As Christmas approaches each year different families have different ways to get into the holiday season. For mother and daughter-in-law Virginia Bradshaw and Jeanie Bradshaw that involves making burlap wreaths together.
For the last four years, the two have been a frequent and popular fixture at the annual Made in the Cariboo Craft Fair hosted by the Tourism Discovery Centre.
Every year their handmade wreaths tend to sell out fast and are usually gone by the end of the day.
They started doing this together as a way to bond.
Virginia has lived in the lakecity pretty well all her life since 1964 and has seen a lot of changes to Williams Lake in that time. For the last 36 years, she’s worked at the local CIBC and been involved in the community.
Meanwhile, her daughter-in-law Jeanie is currently attending TRU in Williams Lake for applied businesses and technology, which she supposes makes her a “broke student” she quipped.
When not studying or working on crafts, Jeanie is an employee of Chuck’s Auto Supply Ltd part-time.
When Jeanie returned to Williams Lake from Fort St. John four years ago, she and Virginia decided to do something together that involved crafts. Virginia said that after seeing burlap sack wreathes online, Jeanie figured out how to make them and asked her mother -in- law for help.
Jeanie said that while she was up north she’d made a couple of these wreaths already so when she moved to Williams Lake she already had them in mind as crafts the two of them could do together.
As they started making them people started taking interest in them which led to them doing their first craft fair, she said.
They decided on Made in the Cariboo because Virginia said they liked what it was about and the fact it was only a one-day commitment a year. She figured it would be easy to make enough wreaths to sell each year that way.
“We did our first craft fair and I think we pretty much sold out of all of them. So we went into our second one and made twice as much and sold out of those and we’ve been doing it ever since,” Jeanie said.
The wreaths are made from burlap that Jeanie gets in rolls she then shapes into two different styles of wreaths using wire rings.
While she does that Virginia takes the basic wreaths and decorates them with bows, flowers and other Christmas items she has on hand.
“It’s fun buying all the stuff for it to put on the wreath,” Virginia laughed.
“(We get) to be creative, we both love decorating our houses, changing our mantles for the seasons and our pictures. This is a nice creative outlet and we really enjoy it.”
Getting to work with one another creatively is one of Jeanie’s favourite part of making these wreaths along with interacting with people at the craft fair each year.
Virginia said she listens to what people like about each wreath and what they’d like to see added so that she can incorporate those ideas into their future creations.
They’ll then bounce ideas off of one another over the next year as they make little adjustments here and there to make them as perfect as possible.
Both would say that doing this has brought them closer together, with Virginia adding that they’ve even done trips together to places like New Orleans and San Francisco with just the two of them.
“We’re proof that a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law can get along really well and be creative,” Virginia remarked.
It also helps them get more into the Christmas spirit, Jeanie said, as they slowly build up their stash of wreaths and decorations as weeks go by.
Virginia said that people should see them after Christmas whereas soon as decorations go on sale they’re out buying them to use in their wreaths next year.
At the end of the day, Virginia said they don’t make the wreaths to make “big money” and instead just use them as a “creative outlet.”
They both said they feel a great sense of pride whenever they see their wreaths up around town hanging on people’s doors.
At the end of the day, the wreaths are labours of love for Virginia and Jeanie and they hope the lakecity continues to support both them and all of their fellow craft fair vendors who represent a part of the heart of Williams Lake, making it a great place.