Yesterday was one of those rare times in one's life when everything works out perfectly and all expectations of an occasion exceeds anything imagined.
First, it was a perfect Washington, DC day. Bright sunshine, relatively warm with no wind.
Wooly and I met our needlework friends from AZ at the grand Willard Hotel, had lunch at an old landmark restaurant, the Old Ebbitt Grill which had two massive Nutcrackers standing outside the front door. The Grill has lots of atmosphere featuring old fashioned marble, brass, wood fixtures and lots of impressionistic type paintings of contemporary subjects.
Afterwards we walked over to the White House and there was no line! (I was prepared to wait and even brought a needlepoint canvas to work on!) We showed our invitations, waved inside and through a security checkpoint, just like the airports, then to the next corridor.
We saw Christmas decorations of needlepoint, glass and miniature little designer clothes in the hall windows. Each object framed in the center of a large wreath.
Then the first of many Christmas trees appeared in the halls and rooms and it was absolutely stunning! The first tree featured various hand made versions of angel/dolls/figures. More decorative, brightly lit trees followed filled with various ornaments made in previous years.
There were two trees filled with small needleworked stockings from the recent past standing in a large curved mural room featuring historical scenes from the early history of the US, painted in the "primitive" style of the time.
More trees, decorated mantles and table tops in halls and rooms. Everything was festive and brightly lit with lots of Christmas lights.
Music provided atmosphere with harpists in the wide hall and various choral groups singing in some of the rooms.
We spent a lot of time taking pictures of all the rooms and decorations and were allowed to wander around at our own pace and inclination.
What surprised me were the size of the rooms, I expected them to be overwhelmingly large and on a grand scale but instead the rooms were good sized but still intimate in feeling. Of course we were impressed with the decorations, the antique collections, portraits of former presidents and wives, furnishings, rugs and architectural details.
It was an interesting feeling to know we were walking in the same halls where the famous and infamous personages of history have been!
My favorite room was the cozy library--I could see myself curled up in there doing needlework or reading on a rainy, cold day!
After thoroughly looking at the downstairs we walked upstairs and saw more decorations and suddenly through a doorway, the Blue Room tree!! It was utterly awesome!! The beautiful tree was packed from the floor to the very ceiling top with ornaments of glass, needlepoint and various fashion designer's versions of Santa and Mrs Santa's suit! The miniature outfits were quite interesting, made of various rich fabrics and materials--many featuring rhinestones, sequins and unusual trims.
One little robe in a watered silk was contributed by Elizabeth Locke the well known jewelry designer with precious buttons made of earrings from the collection. Her assistant who was standing next to me told me about it.
The various art glass balls and objects added that much more interest to the tree. Beautiful objects in multicolor swirls, etched Christmas scenes on glass and other interesting shaped glass ornaments.
One glass artist was wearing the most unique hand blown glass bead necklace I had ever seen of swirled shaped large and small beads in various colors.
I know we and our friends spent at least a couple of hours in there looking at the various ornaments. We met many of our fellow needlepoint designers, glass artists, along with fashion design people. It was really interesting to talk to many of the designers, all were so friendly and EVERYONE was totally impressed by the display of talent.
We walked around the tree looking at everything and were even allowed to touch our ornaments to move them so we could take better pictures!!
I found my Santa easily, couldn't find my other Santa a shop sent and accidentally found another one of my designs displayed. It's an odd feeling to unexpectedly find one's work. It was a beautifully stitched knitting Matroiska/sheep with tiny gold needles and basket of wool.
I managed to find many of my friend's ornaments and looked and looked for Melinda's <EowynA@aol.com> ornament with the hedgehog, but couldn't find it after looking for it all around the tree several times.
Many of the ornaments could not be seen easily and high up on the tree, or hidden behind other ornaments we couldn't reach.We were given a list of the various artists and a general site plan of where the ornaments by each were displayed.
Some of the ornaments were needlepointed 3-D pieces featuring stumpwork and other needlework techniques. There were several Jack In the Box type of designs---large ones and small ones, exqusitely done from what I could see. The creative finishing of these stitched pieces was definitely out of this world.
One of the centerpieces was the large needlepointed piece of a 3-D Socks, the First Cat coming out of a needlepoint box or bag at the top of the tree!!
While we were in the Blue Room, we looked out the rear window and there was Bill Clinton out there playing golf! Amazing.
It was said, Clinton often comes down at night to wander among the Christmas trees admiring the decorations.
Afterwards we went to a reception sponsored by Hyla Hurley (the lady behind the White House needlepoint show) of The Point of It All that famous Washington DC needlepoint shop with the cheery red walls packed with anything and everything needlepoint!
We spent a couple of hours mingling and enjoying ourselves entertained with harp music, various wines, crackers and cheeses, etc. Then off to dinner with more needlepoint friends. It was all in all a perfect day!!!
Even if it sounds a little corny, we were all so proud and honored to be part of this Christmas display at the White House. In fact quite proud of being citizens of this great country.
Lula from Wooly Dreams Design
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