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Unique Christmas Decorations - How to make a Christmas wreath
Well, it's now official! The news announcer has reminded us to turn our clocks back an hour. With this happy news, we know that Advent is fast approaching. After our somber observance on November 11th, closely followed by Thanksgiving gatherings for those south of the 49th parallel, the gloves come off, and Christmas decorating begins in earnest. Festive evergreen wreaths will go up on doors - yards and houses will be decked with holly, lights, and inflatable snow-families.
The TV weather report is already urging us to get the Christmas lights up out of doors before the really cold weather hits. Actually, we sometimes call it the "whether" report, because we wait to see what the temperature will be before we decide "whether" we will venture out to hang up our Christmas decorations.
We are certainly taking advantage of the mild start to November this year. I see strings of lights going up in trees and on roof ridges up and down the street. A few tardy souls have yet to remove their Halloween decor, but for the most part, pumpkins are vanishing from the yards hereabouts as quickly as the wind-blown leaves.
I think, of all the decorations I make each year, I probably enjoy wreath making most of all. The finished wreaths are always so colorful and festive.
The first step in making any wreath is always choosing your wreath base. Many prefer twig wreaths, and lavish flowers,beaded garlands, and jeweled fruit on the bare twigs. Some like to use a Styrofoam base and cover it with cloth, or wrap it with ribbon as a base for their wreath.
Most, however prefer a traditional evergreen wreath base. I usually purchase an artificial wreath base, but I have included a video below for anyone who'd like to tackle making a real evergren wreath.
I like to use a wreath with about an 18" to 24" base for most of the wreaths I make, though I have decorated several 5' diameter lighted wreaths for very large walls.
I must admit that they were stunning when finished. For most homes, though, a smaller size works well both indoors and out.
Next, if the wreath is not pre-lit, you need to decide what color your lights will be, if any. I have used colored and plain to equal effect, but I often use white (plain) lights to show off all the colors of the decorations.
Once your wreath is properly fluffed, and all the fronds untangled and straight, you can lay out your tools.
I always cover my work surface with brown craft paper to protect from spills or hot-glue drips. As well, I have some silicone mats that I use as drip catchers. The silicone is impervious to the hot glue, so clean-up is a breeze.
I have a very large, heavy duty glue gun. After burning out several of the cute little pastel glue guns, I opted for a big, black, professional-strength behemoth. It has a variable temperature switch, but even with it set on low, I have managed to singe my fingers. The glue gun part of wreath making is not child-friendly.
Make sure you have a large supply of the right sized glue sticks on hand. Running out to the store to buy more glue sticks in the middle of a wreath-making session can be annoying.
Wire cutters come in handy for trimming picks and removing excess flower stems. I always have a pair handy in my wreath-making kit, along with a pair of pliers, for dealing with stubborn stems, or repositioning fronds.
Floral tape can also come in handy. The plain green tape can help bind the stems of smaller elements, such as leaves or berries, into a cluster. It is much easier to insert a cluster than to deal with gluing individual berries into your wreath.
If you plan to use clusters of leaves and berries, make up the clusters before you start on the wreath. This will save you time, and allow you to be more creative with placement, rather than stopping part way through to make up your berry and leaf clusters.
Make more than you think you will need. Then, if you do use more than you had planned, the extra clusters are ready for you, and if you use fewer than you planned, they can always be used in another project.
Select your decorations
The next step is to go through your selection of decorations: flowers, Christmas balls, themed ornaments, strands of pearls and colored beads, holly and berries, and decorative picks.
At first, simply pull together everything you like - anything that catches your eye. Then gather the decorations around the wreath, and see how much room you have.
Set in the flowers you have decided to use, adding whatever strikes your fancy and goes together.
Remember, everything doesn't have to match exactly, but each addition should complement what is already there.
Now is also the time to pick out the ribbon you will use. I often will start with the ribbon, and then find ornaments that co-ordinate.
Often, though, I will decide on the ribbon treatment once the wreath is completed. Sometimes, I will combine two different ribbons in the wreath bow, and sometimes, I will find that another ribbon suits the finished wreath much better than my original choice.
Designer Tip: Floral designers work with the "Rule of 3" to create pleasing arrangements . You can use this rule too by selecting odd numbers of items. Try using groupings of three or five of the same type or color of an item.
For example, use 3 red balls and 5 gold ones of varying sizes. Choose 3 large poinsettias, and match them with 5 smaller ones. You can also add 3 smaller roses and 1 large hydrangea.
Assembling the wreath
Before gluing anything into your wreath base, put all the elements you have selected onto the wreath base, and experiment with placement.
Start with any pearls or beaded garlands, draping them through the wreath to create a pleasing affect.
Then set in the the flowers. I like to use several poinsettias, or a combinations of poinsettias, roses and hydrangea blossoms. The combination creates interesting shapes and textures, which add contrast and variety to your finished wreath.
Next, set in any Christmas balls. Then, add the themed ornaments for visual interest, using an odd number of them, and spacing them out around the wreath.
Once you have a pleasing arrangement, remove everything, placing each item on the table around the wreath, as close as possible to its position in the wreath. Keep groupings together as this will aid you in returning the decorations to their positions in the wreath.
Attaching the decorations
I try to place things back right where they were, but often, this is not what happens. No matter how careful you are, items will migrate slightly as they are glued in.
Returning them to their exact position is not as important as making a pleasing arrangement as you glue the items into your wreath.
Start again with the pearls and/or beaded garlands. Rather than wasting any on the back of the wreath, cut the garlands into the appropriate lengths to drape gracefully across the front of the wreath.
Securely glue the ends of each section of garland into the wreath under a frond, to hide the ends.
Next, reposition the flowers you have chosen. Once you have checked their positions, remove them again, and glue them in place one at a time.
Start with the large flowers, attaching all the large size of flowers first. Then work down through the smaller ones until all are securely fastened.
Wait a few seconds for the glue to cool, and then begin to attach the ornaments. Set in the Christmas balls first.
Glue in all of one color, then all of the next, until you are finished with the balls. Then glue in any other decorations.
Designer Tip: When gluing in flowers and ornaments, always work around the wreath, rather than finishing one spot and moving on. By working around the whole wreath, for example, by gluing in all the red balls all the way around, then all of the next color, you will achieve a more balanced, finished product.
The crowning touch
The final element to add is the ribbon. Some wreaths look best with just a simple elegant bow. Some seem to come to life with a more ornate treatment. In that case, I will often weave the ribbon through the wreath, over and around the flowers and balls, crimping the ribbon and gluing it in place as I go.
Sometimes the wreath needs the weight of a double fabric bow to balance the decor elements and set off the design. Sometimes, though, a rich, red velvet multi-loop bow with flowing tails is all that is required to finish a traditional wreath.
With all the beautiful, specialty ribbons available today, you can probably find more than one favorite ribbon to feature in your new, beautiful wreath.
Natural, live evergreen wreath
© 2010 RedElf