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A Cut Above—Peacock Plumes and Leaves of Gold

By Erin McLaughlin, on December 12, 2014
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Malinda at work in her studio. Malinda at work in her studio.

Malinda’s paper flower designs embellish a cake. Photo by Duane Erdmann. Malinda’s paper flower designs embellish a cake. Photo by Duane Erdmann.

The artist’s workspace. The artist’s workspace.

We hope that guests during A Longwood Christmas are wowed by the grandeur of towering trees wrapped in lights, thousands of flowers in bloom, and room after room of indoor gardens filled with holiday finery.

Much of that sweeping beauty lies in the tiniest of details. Unseen by our visitors, our staff members work to render each stunning element, sometimes calling on local artisans to bring a new perspective.

As this year’s Christmas display takes flight with our bird-inspired theme, we invite you to visit our Music Room to see the extraordinary work of paper artist Malinda Swain.

After seeing Malinda’s large three-dimensional paper flowers, our designers knew her creativity would fit perfectly with A Longwood Christmas. Malinda accepted the challenge of creating a peacock-related paper structure to complement this year’s theme.

After developing several prototypes and through collaboration with our design team, she began creating vines and feathers to adorn trees that had fallen in a snow storm last winter. Each piece is cut using X-Acto knives, scissors, a rotary cutter, and an electronic blade cutter.

Longwood volunteers helped to hand cut the 600 teal, 600 green, 600 gold, and 500 violet vine and feather cutouts for the display.

The hard work and collaboration of our gardeners, designers, volunteers, staff, and artisans transforms our Conservatory into a magical Christmas scene. See the craftsmanship on display, now through January 11.

Before … Gold leaves will soon adorn the “recycled” trees flanking the doorway. These trees fell on the Longwood property during a snow storm last winter and are being “recycled” for our display. Photo by Steve Fellows. Before ... Gold leaves will soon adorn the “recycled” trees flanking the doorway. These trees fell on the Longwood property during a snow storm last winter and are being “recycled” for our display. Photo by Steve Fellows.

 

… And after. Photo by Richard Donham. ... And after. Photo by Richard Donham.

 

Malinda and the team attached the cut paper to the branches using hot glue and wire to create movement and a floating effect. Malinda and the team attached the cut paper to the branches using hot glue and wire to create movement and a floating effect.

 

Assembling the centerpiece in Longwood’s Music Room. Assembling the centerpiece in Longwood’s Music Room.

 

The finished result: a stunning centerpiece for our peacock-themed table. Photo by William Hill.The finished result: a stunning centerpiece for our peacock-themed table. Photo by William Hill.

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