Wednesday 4 December 2013

Christmas at East Riddlesden

Well, Christmas is right around the corner, and with it another opportunity to combine the Day Job (Ben's, Tearoom at East Riddlesden Hall National Trust, plug-plug) and artwork.  In this case, the need to decorate a National Trust Tearoom tastefully and on a very limited budget, for the winter season.  We also were very firm: no tinsel.  Anywhere.

Colourful decorative touches were done with ribbon- a nice selection picked up cheaply on the high street.  Suitably tied up into bows, they were added to bannisters, specials boards, etc.

Next were snowflakes.  These were cut to geometric patterns from either ordinary printing paper, and also photocopied sheets of traditional Christmas music, and strung up with either red ribbon or twine.

Obviously, with a listed, wooden-beamed/floored tearoom with lots of families in, we couldn't have naked flames, so we improvised with these very effective, bargain-priced flickering LED Tealights from Wilkos.  They were put into recycled jam jars, with a bit of twine and some red electrical tape, then the jars placed on windowsills.

Also worth noting is the greenery; a good source of abundant, free, decorative material, in this case from a garden.

We needed something to sit on the beams up in the tearoom, so we came up with a design for a reindeer.  A template was made from mount board, then four reindeers were constructed from card leftover from delivery boxes, mount board antlers, and strips of wood from two broken picture frames.  The whole of each was then sprayed with red gloss paint, and they were secured to two of the beams.

The tearoom has a large fireplace, with a decommissioned gas fire in it (health and safety concerns means it is no longer used).  Previously it had a stack of rather unconvincing fake coals (covered in dust and dead spiders), so the opportunity was taken to replace them with some logs.  It still looked a little dull, so we thought we could make a fire-effect for the setup.

Starting with a string of red LED christmas tree lights (battery operated rather than mains), we cut up some plastic from some old inflatable toys leftover from a shoot in the summer.  Yellow one side, and transparent red the other.

Suitably glued together and arranged around the logs, in this slightly darker corner of the tearoom it looks rather effective; certainly better than the fake coals.

Finally the tree- this is a very nice artificial tree from a supermarket, with two strings of white LED lights (battery operated, again, to cut down on trailing wires and cables).  It was decorated with more 'traditional' items, such as dried-out orange slices, pine cones, and more paper stars.  Around the tree are a few boxes wrapped in either brown paper or more of the sheet music, just enough to hide the metal stand under the tree. 

So there we are; having helped out a bit with the main grotto in the house last year (whilst the tearoom was closed for refurbishment-, we've had the opportunity to do a tasteful, subtle job on the tearoom instead this time.  Its already received positive comments from the customers, so we consider it a success.