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November 20th, 2018 | In The News
It’s an integral part of the holiday decorating season.
In the next few weeks, people across the Valley will be getting out boxes of ornaments, lights and tinsel to fill the branches on their Christmas trees with whimsical, nostalgic trinkets that recall memories.
Many of us acquire new ornaments when we travel. Others are added to our collection because they relate to a hobby, were given to us by family or friends, or were inspired by home décor we saw and loved.
Whatever your reasons, there’s no wrong way to decorate a tree. Especially when you’re surrounded by so much local inspiration.
Over the years, a myriad of ornaments have been used to decorate trees in the Christmas City. The “Trees of Historic Bethlehem” are a longstanding tradition for the Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites and carry on the legacy of the late Jan Bealer, the onetime head of the city’s decorating committee for more than 30 years.
This year, thanks in part to the Jan Bealer Christmas Endowment Fund, visitors to Historic Bethlehem will have the opportunity to view 23 beautifully decorated trees at four historic sites: The 1810 Goundie House, the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Single Sisters’ House.
For $20 for a multi-site museum pass or $25 for a Christmas City Combo Ticket, visitors can see the trees in each of the locations through January 13. The combo ticket includes admission to both the trees tour and Christkindlmarkt, and the ticket can be used to visit the sites across multiple days (or to visit the museums for up to one year).
This year’s trees will be presented in conjunction with “Sketched Out” exhibit that’s on display at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts and the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, and each tree will be paired with a piece of artwork.
“It’s work from the collection that’s going to be displayed with each tree, so it won’t be artwork that is up for sale,” says Lindsey Jancay, Director of Programming for Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites. “Some of the pieces have inspired merchandise, so people can get sketchbooks with some of the pieces on them, or magnets and other items.”
The trees are decorated by members of the Bethlehem Garden Club, with a committee led by Sharon Donchez. Jancay and Donchez usually start discussing the theme for the trees tour in August, and then the decorators all start coming together in October. In the meantime, Donchez is knee-deep in ornament inventory, trying to keep tabs on what’s stored where and if new ornaments will be acquired for the year’s trees.
“We have an attic full of ornaments and holiday decorations. Every year we buy a few things, but we do have to store it. Every year, we do buy a few things depending on the theme,” says Donchez.
“We have an ornament inventory. The way that Sharon has it organized is what we do with the collection’s objects,” chimes in Jancay. “Everything has a box, and the box has a location and a number, and everything is marked when it gets moved so things can get put back where they were. Organization is a big part of it.”
“If we weren’t organized, we couldn’t do it,” acknowledges Donchez. “You’d have no idea where anything is. After we take the trees down, myself and another person come and we reorganize every year.”
Decorating – which is one of the Garden Club’s community service projects – is done over the course of six days, with two garden club members working on each tree. There are 42 people total on the decorating committee. Last year, more than 5,000 people passed through the historical sites to admire their work.
“People love to decorate. They just love to decorate,” Donchez points out. “People love Christmas. And they love Bethlehem at Christmas.”
Jancay recalls one year when a patron of the trees tour thought that the vintage ornaments on the trees were available for the public to purchase. Though all of the ornaments the public sees on display belong to the museums, visitors are encouraged to take ideas home with them.
“People do come in and ask how certain trees were decorated and want to know the steps behind it. If ornaments are homemade, they want to know how to make them,” Jancay says. “They want to draw inspiration from the trees and want to bring those ideas into their homes.”
Tree themes on the tour include (but are not limited to):
Abstract Art Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is done up in earthy blue and green elements, including moss and air plants.
Alps Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 9-ft. tree with white lights takes you to a winter wonderland and is decorated with snow, crystal, woodland animals, branches and other natural elements.
Bethlehem Steel Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this tree is a nod to the city’s rich steel history, covered in industrial geometric elements and metallic colors.
Botanical Print Tree: Located at the Single Sisters’ House, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is decorated with dried flowers, pressed flowers, and natural materials.
Circus Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum, this white tree with white lights is decked out with circus animals, tents and stripes, paper dolls, popcorn and features a ring leader’s hat as a tree topper.
Crazy Quilt Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is dedicated to those who love to sew! Fabric – including silk, velvet and brocade in dark, Victorian colors –adorns its branches.
Delftware Tree: Located at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, this 5-ft. primitive tree with white lights is “tea-stained,” with gingham, blue and white.
Embroidery Tree: Located at the Single Sisters’ House, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is decorated with angels, spools of thread, flowers, ribbon garland, and gold instruments.
Firefighting Tree: Located at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, this 5-ft. tree with white lights is filled with winter blues and grays, lanterns, felt Moravian candles, snowy ornaments, and vintage fire truck toys from the collection.
Fruit Tree: Located at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is filled with fruit, nuts and muted colors.
Lace Tree: Located at the Single Sisters’ House, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is very primitive. It features neutrals, lace details, tea-stained lace and ribbons, beading, and floral details.
Maps Tree: Located at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is a traveler’s delight! It’s adorned with atlas ornaments, muted tones, and angels.
Marbled Paper Tree: Located at the Single Sisters’ House, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is a true bibliophile’s tree filled with marbling, paper and book pages, and book ornaments. Its colors include blues, browns and grays, and glitter edging and gold are used to dress up the tree.
Music Tree: Located at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is for the true music lover! Sheet music with Moravian stars, instruments and music notes dance on the branches along with browns, neutrals and pops of dark red.
Paperweight Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is a rainbow gradation tree decorated with vibrant glass ornaments.
Peacock Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is a wonder of color, with peacock plumes, peacock ornaments, and golds and art déco details covering it from top to bottom. In true peacock style, this tree is filled with purples, burgundy and teal.
Putti Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is adorned with angels, gold, draped fabric and trumpets. Putti are nude chubby child figures, often with wings, frequently appearing in both mythological and religious paintings and sculpture.
Satsumaware Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 9-ft. tree with white lights pays homage to 19th century Satsumaware, a type of Japanese pottery that used a gilded polychromatic enamel overglaze. The tree is done in golds with red and blue accents, with red tassles and Japanese influences.
Silver Tree: Located at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, this 5-ft. tree with white lights puts the sparkle in the holiday! Enjoy the tree’s mercury glass, silver balls, glitter and silver beaded garland.
Star of Bethlehem Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 9-ft. tree with both colored and white lights pays homage to the infamous star that we all know so well. Vintage ornaments and houses nest on this tree in between its many stars.
Toleware Tree: Located at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, this 7-ft. tree with white lights is covered with matte black ornaments, gold ornaments, natural elements such as flowers and berries, velvet ribbons, and pink and olive accents.
“An Artful Christmas House Tour” takes place December 9
What’s even better than getting tree decorating inspiration from the Christmas City? How about getting inspiration to decorate your entire house for the holidays?
The Bethlehem Garden Club presents its “An Artful Christmas House Tour” on Sunday, December 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour will feature the homes of six Bethlehem Garden Club members, as well as the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts. Tickets are priced at $15 and are available at bethlehemgardenclub.org, at the Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center, The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, La Petite Provence, Hickory Grove Greenhouses, Herbein’s Garden Center, Bob’s Flower Shop, and Neighbor’s Home and Garden Center. Tickets will be available for $20 at each house tour location on the day of the event.
All homes will be fully decked out for the holidays, from table settings and centerpieces to ‘artfully’ decorated trees and elaborate mantels. Visitors will enjoy photography and artwork displays by Bethlehem Garden Club members, and have the opportunity to purchase baked goods and decorated books.
A portion of the proceeds will allow the club to continue to support their community projects, which include helping local nonprofit organizations and funding their annual scholarship program.
Read on the Morning Call website
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