Growing up, i had seen wreaths in real life, and in movies. However the ones in the holiday movies seemed much more glamorous than the ones i saw in person. The ones in real life where flat, dull and lifeless. They where less than meh. So when i was about to learn how to construct one, from scratch, i was far from excited. I was not enthused about this new 'skill' i had to learn in the curriculum.
Before i rattle on about my wreath experience, let me set the stage, and share a little known fact about me..so, you might be surprised to hear this, but i never knew there was such a thing as a 'floral designer' until i was almost 20....my first foray into flowers, floral design, anything floral, to be honest, was when I enrolled and was accepted into the Retail Florist program at Seneca College in Toronto... ( this was in the late 90's at Yonge & Sheppard in a long gone one-storied building )... here all things floral where taught to us. To me everything was a new concept, since I truly had no idea that such a profession even existed. I was so green (no pun intended) that i didn't even see the connection between wreaths and florals..Why do i have to learn to make what they sell at Canadian Tire? (insert eye roll) I am embarrassed to say, but i also didn't know why we where wasting real branches when these could be bought in plastic and used over and over. The latter reflects both the mind set of the time, and my naivete.
Our instructor , the late and industry respected, Norman Disch performed a demonstration, and then we where given a frame, wire or waxed thread and materials. It was our turn to spin these out on our own. I truly thought this was going to be the most boring and monotonous experience of my life. Seriously, to wire round and round, one bundle after another onto a frame, sounded so dull. Little did i know i was going to have a slightly life changing experience. This is where i got quite excited and felt a rush of pride and appreciation for the humble wreath.
To me, the repetitive motions of binding the elements to the frame were soothingly melodic. Calming almost. And, it's sort of a magical process. Sure, you control the choice of your frame/shape and your products; but how your materials co mingle once bound together is completely up to chance. And generally, it's jaw dropping stunning.
Also, hand made wreaths are worlds apart from volume produced ones we generally see at big box stores. WORLDS! They don't compare. And you can tell the difference- it's very obvious. But this goes for most artisanal produced items, right? Most... Theirs are generally flat, or one-dimensional. Ours are so full of life, and character that you will probably be frozen for a few seconds taking in their glory. I don't know how else to describe it, but i think you can feel something emanating from the hand made ones. They have a personality. An undeniable warmth. I swear, once you've enjoyed a real hand bound one, i think it's quite hard to go back.
I think there is also something to be said with intention...i truly enjoy making wreaths. Wether i am binding one from scratch, or using a pre-made form that i am gussying up with seasonal material. It's like cooking- ever notice when you are 'in the moment' and loving the process of cooking your food it then tastes fantastic? I believe that there is energy there that we feed our actions, and whatever we are creating. For me the fluidity of binding the materials to the frame, is quite mediative and purely enjoyable. It's just a simple pleasure, that is then heightened as i see the form take place, up until it is finished off.
The first wreaths i made where winter ones, but of course they can reflect any season. For fall i use fresh material that dries well. These generally can overwinter in our climate, and if not, we can take the bits off and reuse the frame for another season.
My autumn love is BC Hydrangea. These jewel coloured heads dry in various tones. Some mellow out to brown or pale cocoa colour, others retain their vibrant hues. You never know. I've heard clients say that they then spray their hydrangea with a gold or silver, and this gives the wreath a second look and brings it into the winter months.
I also enjoy working with grapevine. Either adding to an already bound frame, or winding the vine on my own and then embellishing with random details. Clients have different looks and sensibilities, so they will often give me a feel or vibe they are into, and then i run with it. One client loves the ranch feel of Ralph Lauren- so for him i keep it in more of the neutrals with rustic and blue accents. They can be fat & full...or totally waifs. They can be wild and huge, or calm and serene . The possibilities and looks are endless.
I find that wreaths can be quite versatile too. I love seeing them on doors - it's like getting a warm welcome before even passing through the threshold. But also above fireplaces. Over mantles. Or even alone, simply floating on a random wall- imagine a Tuscan villa. I love their 'just becausidness' - they are there, because they are. No role, no big reason, no raison d'etre other than to be. Bottom line, they look lovely and are even more lovely to look at, and what could be wrong with that?
I don't know if it's their expression of pure whimsy that delights me. I don't know if there is even a real purpose to them, other than to adorn something and to just be admired, and if that is it, then fine. To me, there is a genuine visceral feeling of happiness and joy, when i see a bespoke wreath. Someone took time to add art to their life, and that to me is special, when there are so many pre-fab options that are same same.
....I am soooo excited that we are getting into wreath seasons! Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoyed this... ttfn, off to dust of some frames...Xb