published Saturday, April 27th, 2013

May Day memories: GPS alumnae create floral replicas of their '78 high school gowns

One 35-year-reunion activity for GPS' class of 1978 was a surprise workshop. Class members Bonnie Shirk, Ebbie Cruddas, Martha Krabbendam and Angie Williams Daly, from left, replicate their May Day dresses in flowers.
One 35-year-reunion activity for GPS' class of 1978 was a surprise workshop. Class members Bonnie Shirk, Ebbie Cruddas, Martha Krabbendam and Angie Williams Daly, from left, replicate their May Day dresses in flowers.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

  • photo
    Boofie Crimmins replicated her green 1978 May Day dress in laurel leaves, beargrass (braided into a belt) and crabapple blossoms from her yard.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

Centerpiece directions

1 Purchase two large blocks designer floral foam for each centerpiece. Soak foam blocks in water 24 hours before beginning project.

2 To begin, place floral foam in a flat, shallow tray with a low rim or even on a cookie sheet. The foam will drip water. Using a tray contains the water, allowing it to be poured off.

3 Stack two blocks, determine length of bamboo or narrow wooden dowel needed, and cut dowel to desired size. Insert dowel through both blocks to stabilize them.

4 Lay blocks flat on tray and cut foam away with kitchen knife, shaping into a dress bust.

5 Stand bust up, insert stems of floral blossoms into wet blocks. Stems should be cut between 1 to 2 inches in length. If using individual petals, attach them either with straight pins or u-shaped metal floral pins.

6 Add baby's breath or other small white blossoms to designate hemline ruffles or neckline trim.

7 Cover raw edges at neckline with square of linen or other flesh-covered fabric, tuck beneath flowers and pin into place.

Source: Joe Jumper, The Clay Pot

Warmer temperatures signal the kickoff of the spring/summer social season: bridal showers, bridesmaids' luncheons, graduations, reunions, baby showers, birthday parties. And, of course, cookouts for any occasion.

As part of their 35-year reunion weekend, members of the Girls Preparatory School class of 1978 were invited to a workshop. What they would be making remained a secret.

When they arrived at the Clay Pot, the women were surprised by owner Joe Jumper and class member Boofie Lupton Crimmins, who had all the supplies needed to recreate in flowers the May Day dresses they wore their senior year.

Using blossoms, petals and greenery, they handcovered blocks of floral foam, building centerpieces used that night at their reunion dinner -- a process comparable to creating a Rose Bowl float, only in a tabletop version.

As they worked, the GPS alumnae laughed, reminisced and caught up with old friends while a playlist of '70s hits ran in the background.

"Had the greatest time ever!" Joan Masingill Brown thanked Jumper.

Crimmins said May Day styles their senior year were "a lot of light blue, peach, pink and yellow -- ruffly and fluffier than dresses these days."

Work tables blossomed with blue delphinium, pink daisies, white mums and a rainbow of mini carnations. To re-create her green gown, Crimmins cut greenery from her yard, pinning laurel leaves in layers to capture the tiered style of 1970s gowns.

"Try to hit the detail like a pretty neckline or ruffled hemline with an accent flower," she suggests.

Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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