Margaret Furlong Blog | Everyday Life & Porcelain Design Inspiration



Even though it doesn’t look like Thomas is doing his share of work at the studio, we all agree that his presence here brings peace and joy in this busy Christmas season.

I have been bringing Thomas to the studio lately because I don’t like him home alone for such long dark days. Since he likes to travel in the car and is content to be on my lap for the trip, it’s an easy task to get him here. And once he’s here he is content to nap wherever he pleases.

Each ornament hangs gracefully in open spaces and the lights shine exposed like stars in the sky. My Christmas tree this year is a Noble Fir that has not been pruned. The natural growth pattern is open and airy with lots of space between the branches.

I started decorating with a tree skirt and heart ornaments that I had made from a vintage red and white quilt. I added red and green glass balls, a collection of hand blown clear and white glass ornaments, and finally my porcelain angels and stars.

As I put each angel on the tree, I was reminded of the thoughts and happenings that inspired that year’s design. And so many times I have also been inspired by the meanings that you have assigned to your angels; your first Christmas together, the birth of your children, a new tradition for your grandchildren, the love of the sea and many, many more. Each year new loves and new joys are celebrated and sometimes sorrows are uplifted with hope as we assign meaning to the symbolic ornaments we choose to hang upon our tree.

My very first angel design, The Trumpeter, was such a sweet gift from God to celebrate my first Christmas as His child. I could hear the music and the words of praise as the angels sang, “Hark the Herald Angel Sing, Glory to the Newborn King!”

A couple years later, the Holly Angel, 1983, held holly to celebrate the Christmas season and also the Northwest where we had settled down to live in Salem, Oregon. I was so excited to pick holly for Christmas in the empty lot next door. I tucked holly in the Christmas tree branches, in a wreath and behind the bows on my packages.

The 1984 angel, The Dove Angel had many levels of meaning for me including peace and especially love as the angel nestled the dove in encircling arms to symbolize my love for my newborn child, my daughter Caitlin.

In 1985, the Heart Angel held a shell heart. The heart had taken on new, richer and expanded meaning as I experienced love for and from my darling Caitlin.

Many years have passed and I have designed many more angels, each with poignant inspiration, but these are a few of my favorite things…

Miniature boxwood wreaths dress up an old, iron candelabra for festive Christmas entertaining. For small wreaths and garlands, boxwood is the ideal broadleaf evergreen to use. Its tiny dark green leaves are adorable, shiny and stay green for a long time inside.

I love using greens from my own garden to decorate my home for the holidays. It is so satisfying to grow your own, to use live decorations and to “shop” in your back yard.

To make each wreath I used single branches about 3” long. I wired each one to the previous one until I had a garland about 7” long. I then overlapped the ends and wired them together to form the wreath.

It is important to use soft clippings – no woody stems – so the garland is flexible enough to form a small circle.

Boxwood loves to be pruned any time of year to let the light in, so don’t be shy about gathering lots of boxwood clippings for wreaths of any size, garlands and green arrangements.

This last Monday my friend Galina and I went out for our daily walk in Waterfront Park along the Willamette River.  We were surprised and awed by the beauty we encountered.

The overnight icy temperatures and morning fog had held and were revealing their splendors in icy details and majestic vistas.

The trees were robed in their Christmas majesty and the sun revealed its glory with a rainbow crown.

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