Monday, May 18, 2009

Charity, Tea & Me

I was very excited a few months ago to be asked to design a table for a benefit for the wonderful local charity, Childhaven. Each year they host what they call a "Butterfly Tea" for moms and children, each table designed around a popular children's book of the designer's choosing.

My selection? "It Looked Like Spilt Milk," by Charles G. Shaw, a classic from more than 40 years ago. I love the simplicity of its design and plot, with high-contrast illustrations that little ones love (a lesson I've learned firsthand).

The tea was held this year at the lovely new Arctic Hotel here in Seattle, which gave me an opportunity to finally see the fabled Dome Rome, which was part of the building's original design years and years ago. In the words of the hotel, the Dome Rome "offers Rococo gilt and original artistic frescos, ornamental cornices and stained glass dome ceiling with the effects reminiscent of the Northern Lights."

Here's a sampling (along with the top of my centerpiece peeking out from below):

Having never participated in such an event, I was quite pleased with my efforts...prior to seeing what other, more seasoned participants busted out. We're talking giant trees with life-size plush animals hanging from the branches, custom chair covers with attached butterfly wings.... Who knew?

Having opted for a more...understated...effect, I still love my floral arrangement and color scheme, but I fear the kids may have been disappointed by my lack of drama.

Check out what I came up with--kind of Kate Spade-esque.

I lined a tall clear glass canister with paper that I fashioned into stripes, and filled it with a conical foam piece covered in white miniature Carnations. I painted a pair of wooden flower rings and dowels from Michael's (and by "I," I mean my husband), and strung cut-out paper replicas of the books motifs from white thread.

I also discovered the wonder of a nifty little product called Stitch Witchery. (Have I mentioned how undomestic I am? All you crafty sorts out there are probably thinking to yourself, "Duh!") I was designing around a 72"diameter table, so I had to buy two separate pieces of fabric and join them together, a task often done by a little process known as SEWING. Due to my aforementioned lack of domestic skills, this wasn't an option. Enter Stitch Witchery. Just lay your pieces down, sandwich in a little Stitch Witchery tape, dampen and iron, and voila! One tablecloth. I felt like I just gave birth!

Here's a close-up of the floral design:

I was happy with the final product, but I'm fairly confident that Martha Stewart will still sleep well at night.

I just hope my table of kids didn't feel too slighted. Hopefully the Smencils in their gift boxes helped.


teaorwine said...

So unique, colorful and proud!

gatherings home said...

Ohhhhh...Leah! You did a fabulous job. I could have never even imagined coming up with something so awesome! All for such a worthy cause. You should be so proud!! :)


jamieofalltrades said...

You did a lovely job. I really would like to check out the Arctic Hotel now.

Revival Home and Garden said...

Thanks for the kinds words, everyone. It was a lot of fun, and the Arctic Hotel is definitely worth checking out, despite its somewhat odd location. I would have loved to have had the time to wander around and see more of the building. Field trip, anyone?

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