds to match the bow. I happily stabbed myself wiring little "corsages" of thorny rose hips and springs of variegated holly (yellow and green, like the bow). Then my customer came by and handed me several tiny, ivory birds that looked like they are made of sugar. On they went, and she was pleased with the result.

Here's a detail:

My next assignment was three wreaths for a South End home. This customer was known to be very particular, so I knew I had to be careful. Somebody on the wreath team will usually know something about almost every customer's tastes; I found my source through the grapevine. The winning formula was determined to be preppy and traditional, with bright red plaid bows and gold accents.

Ralph Lauren, in other words. I did two matching, symmetrical wreaths for the house's double doors, and a wreath with a bow at the 10 o'clock position for another door. I made them lush with holly, red berries, pinecones, and gold balls. Entirely unobjectionable, but pretty and Christmasy.

The bows above are anchored with giant pinecones as long as my hand. Someone brought a box of these beautiful brown giants. While the professional designers can incorporate large materials all over their wreaths with ease, I stuck with tucking them around bows.

I heard later that she was pleased.

Wednesday's lunch is always from Pizzeria Regina, and we all look forward to it. I ate three pieces with ricotta and sausage. Heaven. I usually stuff my face during wreath week, as I'm working. In the morning there are mini cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, and muffins. We'll have big sandwiches or pizza for lunch, and then cookies and pound cake in the afternoon. Soda, seltzer, coffee, and tea are always available, and lunch leftovers turn into supper since we often work until at least 7. 

This year, my work table had a perfect view of the buffet table. I restrained myself pretty well, considering that I used to begin each wreath in previous years by eating a cinnamon bun, an atrocious habit that grew over time. This year, I only ate two. I didn't think they were all that wonderful when I paid closer attention to them. But the pumpkin-nut muffins and the lemon-iced poundcake were another story....

Stoked with sugar, my next assignment was for the pastor of the church where we work; he'd picked a bright velvet bow trimmed with gold beading. 

I found four pieces of sparkly gold fruit and decided to try using it. I poked holes in each with an awl and wired them easily to the wreath. For once, I used just two pinecones (both huge), sprayed gold, around the bow. The lotus pods were leftovers from someone else who had sprayed them with gold glitter. I added magnolia leaves, sprigs of cedar, red and gold glass balls, glittery gold spikes, and a pair of flocked cardinals, and called it done. I think this was my favorite wreath this year because it decorated itself, simply but elegantly — and using mostly odds and ends.

I walked home with more sparkles on my boots and my face.


  1. So what are those gold spikey things? They are pretty fabulous. I can't decide if my favorite today is the one for the farm or the 3rd South End one.

    1. They come as a trio on one stem and make a lovely shower of glitter when removed from their package. I used them straight and also cut them apart and in half. They were my new favorite plastic pizzazz element.

  2. So pretty! Mine, I was inspired by yours, don't look anything like these, but that is ok. I used native Florida "stuff" like Spanish moss and palm fronds. (i cant really warm up to the peacock one tho)


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