Well Dressing 2016         St Michael’s Church, Pleasley

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The theme for the Well Dressing and Flower Festival at St Michael’s Church, Pleasley for 2016 was “Musical Delights”.

Daily Update - How we made the Well Dressing

Saturday 9th July

And its over to the men! We need a ‘strong arm’ team to move the well panels into place as they are now very heavy.

HOORAY! No mishaps. Thank you for getting the Well Dressing safely into place.

The Brownie ‘Welcome’ Well - the Jungle Book and the Lion King by St John Ambulance.

Friday 8th July

IT HAS TO BE FINISHED TODAY! The church is buzzing with activity. The church is filling up with fantastic flower arrangements - each one based on a different musical. There is still lots to do on the Well Dressing. However, traditionally, all the helpers stop for fish & chips at lunchtime.

At 5 o’clock we move the panels into church and place them on top of the pews so that we can continue petalling. The Pyddoke room can then  be cleaned and transformed into a small cafe. Unfortunately last minute petalling can go on late into the night. This year, the last petal was put in at 1:55 in the early hours of Saturday morning!

Thursday 7th July

Some people are now involved in doing flower arrangements in church, whilst others soldier on with the Well Dressing. We can start using leaves today but the flower petals need to wait until tomorrow. Not all petals are suitable. Some of our favourites are Hydrangea for the sky, Carnations for fabric as they are a bit frilly, Gerbera which are beautiful and quite strong but expensive and some types of wide-petalled Chrysanthemums. We often don’t decide which ones to use until Thursday and then have to rush around looking for the correct colours.

Everybody seems to love Joseph’s feet. They certainly do look very effective, especially now that they are surrounded by gravel and have a light coloured tunic above. This has been ‘petalled’ using Senecio leaves.

There are lots of different sections to fill in on Joseph’s coat. This sleeve has now been completed using wool, small Hydrangea heads, coloured stones and parsley.

Wednesday 6th July

Things beginning to get very busy now. We’ve had a visit from Farmilo School and some much appreciated extra help from other youngsters. Not sure how many gallons of tea have been consumed, but thank you to all those who have been keeping us well refreshed.

Old darts are very useful tools for making holes when ‘marking out’ and also for gently pressing wool into the damp clay. We have to spray the clay with water several times a day to keep it just right for working into.

Tuesday 5th July

Lots of helpers today. Unfortunately we were so busy I forgot to take photos, apart from one or two at the end of the day. Melon seeds have been used on the sheaves of corn whilst the hills are being filled in with rhubarb seeds, bottle brush plant seeds, stones and pebbles.

Joseph’s feet have turned out very well thanks to the coffee bean and string sandals by Amanda and the patient egg -shelling by Val.

Monday 4th July

Slow but steady progress today. Still lots of bare clay but all the shapes are now in place although Joseph still doesn’t have a complete face. Below are the 2 side panels. The desert hills and stars in the night sky are starting to become more obvious.

Sunday  3rd July

We didn’t get all the wooling finished yesterday so more patient joining of dots  to create the main part of the design.

Coloured stones are the first things to be placed on the damp clay, as these obviously last well. Leaves and the more delicate petals are saved for later in the week. Its not just a case of throwing the stones on though. Each one has to be carefully placed on the clay, being pressed down just enough to stick but not pushed in too deep to get covered in clay.

Saturday 2nd July

We’ve started!

The clay is usually a little too wet to work on straight away so some ‘hairdrying ‘ is required to get it to just the correct firmness for transferring the design.

After placing the plastic film onto the clay and piercing through the black outline with an old dart, the design appears as hundreds of dots. This is known as ‘pricking out’ These are then carefully joined together with black wool to produce an accurate and clear outline -’wooling’.


It all starts with a design. The Well design is based on the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

The next stage is to enlarge the design onto plastic film. For this you need some clear wall space, plenty of patience and a strong arm as it gives you an aching shoulder!

In the meantime thank you to the group of people, particularly Phillip, who have soaked the boards in water for a week, mixed up the clay to the right consistency and then put it onto the boards. This is a difficult and messy job. The boards are then transported to church and into the Pyddoke room ready to begin.