Seasonal Wreaths…

Seasonal Wreaths…circles, imperfect, yes! Shapes and form are basic and elemental. And often set the stage in good design. Wreaths add personality, even create  or convey meaning and mood. I enjoy making wreaths, especially with natural materials I’ve collected or grown myself.  Since we grow a type of grapes called muscadines- my wreaths usually start with a grapevine base. I’ve been known to wind up muscadine vines, leaves and all- left plain? I enjoy it just like that!

I’ve used pale green hydrangeas grown here- I’ll admit those were my pride and joy the first year they bloomed. I love the cotton wreath because the cotton came from a special garden established to honor Alabama native George Washington Carver. A former slave who taught farmers how to enrich soil depleted by cotton growth by alternating growing peanuts! And, yes he’s probably the Father of Peanut Butter and more! For sure, he was a pioneer in adding nitrogen back to poor soil. And his work was done at the famous Tuskegee Institute in part funded by Henry Ford himself.

I had a bumper crop of Oregano- the scent when wound up into a wreath is amazing- fresh or dried. Herbs make wonderful additions to wreaths. As wreaths dry, you never know the form or color they’ll take on. Pale papery blooms take on a beautiful hue. Magnolia leaves are stunning any time of year, especially during holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas and beyond.

I made a wreath recently with ‘past their prime’ cuttings of hydrangeas, somehow it pleases me through the beauty of imperfections which will soften and become even more beautiful, I hope.

Shapes often have symbolic meanings. Take circles- there’s no beginning or end. Wreaths are timeless, seasonal- the shape and form feels complete, unified. Circular curves suggest softness and movement, especially when combined with the sharp edges of other forms. Like a door maybe?

Shape and form are basic, necessary elements of design- perfect or not, preferably not. Don’t wait until a wreath or anything else, for that matter, is perfect– just get started. Use Shapes and Forms in your designs. You’ll be glad you did!

Love y’all, Brenda

Here’s that Magnolia Wreath- one of my all time favorites!

Add Mood with Nostalgia…

There may be nothing quite like roses and soft autumn leaves that brings forth sweet nostalgia for me… Roses past their prime or pink tinged rosebuds that are still full of promise. And I tend to prefer the softer side of Fall with the pink and red leaves.  A basket full of roses cut from my own, set by our picket fence are precious to me because I know they’ll soon be gone. Then as they wilt and dry, the soft scent is a reminder of a good season of blooms.

Old roses tend to be destined to be pressed or dried- held within the pages of a well loved book. I found an image of beautiful autumn leaves….there may be no more nostalgic image you could offer than a carpet of fallen leaves. Still. A wedding bouquet and the memories of a romantic getaway. We want to keep them all gathered in our imagination.

Mood. One of the most effective design tools we have. To create responses from our life’s imagination of simpler sweeter times. Sweethearts, proms, weddings… Nostalgic mood enriches emotional appeal- a sense of safety, security- of meaning and of times we felt loved and part of an affectionate community. To bring forth the ‘then and now’ – recreates pleasant moods.

In design, Mood is best used to stimulate good emotions. Recollections of sweet scents and exquisite events- puts us in a positive frame of mind. As a marketing tool- make the customer feel good, make them feel a stronger connection to your brand- form closer relationships to you through kindness, sentimental and pleasurable emotions. Folks are drawn to a more personal shopping experience these days. You might say- marketing and branding has joined the ‘slow food’ and ‘slow clothing’ movements, with thoughtful production of resources.

Good marketing sets aside the ‘overwhelm’- the tyranny of urgent demands on our time. Take your readers, your customers on a sentimental journey. Give them kindness, beauty and positive nostalgic mood. They’ll love you for it.

What better way to flourish and grow, than with a nostalgic sentimental mood? Creating Mood is a Design Principle you’ll want to employ over and over again.

Love y’all, Brenda

Light…

The gleaming car pulled up to the lamplit curb. A doorman saw the glint of a diamond stud as a bejeweled slipper gracefully stepped out, the satin ball gown caught the sheen of moonlight- he caught a whiff of jasmine and gardenia. She glided into the ballroom. Chandeliers reflected in the mirrored walls throwing sparkling light which competed only with champagne flutes and silver trays. A fountain splashed crystal droplets. And, holding court on the buffet table stood a shimmering ice sculpture. The twinkling of laughter, swirling sequin dresses and glittering jewelry created flashes of shimmering glimmering delight. Taking a flute of bubbly champagne, surely she would never forget this delight-filled night.

Okay I made that up Still. Even describing Light lends sparkle to the written word. Of the design principles I follow, there is none more important than light. Light. Number 1 of my 9 Elements of Design, stands alone.. Every other principle depends on light. Color, Texture, Mood, Shape and Form. Perspective, Balance, Space and Time. All of these principles depend on Light.

How do you describe a sunrise without light? or when the curtains close after a play- describe the darkened theater? The play of shadows on a wall. We sense color only by complicated systems of refraction of light (Please don’t ask me to go into all of that! It’s way above my pay grade.) The list is endless of how Light changes things- everything in fact. 

Whatever you design- art, interiors, landscapes, gardens, jewelry, floral displays, your online shops, catalogs, even your blog or social media sites. Light- my number 1 Principle of Design when Designin’ Your Business. Light is your most powerful tool and- The Crowning Glory of Design. 

Love y’all, Brenda 

To Write Better, Read…

I’ve always believed that readers make the best writers. Any skill I have has come from reading books. I’m a collector of books. I treasure them. I also treasure handwritten notes and am especially proud of the few recipes I have which are written in my grandmother’s hand. It’s like having a bit of her still with me- unique to her and I would recognize her handwriting anywhere. I have a handwritten Cheese Sauce Recipe which has stood the test of time too. Written after World War II – it helps me realize that while ‘oleo’ was almost never used- it was during the time when supplies were rationed.

I also think journaling is a worthwhile pastime- in fact, I’m still surprised by what I was thinking or learning at the time…

My 6 year old sister taught 4 years old me- how to read and write. It set me on the path to being a lifelong lover of words and phrases. I collect them with no rhyme or reason except I like the way the sound or look on a page. I’ll take a few pages out with my hodge podge of phrases and words- then it’s almost like shaking them in my fist, then casting them on a page until I like how they look and sound.

Here’s a few notes from what I’ve been reading-

  • Alabama is filled with Dollar Generals and Church Spires.’ (It’s true you know!) and I could add- ‘we still have snake handlers and a Rattlesnake Rodeo. They’ve figured out how to season it up and fry it. I guess, that’s truly the safest way to take up the serpent and live.’
  • From southern author, Michael Lee West there’s this- ‘the bayous twisted off like spilled cane syrup, thick, moss choked woods formed a canopy over poisonous snakes and man eating alligators.’ Now, that! makes you want to visit my home state!

Reading made me want to draw a plan for an herb garden, I pored over that one for a month- it was partially laid out, then a tornado came through- the best laid plans were set aside- indefinitely.

I love true ink pens and grumbled that cursive writing wasn’t going to be taught- it’s an art form you know. A signature is a treasure, an identification, as unique as a fingerprint. Even a short handwritten note, a sketch or a snippet of calligraphy speaks to me.

Pat Conroy started everyday with poetry to get the rhythm of words, then he read 200 pages in whichever book he was reading at the time. Only then, did Conroy start his full day of writing. Mr. Conroy wrote by hand, on a yellow legal pad- five pages toward the book he was working on! Can you imagine! Perhaps that why Mr. Conroy was able to make a living writing books!

Creating content is an absolutely necessary skill in today’s world. If you fear you simply cannot write posts- Read! Then write, just as if you’re speaking directly to someone else or even your best self!

I repeat, ‘I’ve always believed that Readers make the best Writers.’

Love y’all, Brenda

Here’s Mimi’s Cheese Sauce recipe- because I know you want it!