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Designing woman

Dowling brings artist’s touch to holiday stamps

Laura Dowling addresses attendees at the Holiday Wreaths stamp dedication ceremony in October.

Laura Dowling has a special connection to the Postal Service’s new Holiday Wreaths stamps: She designed the wreaths herself.

After USPS approached her to create the wreaths, Dowling — who served as the White House’s chief floral designer from 2009-2015 — began experimenting with different styles.

She even got input from the letter carrier in her Alexandria, VA, neighborhood.

“[She] would notice the wreaths and give me feedback, like telling me if they were too big and covered the mail slot,” Dowling said.

The contemporary-style wreaths featured on the stamps were made of fresh and dried materials, including pine cones, flowers and berries.

“The idea was to celebrate the holiday season, but to include the broader winter season,” Dowling said.

Before becoming a floral designer, Dowling had what she called a “typical Washington career” in government relations and strategic communications.

During a trip to Paris, however, she discovered her passion for the beauty of flowers. After studying French design techniques, she opened her own studio.

When Dowling learned of the floral designer vacancy at the White House, she submitted her resume. Following an eight-month competition and face-to-face interview with first lady Michelle Obama, Dowling landed the job.

“It was a busy and wonderful experience managing the décor and flowers for White House events,” Dowling said.

Since leaving the White House, Dowling has written several books on floral design, including a how-to guide on wreath making. She learned USPS would feature her wreaths on this year’s holiday stamps while on a summertime book tour.

“People are starting to hear about it and everyone’s excited,” Dowling said.

Dowling spoke at the Oct. 25 dedication ceremony for the Holiday Wreaths stamps in Freeport, ME, where Bill Green, a local TV host who served as the master of ceremonies, discussed the historical significance of wreaths.

“They give us much needed color after we endure the darkness of the day and approach the safety, warmth and love of our homes,” he said. “It is indeed appropriate that the U.S. Postal Service chose Laura’s beautiful wreaths, decorated in American colonial custom, as the subject matter for this year’s holiday stamps.”

Dowling couldn’t agree more.

“I’m so happy people understand the symbolism of the wreaths and the warmth of the holidays,” she said.

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