There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.



Thursday, December 24, 2015

twelve days of Christmas

This Twelve Days book is beautifully illustrated by Louise Brierly

I FIRST designed a tree several years back with a Twelve Days of Christmas theme around a set of beautiful figural ornaments I have cherished for many years. But I never photographed any of it properly for the blog. This year, as a special celebration, I'm posting an image every day, starting today and for all twelve days. 

IT'S A BAKER'S DOZEN of posts that illustrate how I form my thoughts in designing a tree, both thematically and conceptually, with each day's photo revealing some of the decorative elements involved in composing it.

THE TWELVE DAYS of Christmas is a time-honored carol. Although the specific provenance of the song is not known, the twelve days it touts, between the birth of Christ (Christmas, December 25th) and the coming of the Magi (Epiphany, January 6th), form its structure. With this in mind, I never remove any Christmas decorations until all twelve days are up!

THIS BEAUTIFULLY EVOCATIVE carol possibly began as a Twelfth Night "memory-and-forfeits" game in which the leader recited a verse, and each of the players repeated the verse. As each verse was added, the game continued until one of the players made a mistake. The player who erred had to pay a penalty, such as a offering up a kiss or a sweet. This is how the song was published in its earliest known printed version, in the 1780 children's book Mirth Without Mischief. The song is apparently much older, but it is not currently known how much older. It is generally thought to have been written in the Middle Ages. No matter, the song is beloved, even today.

THE BOOK in the photo above was published in the mid-eighties as a first American Edition. It is one of my all-time-favorites. Its illustrations are brilliantly rendered by Louise Brierley. Their subtle colors and stylized figures provide a rich visual reference that has always seemed as evocative to me as the song's much-interpreted lyrics. This book is the basis of my inspiration for the tree to come.


On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .


A partridge in a pear tree. 
Ornament by Patience Brewster.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .
Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. 
Ornament by Patience Brewster.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .
Three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree. 
Ornament by Patience Brewster.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . 

Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree. Ornament by Patience Brewster.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves 
and a partridge in a Pear tree. Ornament by Patience Brewster.


On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .


Six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, 
two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree. Ornament by Patience Brewster


On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .


Seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, 
three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree. 
Ornament by Patience Brewster


On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, 
four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Nine drummers drumming, eight maids a-milking, 
seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, 
four calling birds, three French hens,  two turtle doves 
and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Ten pipers piping, nine drummers drumming, eight maids a-milking, 
seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings,
four calling birds, three French hens,  two turtle doves 
and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.


On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .


Eleven ladies dancing, ten pipers piping, nine drummers drumming, 
eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying,
five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens,
two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.


On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Twelve lords a-leaping, eleven ladies dancing, ten pipers piping, 
nine drummers drumming, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, 
six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, 
two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.


©2015-2016 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

family tree



A TREE HAS taken root. A family has formed. And this is already our second Christmas together. Life has been busy. And our view is constantly in motion. But, despite the turmoils of the world, we have the comfort of each other. A Christmas tree is a bright reminder of that.


MONOGRAMED CHIC | These gold-initialed ornaments form the script for a new family. J is for Juan; A is for Abella, the Bengal cat; D is for Darryl (me); T is for Tallulah (the newest addition, a rescue dog); and F is for Frida, the Ragdoll cat (who makes a blurred appearance in the top photo).
THIS TREE, in a small way, is symbolic of our new family, hung with initialed ornaments representing each of us. The wire and cardboard diamond-shaped ornaments represent a strong structure for a great future together. The tree is a Silver Tip tree, which is naturally sparse with ample space between the branches and a quirky natural shape reminiscent of the untrimmed trees you see in vintage photos. Many of the lights on the tree have crinkled metal light covers in gold and silver in various sizes to give the tree a magical glow.

ALL IN THE DETAILS | This unusual shooting star tree topper is actually a store fixture from Starbucks from last season that I convinced a manager to save for me. It worked perfectly atop this tree.
LOOKING CLOSER, this tree is topped with a multi-faceted and glittered shooting star. The tree employs a fairly neutral color scheme of glass ornaments in gold, silver, bronze, whites and greens with classic bright blue and red punctuating the mix as a nod to the traditional trees of my childhood.


FRAMEWORK GEMS | These interesting gem ornaments are made of wire and metallic cardboard. I added a tiny glass bauble to each wire-framed ornament to make them more elegant.
THE FRAMEWORK for a family starts with a bedrock of comfort, joy and love. When things are right, whatever life throws your way is tempered by knowing that you have someone there that has your back. When you feel that, you know it's the real thing.


DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH | These metallic cardboard ornaments are light enough not to weigh down the branches of the tree. Even though they are made from humble foil-covered cardboard, they are quite sophisticated in appearance due the diamond shape.
WARM HEARTS are warmed even further by a beautiful tree that is thoughtfully decorated. I chose to make this one thematic in color and form, but even if your tree is a hodgepodge of family heirloom ornaments of every style and stripe, what really matters is that it conveys that magical spirit of the holidays. The symbolic memories attached to decorations give them a heirloom resonance throughout the years that is unique and meaningful to your family.

Please check out the video of the tree below (hopefully, I'll figure out how to make the resolution better and replace this one):


video


©2015 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland