(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 6, 2008. We hope you enjoy it as we count down to Christmas but please know that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to questions and comments.)
Let's get started by taking a look at the straw base that we'll be using for all three wreaths. I typically use straw as opposed to styrofoam because it's easier to work with. Straw is flexible and holds firmly pins and stems pushed into it, often without having to use glue, while styrofoam does not.
We'll be using lots of pins, so straw is by far the better choice for these wreaths. To make the pins, we'll use 18 gauge floral stem wire, which usually come in 18-inch lengths. To prepare for our wreath project, cut the wire into 4-inch lengths. Bend each length in half, so that it looks like a U-shaped hairpin. We'll need about 50 pins, most for the two club moss wreaths, some for the Victorian bow wreath. You can make the pins before you start the project or as you go along.
Tools You'll Need
Wire cutter pliers
The glue gun and the pliers are self explanatory. A small hammer comes in handy if you have trouble pushing a pin all the way into the base. Tap the top of the pin with the hammer to drive it all the way in. The awl is another problem solver. To push stems into the base without breaking them, make a path for the stem by inserting the awl first and then pushing the stem gently down into the hole left by the awl. The straw is flexible and will come back together to close the hole after you've inserted the stem.
Materials needed: 12-inch diameter straw wreath base, dyed Club Moss* (Lycopodium clavatum), styrofoam 1-inch thick, 18-gauge floral stem wire, floral wire pins, wrapping paper, tiny bows, assorted small santas
Directions: Begin by arranging the santas on a flat surface until you find an arrangement that you like. Start with the larger santas and fill in with smaller ones. Transfer santas to wreath base, gluing each one in place with your glue gun. Wrap small blocks of styrofoam with wrapping paper and bows. Fill in spaces around santas with packages, leaving some room to add the moss, and attach with glue gun. Attach small overlapping bunches of moss to wreath with floral wire pins. Push pins firmly into base to hold moss in place.
*You may substitute small-needled evergreens, either fresh or artificial.
Directions: Remove angel hair from packaging and tease by pulling it apart both lengthwise and widthwise until it thins to the point where some of it is "see-through." Attach one end of strand to side of wreath with wire pins and work your way around wreath, anchoring hair to base with pins as you go. Strive for a billowy, ethereal effect, but try to keep the basic round shape of the wreath so that it doesn't look lopsided. Weave pearl string over and under hair and around the back of the base, attaching with pins as you go. Glue ribbons and bells to base.
*Attach to wreath with pins before proceeding with other directions
Materials needed: 12-inch diameter straw wreath base, 3 dark purple bows with lace edging, 3 plain white lace bows, small purple strawflowers, green velvet leaves, pine cones (I used white pine), dried double (it's showier than single-flowered) baby's breath
Directions: Arrange bows as pictured and attach to wreath with glue. Attach pine cones, stem side down and evenly spaced, with glue. Glue strawflowers to base, primarily around the inside of wreath. Glue leaves to base, with base of leaf tucked in under flower, using 2-3 leaves per blossom. Fill in with baby's breath. Attach with pins and/or glue.
If you prefer, you can substitute any color of your choice for bows and strawflowers.
Photo credits: Tree immediate right by Sharran (Sharon Brown)
Wreath far right by critterologist (Jill Nicolaus)
Where to find it
Straw wreath base: Craft stores, online here
Club moss/other greens: Club moss is very difficult to find and is not always available. (I couldn't find a supplier the last time I tried to get some.) Craft stores generally have artificial greens and floral shops should have fresh greens at this time of year.
Floral stem wire: Craft stores and florists, online here
Bows: Craft stores, garden centers, party supply stores, or make your own (instructions here)
Santas: Craft stores, garden centers, big box /discount stores
Gold bells: Craft stores, garden centers, online here
Gold angels: Craft stores, garden centers, big box/discount stores, online here
Gold "pearl" string: Craft stores, garden centers, big box/discount stores
Angel hair (spun glass): Not all that common, some craft stores carry it; available online here
Strawflowers: Craft stores, garden centers, online here
Double-flowered baby's breath: Craft stores, garden centers, online here
Your own garden may be a source for some of these materials.
Here are two links to lists of articles crafted by my fellow writers at Dave's Garden, generated by a search on "Holiday" and on "Christmas." Below these is also a link to selected articles that pertain specifically to holiday crafts that may be of interest to you.
Questions or comments? Please use the form below or D-mail me directly. I enjoy hearing from my readers.
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© Larry Rettig 2008