Floral funeral blanket eulogizes merging colleges

Students made the blanket using colored leaves, flowers and collected foliage.

Emma Carew

Neil Anderson’s Monday afternoon lab is hardly a typical science class.

Last week, his students designed and created a funeral blanket to symbolize the merger of the College of Natural Resources with the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, as part of the University’s realignment plan.

In past years, Anderson placed his floral design students in smaller groups to design sympathy arrangements that could be used together for a funeral, Anderson said, but this year, he wanted to do something new and exciting with the entire class.

The blanket, which is 4 feet by 7 feet, has two opposing floral designs that merge in the middle, he said.

The students used forestry elements, such as colored leaves from around campus, to represent the College of Natural Resources, and flowers and foliage to represent the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Anderson said.

The class of 27 students was split into four groups, retail merchandising senior Mara Peterson said.

The students started with a burlap bag as the base and attached foliage and floral materials with glue or pins, then sewed the panel to chicken wire to connect all four pieces, she said.

All of the materials used for the blanket were fresh, either collected by teaching assistant Rachel DeVries or purchased through a wholesale distributor, Peterson said.

Anderson said he wasn’t sure the four pieces were going to fit together well, but “it really turned out superb.”

He said he thinks the blanket is a great way to get students at the University thinking about what’s going on around campus.

“(The blanket) looks like a big pizza,” mortuary science junior Jeff Waltz said. “I’m OK with that.”

The students incorporated about 15 types of foliage in the design, DeVries said.

The two colleges have “similar disciplines, but still have their unique characters,” she said, which is why the class used four panels rather than two.

DeVries said it was interesting to watch the process because the class includes students from different colleges and disciplines.

“They really exemplify what’s going on with the colleges,” she said.

The blanket is on display in the office of the department of horticulture in Alderman Hall.