Maker. Creator. Artist...maybe escape artist? As this is what doing things with my hands helps me to do. Normally I accomplish this by teaching, guiding students to release their inner "muse", or helping patients forget about their problems for a little while by expressing their creativity. I immerse myself in my students and their journeys in my classes, as I am caught up in helping them to bloom and grow in their artistic expression. In doing this, which I love, I'm able to forget about my own problems for a little while.
But now we're all called upon to stay home to "flatten the curve" of this nasty coronavirus wreaking havoc around the world, and I'm challenged to find an escape, a peaceful dwelling place within myself. And so I start work on a project requested by a special family member for her new home, a simple wreath made up of berries and leaves. I have all the supplies I need: a wreath form I found at Fancy Gap Pottery, wire covered with a moss-like substance. I only needed the small inner circle with wire extensions, and I was helped by a man at a local church who used bolt-cutters to cut away the 2 larger circles.
I used regular wire-cutters to cut off the wire extensions on the larger circles, and added them to my smaller wreath, wrapping the ends around the circle and gluing them in place with tacky glue. I also separated the original wire extensions so that there were "stems" on the inner and outer circle.
Then I began cutting out the leaves. I drew the basic leaf pattern, and traced 10 leaves onto the paper side of freezer paper. I used 2 shades of Woolfelt my family friend had chosen: Reet's Relish and Shady Grove. I ironed the waxy side of the leaves to the Woolfelt with a dry iron and cut out 10 leaves, cutting more of the darker hue (Reet's Relish) than the lighter. Removing the freezer paper to use again, I gently pressed each leaf in half to simulate a "vein", leaving the tip unpressed. I then unfolded the leaf slightly, preserving some of the dimension.
I continued to cut out leaves in sets of 10, reusing the freezer paper leaves again and again, and cutting roughly twice as many of the darker leaves than lighter ones. As I cut and pressed, I began to arrange them on the wreath form and wire extensions, alternating shades of green, filling in space, gently bending the wire "stems" to bring a nice curved flow to the piece. Very methodical, rhythmic, soothing. Nothing that demanded too much thought, yet required just enough concentration to take me away from worrying about my kids health, my elderly mom, my pregnant dil who's a nurse in the intensive care unit of her hospital, my bills getting paid, and how long is this going to go on...no. The leaves have my attention for a little while. Cut, press, arrange, glue. Repeat. I open the door and listen to the birdsong as I work. My mind is caught up in creating something harmonious and beautiful, wonderful therapy. Cut, press, place, glue. I'm in another world for a little while.
I also began to felt the white berries. I used 100% wool fibers in a natural white color, shaping several loose fiber balls at a time so that the size would be consistent. Then I patiently wet-felted them into small firm round berries. This can't be rushed, or you can get cracks and crevices in the surface. We use this technique in my wool bead earrings and necklace classes, and I always tell my students this is their social time to chat, and not look too closely at their felting. I felt a few berries at a time, trying to keep the size and shape all the same.
I felt 20+ berries, setting them aside to dry before gluing them into place. I alternate felting with cutting so my hands don't get too tired. Back to cutting leaves. It's a nice shape, but needs more.
So I add more wires, more leaves. Start adding the berries. Finally I'm happy with it, and am almost sad to be done. Art as therapy, I was able to escape this strange-like-a-bad-dream world for a little while. The wreath reminds me a bit of mistletoe, symbolic of "divine love and healing, harmony and goodwill". Kind of like art. It's helped me once again. Today I shipped the wreath to its new home, my cousin's daughter. I sent it on its way with the wish of infusing their home and family with the same feeling of peace and hope it helped me find. We will get through this, tomorrow is another day.