Wreaths of Welcome
We associate wreaths primarily with Christmastime, the familiar red berries studding pine boughs, twisted into a big round doughnut. Though accounts vary extensively, some say wreaths began as presentation pieces to ornament victors of competitions in the Greco-Roman times. Others say wreaths appeared around 1000 BC as a reminder of the everlasting timelessness of spiritual immortality and love.
At Vintage Magnolia, we love wreaths for lots of reasons. For us, they’re invitations to be creative in expressing hospitality. We use them throughout the seasons on doors and walls to convey the friendly coziness to be found inside.
This year, we’re excited about thinking outside the box with wreaths. We’ve been creating them out of everything from curly willow to dogwood to kiwi sticks, and experimenting with shapes as well. We integrate lots of natural components – things like lotus pods, pinecones, pampas grass, air plants, and even small antlers, as well as artificial items, like red berry picks and succulents. Bows made of string, satin, or silk, are wonderful for hanging them, and create a bit of pleasing textural and style juxtaposition when draped at the front of the wreath.
One of the most-commonly-asked questions we receive at the shop is when and if we offer workshops. Usually, the answer we provide is an unfortunate “not usually.” It’s a matter of space constraints, limited cooler space for product, and the often already-packed schedule we face. Most weekends, year-round, we are creating and setting up the floral aspects of weddings throughout the Vail Valley. Last week, however, we were happy to team up with Hovey & Harrison to lead a wreath-making workshop.
Gretchen, who, together with Molly, owns Hovey & Harrison, an area bakery, coffeeshop, café, and community hangout featuring lots of local products, beer, wine, cocktails, lattes, and more, is one of the friendliest people we know, always looking for opportunities to get to know the people in the neighborhood. H&H has started a summertime patio-based music series outside their shop, and we were excited to be featured as a partner for the wreath-making event.
Sixteen participants, who happened to be all local women, attended the event, which took place last Tuesday from 5-7pm. We provided the instruction and materials so that each participant could create and take home two wreaths if she wished.
The day arrived and we pulled out the buckets we had prepped; buckets of nandina and agonis, ilex and pampas sprays, cedar and Carolina sapphire, princess pine and sticks of all lengths and colors. We brought along pinecones, lotus, cotton sprays, and more, unloading everything in the bright and open space at Hovey & Harrison. Our in-house calligraphist Maryanne had created hand-lettered signs labeling each of the items, and we arranged it all on display. When the time came, we introduced ourselves and went about a short presentation on wreath design and crafting and let the ladies create to their hearts’ content.
One of the designs we highlighted was a non-traditional style, with the finished appearance of a triangle. Created from one stick and a longer piece of ribbon, the piece has a modern flair. Dressed up with greenery, berries, and other items, these triangular wreaths add a focal interest to a plain wall or nook in a home, and many of the women opted to create one of these wreaths at our workshop.
It was awesome to get to see these women come together and create their own projects. Our team weaved among them, available if any advice or an extra hand was needed, but mostly, I found myself just watching as beautiful creations began to take shape. Overhearing snippets of conversation among the women was delightful, as they exclaimed over eachother’s wreaths amidst conversations of holiday plans and family updates. We watched friendship happen in that space, wrapped in aromas of pine.
As the evening wrapped up, we passed around a card for participants to sign; with the extra materials, we’d make and donate several wreaths to local cancer care home Jack’s Place. The holidays, though bright and merry and full of wonderful smells and flavors and family, can also be difficult for many throughout the community. Though many of our daily arrangements and deliveries brighten the days for those celebrating birthdays or the start of new jobs, or the birth of babies, a portion of the flower arrangements we make are delivered to those struggling with loss or ill health. We are honored to be available to those in our community who wish to remind others that they are loved.
The wreath-making class was a smashing success, and since the day, we have had numerous customers ask if we will be continuing to offer workshops. Because it was so much fun and resulted in so many awesome people coming together, plans are in the works to regularly lead these educational gatherings! Stay tuned to catch word of the events to come!