Sorry for the silence, everyone! We'll make it up to you, I promise. To start, here's an insider look into all the blood, sweat and crafting that went on behind the scenes of my story this month.
These days, you can find pumpkins anywhere, but try early August! Not easy, I assure you. After about a hundred phone calls to pumpkin patches from here to California, we stumbled upon Deak's Farm N Home in upstate New York, just three hours away. The sweet couple who owns the farm were even nice enough to meet us half way! Here's the stash they picked early from the fields especially for us.
There weren't any white ones at the time, but that was nothing a little spray paint couldn't fix. Here they are drying in the sunlight outside aloft studio in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, inside, we were just getting started.
Here's Ayn-Monique, the home editor on staff, painting the stems gold.
Working with editor in chief Elizabeth Mayhew and the team at Woman's Day, we decided to shoot the arrangements in a variety of scenarios to give readers ideas on how to display them in their own homes. I love pumpkins on a fireplace mantle, and this one from the Prop Company had nice details without being overpowering. The pine was perfect, too, for that fall harvest feel.
Paint and linen backdrops in wine-colored tones like plum, bordeaux and burgundy would add warmth to the pictures.
Thank you to photographer Lisa Hubbard, together with the talented art and photo editors at the magazine, for all their hard work. I've been shooting magazine stories for years, and it still feels like magic.
Next up: the pine cone arrangement. While the first few shots were pretty enough, something was definitely missing.
Velvet and satin ribbon, layered one upon the other and fastened with tape, added color and dimension to the shot. Working at Martha especially, I've learned that It's styling details like these that can elevate even the craftiest craft to new heights.
A charming sideboard from the Prop Company, for example…
…together with vintage brass candlesticks and double-faced satin ribbon took a simple sketch of the pecan sphere from this…
… to this…
and finally, to this!
Both the pine cone arrangement and the pecan sphere we tried as cover options, but ultimately, the team at Woman's Day chose the splatter pumpkins. What do you think?
For the next scenario, a shimmery Indian corn hurricane shot on a horizontal surface, I brought with us a vintage brass tray of my own. This piece, even the first time around, I'd always imagined on a sideboard during a fall harvest dinner with wine and hors d'oeuvres.
If you're entertaining and need linen cocktail napkins in just the right hue, here's a stylist's secret that works like a charm: simply cut squares of fabric, then fray the edges.
They won't last through the wash, but your guests will never know!
Oh and that buttery Chardonnay in the glasses? It's Diet Coke and water.
Now that I'm giving away all my secrets, the table setting with the birch long candlestick wasn't even a table at all.
Then again, you'd never know that from the magazine!
Late in the day, and five scenarios were complete. After weeks of sketching, planning, crafting and propping, a cohesive story had finally begun to unfold.
All that remained now was the paper and wheat wreath, the crowning jewel of the story, and for that, I turned to the master crafter herself, my mother Margie. She's always there to help, glue gun in hand, on television shoots and holiday projects alike. Here's the sketch I gave her.
And here she is at the house, crafting her masterpiece.
So with a charming, old door from the Prop Company…
…and a quick coat of Valspar paint that Jaithan did…
…the paper wheat wreath was nearly complete! All it needed now was a little trim.
Here it is in studio.
And here it is in the magazine!
Of course, you'd think it was an interior door in some gorgeous, old house, behind which an intimate group of family and friends had gathered in the dining room for a beautiful Thanksgiving meal. And why not?