Friday, December 24, 2010

White House Christmas Tree Ornaments for the 2010 Blue Room

The last weekend of October, the SCAD students and shopSCAD were invited to have a competition to design the ornaments for the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room this year. After submitting the box of ornament ideas below, I found out on the following Tuesday that my ornaments were chosen!

Ricki Dwyer and I were both chosen, each of us were to make 56 ornaments to represent the 56 states and territories of the United States. Her design was 56 machine-embroidered ornaments inspired by the foods indigenous to each state and showed the nutritional advantages of each. My design made 56 more ornaments that were inspired by the state fair prize ribbons, to highlight the sense of pride within America. Because of time constraints and other factors, the crocheted design above needed to be adjusted so that we could execute it well. In the centers of the needle felted "nest" ornament and in the crocheted prize ribbon ornament are souvenir tie pins from the states of Georgia and Louisiana, respectively. For each state/province to have its own pin, it would be nearly impossible to get all 56 of them in time to send to the White House in the roughly 10 days we had to complete them. So, pleated ribbon was used as a material instead of the crochet and buttons with graphics of indigenous resources for each state and territory were used to create the finished ornaments below.

Here is the official press release from SCAD. More photos to come!

SAVANNAH, Ga.-Savannah College of Art and Design students and alumni were given the honor of designing holiday ornaments and decorative elements for the White House Blue Room Christmas Tree, widely regarded as the famed residence's official holiday tree. Standing nearly 20-feet tall and spanning 13-feet in width, the massive Douglas-fir was accepted by First Lady Michelle Obama and was unveiled at the White House Dec. 1.

The theme for this year's White House holiday decorations was "Simple Gifts," which calls for Americans to reflect and celebrate the everyday gifts and blessings that surround us - in family, nature, music and food, the White House says. There are a total of 19 Christmas trees on display on the White House tour route, and many of the decorations were created with natural, reusable materials and simplicity in mind.

"If the White House is a symbol of the American people, the Blue Room Tree is a symbol of joy and peace for all, throughout the holiday season. I am delighted that SCAD artists and designers have had this opportunity to adorn that symbol with their creativity and vision. Their work will burn bright, long into the new year," said SCAD President Paula Wallace.

Designed by SCAD, the Blue Room Tree's ornaments are inspired by America's nostalgia for its state and county fairs. All 168 individual ornaments were constructed using locally sourced and environmentally friendly materials such as organic cotton, natural wool and felt, and unprocessed muslin. Each U.S. state and territory is represented by a series of distinct ornaments, including a collection of rosette-styled prize ribbons, hand-painted pennants and several embroidered wool ornaments fashioned in the shape of natural resources indigenous to each region of the country.

The tree elements were conceived, developed and designed by SCAD students and alumni. Fibers undergraduate students Ricki Dwyer and Holly Sexton, and shopSCAD store manager Kyle Millsap (B.F.A., illustration, 2006) designed the ornaments that adorn the tree's branches. Fibers graduate student Michael-Birch Pierce designed and constructed the embroidered tree skirt - measuring 18 feet in diameter and featuring the lyrics to "America the Beautiful" - that encircles the base of the tree.

The execution of the ornaments and tree design was truly a collaborative effort and drew upon the extraordinary talents of the university's fibers department, shopSCAD and Working Class Studio. Prior to the tree's unveiling, Millsap, along with shopSCAD director and co-creator Amy Zurcher - who also took part in designing elements for the tree - traveled to the nation's capital as two of the 97 volunteers who decorated the White House this year.

An estimated 100,000 people are expected to tour the landmark home through Dec. 30.

East Wing visitor's entrance: Magnolia and oak leaf garlands, and paper white flower blossoms; a "military appreciation tree" decorated to honor the five branches of the military; handwritten season's greetings notes collected from White House guests to be delivered to service members in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world.

East Colonnade: Eight wreaths, one in each window, made of natural materials, including oranges, pears and dried flowers.

Children's area: A small tree featuring gingerbread ornaments decorated by 300 children of military parents; a larger-than-life version of Bo, the Obama family dog, fashioned from 40,000 black and white pipe cleaners.

Lower Cross Hall: Four-foot white poinsettia trees in garden planters and garlands of white poinsettias.

East Room: Four large Christmas trees and hand-crafted decorations in turquoise, purple, green and gold with a bird and floral theme, and decorated with fake peacocks; wreaths hanging from the mirrors; a late 18th-century Italian presepio, or creche.

Green Room: Decorated in an environmental theme, using recycled materials; two trees and other decorations made of recycled newspapers and magazines that have been folded, glittered and decorated with ribbons and jewels.

Red Room: Decor in deep plum, fuchsia and red; red lacquer magnolia wreaths, used last Christmas, hanging in each window.

State Dining Room: Decorated as it might be for a holiday gathering with family and friends; garlands of fruit and foliage adorn trees, mantels and wreaths; two trees with leaves spray painted in gold and ornaments shaped like lemons and red and green pears.

Grand Foyer: Two large Christmas trees with white lights and red and gold ornaments; large stone urns filled with birch and beech branches illuminated with white light.

Gingerbread House: A larger-than-scale replica of Bo, the Obama family dog, made of almond paste and condensed milk, according to White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. It weighs 350 pounds and is made of gingerbread covered in white chocolate. Thirty pounds of honey from the White House beehive was used to make the gingerbread. The house has cutouts to show the East Room and the State Dining Room. There is also a replica of Mrs. Obama's fruit and vegetable garden, made of almond paste.

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