The smells of flat cedar, white pine and spruce fir filled the room last Saturday at the Northland Arboretum.
The smells did not come from the trees surrounding the building off Excelsior Drive. They came from the branches of greenery that were inside, waiting to be used for Christmas centerpieces. Sixteen people participated in a beginning centerpiece making class.
The greenery was stacked to the top of three separate boxes. Other centerpiece ingredients sat nearby -- ribbons with red glitter, gold trimming or holly were available to spice up an arrangement; red candle sticks and small glass ornaments in maroon and holiday red were ready to be used; and pine cones and other pieces of wood, including birch bark, filled a box.
Melissa Dummer, formerly of Baxter, demonstrated how to make a centerpiece for the holidays at a class last Saturday at the Northland Arboretum. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
In just a few hours, these ingredients filled several vases and other containers. Melissa Dummer, who recently moved to Sartell from Baxter, taught the group of mainly women how to make a centerpiece.
Dummer has taught this class for four years. The first three years the class was held at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Baxter.
Before the classes got started, Dummer showed her closest friends how to create a centerpiece.
"I wanted to share a talent," she said. "It was a Christmas present to my friends."
The following year, Dummer taught a newcomers' group how to make centerpieces, and the class expanded after that.
Dummer started working at a flower shop at age 16. She attended college in an unrelated field and worked for six months. She then quit to work as a flower designer for two years in a flower shop in Wisconsin.
When she moved back to Minnesota she worked with floral arrangements as a hobby. On Valentine's Day she helps out at the flower shop in Wisconsin, as well as a flower shop in New Ulm that her mother-in-law owns.
"I absolutely love it," said Dummer. "(Making arrangements) makes me feel happy and creative."
Dummer enjoys teaching others how to make centerpieces. She said people just need to relax and let their creative juices flow. She said people can find their own items to put in their arrangement, such as twigs or strands of berries.
Dummer spent the first 10 minutes of class doing a demonstration. Then the group began working on their masterpieces. About half the class had taken it before and the rest were first-timers.
Barb Whiting of Baxter took the class before and said she takes the class because, "Melissa helps me do my arrangement. I can't do it without her help."
Whiting, however, surprised herself and did a majority of her centerpiece by herself.
"I must have gotten the hang of it," she said. "It is gorgeous. I added fresh holly Sunday and I also added some gold to it."
Whiting bought a red vase last year at Christmas Point just for this class. She was pleased when Dummer decided to come back to town for the class.
Whiting filled her vase with water and added the greenery. She also used berries and an unraveled red wire craft.
Dummer touched up her centerpiece with an ivory bow with holly with gold edging.
Sally Campbell and her sister, Mary Baden, and mother, Vi Heiser, all of Baxter, attended the class for the first time.
"I thought it'd be fun," said Campbell. "I saw the finished product at a friend's house. I thought it would be nice to have a piece of greenery in my home that I created."
Heiser said when her daughters talked her into taking the class, she agreed and brought a special container to spice it up.
Ken and Pam Perry of Brainerd thought they'd give the class a shot since they needed a Christmas centerpiece for their dining room table.
"We've really gotten into the holidays," said Ken. "We do more decorating and more lighting each year."
He said Pam is the organizer and he is the creative one. Pam cut up all the greenery, pine cones and ribbons for the centerpiece and he put it all together. They put their centerpiece in an earth tone pottery bowl. They added a few beeswax candles.
"I didn't think it would be that hard and it wasn't," said Ken. "We just followed instructions. Everyone had good-looking stuff."
He said now that they know how to create the centerpiece, they plan to bring more items of their own next year to personalize it. They also plan to create another centerpiece for other holidays.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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