Human Interest

The Village of Oak Creek is home to many fascinating people — individuals and families whose careers, charity work and hobbies deserve a closer look.

Take Joe and Corinne Blandino, married for 33 years, residents of the VOC since 1989: Both boast histories in the professional world before and after coming to Sedona — Corinne Blandino, in fact, appeared as an At Random subject in the Sedona Red Rock News Oct. 22, 2010 edition — but it’s their contribution to the holiday season each year that marks them as something special.

2015 marked yet another year in which the Blandinos made a minor production facility of their home, gathering supplies together to make wreaths for sale locally and across the nation. It may seem a simple thing, but not only is it labor-intensive; it’s a labor of well over five decades.

Of course, in the early 1980s Corinne Blandino could hardly have predicted that she would meet a man with such an odd history. By the time she met Joe Blandino, he had already been making wreaths for 15 years.

Thirty-five years later, and the couple is going strong, producing wreaths popular enough to justify limiting incoming orders. Four different styles featuring native evergreens, fragrant evergreens, berries and even Southwestern additions guarantee that the Blandinos’ season is full of activity.

According to Corinne Blandino, making wreaths has become “more of a hobby” than anything else, but producing 250 wreaths each year remains no small feat.

“You have this really small frame of time to do everything,” Blandino said. “It all happens in a week or two .... And between Joe and I, we’ve never hired anyone else.”

The 100 wreaths not sourced from the Pacific Northwest are created entirely from scratch, from the local sourcing of branches, to the gathering of decoration materials, to the final binding and gluing. The resulting product represents an enormous expenditure of time and resources.

“If you include everything, once you get all the material cut appropriately, I would say it might take Joe about an hour,” Blandino said. “It’s always the prep work that takes the longest.”

Blandino, who suffers from a chronic illness, is the operation’s nervous system, making sure everything is handled according to spec: “I’m the accountant, the UPS label printer ... I have everything ready to tell Joe what goes in each box.”

Laborious process though it is, the Blandinos continue to produce, each year.


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