Last weekend, a group of the loveliest ladies gathered here on our farm for our first wreath making workshops. At the beginning of the class, during introductions, I asked each guest to share one hope for the day. Some mentioned the need for a change of pace from the round-the-clock needs of mothering (I get that!). Others hoped it was a chance to connect with friends and meet new people. Still others wanted the challenge of trying something new. Then there were those who bravely and honestly shared that they just needed to create something, but were held back by worries about their “limited artistic ability.” Some even expressed concerns that their wreath would “be the ugly one.”
I was so proud of each of these ladies speaking what we all often feel. Trying something new, especially something that allows for creativity, often can feel intimidating. It’s hard to create because we don’t want to be wrong. But Sir Ken Robinson states, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Creativity is all about trying something new and different. And in many ways that takes a leap of faith; to just trust in ourselves and our ideas.
Guess what? By the end of the class, each of these 30 ladies had created their own, perfectly unique, perfectly beautiful wreaths. Sometimes we just need someone to help us get started.
Though I won’t be able to offer any additional workshops this season, you can still join in and try something new and creative too! Below you’ll find a step by step tutorial to create your own wreath. I promise you that it is so much easier than you’d ever guess. And I promise you that creating something, especially when it feels new and difficult, will always reward you abundantly.
Gather your materials, gather your friends (or family-this is a great project for kids!) and just try! You’ll amaze yourself with your own creativity!
To start, make a quick trip to your local nursery or crafts store. You’ll simply need a wire wreath frame ($3-$4) and a roll of florist’s wire, called paddle wire ($2.50). Though wreath frames are sold in a variety of sizes, I’ve found the 18” frame is perfect for a standard-size door. If you like a bow on your wreath, be sure to also pick out a roll of sturdy ribbon (think plaid flannel, burlap, or wired). Next grab your favorite pair of garden clippers/pruners. You may also want a pair of garden gloves, depending on what type of material you’ll be working with. (Fair warning, if you don’t wear gloves you’ll end up the ever fashionable “wreath hands” that I’m sporting in these photos. No worries: a little olive oil and soap will help.)
Now comes the fun! Grab your little ones, your raincoats, and a pair of your favorite clippers and head outside! Stop and really look around. It’s beautiful isn’t it? We are so lucky to live in an area where we are surrounded by such abundant beauty, even in the middle of winter. Slow down and really look around and notice all the beauty around you.
To make the most of your foraging trip:
- Always have permission, wherever you choose to forage.
- Use sustainable pruning methods: do trim lower limbs and small sections of boughs, Do NOT cut entire saplings.
- Be aware of noxious plants. (Holly is considered an invasive species in the PNW. Be sure not to spread or compost the berries!)
You’ll be amazed at the variety of materials that work well in a winter wreath! Some of my favorites include: lichen covered branches, pine and fir boughs, cedar branches, bare huckleberry, dogwood, wild rose hips, bare twigs and cones of any kind. Don’t overlook your back yard! Many ornamental plants make great additions in a wreath! Consider heather, juniper, boxwood, laurel, rosemary and sage. Plan on gathering a good armload of material for each wreath you plan to create.
If you aren’t able to make your wreath right away, simply pile up your evergreens in a cool, damp place (aka: your backyard). Before making your wreath, spread your boughs and branches out to dry. This step isn’t necessary, but does make it easier (and warmer) to handle your materials.
To begin your wreath, you’ll need to trim your branches and boughs into smaller sized pieces. Save the tips and usable branches for your wreath. (Those bulkier branches and leftover twigs will make a great marshmallow roasting fire later!)
If you want a structured, very symmetrical wreath, aim to clip your branches into 4-6 inch segments. If you’d like a wilder, more “natural” looking wreath, clip your branches into a variety of pieces ranging from 4-8 inches. Keeping your pieces sorted in piles will keep you organized once you begin assembling.
Lay your “bouquet” on the wire frame, then wrap the paddle wire around the bunch 3-5 times. Each time you wrap the wire, be sure to give it a really firm pull. This tension is what holds your wreath together. Keep in mind the greens and branches will dry and shrink during the weeks your wreath hangs on your door, so don’t be afraid to give that wire a good, firm pull.
Build another small bouquet, and set it on the frame. This time, angle the bunch slightly towards the outside of the wreath. Wrap and pull.
With your third bouquet, you’ll want to angle the bunch slightly inward, then wrap and pull. By alternating facing bunches in and out, your wreath will have a balanced shape. And guess what? You’re done with the hardest part! (And it wasn’t even hard, was it?!) Now you’re just going to be repeating the process as you build around the frame of your wreath.
When you get to the last bunch, simply lift the first bunch back, tucking the ends of your last bunch under. Continue wrapping with wire as before. When the wire is secure, step back and look at your wreath. If needed, tuck in a few more branches before tying off your wreath.
To tie off your wreath, simply wrap your wire and additional 2-3 times. Clip the wire using wire cutters (or your pruners if they have notch for wire.) Turn your wreath over and “thread” the end through the wreath frame, wrapping the slack around one metal piece of the frame. Secure the wire by tucking the end towards the greens so it won’t scratch your door.
Take a step back and admire your creativity! If you want, you can “fluff” your wreath by gently pulling the branches. Of you can give your wreath a “hair cut” and trim off any pieces that may seem to wild and unruly.
Your wreath is now ready to adorn your front door! Or is it? Perhaps it need a perfectly placed pinecone…or three. To attach a cone, you’ll first need to wrap the cone snugly and securely with a piece of paddle wire. Trim a 12 inch piece of wire from your paddle. Centering the cone, work the wire into the edges. While holding the wire, you’ll want to twist the cone several times until it feels tight and secure on the wire.
To attach your cones, lay the pine cone on the wreath and work each piece of wire through the greenery to the back of the wreath. Tightly twist the wires together, tucking the ends so they won’t scratch your door. Repeat the steps, wiring on cones until you get the look you like. Now step back and admire your handiwork. I can’t wait to see what you create! Be sure to tag your photos with #nwhealthymama and #bringinginbeauty.
A big thank you to Mistry and Scott for being with us, to capture all the fun and photograph this tutorial. They are excellent photographers and such nice people. Definitely check them out!