Making christmas wreath craft


  • Making Wreaths

Wreaths have been a favorite form of decoration ever since the ancient
Greeks honored their heroes with crowns of laurel. More recently, we’ve
adopted the wreath as a traditional symbol of welcome during the holidays,
and increasingly, all year long. As the popularity of wreaths grows, so too
does the interest in creating them. Many people are discovering the satisfaction
of making wreaths of their own rather than buying them ready-made.
Although wreaths can be made from many different materials (including
newspapers, oyster shells, and empty soda cans), this leaflet describes creating
wreaths using natural plant materials, from cedar cones to magnolia
leaves. Many of the wreaths discussed are everlasting—because they’re made
from dried or preserved materials rather than fresh, these wreaths will look
attractive for years to come.


  • Planning Your Wreath

If you plan to hang your wreath on the front door, as many people do, it’s
important to relate the diameter of the wreath to the size of the door because
together, the two make up a single display. Just as a small, delicate wreath
can look out of place hanging on a front door, a wreath that is too large will
overwhelm even the grandest entryway. Making the wreath too big for the
door is a common miscalculation.
One good rule of thumb is to hang a wreath at eye level, its center about
one-fourth of the distance from the top to the bottom of the door and to
keep the wreath’s maximum width slightly less than one-half the width of
the door. Keep in mind, however, that these calculations are only guidelines.
Texture of plant materials selected should also be related to the diameter
of the wreath. A wreath will appear larger if bright colors, coarse textures,
or reflecting materials are used. Smaller
wreaths demand more finely textured materials.
Both coarse and fine materials may be used on
larger wreaths.
While fresh evergreen wreaths are shortlived
if displayed on doors with a southern
exposure, they may remain attractive for several
weeks if displayed on doors with a northern
exposure during cold weather. Of course, different
types of foliage vary in their ability to
remain fresh after they are cut.
The attractive wreaths you’ll see on the
following pages were constructed using a just a
few materials, chosen in part because they’re
easy to find, simple to use, and inexpensive.a
Many of the natural materials called for—
pine and cedar cones, corn shucks, rabbit tobacco,
magnolia leaves, and fresh evergreens—
can be found throughout the State, from rural
roadsides to your own backyard.
Some of the materials you’ll need to make a wreath of your own include a
wreath foundation—both straw and styrofoam are pictured here—wired
wooden floral picks, pliers, white glue, greening pins, and 21-gauge wire.2
Once you’ve decided what type of material to use, you’ll need a foundation
for your wreath—the base to which you attach the foliage, cones, and
decorations. The wreaths described here were constructed on styrofoam or
straw foundations. These wreath frames are not as difficult to use—especially
for the novice wreath-maker—as foundations made of wire or vine boughs.
Both styrofoam and straw make it easy to attach foliage, cones, and ornaments
with glue, wired wood picks, or greening pins.
In most cases, regular white glue is perfectly acceptable for fastening
material to styrofoam wreath foundations: It’s safe to use and turns clear
when it dries. Some people prefer to use hot glue with a glue gun, but hot
glue dries quickly, leaving little time for rearranging the material once it
is applied to the foundation. Hot glue can also be dangerous to use. The
glue often reaches temperatures as high as 300°, making it rather risky for
a beginner.
Floral picks are tiny wooden stakes used to bind foliage into small
clusters before attaching them to the foundation. Generally, picks come with
flexible wire already attached, but the picks and wire can also be bought
separately. Greening pins are sturdy, U-shaped tools used almost like staples
to fasten heavy foliage to a foundation.
You can find wreath foundations, wooden picks, glue, and greening
pins in craft stores, floral supply shops, and even some of the larger
discount stores.
The first step to take in making your own wreath is attaching a loop of
21-gauge wire to the wreath foundation. You’ll find it’s much easier to take
care of this task first, rather than waiting until your wreath is covered.
Having the loop already in place will also make it possible to hang the
wreath up periodically as you construct it to check your progress. Make sure
the wire isn’t visible from the front when the wreath is completed.
As you construct you wreath, keep the following pointers in mind:
• Removing the plastic wrap from a straw wreath foundation before
inserting floral picks or greening pins allows them to go in more easily.
• Don’t lose sight of where the top of your wreath is as you decorate; it
will help you to place materials evenly.
• Work across the wreath foundation from the outside edge to the
center as you attach materials, rather than in concentric circles all the way
around the form. Your wreath will look fuller and more natural when you do.
• During construction, periodically hang the wreath up and stand back
about 10 feet to look at it. If you’re making a glued wreath, place it on the
floor and view it by standing on a chair and looking down at it. You’ll be
amazed by what you can see at a distance that isn’t apparent when the
wreath is viewed at close range.
To assure a wreath is complete, place it on a table and look carefully at
its edges. There should be no space between the plant material and the
surface of the table. Often, the plant material in the center is not filled in all
the way to the table surface. When this area is properly filled in, the wreath
will have more depth and be more appealing.
Using pins to fasten heavy greenery to a
wreath foundation.
Gathering greenery into clusters.3
Cedar Rosette Wreath
Deodara cedar trees are common throughout South Carolina, and
the cones needed for this wreath can be cut from the tree in the fall. You’ll
need a ladder to reach the decorative, woody female cones. The lower cones
on the tree—and the ones more likely to
be found on the ground nearby—are nonwoody
small, male cones, which remain
fleshy until they disintegrate and are therefore
not suitable for an everlasting wreath.
The collected female cones must be
dried in a warm location for 1 to 2 weeks
before they are used. During drying, the
cones will open and the middle scales will
fall out. Save these scales for filling in any
gaps on the wreath. Once the cones have
dried, cut them into sections. You’ll want just the tip of the cone—called a
rosette because it looks like a rose in bloom—to make this wreath.
You’ll need:
• 18” flat styrofoam wreath form
• 21-gauge wire for hanging
• At least 65 cedar cone rosettes (enough to fill 2 large paper grocery bags)
• Plenty of cedar scales—about half a grocery bag full—for filling in bare spots
• White all-purpose glue
• Bow
1. Glue the bases of the rosettes to the wreath form, keeping the wreath
lying flat until the glue has dried. (This may take hours; it’s often best to
allow it to dry overnight.) White glue will hold the cones securely and
become clear when dry.
2. Individual scales can then be glued to the center of each cluster to
obscure the central cluster stalks and in between rosettes to fill in spots
where the wreath form may be showing.
3. When you have finished attaching both rosettes and scales to the
foundation—and the glue has completely dried—wire a bow to florist’s picks
and insert the picks carefully into the styrofoam.
Rabbit Tobacco Wreath
The weed rabbit tobacco—also known as narrow cudweed—is plentiful
along rural roadsides and can be easily harvested in mid-October. By then, it
is usually ready to use without any further drying.
This wreath has an unusual billowy appearance, a fine texture, and a
distinctive scent.
You’ll need:
• 18” straw wreath form
• 21-gauge wire for hanging
• Dried rabbit tobacco branches (You’ll need enough clusters to make a full,
well-rounded wreath.)
• Wired wooden floral picks
• Bow
Deodara cedar cone (female)4
1. Cut the branches into 4-inch lengths, and bunch several stalks
together to form a cluster. Bind several 5-inch flowering stems with the wire
on the florist’s picks.
2. Attach these clusters to the wreath form by poking the wooden picks
into the straw. Take care to position the clusters close together so the wreath
foundation doesn’t show through the flower clusters.
3. When you have finished filling in the wreath, you may want to
give it a quick once-over with hair spray. This technique will subdue the
rabbit tobacco’s scent and greatly reduce the release of seeds as the weed
dries further.
4. Attach a bow to the wreath by wiring the bow to a wooden pick and
gently poking the pick into the wreath form.
Magnolia Wreath
The glossy green leaves of the magnolia tree are a prized
and popular material for holiday decorations throughout the
year, especially here in the South. The leaves are available
all year, and their size and sturdiness make magnolia leaves
an excellent choice for attractive wreaths.
You can make a magnolia wreath that will last for years by
preserving the leaves with a glycerine solution. Magnolia
leaves change color when glycerized, an unusual effect that is
well worth the trouble. Hues can range from a smoky green to
a beautiful golden brown.
To glycerize the leaves, cut the magnolia branches into 18-
inch lengths, and remove and discard the leaves on the
bottom third of the cut branch. Smash the bottom of each
branch with a hammer, and place the branches in a container
holding a solution of two-thirds water, one-third glycerine—
just as if you were placing cut flowers into a vase.
Within a couple of weeks, the leaves will turn color. You’ll
actually be able to see the progression of solution into the
leaves. Keep a watchful eye on the process. Additional glycerine/water
solution will have to be added to the container to
replace the solution taken up by the branches.
You’ll need:
• 18” straw wreath form
• 21-gauge wire for hanging
• At least 150 medium-sized green or glycerized magnolia leaves
• At least 150 wired wooden floral picks
• 6 gold glass ball tree ornaments, attached to wooden floral picks
1. Bind the stem of each magnolia leaf to a wooden floral pick with the
attached wire.
2. Fasten the leaves to the wreath form by poking the wooden picks into
the straw at an angle. Take care to position the tips of the leaves so that they
point in the same direction, either clockwise or counter-clockwise around
the form.
3. Hide the pick-ends of the leaves by placing the bottom, pick-end of
each new leaf at least a half-inch underneath the previous one, creating a
smooth, layered effect.5
4. When you have attached enough leaves to cover the foundation,
finish the wreath with gold ornaments. Simply poke the blunt end of a floral
pick into the opening of each tree ornament ball and insert the point into
the wreath, concealing each pick under a magnolia leaf so only the gold ball
is visible.
Corn Shuck Wreaths
Corn shucks, the leaves off an ear of corn, can be collected in corn
fields in the fall. These are usually dry enough for immediate use. If you
use shucks off corn purchased from the grocery store, you’ll need to airdry
the leaves for several days before use.
When finished, this wreath will look natural and rustic, very
suitable for autumn and Thanksgiving decorations.
You’ll need:
• 18” straw wreath form
• 21-gauge wire for hanging
• At least four large grocery bags full of dried corn shucks. The leaves
from ornamental corn vary in color, unlike those from Sweet Corn; a
variety of colors makes a very attractive wreath.
• Wired wooden floral picks
1. Pick through the corn shucks you have, selecting only perfect
leaves (those without rips or blemishes). Cut the leaves into pieces
about 6 inches long.
2. Pinch the ends of each leaf together to form a loop at the top. Wire
the ends to a florist’s pick.
3. Poke the wooden picks into the straw foundation, placing them close
enough together so that the wreath foundation does not show.
4. Be aware of the tints and shades of leaves you use as you work,
making sure to distribute the various colors in an attractive pattern
thoroughout the wreath.
Given the variety of natural shades and its unique texture, this
wreath can look wonderful without any further decoration.
Pine Cone Wreath
Pine cones can easily be collected from the ground in any pine
forest or below pine trees in your own backyard. Mature cones that
are small to medium in size work best. Large cones will not fit closely
together, leaving spaces through which the wreath foundation can
be seen.
For example, cones of Longleaf Pine and Eastern White Pine are
too large and open. The Loblolly Pine produces cones that may be a
bit long, but those of the Short Leaf Pine are about the right size and
are common throughout South Carolina. Slash Pine and Spruce
Pine cones, found along the coast, will work well for wreaths.
Virginia or Scrub Pine cones are excellent but very small, so you’ll
need to collect many of them to construct a wreath.
Depending on the type of decoration you choose, a pine cone
wreath can look right for autumn or winter.6
You’ll need:
• 18” straw wreath form
• 21-gauge wire for hanging
• At least 130 small to medium-sized pine cones (Not too small, or you’ll
need plenty more; not too large, or you’ll have trouble covering the wreath.)
• At least 130 wired wooden floral picks
• Bow
1. Attach each cone to a wooden pick by wrapping the wire around the
center stalk about an inch from the stem end. Hide the wire by guiding it
carefully between the scales of the cone and attach the end back to the pick.
2. Twist the pick until the two wires are twisted down into the pick.
3. Roll the pick onto the wire (into the cone) until it’s tight.
4. Twist the pick until it points directly out of the cone.
5. Stick the picked cones into the wreath foundation, placing them
close together so the straw form won’t show through. Once a pick is in
place, you may want to secure the cone more firmly by gently twisting it
tighter on the wire.
Evergreen Wreaths
Fresh evergreen foliage can be used to make beautiful wreaths—
perhaps everyone’s favorite wreath during the festive season. In South
Carolina, evergreens such as cryptomerias, red cedar, and—along the
coast—southern red cedar are abundantly available.
With their hardy green foliage, holly, hemlock, arbor-vitae,
spruce, and rhododendrons can also make exquisite wreaths.
You’ll need:
• 18” straw wreath form
• 21-gauge wire for hanging
• Enough greenery to create a full, lush wreath (The actual quantity
will depend on the foliage you decide to use.)
• Greening pins or wired wooden picks
• Several yards of gold-colored cord, ribbon, or strung beads
• 8 gold ornaments (We’ve used pairs of tiny golden bells.)
• 8 wired wooden picks
• Bow
1) Cut evergreens into pieces 4 to 6 inches long. Bunch several
pieces together and attach these clusters to the wreath foundation
by wiring them to wooden picks or by fastening them with greening pins. If
you’ve chosen a heavy type of foliage, like the cryptomerias cedar, you’ll
probably want to use greening pins—they tend to hold the heavier varieties
more securely.
2) Fill the wreath in, taking care to hide the pick or pin end of each
evergreen cluster by placing it an inch or so underneath the preceding piece.
3) When enough greenery has been attached to create a full, rounded
wreath, wrap the gold cord, ribbon, or strung beads three-quarters of the way
around the wreath, leaving the bottom quarter bare.
4) Fasten ornaments to wired wooden picks, place them in an even
arrangement around the same three-quarters of the wreath.
5) Finally, cover the empty area at the bottom of your wreath with a
large bow.7
A Handmade Bow—The Finishing Touch
No matter what size you want to
make, the basic steps to creating a
fail-safe handmade bow are the same.
1. Cut a length of ribbon slightly
more than twice as long as the
desired width of your bow (for
overlapping ends). Bring the ends of
the length of ribbon together and
fasten with floral wire, forming a
double loop.
2. Repeat this process twice more,
creating three loops joined side-byside
with a single piece
of floral wire. (You can
add more loops, depending
on how full a bow
you want.)
3. Next, cut two lengths of ribbon to form the streamers of your
bow. Pinching one end of each length, wire them to a wooden
pick. Attach this section to a wreath foundation.
4. Make a center loop for your bow by wrapping a short piece
of ribbon around the middle section. (For a plumper center
loop, you may want to stuff a
wadded piece of plastic wrap or
paper under this piece of ribbon).
Secure the ends of the center loop
behind the bow with wire. Attach
the bow to a wooden pick for
insertion into the wreath foundation
over the streamers.

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