An Italian sculptor named Luca Della Robbia produced many charming works in glazed terra cotta from 1400-1475. Many of his plaques featured frames depicting fruits and vegetables. This style of decoration still persists centuries later, in a style of Christmas decorating known in this country as the Williamsburg style. Someday I would like to go there at the holidays, and see all of the wreaths and architectural elements decorated with the fruits of the harvest and holiday season. Though the Willamsburg decor is traditionally done with real fruits and vegetables, my interpretation of the style makes use of faux fruit. The fruit in the above wreath is produced from a weighted core, and a rubbery, almost waxy outer layer. The color and texture is incredibly realistic. This magnolia della robbia wreath, with proper care thast protects the dry magnolia leaves, will last many years.
Why am I thinking about the della robbia style? Rob made me 2 sets of Christmas lights-one for my tree and one for my mantel. The red, yellow and green lights have a remarkably jewel like glow. They so remind me of the Christmas trees I remember from my childhood. Those big glowing lights on on our Christmas tree were enchanting. Seeing anything through a child’s eyes is a way of seeing like no other. How would I decorate my tree to make the most of these extraordinary lights? It seemed a natural choice to pair this color and texture with a mantel and tree decorated with ornament of a similar feeling.
My holiday tree does not have ornament with an intrinsic history. No objects which provoke memories, in and of themselves. I actually like it that way. I like having the option to decide on a scheme or a theme that is quite different than the previous year. The challenge of creating a display that reflects the immediate sentiments, importance, and aura of the season is an activity I enjoy. When the seasonal work for clients comes to a close, it is time to go home, and create a little holiday spirit of my own.
The della robbia tree had a modest beginning. A Christmas tree, an evergreen garland, plastic ornament balls in lime green, and lots of faux fruit. Having been laid low by the worst cold in a decade, Steve saw to getting the tree and mantel garland up, and the ornaments on the tree. Angie stuck the large fruits with floral picks; it is vastly easier to secure a stick than a heavy round slippery fruit. The rest would be up to me. For the better part of a day, I worried I might not have the strength to decorate our tree. Funny how once a project captures your interest, troubles fall away. Early on it became apparent that the big fruits could not go on the tree. They were much too heavy. The big fruits would have to go on the mantel.
The mantel garland was secured around a thick bamboo pole, and secured to the weighty metal mantel lights with zip ties. I managed to find spots in the evergreen garland that would grip the picks. As for the tree, I had to change gears. A trip to English Gardens yielded 10 boxes of dark red glass ornament balls. Miniature limes and green apples could easily be fastened to the tree-after Buck wired bag after bag of them for me. 40 red berry picks, when taken apart, yielded 480 individual berries. Other bits included 6 boxes of shiny lime green mini berry clusters.
I like a Christmas tree that still looks like a tree, even after it is decorated. This involved wiring on many small bits. Big bits can engulf a Christmas tree. I favor lots and lots of just a few types of little things.