Thursday, February 18, 2010

Paper Flower Wreaths

I have mentioned before that my mother made flowers as a hobby. These are the kind made with crepe paper used in that time of the 40's and 50's very frequently by hispanic women, in Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The crepe paper had a certain stretchability that was very useful, especially when making roses. Rose petals were cut and stretched into the shape of real rose petals and then arranged aroung a wire to shape into a rose and tied with a slim wire, usually pulled out of a piece of screen window wire. These flowers and some made like carnations were then arranged into a wreath. These wreaths were used at funerals or taken to the cemetary to decorate tombs, especially on November on the day of the dead.
My mother used to make many wreaths to go visit the cemetary burying places of all her relatives whenever we could go all the way to Escobares, near Rio Grande City, Texas. As a child I used to make some small wreaths about 12 inches round for all the relatives too, all by myself. This is how i learned to make paper flowers, by copying my mother.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mother's Day in my Childhood

When I was a child in the Rio Grande Valley, Weslaco's hispanic community celebrated Mother's Day by wearing a small artificial flower on their lapel--a red one if their mother was alive or a white one if she were dead. These small individual artificial flowers were usually sold at the local 5 and 10 downtown store, but more often than not, they were peddled door to door a few days before Mother's Day in May.
Since making crepe flowers was one of my mother's hobbies, I took the task of making 30 to 50 small crepe paper flowers, mostly in red, but some in white too. I remember they looked like little carnations. My mother contributed the crepe paper and my father the wire. The wire was usually the copper looking little wires inside a thick wire, usually left over from car repairs. It was very flexible and could be covered with twisted crepe paper, after the little flower was finished.
There were certain steps I took with each flower. Using a piece of wire about 4 or 5 inches, I would tie 2 or 3 small pieces of yellow crepe paper on the tip, twisting the wire to hold the bits of paper in place to be the flower center. Around this center I would wound a strip of crepe paper, usually 18 to 20 inches long and just about 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide, with the edges on one side cut or slit to look like flower petals. I would tie this to form the flower with a small screen window wire. Then I would cover the flower stem, or wire with green crepe paper strip. A piece of fern from my mother's garden would then finish the tiny corsage and I usually added a straight pin for pinning it to the lapel. My aunt Fita would go with me door to door to sell them for 25 cents each, usually late in the afternoon to escape the hot sun of may in the Valley. I then used this money to buy my mother a mother's day present.