The Kindest Cuts

Susan DetjensClose observers might have noticed the black and white place cards on the summer table in the last post. These were created using the Scherensnitte craft technique.

 BBG Cutting silhouetteEarly in the month, I took a workshop in Scherensnitte (literally ‘scissor cut’ ) at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. They often offer these unusual courses taking advantage of the fact that so many artisans live in the Berkshires.

c Pamela Dalton

c Pamela Dalton

Pamela Dalton, our master teacher, is an uber-talented artist with a real feeling for her work and the generous ability to teach it to others. Her work is collected avidly by many, and she has illustrated several books like the one above. The cover illustration above was cut from a single sheet of paper which she then hand-painted.

c Pamela Dalton

c Pamela Dalton

This is an end paper from another of her books, “Giving Thanks”. Because of the neutral colored paper, the exquisite precision of the cutting is more visible but it still seems slightly diminished on the printed page. In person, these cut paper pages look like wonderful pieces of lace! This design repeats in quarters, so the entire border would have been cut from one page folded in quarters!

 Scherensnitte GirlsThe workshop began with trees and girls, using folded, thin origami paper which is easy to cut with an Exacto knife. The paper is folded in half vertically and the designs are mirror images when completed, rather like the snowflakes the children make.

BBG Cut paper and patternPamela provided the templates for us to use. Some, like the girls, were cardboard and were traced around before cutting. More elaborate patterns like this were drawings on paper traced with graphite carbon paper before cutting out.

 Cutting traced patternBBG finished pageAt the end of the workshop, we ‘graduated’ to the most complicated of the projects. The cutting was all done with an Exacto knife with a #11 blade on a cutting mat through the folded paper, thus cutting two pieces of paper at once. The cutting mat, green – in the second photo, is self-sealing and seems to really help in keeping the knife from slipping and wrecking the whole thing. This double plaque is 5”X 7”.

Summer table place cardsThe cut work design of the ‘Dahlia’ placemats (by Chilewich) inspired me to do Scherensnitte place cards. With no origami paper to hand, I used plain Xerox paper for my printer. It is heavier than the origami so a little harder to cut both pieces of paper cleanly at once.

 Cutting vines and  circlesI used circle templates to trace the shape of the design and the inner circle. And then copied some of the branching from one of Pamela’s templates for the design itself. The template and graphite carbon paper were stapled to the paper so nothing slipped while the cutting is happening.

 Gluing and NamesAfter all were cut, the names were written and all were glued to folded pieces of black paper. Only in August does one have the time for this kind of delightful workshop and project.





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Summer Tables…

Susan DetjensPretty flowers are one of the joys of summer tables. Farm stands and farmer’s markets add to the bounty from which to choose. Green and white linen place mats are a great foil for the hot colors of zinnias, tansy, and yarrow standing tall in cut glass celery vases.

Hunt Club Dinner Rockaway Hunt Club dinnerTwo tables at the Rockaway Hunt Club on Long Island shimmered in the June evening with vases of roses, yarrow, stock, hydrangea centered on pristine white linen with sparkling crystal.

Susan DetjensThe imminent birth of a son was celebrated at baby shower cum cocktails at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York City. Blue hydrangeas sat in green and blue colored blocks over clear ones filled with toys.

Susan DetjensThe delights of August from a New York cut-your-own flower stand include purple to pink cleome, cosmos in several shades of pink, blue ageratum and a spiky little button of a flower (name unknown) about the diameter of a nickel, best seen top middle. Anyone?

Susan DetjensTaft Farms in Great Barrington has wonderful cut flowers, grown by Sue in the field across the street. These are two of her charming groupings – white cleome, white cosmos, yellow zinnias and a reddish-brown rudbeckia.

Susan Detjens

c Ann Vroom Lank

I liked it so much I ordered bunches of each flower to use for a dinner last weekend. The cleome is sticky to clean up and doesn’t last more than two days but I find it quirky and fun…plus it is so nice to have unique flowers only in their fleeting season.

c Ann Vroom Lank

c Ann Vroom Lank

The full moon rose as we were having dessert – a beauty!

Tanglewood GAla OrchestraThe Tanglewood Gala is a highlight of the music season in the Berkshires. Cocktails and dinner are in huge tents away from the music shed.

 Tanglewood Gala Bouquet of Roses Tanglewood Gala RosesThe tables always have sumptuous cloths and lots of candles (breadsticks too) but the flowers are always very simple. Bright pink roses in various containers were centered on each table. The dinner is always very delicious – this year’s menu was a tribute to Julia Child’s 100th birthday.

 Gala FireworksAfter the concert, fireworks erupt over the Stockbridge Bowl. Hope your summer is full of fireworks too!


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Shopping OP!

Campo de FioriShopping opportunities in Sheffield vary. Want antiques? Probably over 50 stores at all price levels to tempt you. Need a grocery store, a drug store. Forget about it. One delightful and destination She shopping op that satisfies gardeners, supplies great gifts and plants is Campo de Fiori.

Campo de Fiori gardensThis store is the only retail outlet of Campo de Fiori which has a huge wholesale business in a variety of garden items. Their large premises are right on Route 7, north of the Sheffield center.

 Campo de Fiori Fragrant LiliesBeautiful gardens surround the store. There are always some surprising plant combinations, unusual garden accessories and found objects.

 Abutilon with calyxAbutilons abound this time of year. This color combination of calyx and petal is exquisite. I noted the variety as “Cornish Belle”, but I can’t confirm it on the web. I turn up “Kentish Belle” which isn’t the same color at all.

Biltmore ballgown with eremurusThis charmer is Abutilon “Biltmore Ballgown” – many of these bell-like forms dance around the Abutilon standard.

Abutilon Biltmore ballgownThe delicate markings are in great contrast to the vibrant color!

EremurusWhen grown this well, Eucomis is a garden stand-out. Eucomis, called the pineapple lily, grows in Zones 7 to 10 and needs very well drained soil.  Here in the Northeast it is grown in pots to be most successful.

 Fuschia with oxalisFuchsias are wonderfully grown here too. The flowers are like elegant earrings hanging off this standard. Notice the Oxalis filling the soil below the standard.

 Fuschia gets its close-upA close-up shows the beautiful form and coloring of these dangling flowers.

Coral fuchsiaLuscious coral fuchsia with a more linear form to the bell shape.

 Kalanchoe with OxalisOxalis with burgundy coloring echoes the coloring on the underside of the Kalanchoe.

Planter with oxalis and prayer plantA very different and charming Oxalis makes a wonderful combination with prayer plant and a Begonia. The textures and forms of these plants make a handsome statement.

 rippled pottery with alliumInside the store is some striking rippled pottery in many sizes. They stand on iron frames with metal saucers. This is typical of the many items that are part of their wholesale business.

 Lithos living stonesIn a windowsill, Lithops, living stones, are grown in handsome stone planters…stones to stones!

Flax plant on [athDrive up Route 7 to Sheffield, walk up the garden path to the store and you won’t be disappointed….

Campo de Fiori  all for saleAnd don’t forget to sit in the garden and relax – everything is for sale!


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