When I was quite young we lived in Atlanta and my father was a photographer for WSB-TV. As part of the Christmas evening newscast the station would show film of children opening their presents that was shot by the station's photographers. Pretty terrific, you would imagine, to be on TV. Except that what it meant, really, was that when I awakened and tip-toed in to wake my parents to say, "Let's go see if he came!" I had to wait on the stairs while my dad set up the lights and the camera. And wait. On Christmas morning. When I was five.
So this week when Christopher Filley called and said, "I think I have something you might like to see," I pulled on my gloves and dashed out the door. No waiting. Instant gratification.
Christopher and his partner, Rich Hoffman, had trimmed the tree. And how. They had recently acquired a goose feather tree and have adorned it with vintage ornaments and the most amazing garland. "Christopher, what is this? Where did you find it?" Strands and strands of Mardi Gras beads that he and Rich cut and pieced together drip from the branches.
Feather trees originated in Germany in the mid-19th century. The German government was concerned about deforestation and limited the number of Christmas trees to one per household. Goose feathers were plentiful and a cottage industry of tree production developed. It was, basically, the first artificial Christmas tree. You can see in the image, above, how the feathers were wrapped around wire or metal sticks to create the "needles." Some were left white while others were dyed. German immigrants introduced the trees to America and eventually production spread to the States and later Japan.
We ohed and ahhed. I stood back and moved forward and once I was full up from its wonder I turned my attention to this hand-blocked wall paper panel.
Absolutely stunning and if I only had the wall space I just might have brought it home to put in my own stocking.
Ditto this screen which I glimpsed on my way out the door. All these treasures, including the tree, and many more can be had by giving Christopher and Rich a jingle - 816-668-9974.
My brief history lesson on feather trees courtesy of www.victoriana.com.