DIY Trash To Treasure Square Wreath - Cheap Chic Upcycling Demo
DIY square wreath made from coffee filters and natural greenery
When making a wreath, why limit yourself to just one season?
I wanted a wreath for Halloween this year and I always put up one for Christmas. Being somewhat limited on storage space, I decided to make one that could change with the seasons. It was so super simple.
Follow along here to see just how to whip up one of these for pennies. It was easy and cheap but it did take some time to make all the flowers. I will show you how to do it the way I did and give you some alternatives that are faster, so you can select the best method for you.
Materials for making this square wreath
- One old frame or a thick cardboard square
- Pine, fir and cedar sprigs
- Sumac berry clusters
- Pine cones
- Coffee filters
- Plastic spiders
- Tooth picks
- Spray on acrylic
- Glue gun
- Wire cutters
Wreaths are so expensive to buy in the store
I was scoping out wreaths in a few local stores. They were all Halloween themed and some were just as cute as they could be.
The one that really caught my eye was over thirty dollars.
Add in at least that much again for a Christmas wreath and we're talking pricey.
I think not.
This wreath cost less than four dollars to make, total.
The frame is an old Dollar Store cheap frame that the puppy got and killed. What could have been landfill bound was saved by upcycling crafty goodness.
The greenery was gathered from good old mother nature, so the cost was zero, big plus.
The flower decorations were made from coffee filters.
Throw in some toothpicks, wire, plastic spiders and so on and you've got one DIY, cheap chic, square wreath.
How cool is that?
Natural materials in this square wreath
Small pine cones
Red Sumac berry clusters
Natural greenery considerations and precautions
To be rid of any unwanted pests, wash all greenery outside before bringing it in the house.
Wear work gloves when gathering. The cedar and fir can and will stick you.
Watch for snakes and other surprise guests when gathering in the woods.
The first step to making this wreath is to decide where to get your greenery
Basically, there are two choices when it comes to getting the greenery required. You can buy it or you can gather it. I went the gather route and suggest for cost saving goodness you do the same, if you can.
There are a few things to consider if you gather greenery yourself. First, do you have access to the materials? Chances are if you live in an urban area the answer may be no.
Secondly, if gathering from land that is not your own, like a public park, be sure it is legal to do so in that area.
Lastly, be it public or private lands, please, pay close attention to preserving the tree. When gathering materials from live trees, only take a small amount from each tree.
Select trees that are taller than you and in good health. If the tree looks brown, stressed, or in any way less than strong, leave it be.
Things to consider when using greenery
I love the natural, the scent, the texture, the getting closer to nature. It gives some people sneezing fits. If you or a family member have allergies, you may want to go fake for the greenery.
Further, these berries are actually edible. All are not. Many are poisonous. Know your berries before placing if there will be children around.
Give the frame base a rough coat of paint
Old paint warning
If using an old frame that was originally painted, sand it down completely. Some older paints contained lead. It's toxic and causes mental retardation in children. Don't take a chance with old paint.
Start this DIY project by upcycling an old picture frame
Any square or rectangular frame will work for this project no matter how warped or ugly it may be. If you don't have an old picture frame, you could easily use thick corrugated cardboard.
Simply staple together four strips of thick, strong cardboard to make an open square and you are good to go.
Once you have your frame base, paint the entire front and inside edges. I used plain black craft paint but any kind of paint would work.
For that matter, so would magic marker, duct tape, fabric, many things. Just find a way to cover the entire frame so any part peeking out under the greenery won't scream ugly when the project is done.
To wear the gloves or not to wear the gloves, that is the question
Do you always wear protective gloves when you should?
How to add the greenery to the frame of the wreath
This part gets really messy, guys and gals. I kid you not, there will be little needles, berries and leaves everywhere by the time you are done. To keep it from making a huge mess, I suggest you cover the surface worked on in newspaper.
Use wire to affix the greenery straight onto the frame itself. Cut the wire, using wire cutters, long enough to wrap around the frame and greenery at least three times with room to twist the ends together. You will need six to seven inches of wire per connection for a slim frame like this one.
For each corner, you want to wire it at least once on each side. I did this with bare hands and got stuck many times. If you can stand it, wear work gloves. I don't like the way they feel so always yank them off but it does come at the price of blood.
Faster alternatives to hand colored coffee filters
Colored paper napkins
Colored tissue paper
More flower making alternatives to coffee filters
Different sized paper doilies give a great look to flowers.
There are three smaller flowers on this wreath made with small doilies the exact same way as the coffee filters were used. That step is coming up next.
Each wired attachment on the frame will need to be covered
Pay attention to where you wrap the wire. It's going to show. Plan on covering each connection with something.
You could use a wire that is less noticeable like floral wire or even clear dental floss if you want. Since this is upcycle crafting, go with whatever you have on hand. Bread twist ties would well for really skinny frames. Fishing line would also be a viable option for wider frames.
For a more rustic look, use twine or raffia letting it purposefully peak through in places. You get the idea.
After wiring the greenery, it's going to look horrible with stray pieces of green sticking up all over the place. Don't worry about it. We will take care of it later. For now, just be sure things are connected somewhat securely.
Pick a combination of colors
Color five to seven filters for each flower
Water paint each colored filter
How to make the coffee filter flower parts of the square wreath
Once the frame is roughly covered, the fun part begins.
To me, the decorating part of any project is always the best part, though I must admit to having had a blast gathering the greenery.
Mother nature is a hoot to go visit and the added bonus of cedar scent filling the entire house during construction was refreshing.
The coffee filter flowers are the star of the show in this project and something I've done thousands of times with more students than I can ever count.
They are so simple to make and very pretty, truly one of the few can't go wrong type projects.
I like these as opposed to artificial flowers for a few reasons.
First, for a dollar you can get two hundred coffee filters which translates into forty flowers. You can't get one good looking artificial flower for that.
Further, you can do any color or combination of colors you want.
All you need is coffee filters, magic markers, water and a paint brush.
Select your colors. I used black, grey, purple, blue and red.
Mark up the filter with the colors and paint over it with water.
You can literally scribble and it will still come out looking good as long as you put a good bit of color on it to start with.
Really. Give it a try.
Place some form of plastic under the coffee filters before water painting
Newspaper and such won't work for this. It will just get messy. Use some form of plastic like an old binder or page protector and wipe off after each filter painting.
The colors melt together for a nice look with no talent required
How to assemble the coffee filter flowers
First, you have to wait for all the petals to dry. Each flower will require five or more coffee filters.
When waiting for the filters to dry, be sure to place them on something the color won't hurt. It will bleed through to whatever surface you lay it on. Plastic works well as the wet color just wipes right off.
Stack, twist and spread each flower
For each flower, stack five or more dry, colored filters.
Fold the stacked filters over into a half circle. Fold again into a quarter circle. Grab the bottom and twist it tightly.
Tie off the twisted bottom with wire to keep it secure.
Use your fingers to pull apart each layer of filter. The more you mess with it, the better it will look. The filters are actually very durable so don't be afraid of tearing it.
How to bring it all together for a cohesive wreath
The best tip for making a cohesive wreath is to stick to a color pallet of less than five colors.
To bring the flowers, pine cones and such together, grab the glue gun. First up, use a wide ribbon to create some movement through the frame itself.
Begin by simply stapling the ribbon to the back of the frame where ever you want. Then, wrap it around a time or two. Repeat on each side, kind of like you would if trimming out a gift package in ribbon.
When you get the look you want, staple the remaining end to the back of the frame. Be careful not to pull too tightly here as the ribbon may rip over time.
Doing clusters in odd numbers typically looks better visually for some reason I don't understand.
Use the glue gun to attach the flowers and other materials directly to the wreath frame
Start by laying out your flowers, pine cones, berries and such before attaching anything. Starting in one corner first allows you to get an idea how things will look.
When you get a grouping you like, start gluing down the flowers and things. Use a lot of glue for the pine cones as they are heavy. Tucking them under here and there and layering things a tad gives a good look.
For small holes here and there, simply fluff out the flowers some more. They are easily sculpted with your fingers at this point.
Also, remember we have yet to add the themed spikes for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, what have you. They will be great for covering any small holes.
Now is the time to glue down any stray greenery that decides to stand up where you don't want it. Just add a drop or two of glue and press that stubborn greenery right into it.
You can also clip at will with the wire cutters to get rid of any unwanted greenery.
How to make the themed seasonal spikes for changing the wreath fast
This is so simple, it's beautiful. All you need is toothpicks, a glue gun, and some cheap décor. For this one, I used plastic spiders that came in a pack of eight for about two bucks.
You could do this with snowflakes, snowmen, pumpkins, whatever.
All you do is flip the desired spike topper over. Load up a generous dollop of hot glue and stick a toothpick straight into it. Let dry and you're good to go.
To keep the ugly toothpicks from showing anywhere, use a magic marker to color them them green and watch them virtually vanish when inserted.
To make the spider eyes, just hot glue seed beads onto the eye parts and it's all shiny covered spooky.
Ease and frugality of project:
To change the theme of the wreath, just yank the spikes and replace
You can go from spooky spiders to glistening snow flakes in about three minutes.
At this point, the wreath is finished but it will not stand up to rain or humidity. This can be a real problem if you want hang it outside. Don't worry about it. It's really easy to fix.
Take the wreath outside, without the seasonal spikes, and spray it with acrylic sealant. This will need to be done in short, thin layers. The acrylic can bleed out the coffee filter flowers, so less is more on the first two coats. After that, blast it greenery and all.
There you have it, one do it yourself, cheap chic, changeable wreath for your seasonal enjoyment. I can't wait to do this again. I'm thinking of doing little ones to hang outside in a huge evergreen for a one of a kind holiday display. What kind wreath ideas can you think up?
© 2014 Rhonda Lytle