An Approach To The The Work

constructing-holiday-garland.jpgEvery holiday expression asks first and foremost for all of the senses in concert with an active imagination.  Once the design presents itself, the next move is to design the construction. A project in its imagined state can be described with a pencil and a piece of paper.  A gesture.  A project under construction has a whole other set of issues.  Every project requires fabrication.  A strong fabrication plan brings an idea to life.  A great idea lacking a solid construction plan may fizzle.  From Buck I have learned that once a project is approved, an approach to the work is the next step.    Position the work where the task can comfortably be accomplished. In simple terms, any fabrication requires a fabrication set up.  A good setup puts the materials where you need them.  Working in poor light may result in work that does not stand up to the light of day.  A good set up facilitates a great quality product.

garlands.jpgThe only time I put work on the floor is when I am finished making it.  I can sit at a desk if I am writing, but if I am making anything-whether it be a topiary, a container arrangement, or a garland, standing up is a comfortable place to be.  This means a layout table that is of a comfortable height-counter height or even higher. We have lots of garlands under construction for a project.  We set up a long series of cardboard boxes at waist height to handle the 50 foot lengths.  The approach to the work doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to work.  The finished garlands were taken off our cardboard tables once they were constructed, and moved to the floor.

evergreen-garlands.jpgAny work I do, I want to be right side up. I want the materials close to my eye.  I have no interest in working on the floor, in the dark, or in an environment that is just too cold. A project that is set up properly makes for accurate and efficient work.  The best fun and the hardest work of the holiday season is how every step requires great attention to detail and hand work.

holiday-garland.jpgThis means that the work done in the shop goes faster, and makes the installation so much easier. A holiday garland is about great fresh greens, but it is also about what gets added to those greens. Dressing a garland asks for a sense of rhythm. Sometimes,  boom-boom-boom.  Other times boom-boom-boom-ah. An evergreen garland is a big thick and unwieldy object.  With the garland set at waist height for me to decorate, I can concentrate on on the finer points of the construction.   This garland was all set to represent the moment it was installed.

holiday-evergreen-garland.jpgWhat Angie added to this garland in the shop she was able to do with dispatch.  She had figured out an approach to the work.  I would go so far as to say her construction was elegant.  A shop setup enabled her to do what she knows how to do.  My advice is to do as much of any holiday construction-whether it be a wreath or a garland or a pot-inside. A garage is a much more comfortable place to work than on the sidewalk.  A garage floor is easy to sweep-outdoors in winter weather, the cleanup is tough.

hanging-the-garland.jpg We do not approach the work in the field.  This takes too much time.  It is very hard and extra time consuming to put something together with gloves on.  We approach the work in our garage.  The morning we travel to install for the winter or the holidays, we have already sorted out how the installation will proceed.

holiday-arbors.jpgThese garlands were constructed in our shop. Once they were outside, the job at hand was to was to attach, and fluff.  All that was left to clean up were the cutoffs from the zip ties, and some stray needles.  Our garage is a big hot mess this time of year, and I like to keep it there.  The time will eventually come when I decorate at home.  Taking the time for those little personal touches at home is part of the pleasure of the season.

evergreen-garland.jpgIf you are a gardener in sole charge of your winter garden, I would suggest that you sort out an approach to the work first.  Gardening is real work, no matter the season.  A  friendly set up with the proper tools is a great headache preventative.


holiday-installation.jpgThose cardboard boxes came in very handy.


The Hats

The last of the holiday celebration in front of the shop had to do with what Rob calls the hats over the windows.  They actually seem more like eyebrows to me.  Last year we hung burlap drapes over them.  Given our dead meadow weeds holiday theme, I thought a weedy hat might add a certain finish to the project.  They took just about forever to make.  Glueing one weed at a time takes time. After finishing the first, I spent two weeks vacillating about whether to abandon this part altogether.  It sat on a table in the back since before Thanksgiving, enduring many rainy and some snowy days.  The matted mess miraculously regained its volumetric shape, once it dried out, but really it was Jenny that persuaded me to keep going.  After they were wired onto the metal hats, I was glad I persisted.  

I added the metal rectangles and shutters to the windows many years ago.  Factory windows do not come with much in the way of architectural interest.  They warm up this old machine shop considerably.  I wired most of the dry elegant feather grass from the roof to three large bamboo poles.  I glued everything into that dried grass I could get my hands on-kitchen sink style. 

Dry anemones and hydrangeas from my yard, dry chicory, boltonia, Queen Anne’s Lace, thistle seed heads-and a whole lot more dry plant stems I cannot identify became part of these three eyebrows.  I have no idea how long all of this will last-I have never done anything like it before.  Sticks, and dry perennial plant stems-that is all there is to this.

I am happy to have something warm and reminiscent of the garden to look at, in December.