Pine cones, berries and oranges add a touch of festive magic
If you venture down to Marsack Street, there’s a great opportunity to become wreathed into the Christmas spirit…Elestr Lee investigates!
While many of us create hand-made cards, gifts or food items as part of our Christmas preparations (with varying success), it is also possible to combine enjoying a social get-together with learning a whole new craft – and coming home with a splendid festive ornament. Since the opening of Creativ.Spaces in Caversham just two years ago, owner, Tamalia Reeves, and her mother, Sue, have been offering Christmas wreath-making workshops, which have been popular right from the start.
“When I opened the studio in 2019, I decided to offer a Christmas wreath making class. It was fully booked, so I added some extra classes. Last year, we had to be socially distanced, and again the wreath-making classes were oversubscribed. It was a good thing that Sue was with me to teach as well, as people had to be spread apart,” recalls Tamalia. “We are something of a double act!” adds Sue.
The evening workshops at the Marsack Street studio, in the Southview Business Park, kick off with a glass of mulled wine. The evening is a combination of the creative with the sociable – those who sign up often turn out to be mothers and daughters, or groups of friends or work colleagues. Over the past few years some people are starting to make the evening an annual event. “Some people come along simply because they enjoy learning a new skill. For others, it’s become a tradition – an annual get-together,” Tamalia says. “One particular group have said to us, ‘Can we come back again?’”
Artist and teacher Tamalia has long enjoyed making Christmas wreaths for fun – and now she gets a thrill out of passing on her skill to others. “When we start off, everyone just has a very simple metal ring. After that, virtually everything that is added is as sustainable as possible. Sue and I go out and forage for the things we need. We use spruce and ivy for the greenery, and we also go out collecting pinecones. For fragrance, we use dried orange or cinnamon sticks. We also find berries or even feathers for colour. People then bring items of their own to add – Christmas tree baubles or LED lights. But we never use Oasis or plastic frames,” she adds.
Initially everyone starts off by mossing up their frames. Next greenery is added – usually spruce. Variations in how the final wreaths will look start to emerge. Some prefer a tight, neat wreath, while others start to become quite flamboyant. “Some of the wreaths can end up double in size!” laughs Tamalia. “We teach each step, so for example techniques to keep the decorations attached, using floristry wire. This kind of thing needs to be good quality, as we need the wreaths to last from early November, when we start the workshops, until Christmas Day.
“By the end, every wreath will look different. And they each reflect the personality of the person making it.”
Tamalia and Sue are keen to promote the positive mental health benefits of their workshops. “Especially for people who have been working from home – it’s great for them to be able to come out, and to be together with others. Some people are still nervous or unsure of going to big parties, but this is a smaller scale gathering,” comments Sue. “And because we have a fair amount of space, people can remain socially-distanced and be safe. We like to feel we are creating a relaxing and festive atmosphere for everyone.”
They have five wreath-making workshops to choose from. But for those who might prefer an afternoon workshop, Tamalia and Sue also offer Tea, Cake, Create. “Enjoy a cuppa with a mini afternoon tea while you learn how to make a Christmas table centre piece,” Sue says. “And for festive fun for the whole family, why not come along to make personalised Christmas baubles as well!”
Together with the scheduled workshops and artistic events which take place at the studio, the space is also available for hire for private events and parties for young or old. But do look out for extra-special Christmas wreaths hanging on your neighbours’ doors this December – they may well be Caversham-made!
To find out more about workshops and events at Creativ.Spaces, check out: madebytamalia.co.uk