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Wreath making 101

How to make an inexpensive, chic holiday wreath

How to make an inexpensive, chic holiday wreath

November 22, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

This wreath came about after experiencing sticker shock at a local craft store.

Holiday wreaths were going for 50 bucks a pop. I had only set aside $25 in my budget for such a wreath. I could not justify shelling out another $25.

Well, when you can't buy it, make it.

I might have spent $15 on the goods. A garland of twigs, floral wire and ribbon worked for me. The process took a little more than an hour.

I ended up with something simple, beautiful and easily repurposed for next year.

DIY wreath-making can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. But because there are many, many options for materials, it helps to have a basic idea of how you'd like your wreath to look before you start shopping.

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Step one: Picking the right foundation

Before you pick materials for your wreath, assess how much time you have available and whether you're patient enough to make it yourself.

The base is a good place to start. The base is the main, ring shape of your wreath.

If you're using pine cones as the base, for example, consider that you might end up winding wire around the bases of more than 100 pine cones and attaching them to a wire frame - and that's just the base.

If you're using fresh plants, you'll have to make sure they're critter-free and hardy enough to withstand outdoor elements. Leaves, for example, would have to be treated with glycerin for weeks if you want them to last.

I chose to use a bundle of twigs from a prior craft project as the base for my wreath. You can gather and bend longish, pliable twigs into a ring, or you can buy them from a craft store, rope style or already arranged in a ring for between $3 and $5. The effect is pretty much the same.

If you want an evergreen base, you can buy "blank," faux evergreen bases for around the same price.

I went with twigs because I wanted to be able to repurpose the wreath for a generic fall wreath next year, which is harder to pull off if you're using evergreen, which is almost always associated with the December holiday season.

Step two: Settle on a color scheme

Picking the base helps narrow down the options when it comes to picking a color theme.

Because I chose brown as my base, I have to consider which among red, green, white, cream and metallics go best with tree-branch brown. Christmas green didn't work well as an accent color, but reds and golds seemed to bring out tones of the wood.

Painting the wreath brings out the texture of the wood, though I'd recommend gold or silver if you're doing this.

Because the twig base is neutral colored, it's easier to find accent colors for it.

I wanted a decidedly more plain and natural feel, so I left the twigs bare and kept the adornment minimal.

I looped a gold, wired-mesh ribbon around the ring of twigs, tying the ends of the ribbon together. To cover up the knot, I tied a bow at the top of the wreath. This acts as the wreath's focal point.

Step three: Picking the right accent materials

There are other things to consider than color.

With ribbons, for example, you'll want to consider the texture of the wreath's base.

In my case, satin ribbon would have clashed with the scratchy, matte texture of the twigs. For me, mesh added both texture and color.

I found that wired ribbons - ribbons with wire on both edges - were sturdier, and much easier to work with.

I avoided decorations that needed gluing, partly because part of my criteria included simplicity and partly because I have fumble fingers and am messy.

Also, I am not well-versed in which kind of glue works best with what.

I didn't use any add-ons other than ribbon, but if anything were to be attached to my wreath, it was going on with floral wire. No glue.

To bundle my twigs, I used a floral wire that was made to look like twine so that it blended in with the wood.

If you're working with evergreen or some other type of plant material, you might want to consider using the brown or silver floral wire.

Earth-friendly crafters might encourage you to use hemp twine.

Things I found out the hard way

Considering this was my first wreath, I should have been following the maxim of KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.

Going for this "modern look," I bought a bundle of thick, varnished wood reeds from Michaels. The reeds were long and wavy, and I was convinced I could arrange them so they looked like they were spiraling out of the middle.

That idea spiraled out of control.

The reeds were too heavy-looking for my 8-inch wire wreath frame. There was way too much bulk. And my garden shears did not clip clean, leaving the edges of the reeds ragged - OK for the inner-edge no one sees, but horrifying if left as is on the outer edges.

I ended up dumping them in a vase and using them as a decorative element in my living room.

The mishap didn't drain too much from the project. And even totaling up the items that went unused, I still spent less than $50 - which leaves me with more money to shop with.

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