Mauli McDonald's Rustic Wreaths

The Sunapee artist gives roadkill new life

Artist Mauli McDonald has a bent for the spiritual side of nature. She looks philosophically on the creatures she uses as the centerpieces of her natural wreaths, saying, “They are back in their natural habitat.”  All are roadkill and preserved by professional taxidermists, and, in McDonald’s works, they have found a new life.

Aside from raccoons or pheasants, McDonald uses moose antlers or tree limbs from the woods. She also uses professionally preserved natural materials such as moss, seed pods, grains, ferns and hydrangea to create her 100 percent natural wreaths — botanical artworks that exude the warmth of fall.

McDonald started as an assistant at a flower shop in Concord working with fresh flowers, but she eventually went out on her own with her preserved designs. The variety of natural materials — wasp paper, feathers, sunflower seed heads and deer skulls among them — have led her down new paths as she continues to expand her preserved collections. Her millinery work features moss and feathers adorning vintage top hats brought back to life by her imagination. Meanwhile, McDonald has continued working with her florist roots, providing naturalistic fresh flowers for weddings. Another side project is her series of two-word musings printed on T-shirts — “Encourage Courage,” for one. What’s next? Maybe furniture.

When not working in her garage studio in Sunapee during the week, she is on the road up and down the Eastern Seaboard, attending craft and art shows to find the perfect home for her rustic and bold designs. She accepts custom work but doesn’t really mass-produce her work, saying, “I’m just two hands and one woman.”

Wreaths $375 to $425 online or via studio visit, by appointment only

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