Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dressing Up Millinery Fruits for The Christmas Tree

My strawberry millinery fruits are ready hang on the Christmas tree.
This Fruity Turban, 1917
      Millinery fruits have always been popular ornamentation on both ladies hats and on Christmas trees. The word millinery refers to the designing and manufacture of hats.
      Millinery is sold to women, men and children, though some definitions limit the term to women's hats. Historically, milliners, typically female shopkeepers, produced or imported an inventory of garments for men, women, and children, including hats, shirts, cloaks, shifts, caps, neckerchiefs, and undergarments, and sold these garments in their millinery shop.
      The origin of the term is likely the Middle English milener, an inhabitant of Milan or one who deals in items from this Italian city known for its fashion and clothing.
      You can read more about millinery shops at the Colonial Williamsburg webpages here and watch video about fashion accessories from head to toe here.
      Decorating with fruit themes during Christmas was quite typical of Early American Colonists. You can learn how the colonists decorated with pyramids or fruit cones for their Christmas dinner parties at history.org as well.
      Several years ago I purchased some inexpensive milliner fruits to "upcycle" into something special for my Christmas tree. 
       I will have a collection of fruit themed ornaments on the tree nearest to my dinning room this year. You may use any fruit you like for the simple ornament craft below but I have elected to make clusters of strawberries for my tree. This is not only because of their red color but also because the strawberry is somewhat reminiscent of German glass, mouth-blown, strawberry ornaments of which I have always been fond of.
Left, a couple of plastic canisters of inexpensive millinery strawberries. Center, I have wrapped the stems of two or three strawberries together with wire and tape. Then is wrapped the wire "stems" with cotton batting. Right, I have shaped the wire into hooks for hanging the millinery fruit clusters on my Christmas tree.
Supply List:
  • millinery fruits, your choice
  • wire for wrapping the stems into hooks
  • cotton balls
  • green acrylic paint 
  • white glue
  • glitter, your favorite
  • permanent black felt pen
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Purchase millinery fruits from your local resale shops or hobby stores.
  2. I chose to wire two or three strawberries together to create a cluster of berries to hang from the branches of my Christmas tree. 
  3. Then I covered the wired stems with white glue and cotton and painted these green. Let the stems dry thoroughly.
  4. Make sure the surfaces of the fruits are clean before adding painted or inked details. I used a permanent black felt pen to draw seeds onto the surfaces of my strawberries.
  5. Dab on a generous application of white glue with the tip of your finger or a brush.
  6. I then rolled the millinery fruit in the glitter and allowed these surfaces to dry before hanging them on the tree.
More Millinery Inspired Ornaments for The Christmas Tree:
Carmen Miranda wore millinery fruit like no one else! She was in fact, a milliner by trade before being discovered by Josue de Barros. She eventually became a successful samba singer, dancer and Broadway actress during the 1930s -1950s.

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