Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Workshop at Matthew Mead's studio

 Me and Matthew 
Usually I am the one giving the workshops, but this rainy day in December
I was headed up to New Hampshire to take a holiday creative workshop
taught by this style guru~Matthew Mead!  He is a legend in these parts
and has a pedigree that includes author of books and mags, editing magazines
like Country Home, stylist to the big retailers like Pottery Barn to name a few
including most recently the cover stylist and photographer for this month's
issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  So this guy is somebody to pay attention
to!  And he was offering private workshops in his own studio, so I jumped
at the chance to attend.  Along with my Maison Decor design assistant, Gina, 
and one of our regular shoppers, Kaydee, we headed up for his Saturday
workshop in Gina's car.
 It was dank and drizzling down in Reading, 
and we were filled with anticipation for what was to come.
 By the time we crossed over into New Hampshire there was 
a light frosting on snow on the ground, perfect for a holiday workshop. 
 A morning email from Matthew's wife and assistant, Jenny,
 said that they were preparing for our arrival by cooking up some
 savory snacks and deserts while Christmas carols played to set the mood.  
 We were greeted by Matthew as we stepped inside his studio, which was a big
white room, with large windows.  It was in an older brick building and it had a lot
of New England character.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I love old buildings and
homes.  The room was already bustling with the other ladies that had arrived to take
the workshop, with a total of ten expected for the four hour event. 
 Long tables covered with craft paper had bundles of different kinds
 of fresh greenery.  There were buckets and containers that had a 
variety of faux greens, flowers and fruits.  Glue guns were plugged
 in and at the ready!  There were three things to choose from to 
create:  a wreath, a diorama like the one seen on the 
cover of BHG this month or a centerpiece.
Some of the fruit was real, some was faux, and it was impossible to tell
the difference.  Matthew's materials were chosen carefully, and it was fun
to start thinking of what I might use.  I would be making a wreath 
for my kitchen window, Gina was making a centerpiece and Kaydee was 
making a wreath as well.  While we waited for some other students to
arrive I couldn't help but notice the little holiday pop up shop Matthew
and Jenny had set up for us.  We could purchase any of the items that day
to take home....and what did my little eye spy right away...?!
 I spotted my favorite purple transferware!  
It seemed like he had more than a few pieces!
 I moved swiftly about the little pop up shop and
 selected two purple pieces that I couldn't resist.  
 That shallow bowl/platter on the edge of the table would be mine!!
 And so would this pretty purple platter on the staircase.  
I don't believe the jadite was for sale, as he had his own
 collections mixed about in the studio.  This is the same place where 
he takes all his production shots for catalogues
and magazines and he uses many of his own props.  
The piles of magazines and books
were there for us to each choose whatever issue or book
 we wanted as a take home gift 
after the workshop, which was icing on the cake!
 And soon the workshop started.  Jenny handed out hot cider 
and cold drinks and we all got our basics.  Kaydee and I were given
 boxwood wreath forms.  They were very nice 
quality made from pvc on a twig base.  
Gina selected a container to build her centerpiece.
 We all gathered around the table and thats when things began.
 Matthew would give us basic instructions on where to start
 and what to do, and then let us create.
 Here he is giving his opening talk about his background
 as we sat at the worktables with our containers and forms in front of us. 
 Matthew demonstrated on a pine wreath form. He likes to start by adding bits 
of moss into the wreath as a "place to start".  I really have never had instruction
on doing things like this, I always wing it! So I listened up good, and took his advice.
I gathered some of the elements for my wreath and started playing around with
the compostion.  Next would be cutting the floral stems apart and glueing them
onto the wreath. I made five blobs around my boxwood form with the moss
and then built onto them with apples and lambs ears and other things.
 In the mean time Jenny was back and forth from the
 back of the studio where they have a kitchen.
She was busy setting up a chocolate cookie station where we 
would be making some delicious cookie with melted chocolate and
 peppermint and nonpareils to take home. This workshop
was like a lifestyle event, which included special recipes
 they served up while we worked on our creations. 
 The cookie table was taking shape while we all began our creations.
 We would be invited to come over and try our hand at cookie decorating 
in the middle of our workshop. 
We were all cutting and glueing and tucking and snipping...
and being served delicious treats one after the other!
I was busy making headway with my apple wreath while Gina worked on 
a holiday table centerpiece and Kaydee created her woodland style wreath.
 We were busy as little bees.  Jenny was headed back
 into the kitchen after serving us all chicken soup that 
Matthew had made from some special recipe he likes.  
I was almost done! Haha! Matthew came over and I think he was 
surprised I was moving so quickly.  
He said something like, "oh wow, you are all set"
But as my mom knows this about me,
I kind of do everything pretty fast.  Some people linger and luxuriate,
but not me....I wish for myself that I could slow down sometimes.
 Gina's centerpiece had a charming addition 
of a sparkly fluffy little bird tucked into
the design.  She had greens and hydrangeas
 and lemon leaves in her arrangement.
I was ready to hang mine up on the old wooden door
 in the studio to see if I needed to tweak it. 
I was happy with it! 
Then I snuck in a little gabbing time with Matthew while he
was not was our first time meeting him and I wished
I could have grabbed him and pulled him into a closet!  But he
was the man of the hour and was dashing around the studio helping
everyone fulfill their dreamy holiday creations.  He is a laid back
guy and so is his wife Jenny.  Very easy to be with, and he has
this cute thing he does where he ends sentences in a little chuckle.
I found him very endearing.
Women at the other table were busy making the dioramas that he made
famous when Better Homes decided to use it as their December cover!
Glass airplant globes turned into woodland scenes with miniatures
all set on a snowy base~so enchanting!
Kaydee checked out her wreath when she had it finished
by hanging it up on the studio's front door.
What was fun was watching how differently everyone created
using the same materials.  Isn't that the best thing about finding
your creative self expression~going with what inspires you?
And then getting something amazing at the end of the experience!
Before too long Jenny was back with a tray of gingerbread trifle!
 OMG was this delicious!
After we gobbled up our deserts it was time to shop and select
one of Matthew's publications as a parting gift.  He autographed
our books and I spent all day yesterday reading mine!! So inspired,
it was a holiday book filled with tons of ideas.
I peeked around his kitchen and saw cupboards filled with his collections.
It was so interesting to be invited into his studio.  What fun I was having!
But the day was coming to an end, and we gathered our things and headed back
 We left Concord New Hampshire filled with the Christmas spirit!
 The next day I hung up my wreath in my kitchen and 
I have to say it is more than I hoped for.
 The purple platter was hung over my stove...
And the large bowl filled with my vintage ornaments...
I was very pleased by the entire experience and now I had
some mementos to remember it all.
Gina sent me this photo of her centerpiece, sans the little
birdy.  Apparently her little girl found the birdy irresistible!
A big thank you to Matthew and Jenny for hosting this
lifestyle workshop event! All us ladies were chirping away happily
on the drive home. We had such an uplifting time.
What is it about the need and desire to create?
I don't know, but it brought us all to New Hampshire that
day and we left feeling very fulfilled.
 It was such a pleasure, I know I will be signing up again for 
the Valentines and spring workshops! 
To go to Matthew's website click here.

for some fun decorating ideas head over to Nita's!
Linking to  Mod Mix Monday
at Nita's Mod Vintage Life


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