The Art of Well Dressing
Clay is dug locally and is mixed with salt and trod (like grapes!) to the right consistency. The design is prepared weeks before the event. For some days before the process of dressing begins, the boards on which the pictures are mounted are soaked in the village pond. After this they are plastered in clay.
Flowers are picked locally. The picture is traced onto the boards, using a pointer or a toothed wheel, and marked out with cones from the alder trees or with coffee beans. Then comes the delicate and laborious task of infilling with flower petals and other natural materials. No artificial or synthetic materials are ever used at Tissington. Each petal has to be put in separately and they overlap like tiles on a roof so that the rain will flow off the picture. This process takes many hours and occupies all of the three days preceding Ascension Day.
The dressings are erected on the eve of Ascension Day. This is the first time that those who have worked on the pictures see what the effect is really like, as the pictures appear distorted when they are horizontal. They are then ready for the ceremony of Blessing following the service in Church at 11am on the Thursday. The Clergy progress round the village and bless each well in turn. The dressings remain in place until the following Wednesday evening, during which time very many thousands of people will have visited the village to see the spectacle.